Tennis

Novak Djokovic already one of the all-time greats: Boris Becker exclusive

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Former world number one and three-times Wimbledon Champion, Boris Becker, told GiveMeSport in an exclusive interview, that he is honoured to be part of Team Djokovic and that the Serbian six-times Grand Slam winner is already one the all-time greats.

Over the last 10 years the mens game has been dominated by the big four of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray in one of the greatest eras of tennis rivalry the game has ever witnessed.

Domination by the big four

In fact such has been the dominance of these four extraordinary talents of the game, that 37 out of the last 40 Grand Slams have been won by them, with only Marat Safin, Juan Martin Del Potro and Stan Wawrinka managing to break their monopoly.

The standards continually raised by the top four, and some of the unforgettable battles that have been seen over the years, has left many a tennis fan having to scrape their chins off the floor in amazement, and just when you feel it isn't humanly possible for the bar to be raised, it is.

On many occasions I have wondered how it is possible for the likes of Federer and Djokovic to improve but they do. The constant rivalry between the the top four has spurred them on to greater heights, and in order to stay ahead of the rest, new initiatives have been introduced to each of their games, most notably on the coaching side.

Past greats in coaching

Ivan Lendl and Andy Murray, Michael Chang and Kei Nishikori, Goran Ivaniseivic and Marin Cillic, Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer and Boris Becker with Novak Djokovic.

Past greats teaming up with current greats, ingenious!

Look at what Ivan Lendl, a 10-times Grand Slam Champion, did for Andy Murray. Both players ended up on the losing side of four Grand Slam titles before glory finally came their way and without question that is what Lendl brought to Murray's game, how to finally win on the biggest stage of them all.

Kei Nishikori has improved dramatically under the guidance of former French Open Champion Michael Chang, the same can be said of Marin Cillic under the watchful eye of former Wimbledon Champion Ivaniseivic.

The influence Stefan Edberg has brought to 17-times Grand Slam winner Roger Federer's game is unquestionable, while the prospect of an improvement in the already dominant Novak Djokovic with Boris Becker in his corner, must be a daunting reality for those attempting to halt his title charge.

Joining Team Djokovic

Becker's opportunity to return to tennis in a competitive capacity after retiring in 1999, came towards the end of the last year, and the six-times Grand Slam winner recalled when he took the call from the player's agent during the initial approach to join the team.

"First of all I was very honoured. He actually called me on the day he lost his number one ranking in October last year."

"It was a great honour, but I wanted to talk to the man, meet the man and talk at length about tennis, about his motivation and about what he wants to do for the rest of his career."

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The meeting took place shortly afterwards in Monte Carlo, and after realising that Djokovic had plenty of fire still burning, and wanted to win more Grand Slams and regain the number one ranking, the German legend realised this was an opportunity he simply couldn't turn down.

Becker was very quick to point out that this was never about Becker and Djokovic and that he was simply joining the team that was already in place.

"He has a Team Djokovic. A team that I am proud to be part of."

Djokovic's team has overseen the Serbian to 41 career titles, including six Grand Slams, which has been led by long term coach, Marian Vajda, physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic, fitness coach Gebhard Phil-Gritsch and now Becker himself.

Since the introduction of Becker to the team, Djokovic has edged closer to regaining the number one ranking with three Masters titles in 2014 at Indian Wells, Miami and Rome, and a second Wimbledon title this year at SW19 will see the Serbian back on the summit of the mens game.

Competitive return

It is clear to see that Becker is thriving being back court side in a competitive nature, however like his playing days, the former world number one manages to keep a lid on his emotions at the best of times.

"I am a competitor, doesn't matter what, but I mostly have my poker face on. Novak is very intense and competitive, so am I, so is his team. In a moment I scream, in a moment I show my fist, but you have to pick your moments."

It is clear to see that there is respect between the two, not only professionally but also away from the job which Becker spoke about.

"In general there is a great respect between us. He is one of the all-time greats already."

"There is a mutual respect for one another. We have the same sense of family values. The same sense of what's important in our lives."

"He is funny. Hopefully he lets it out more because he is really funny."

Becker added: "He is a really good guy. Good with his family, going to be a father soon. He has got a really good head on his shoulders, not only for tennis, but for life in general, that makes it so much easier to work with."

Djokovic is a great entertainer

Changing techniques

After being away from the game competitively for 15-years, to get the perspective of how the game and coaching techniques have changed since the era that Becker cleaned up with 49 titles was fascinating.

"I think these guys train more off the court then we use to do. It is more physical, it is about who can outlast the other guy."

"The technology has changed. Rackets are faster and allow the players to play with more spin. Having said that some of the best servers played in my generation, Sampras, Ivan Lendl, Krajicek and myself all good servers and with the rackets they have today I would have loved to have served."

Becker went on to say: " The game has changed more at the baseline and less at the net which is the reason why Novak Djokovic is so good and successful."

For more on our Boris Becker exclusive and how the former Wimbledon winner recalls winning his three titles at SW19, then stayed tuned to GiveMeSport for the rest of the week.

Dont forget you can follow Boris during his travels on the ATP with team Djokovic on his Facebook page by clicking here.

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms

Topics:
Juan Martin Del Potro
Stanislas Wawrinka
Andy Murray
ATP World Tour Finals
Boris Becker
Tennis
Novak Djokovic
Roger Federer
Wimbledon

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