Novak Djokovic’s mission statement apparently goes beyond dominating the tennis world. Perhaps, he wants to put himself on par with Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods (pre-car crash) or Muhammad Ali with his latest move.
How else to describe Wednesday’s announcement reported by The Telegraph that the world’s No. 2 men’s player has hired Boris Becker as his coach? Djokovic ended 2013 on a 24-match winning streak, beating No. 1 player Rafael Nadal twice during that span, as SI.com reported.
“He is a true legend,” Djokovic said of Becker in a statement in the Telegraph. “Someone who has great tennis knowledge and his experience will help me win new trophies from the grand slams and other tournaments.”
The pairing also seems a bit odd, given the highly publicized failed relationship between Maria Sharapova and coach Jimmy Connors. Sharapova dismissed Connors after one match, citing her own psyche and injury status as the cause for the split.
Connors at least had coached before, having some success with Andy Roddick. This is Becker’s first foray into coaching after turning himself into a TV personality as a BBC commentator and a poker spokesman.
Multiple media reports are speculating that Becker, who was renowned for his killer instinct as a player, would help Djokovic with the mental aspects of his game. Despite Joker’s late-season success, he did lose the No. 1 ranking to Nadal this year.
The Telegraph reported that Djokovic wrote last year in his autobiography-cookbook “Serve To Win:” “The game looks like it takes place between the lines on the court, but really it takes place between your ears.”
The retired-champion as mentor has worked for Andy Murray, who broke through with two Grand Slam victories under Ivan Lendl, including a Wimbledon title that was the first for a Brit since 1936.
Djokovic’s current coach, Marian Vajda, will remain on his team in a limited capacity and sounded supportive of the change.
“We have achieved almost all the goals we had,” Vajda said, according to the Telegraph. “I realized that Novak needed a new head coach in order for him to continue improving certain parts of his game. At the same time I will have more time for my family.”
Becker’s higher profile in the game also could serve to raise Djokovic’s profile while he battles Nadal, Murray and Roger Federer.
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