Djokovic and Becker finally find their mojo

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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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IPTL tickets go on sale for Dubai leg

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Serving up a treat: Caroline Wozniacki will represent Dubai's UAE Royals franchise in the IPTL.

Tickets for the inaugural International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) finale in Dubai have today been released on general sale.

Prices for the conclusion of the first season of the exhibition event range from Dhs67.50 to Dhs715.50.

Held over three days in December (Thursday, 11 to Friday, 13), each day's play will consist of two matches at Dubai's Hamdan Sports Complex with the league's first winning team crowned on the Friday.

Participating in the tournament will be four franchises from Asian cities – Mumbai, Bangkok, Singapore and Dubai. 

Each will be represented by some of the best players in the world both past and present.

Newly crowned Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic will be leading Dubai's UAE Royals franchise, whose roster is completed by Caroline Wozniacki, Goran Ivanisevic, Janko Tipsarevic, Nenad Zimonjic, Martina Hingis and Malek Jaziri. 

Starting in Singapore (November 28 – 30), the tournament then heads to Bangkok (December 2 – 4) and Mumbai (December 7 – 9) before the curtain closing Dubai leg.

For those wanting to purchase tickets or gain more information on how to do so, visit: http://www.ticketmaster.ae/artist/946397?cities=75002

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Kvitova looking to banish memories of 2011 US Open

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Seeking improvement: Kvitova doesn’t want a repeat of 2011 when she crashed out of the first round of the US Open after winning the Wimbledon title.

Petra Kvitova hopes to take her grass court form into the North American hard court season and erase her painful memories from the US Open that followed her first Wimbledon success in 2011.

The Czech went to New York three years ago as the No5 seed and lost in the opening round to world No48, Alexandra Dulgheru.

The US Open is the only major where Kvitova has yet to reach the quarter-finals and the 24-year-old is hoping she can change that this summer.

When asked whether she remembers what happened at the US Open three years ago, she covers her face. 

“Unfortunately I do. I was the fifth seed, but in the first round it was bye-bye,” she said. “I wasn’t there for long so I hope that this year I can do a little bit better.

“After 2011 it was so tough for me to get used to everything. I was quite young and the pressure was too much. I really put pressure on myself, it wasn’t about the people and the opponents but wanted too much.

“Everybody thought I was going to win everything – it’s just impossible.

“Now I know how to deal with the pressure and how I still need to work on everything – the tennis, the fitness and the mental side as well. I hope the US Open will be not too bad.”

Considering she started the year with a first round loss to the unheralded Luksika Kumkhum at the Australian Open, Kvitova has certainly pulled off quite a turnaround.

She fell ill after that and had to miss the indoor tournament in Paris, crashed out of the first round in Dubai – where she was the defending champion – and had off-court problems as well, splitting up with her boyfriend Radek Stepanek.

She believes all her struggles have eventually led her to her second Wimbledon title.

“It was very disappointing (my loss in Australia) and it got me down,” she reflects. “It took me some time to get back and I was still working hard but not really with happiness inside.

“I was trying and trying to fight that but it wasn’teasy.

“There were are a lot of changes on the court and off the court. I played quite well in Roland Garros even though I lost in the third round, but Svetlana (Kuznetsova) played good tennis and it was a big fight.

 “Maybe I needed to lose that match to win this grand slam, so everything happens for a reason.”

One of the things she is most proud of is how she was able to rein in her power yet was able to hit winners from every corner of the court against Eugenie Bouchard in the final.

She says controlling her power game remains a learning process but taking calculated risks paid off this fortnight.

Asked how she’ll celebrate her second grand slam title, Kvitova said: “I did nothing when I won in 2011, so I hope I can improve on that this time.

“I think that we definitely need to celebrate.”

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