Djokovic and Becker finally find their mojo

Novak Djokovic’s Wimbledon win was not just the sweetest of his seven grand slam trophies but also vindication of his decision to hire Boris Becker as head coach.

Eleanor Crooks
by Eleanor Crooks
8th July 2014

article:8th July 2014

Take a bow: Djokovic and Kvitova at the Wimbledon Championships Winners Ball.
Take a bow: Djokovic and Kvitova at the Wimbledon Championships Winners Ball.

Novak Djokovic’s Wimbledon win was not just the sweetest of his seven grand slam trophies but also vindication of his decision to hire Boris Becker as head coach.

Djokovic’s appointment of the three-time Wimbledon champion in December was the most surpris­ing of the spate of former super­stars coming back into the game.


Unlike Roger Federer, who hired Stefan Edberg as a part-time adviser to work alongside regu­lar coach Severin Luthi, Djokovic made Becker his main coach.

Marian Vajda, with whom Djok­ovic had won all his senior titles, would instead fill the role of part-time coach.

The partnership got off to an inauspicious start when Djokovic failed to win a fourth-consecutive Australian Open title, a quarter-nal loss to Stan Wawrinka his earli­est at a grand slam for four seasons.

Djokovic did not win a title until his first tournament back with Vajda in Indian Wells in March, and he won again two weeks later with the Slovak in his corner after Becker underwent hip surgery.

It was clear all was not entirely well when Vajda accompanied the team to Rome, which had not been in the schedule, and Djokovic won the title again.

The Serbian turned to Becker to try to give him the edge in grand slam finals again after a losing run and at the All England Club, with Vajda back home, it all fell into place as he defeated Federer in five sets.

Djokovic admitted there had been difficulties, saying: “You can’t expect the relationship to start off right away with a grand slam.

“Obviously because of the differ­ence in character and approach, it took time to get that understanding going and the right chemistry.

“The last couple of months we were very successful, and Marian Vajda contributed to that. It wasn’t part of the schedule for Marian to be in Rome but I considered that tournament to be a turning point in my relationship with Boris because Marian graciously accepted to be there and spend time with Boris.

“We won that tournament, the three of us and that was the time when I started feeling much closer to Boris and understood what mes­sage he’s trying to convey to me.

“There were a few things he said that were important but most of all is the mental toughness and the self belief. He believes in my game, he knows that I have the game to win this tournament and I just needed to hang in there and stay tough regardless of what I go through on the court.”

Djokovic felt Sunday’s win was the best of his 14 grand slam finals but, as great as his tennis was, it was the 27-year-old’s mental strength that really shone through.

Having won only one of his previ­ous six grand slam finals and none of the last three, there could not have been a bigger test than having to come through a deciding set hav­ing served for victory in the fourth and seen a match point slip away.

But Djokovic kept believing and, after saving a break point in the seventh game, turned the match back in his favour to clinch a second Wimbledon title.

Andy Murray screamed at him­self in a bathroom mirror before the fifth set of his 2012 US Open final against Djokovic and credited the moment with helping him refo­cus, and his rival took a leaf out of the same book.

“It wasn’t about where I was but about what I went through in this moment,” said Djokovic.

“I had this positive encourage­ment to say to myself, even though you go through different emotions during such an important match and there are times when you have doubts.

“When you start fighting them that’s the biggest fight that you can have. That’s what I experienced and I managed to have my conviction stronger than my doubts and man­aged to push myself the very last step to win the trophy.”

Federer is back up to number three in the rankings but the number the Swiss really wanted was a record eighth Wimbledon title and 18th grand slam.

There is no doubt he is playing well enough to add to his vast haul but, with his 33rd birthday a month away, he knows he may never come closer.

Nevertheless the Swiss star leaves London with positive feel­ings, saying: “I’m very happy to see that with feeling normal I can pro­duce a performance like I did the last two weeks.

“That clearly makes me believe that this was just a stepping stone to many more great things in the future.”


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