The End of Becker

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.”

beckertheendWhat 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?

6 comments

  1. And so my orbuculum serves me well. Becker has nothing more to give to the Serb, and seeing that they have hired an expert in group hugs, tells me Becker hasn’t done much for Novak’s mental stability as of late.

    1. Who knows what exactly is going on. Is it as simple as Pepe over Becker? This is just a symptom of a bigger problem, imho. Even if Becker stayed onboard, was the future that bright for the Serb? He’s scrambling.

      1. I don’t know about you Matt, but I can just imagine at the AO2017 Novak is on the ropes, a big server whos last name ends in “ic” is hitting his stride, he looks up to his team’s box, Pepe is sitting there performing some magical incantation using those two metal sticks to adjust Novak’s negative energy.

        Oh, I mustn’t get ahead of myself! And I am not one to gloat, but the irony is delicious when it comes to the Novak fangirl crowd who relished in Federer’s and Nadal’s blunders and defeats, look at them now as their master is slowly but surely crumbling under his own weight. Was their devotion worth it in the end? I think you and I know the answer to that one. Karma is a bitch!

  2. The AO 2017 will amount to Novak on trial, which doesn’t seem fair if you put it that way because this suggests he’s done something wrong. Melbourne could be called the great test, or the crucible, as well.

    But for some reason “trial” seems to fit. Poor guy can’t catch a break. Ha. I liked how the USO and WTF brought the hammer down on the Serb for, though not his fault, his cream-puff draws. The finals of those two tournaments read like a verdict much of tennis agreed with.

    Meanwhile, Pepe-gate hopefully doesn’t become a circus. Was that his wife’s call? Doesn’t seem good at all.

    And although I tend to agree with you, Caligula, it is not out of the realm of possibility that he wins AO.

    But great call on the Croat coming-in hot. 2017 predictions will pretty interesting given the shaky top of the sport. Unless of course Murray goes berserk. . .

    1. Whatever happens at the AO next year I will welcome it. As you say, Novak might rebound there and win the title, but I love the uncertainty, as I am sure you share my feelings on this matter.

      Novak was the de facto favorite these last 3 years to win everything due to virtually zero competition (defeats Becker’s logic, why didn’t Novak lose the passion for the sport when he was pummeling a defenseless and burned out Nadal or Grandad-Legend Federer?) Something’s gotta give, I truly cannot wait to see 2017 Men’s Tennis unfold, the tennis gods have spoken, balance must be restored!

      1. I wrote about that contradiction in claiming that this summer saw Djokovic without competition when the tour has been very thin for two years. Can’t have it both ways.

        Your buddy fanboy blogger is “shocked” at the news and his post is the ramblings of a fan watching her hero die. The waves of emotion are intense over there.

        Like you, I can’t wait for 2017!

What say you?