Novak Djokovic believes that he and Boris Becker will form a great partnership and the world No2 says he is certain that he and the German legend will get along well.
Djokovic made a surprise announcement last week, revealing he has hired Becker as his head coach – a decision which has raised many eyebrows amongst pundits and fans. And while many predict that two type-A personalities like Djokovic and Becker may clash, the Serb says he’s not worried about that.
“Of course he’s a very strong personality, he’s German,” Djokovic said of Becker. “He’s very disciplined but also he has this fun side of him and he’s open-minded.
“I grew up in Germany, I basically spent between the age of 12 and 16 a lot of time in the Niki Pilic Tennis Academy, close to Munich. I took German in school.
“I understand how the German mentality works and I know it’s a lot of hard work and commitment but also he has this different side of him, he’s very open-minded, he’s a storyteller and I’m sure it’s going to be a very comfortable relationship for both of us.”
Numerous coaching changes have taken place amongst the top players in recent months and many have brought in ex-champions to help them step up their game.
Andy Murray seems to have started the trend, bringing in Ivan Lendl, who has guided the Scot to his first ever Grand Slam. Kei Nishikori is working with Michael Chang, Richard Gasquet has teamed up with Sergi Bruguera and now Djokovic is with Becker, but the 26-year-old Serb says his decision was not influenced by Murray’s success with Lendl.
“I think for Andy, Ivan Lendl did a great job. Since he came on board he won two Grand Slams and Olympic gold medal so he definitely helped him in his game. But my decision to start working with Boris hasn’t been inspired by the fact that Ivan is working with Andy,” said Djokovic.
Becker, who will be joining Djokovic in Abu Dhabi this weekend, where the Serb is the two-time defending champion, was famous for his serve-and-volley aggressive style and the German could help his new protégé improve that aspect of his game.
Djokovic says he’s already been approaching the net more this past season and says Becker will continue to help him work on that, insisting that Marian Vajda – his coach of eight years – will continue to play an integral part in his team.
“I think we have a great understanding between the three of us (Djokovic, Vajda and Becker), because Marian is also in the mix and that’s very important because he has worked with me for the last eight years,” said Djokovic.
“I won my first and 41st tournaments with Marian Vajda and it’s extremely important that he’s part of all these discussions and conversations and analysis of what I need to do on the court to improve and get at least one or two or five per cent better, as much as possible of course.
“I did work on my net game. I did work on approaching and using the opportunities that I build for myself with my groundstrokes, with my baseline play. Because I’m a baseline player but I wanted to stay closer to the line and come to the net and I was doing that really well but that was all the result of the work that I’ve done with Marian and I’m going to try to continue doing the same with Boris.
“We’re not going to make any major changes because I feel like I’m already a complete player.
“I’m not going to start serving and volleying because I’ve never done that. I’m going to put a mix here and there but my game is going to be the same with certain adjustments with the positioning on the court and that’s more or less what we’re going to do.”
While he joked that the main reason he chose to add Becker to his team was to improve his German language skills, Djokovic went on to explain: “He’s a six-time Grand Slam champion, he won so many trophies in his life, he was a former No1, and speaking to Marian in the last few months of the year, we both came to the conclusion that I’m going to need another legendary player that can eventually help me understand better what I need to do in particular situations, especially in the Grand Slam final stages. To give me that mental edge.
“He can identify with me because he was in those situations so he knows what I go through, so that’s what one of the biggest reasons he’s on board.
“So I believe the combination of Boris and Marian will be the winning combination for me and that I will manage to get better and improve my game and this mental strength in the most important tournaments and the most important moments of the match.”
Djokovic will kick off his MWTC campaign on Friday against the winner of the match between Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.