Defending champion out to show why he is one of the best in the world again.
Six-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic said he was happy to take a risk on his untried new coach Boris Becker Sunday as he prepared to enter a new era under the flamboyant German.
The defending Australian Open champion admitted adding Becker to his team, after his coach Marian Vajda requested more time with his family, was a potential gamble.
But he is excited about his new partnership with the six-time major-winner, who has hung up his commentator’s microphone to return to the tour.
“Whenever you make a change in life, it’s a potential risk, right? How is it going to affect you?” said Djokovic ahead of his title defence.
“But I don’t want to think from that perspective. I’m really excited about this cooperation. I’m excited about this partnership that I have with Boris that also has been approved and supported by Marian, who is still in the team.
“They have a great communication. All I see is positive results, and hope for that obviously. I cannot predict or promise anything now.”
Djokovic denied that Andy Murray’s successful partnership with Ivan Lendl had prompted him to hire Becker, a trend followed by Roger Federer (Stefan Edberg) and Kei Nishikori (Michael Chang) amongst others.
“I’ve been asked that question before. But, no, it didn’t affected my decision,” Djokovic said.
He added that he hoped to gain mainly a mental edge from working with Becker, who will split coaching duties with Vajda this season.
Djokovic and Becker have been working together for a couple of weeks, but are yet to hit together because the German, 46, recently had ankle surgery.
“Obviously he’s one of the big names in the sport, has won over 60 titles, Grand Slams, number one, Davis Cup,” enthused Djokovic, who said he has been poring over recordings of Becker’s matches from the 1980s and 1990s.
“You know, I have the utmost respect for what he has achieved in his career. The great serve. Obviously at the time the construction of the point was different. Everything was faster. Served and volleyed many times.
“But tennis has evolved in a way because of the technology. Now the game is based on the baseline, longer rallies and so forth.
“Well, I believe with his great volleys, that aggressive kind of mindset also, from that point of view he can help me.”
He added that the presence of so many former champions in the coaching ranks would be a boon for the sport as well as the players.
As well as Becker, Lendl, Edberg and Chang, two-time French Open winner Sergi Bruguera is coaching Richard Gasquet and Goran Ivanisevic is with Marin Cilic.
“It’s really positive for the sport. It attracts a lot of attention,” Djokovic said.
“Obviously, they have won so many Grand Slams between themselves, they’ve all been number ones of the world, they’ve been champions, they know what we all go through in particular moments, especially in the Grand Slams.
“They can identify themselves through us. I guess that’s where the biggest help would come, from the mental aspect and obviously working with some elements in the game.
He added of Becker: “We look forward to working with each other. It’s just the beginning. He has committed to work with me and travel with me for more weeks than I thought he would, so I’m really excited about that. We’ll see how it goes.”