Novak Djokovic joined forces with Boris Becker about three years ago. The former World No. 1 coached Djokovic for the last three seasons, a time frame when the Serb enjoyed tremendous success. Arguably his 2011 season remains the best of his career. However, the Serb won 6 Grand Slam titles of the 12 that he has contested in 2014, 2015, and 2016 combined. Those aren’t the conditions under which you normally part ways with a coach, however as of Tuesday Djokovic’s and Becker’s relationship is over.
Djokovic made the announcement that Becker won’t coach him any longer on Facebook: “After three very successful years, Boris Becker and I have jointly decided to end our cooperation. The goals we set when we started working together have been completely fulfilled…my professional plans are now directed primarily to maintain a good level of play and also to make a good schedule and new goals for the next season. In this regard, I will make all future decisions.”
The last comment about making “all future decisions” almost sounds like he is not planning on getting another coach. The statement where he says that he wants “to maintain a good level of play” is a bit strange. After all, a “good” playing level isn’t actually what it takes to be the World No. 1. I think the more appropriate word would have been “great” if getting back to the top spot was his goal. In fairness, the comments appear in what looks like Serbian belong the English comments, so maybe something was lost in translation.
One underlying issue that may have affected the end of their relationship is Djokovic’s dipping results. He won the French Open and the Australian Open in the first half of the season, but it seemed to take a lot out of him. He fell very early in Wimbledon while his US Open draw was almost too fake to be believed (and he lost in the final anyways). Djokovic is injured more, he’s making less money, and maybe Becker has better things to do. That would especially be the case if they talked candidly about Djokovic’s goals for 2017 and they weren’t all that aggressive.
Becker was quick to state that Djokovic had failed to train hard enough and wouldn’t be able to regain the top world ranking unless he “puts in the hours.”
“He has not spent as much time on the practice court as he should have in the last six months and he knows that,” Becker, 49, told Sky Sports News.
“Success doesn’t come by pushing a button. You have to work your butt off because that is what your opponents are doing.” “I am also convinced that he will become the most dominant player again, but he has to get back on the practice court and put in the necessary hours,” said Becker.
The Serbinator’s main antagonist will likely be Andy Murray in 2017. The Scot is the reigning Wimbledon champion, he is the current No. 1, and Murray is the winner of the ATP World Tour Finals along with a host of other titles from 2016. I don’t have a lot of confidence in Djokovic finishing top two in 2017. I see Kei Nishikori as possibly gaining ground on the Serb. That’s how I felt before the news of the coaching change hit, and it’s certainly how I feel now following the hints in the Facebook comments.
In related news, Becker is the second coach this month to stop coaching a top player. Earlier in December Milos Raonic announced that he and Carlos Moya would no longer have a coaching relationship. Given the demand for former World No. 1s as coaches, Moya and Becker should be able to find ‘gigs’ if they so desire.