I haven’t written too much about the Becker-effect, but I did retrieve this from a July post after Wimbledon 2016:
“Look at Djokovic’s career arch and you can see the affect of Becker (unless this is just strange coincidence😉. Djokovic became pretty relevant in the greatness discussion in 2011 when he was actually only being coached by his long-term ally Marian Vajda. The following two years, coming-off that 3 major explosion of 2011, he won two AO, which he wins every year. He basically went away for two years. Pretty remarkable, actually. Boris was brought on in December of 2013, so he’s really been at the helm since the beginning of 2014. Since then, Novak has 6 majors. Yeah, he went from six to twelve, under the leadership of Boris Becker. That’s more impressive than Lendl’s magic. The game is so mental, it doesn’t take much to see how these old school greats might have helped. The game was brutal back in the day with the depth, the lack of resources, match formats, etc. Bringing that kind of tennis toughness and leadership to these players’ games clearly has had a huge impact.”
What exactly am I saying here? Well, sounds a bit ambivalent to be honest. And that’s probably how one could start to process the Djokovic and Becker split that was announced today or yesterday. We knew it was in the works. I actually said the tenuous relationship might have encouraged Becker to make a kind of ass out of himself with those words of gargantuan disrespect toward Murray and the rest of the field for that matter. If you read human beings well enough, you can see the writing on the wall. That line of reasoning (Djokovic ran out of competitive inspiration) may have had some truth to it, but that’s not how one goes about politicking in the big leagues. Especially when your player is struggling as much as the Serb. Bad move. And no I am not saying this defense of Djokovic got the German fired, but I did say the German might have been throwing a hail-marry to trigger some loyalty or pathos with Novak. The rumors seem to have suggested that it’s either Pepe or Boris. So, Pepe it is.
Back to that excerpt I retrieved from July. Novak’s 2011 was sans Becker. Then Novak fell asleep for a couple of years, hired Becker in December of 2013 and has won 6 majors under his mentorship. Is that all Becker? No. Did he help Novak assume control of men’s tennis the last couple of years? Difficult to say he did not. In the end, Novak had that dominance in him, but Becker’s influence had to provide some solid council.
I’m sure I wrote about Djokovic’s Wimbledon indoctrination from Becker. I believe it was during the 2015 tournament, but might have been 2014. Novak had a Wimbledon under his belt either way, but Boris gave him a tour, showed him the real character of the All England Club. This the tennis historian and real tennis fan could appreciate. This was perhaps Boris at his best.
With or without Boris, Novak has a very critical couple of months ahead here, preparing for 2017 and Melbourne. We’ve already discussed the significance of this next major for Novak. Hopefully, he’s getting his ship right for some potentially rough waters ahead.
How’s Lendl see the weather, the Djokovic camp development? He probably has better things to do than give this much thought. Then again, Becker and he had quite a career H2H, with Lendl apparently edging him out, 11-10. For shits and giggles, look at the matches they played in 1986, exactly 30 years ago:
1986 ATP World Tour Finals F Carpet Ivan Lendl Boris Becker 6-4 6-4 6-4
1986 Sydney Indoor F Hard Boris Becker Ivan Lendl 3-6 7-6 6-2 6-0
1986 Stratton Mountain F Hard Ivan Lendl Boris Becker 6-4 7-6
1986 Wimbledon F Grass Boris Becker Ivan Lendl 6-4 6-3 7-5
1986 Chicago F Carpet Boris Becker Ivan Lendl 7-6 6-3
1986 Masters 2 F Carpet Ivan Lendl Boris Becker 6-2 7-6 6-3
Wow. They split and go 3-3. Becker gets Ivan in the Wimby final but Lendl returns the favor in the WTF final. Oh and look, they played best-of-five back then, when the men were men. The good old days.
I wonder if Djokovic will be saying such a thing a year from now, or will he have moved-on to greener pastures?