Becker’s Big Match Play
Novak Djokovic hiring Boris Becker is something that has mystified some observers. Becker has never been a coach before and as a player was notorious for being hard to coach. Novak ended 2013 on a massive winning streak including 2 straight set wins over the man who took his #1 ranking. Conventional wisdom might say, “Why rock the boat?”
Why I Think Becker Makes Sense
Can Becker Relate?
Boris Becker was an excellent big match player. He won a lot of service games from 0-40 down. There are a lot of things that Becker could perhaps impart to Nole from a tennis stand point that might make him valuable. I don’t expect Novak to change his service motion or hit bigger serves. I do think the number one thing Becker might offer from a tennis stand point is managing service games more effectively. That alone could have made the difference in the 2013 French Open semifinal against Nadal.
From a psyche standpoint, I think Becker and Novak have experienced something similar in their backgrounds. Becker was a national hero for West Germany and then the reunified Germany for a generation of people born after WWII. Novak is perhaps the first transnational Serbian figure to emerge since the conclusion of the Yugoslavian Civil War and is obviously a hero at home. I am not a psychologist, but if Nole and Boris mesh a bit better than say Novak did with Todd Martin, a comfort level might be achieved. If Novak is comfortable with Boris Becker as a person, then beneficial advice and a general optimism about his place in tennis might benefit Nole’s game. In that way, this move makes great sense to me.*
* – Boris Becker inspired me to take my first tennis clinic after the 1985 Wimbledon final. I like Novak too so I might be a bit biased, but I hope this partnership works.