Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - In the latest coaching change/staff
addition on the ATP World Tour, Novak Djokovic has decided to employ Boris
Becker as his new head coach.
Will the bold move help the Serbian star overtake Rafael Nadal and return to
Another former world No. 1, Roger Federer, recently started working with
childhood hero and fellow former top-ranked great Stefan Edberg, while Top-20
Japanese star Kei Nishikori took on former world No. 2 Michael Chang in order
to help him reach ... whatever.
So why did Djokovic hire his fellow former No. 1 and fellow six-time Grand
Slam champion Becker? He's (Djokovic) already arguably the best player on the
The current rankings show that Nole is No. 2, behind Nadal, but it was
Djokovic who was the only player to appear in three Grand Slam finals this
year. It was Djokovic who closed out the season with a sparkling 24-match win
streak, including a pair of wins over Rafa. And it was Djokovic who captured
the prestigious season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.
So how much better can he get?
Well, for starters, he can still improve upon his already quality serve,
something that "Boob Boom" Becker is certainly an expert on.
Sure, Djokovic may have reached three of the four major finals in 2013, but
managed to win only one (Australian Open) while failing to prevail in the last
three -- the French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open -- losing to Nadal (in the
semis), Murray (in the final), and Nadal (in another final), respectively.
So, yes, there's still room for improvement.
Note: Djokovic's good friend Murray is also coached by another former world
No. 1 stud (and former bitter Becker rival) Ivan Lendl, who guided Murray to
his first-ever Grand Slam title at last year's U.S. Open, Olympic gold in
2012, and the Brit's glorious first Wimbledon title this past campaign.
The 26-year-old Djokovic will have the 46-year-old Becker at his side when he
embarks on defense of his Aussie Open title next month. The Belgrade native
has won the last three Aussie crowns and is a four-time overall champ in the
land of Oz.
Even though Djokovic reached three of the four Slam finals the last three
years in succession, he hasn't captured a major title outside of Melbourne
since 2011 and has tallied only two major titles since his amazing '11 season.
Surprisingly, he's only ever captured Wimbledon and the U.S. Open one time
each and has never won at Roland Garros, which, of course, has been dominated
by Nadal since the mid-2000s.
Note: Becker never reached a French Open final, while Djokovic reached his
first and only one last year.
Sort of lost in the Djokovic coaching mix now is long-time mentor Marian
Vajda, who will enter his eighth season with Nole, but this time around it'll
be on a part-time basis only, as Becker will coach the Serbian great at all
four Slams, as well as events in Dubai, Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome, Cincinnati,
Shanghai, Paris and London.
It's been speculated that Vajda may be "burned out" after years on the road
on the grueling ATP circuit. During the last two years, the Slovakian skipper
has taken a few weeks off here and there in order to spend more time with his
family, while Djokovic, of course, played on.
"Becker's assignment will not affect much my position in the team, since I
will do all I can for Novak, just like I did before," Vajda said. "On the
other hand, choosing Boris as the head coach is a good solution, I am sure we
will get along very well, and that Novak will continue to progress."
Djokovic's coaching staff also includes Miljan Amanovic and Gebhard Phil-
It will be interesting to see if the attention-loving Djokovic and spotlight-
finding Becker can coexist. That's two very big egos. Things certainly didn't
work out this past summer between fellow former world No. 1 divas Maria
Sharapova and Jimmy Connors. Can I call Connors a diva?
Either way, this will be an all-new venture for the legendary Becker, who
spent much of the last decade serving as a commentator for the BBC and a
spokesperson for gambling and poker outfits while transforming himself into a
He shined on the ATP in the 1980s and '90s, and was one of the game's
greatest players. Becker piled up 64 tour-level titles and was the youngest-
ever Wimbledon champ, at 17 years of age, in 1985. The German also led his
country to back-to-back Davis Cup titles in 1988 and 1989.
So he certainly knows what he's talkin' about. Will it translate into French
Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles?
That remains to be seen.
The Sports Network