Boris Becker and his expressionless face will be missed, the next time Novak Djokovic plays an important tennis match. The talented German constantly headed Djokovic’s coaching team and his three-year association fructified in the Serb winning six Grand Slam tournaments and several other important ATP events. But after a trophy-laden time together, they have parted ways last week. The news broke on December 6, when Djokovic revealed about the split that came less than a month after Djokovic lost his world no.1 ranking to Great Britain’s Andy Murray.
The earlier part of the story goes like this. Roger Federer ceded his world no.1 ranking to Spain’s Rafael Nadal in August 2008 after a record 237 consecutive weeks at the top. However, Nadal could only keep that position for the next 46 weeks before the Big Swiss snatched it back from him in July 2009. In June 2010, Nadal once again became the top-ranked ATP player but lost the first place to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in July 2011. This was first time that the Serb became the world no.1. In July 2012, however, Roger Federer once again reclaimed the top spot and relegated Djokovic to no.2. That changed again in November 2012, when Djokovic was back again at the top. After 48 weeks in October 2013, Djokovic was displaced by Nadal from the summit. It was at this time that Djokovic sought help from Boris Becker. The Serb announced in December 2013 that the celebrated Becker would join his coaching team to serve as Head Coach from the 2014 tennis season. Becker was the commentator for BBC but he gave up his job to work with the Serbian world no.2.
Arrival of Boris Becker didn’t immediately show the results. At 2014 Australian Open, Djokovic lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual champion Stan Wawrinka. He skipped the Davis Cup and instead went to defend his title at 2014 Dubai Tennis Championships. But he lost to Roger Federer in the semifinals. The media splashed questionable stories about Djokovic’s choice of Boris Becker as Head Coach because the German had never worked as anybody’s coach until then. But Becker was to prove all of them wrong. Despite the bad beginning of his 2014 tennis season, Djokovic continued with Becker and won the first title under the German’s tutelage, when he became the Indian Wells Masters champion by beating Federer. Next stop was Miami Masters and the Serb won that too by defeating Nadal. Though Djokovic lost to Federer in the 2014 Monte-Carlo Masters, he was back to the winning ways by clinching the Rome Masters by defeating Nadal in the final. However, Nadal was quick to avenge his defeat at Roland Garros. From Paris, Djokovic went to Wimbledon and won his seventh Grand Slam by defeating Roger Federer in five sets. This was the first Grand Slam that Djokovic won with Boris Becker. In July 2014, Djokovic was back as world no.1 and became literally unbeatable. The media was silenced as Djokovic-Becker combo delivered another five Grand Slams and in June 2016, Djokovic also won the yet elusive French Open at Roland Garros. Besides six Grand Slam tournaments, Djokovic also won several other tournaments with Becker sitting at the helm.
Something happened in the middle of 2016 that probably led to Djokovic suffering from the loss of his form. After losing at Wimbledon in the third round, Djokovic won the 2014 Rogers Cup but lost in the opening round of the Rio Olympics to Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro. In the remaining part of the year, Djokovic could only reach the semifinals at the US Open and Shanghai Rolex Masters and lost in the quarterfinals of Paris Masters. By the time Djokovic traveled to London for the year-end ATP World Tour Finals, he had already lost his world no.1 position to Britain’s Andy Murray. To retain the top spot, the Serb needed to beat Andy Murray in the final. That didn’t happen and Djokovic had to rest content with serving as Murray’s second fiddle. It seems the Serb wasn’t too happy with his Head Coach, though it never looked like that Becker had been slipping on his duties. After winning his first Grand Slam in Melbourne’s 2008 Australian Open, Djokovic could only win 5 more in the next 6 years. With Becker, Djokovic doubled his Grand-Slam win tally to 12 in less than 3 years besides retaining the world no.1 position for 122 weeks out of a total of 223 weeks. One would never know the real reason for their parting of ways, but Djokovic-Becker team certainly produced the desired results.