Becker gamble pays off for Djokovic

Mon Jul 7, 2014 1:03pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

LONDON (Reuters) - When Novak Djokovic jumped on the super-coach bandwagon and hired Boris Becker, the appointment came straight out of left field and appeared to be a baffling one.

Three-times Wimbledon champion Becker had never shown any inclination towards coaching, was neck deep with his media and business commitments and as a classic serve-and-volleyer, his playing style could not have been more different to Djokovic's baseline power game.

But just as Ivan Lendl found the lure of working with Andy Murray hard to resist, Becker was intrigued by the challenge of working with a man who, like him, owned six grand slam titles.

Six months later Djokovic hit the jackpot when he finally ended months of torment and frustration by edging out Roger Federer in a pulsating five-set Wimbledon final on Sunday for his seventh grand slam title.

Despite the joyous scenes that unfolded in the players' box, with the Serb clambering up to hug his German mentor, many were left wondering what exactly Becker's impact had been.

Whereas Federer provided plenty of evidence of why he too had hired a grand slam champion - in his case Becker's great rival Stefan Edberg - by approaching the net 67 times and winning 78 percent of his serve-and-volley approaches during Sunday's battle, Becker's influence was less tangible.

It was nevertheless omnipresent in Djokovic's mind.

"He knows exactly what kind of challenges I have to face mentally to play big tournaments and big matches," a bleary-eyed Djokovic, wearing a navy polo shirt, chinos and dark grey loafers, told reporters at the All England Club on Monday.   Continued...

Boris Becker, the coach of Novak Djokovic of Serbia, sits on Centre Court for the men's singles semi-final tennis match between Djokovic and Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London July 4, 2014.      REUTERS/Toby Melville