x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Djokovic’s call stunned new coach Becker

German wonders why more players have not turned to former pros as coaches

Former grand slam champion Boris Becker, centre, said he was surprised to receive a call from Novak Djokovic, asking the German to be his head coach. Andy Rain / EPA
Former grand slam champion Boris Becker, centre, said he was surprised to receive a call from Novak Djokovic, asking the German to be his head coach. Andy Rain / EPA

LONDON // Boris Becker said that Novak Djokovic first approached him to become his head coach the day that the Serbian lost the world No 1 ranking to Spain’s Rafael Nadal in October.

Djokovic’s announcement this week that the German six-time grand slam champion was set to become his coach was greeted with surprise, and Becker conceded it had been unexpected.

“I was approached by Novak and his manager while he was playing in Beijing,” Becker told BBC Sport on Friday. “He decided he needed somebody in his corner that had been there and done it.

“I was surprised – I didn’t expect the phone call. I was very honoured.”

Marian Vajda, who has been Djokovic’s coach for each of his six grand slam titles, will continue as part of the team, but Becker is set to assume primary responsibilities at the Australian Open, which starts on January 13.

It will be Becker’s first foray into coaching a top-level player, and he said he would put 100 per cent into it.

“This isn’t a half-hearted job. It wouldn’t be right for him or for me,” Becker said. “You’re in it to win it. You either go at it fully or you don’t. Either I commit myself or I don’t commit myself.”

Becker joins another former world No 1 and multiple grand slam winner, Ivan Lendl, in joining the coaching circle. The Czech-born American teamed up with Andy Murray at the start of 2012 and has since guided the British player to two major titles.

“When Ivan was appointed, I thought about what took some of these guys so long to talk about some of these all-time greats as being coaches,” Becker said.

“There was a generation that really changed tennis, and the way we played in the 1980s is not that different to how we’re playing today.”

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