Becker: “Djokovic Didn’t Have Any Opponents Anymore”

I found the above interview with Becker quite inspirational and on point.

“His time was with [Rafael] Nadal, with [Roger] Federer. Andy was always the fourth guy. So he lost a little bit of his opponents. Murray is showing something he hasn’t shown before.”

Becker bringing up Federer and Nadal’s absence is not something new to me. It is something I have thought about and I agree that their absence had an impact on Djokovic. Federer was his main competition from Wimbledon 2014 to the Australian Open of 2016.

During that time they met in three slam finals and a slam semi-final. That rivalry really motivated Djokovic but also the rivalry with Nadal. Federer and Nadal were always Djokovic’s main competition so I think their absence played a role in his slump.

That is not the only reason. The fact that Djokovic won the personal slam and finally won that elusive French Open, coupled with the absence of Federer and Nadal doesn’t make it all that surprising that he struggled with motivation.

But let’s be honest, the World Tour Finals loss did hurt which is not necessarily a bad thing.

“This could potentially be a turnaround for Novak Djokovic’s 2017,” he said. “As much as this loss is going to hurt him, it’s probably going to inspire him to be re-motivated, re-energized for next year. Maybe it was a good thing in the end.”

I think Becker makes a very good point here. These kinds of losses can make a player stronger and more motivated depending on how they handle it. Failure is sometimes better than success because you learn from it and it makes you stronger if you rise above it.

Like is always the case in the tennis world, there is currently a lot of hype about Djokovic’s so-called decline after the final loss to Murray in London. I’ve been in the tennis business for too long to take it seriously.

For one thing, there are legions of Federer and Nadal fans who desperately want to see Djokovic decline so that he doesn’t catch up with their heroes. This is not a rational reason to believe that Djokovic is declining.

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 24: Novak Djokovic of Serbia talks with coach Boris Becker during previews for the US Open tennis at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 24, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

As the hype goes, Djokovic is now finished and he may as well retire because he is just too damn old and over the hill to win any more significant titles. And yet, if he wins the Australian Open next year he is all of a sudden going to pass Federer again.

That is how the hype goes. All I can say is that Djokovic was back to his best in London except for the final and I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes out next year looking very motivated and playing very well.

The final loss in London may well serve as a wake-up call for Djokovic that he let things slip and that could motivate him to come back really strong next year. Federer and Nadal will also be back so I can easily see him being his old self.

He may  have lost the most important match in London but he will take a lot of confidence from the other matches into next year. Once he gets a few more wins under his belt at his favorite slam I can certainly see him going all the way.

Ps. I really hope Djokovic doesn’t split with Becker because in this instance the problem was with Djokovic, not the coaching and I think Becker’s presence is invaluable the way Lendl’s presence is for Murray. I also think Becker is a smart guy and that he plays the most ingenious and entertaining mind games with Djokovic’s opponents, the media, and fans. It would be a tremendous shame and mistake if Djokovic gets rid of him I think.

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9 Comments

  1. Hi Ruan,
    I agree with you. Novak should continue to work with Boris. They are good team and work well together. I feel that this is temporary slump which Novak will ovecome quickly. He just got complaisant as he did not see any competition around him. He owned Andy and did not see it coming. I am looking forward to re-energized and motivated Novak at Australian open.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    And I agree with you. You summed it up perfectly. Djokovic will soon resume his dominance of the tennis world. Looking forward 👍

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  2. I am glad that Andy Murray won the ATP finals, although I think every good player needs a strong driving force and Boris provided this for Djokovic. I saw him play at the lowest point of the season, at the U.S open and he seemed to talk to Boris when he needed extra support.
    I’m sure the ATP finals have set up a cracking 2017 season where Djokovic starts the fight to regain his no.1 position

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  3. As an Andy Murray fan, this season has been frustrating as all hell. Djokovic outclassed Murray in the first half of the season, and when Murray hit the grass and started firing on all cylinders, we didn’t get a single Murray v Djokovic match for the rest of year! Then the Tour Finals come around Murray spanks some Djokovic-shaped cardboard cutout and the story is more about how Djokovic fell off the face of the Earth than Murray finally being top dog.

    I hope Becker is right and Djokovic will be fired up by Murray so that next year Murray can potentially silence doubters, but I don’t know. Nadal seems to be struggling to recover from his slump and that’s been going on for a few years now (granted injuries don’t help), and Djokovic is older than he is young in tennis years, he might not come back from an extended slump.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    We will see John. I’m not sure Djokovic is older than he is young in tennis years. Next year Federer and Nadal is back and he will be fired up again.

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    John Bullock Reply:

    Oh I wasn’t saying he’s due retirement (I mean, look at Federer) I just meant he almost certainly hasn’t got as many playing years in front of him as he has behind him.

    I think you’re right, tho. Murray’s top spot coup and Fed/Nadal returning will get Djokovic going again. I think the Aus Open will really set the tone. It’s practically Djoker’s home turf at this point, and Murray will be desperate to win it after, what 5 finals? If we get ANOTHER Djokovic/Murray Aus final, who comes out on top will tell us a lot about where these players are at.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I agree. The AO will be key. That is where Djokovic really needs to stamp down his authority, and the fact that Federer and Nadal will be back will give him extra motivation.

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  4. I think that’s quite harsh of Boris Becker, okay Federer and Nadal have been out most of the season, but there still some fierce competition out there in the form of Murray and Wawrinka (Who beat Djokovic in the 2015 french open final).
    It may have made Djokovic’s time easier without Federer and Nadal but he should become complacent and feel like he had no serious challenge. Look at what’s happened now!!!
    Although it would be great to see Djokovic back on form and seeing a few more years of the ultimate Murray vs Djokovic rivalry to see if Murray can prove himself as the World No.1

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  5. Yes, Becker has been the perfect companion for Djokovic. He helped him re-build his confidence that he showed in his 2011 season. Now, after Djokovic has slacked off a little, he can still understand what was detrimental to him and point out what he needs going forward. Becker has shown us that he is not only a great champion himself but also a diligent coach. It’s natural to think that he is still the best option for Djokovic. But, that is certainly not the way Djokovic is thinking. So, as long as he knows that his thinking is valid, he should trust his feeling. After all, there can be multiple ways to achieve something and at this moment he might have been feeling that a certain way of moving forward is far more conducive.

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