A Tribute to Boris Becker
There is no doubt that the Djokovic-Becker player-coach partnership was one of the most successful partnerships in tennis history if not the most successful. It would therefore almost be a crime for me not to do a post to pay tribute to Becker after the two decided to part ways to my great disappointment.
This partnership was one of the most enjoyable things for me about tennis in the last few years. When they first decided to work together I personally thought the partnership made a lot of sense having watched Djokovic losing his grip on Nadal during 2013.
He needed to add an extra dimension to his game to finish points more effectively and decisively because Nadal was taking advantage of his lack of finishing power. And I thought Becker was the ideal solution for that.
There were plenty of skeptics about the partnership, especially when Djokovic lost his Australian Open crown as soon as they started working together. But Djokovic and Becker were still finding each other which they did at Wimbledon that same year.
That was the beginning of unprecedented success where they won six out of eight slams, two World Tour Finals titles, 14 Masters titles, had the most dominant tennis season in history in 2015, and of course won the career slam and the personal slam.
Unbelievable success. Given their unbelievable success rate, I guess it makes sense to a certain extent that they decided to part ways after what happened the last six months. They had set such high standards that they expected nothing less than the absolute best.
Still, I feel like the breakup is disappointing because I think Becker’s technical as well as mental input was a tremendous asset to Djokovic. Since he hired Becker he improved immensely as an offensive player.
His serve, forehand, and net game all improved measurably. But Becker’s presence at the side of the court was invaluable for Djokovic in the mental department as well. The way Becker played mind games with opponents and the media is the stuff of legend.
Djokovic is the nice guy type who doesn’t like to intimidate or get in the face of his opponents. It is just not his personality. But against certain opponents, that is an important skill to have. And I think where Djokovic was reluctant to play that role Becker played it for him.
I am reminded of the Federer SABR tactic which Djokovic was too nice to counter by going straight at Federer’s body(which he had all the right in the world to do), but Becker said some things in the media which I don’t think sat very well with Federer.
That is just one example but a very fascinating and entertaining one at that. Becker comes out of a tennis era where that kind of mental warfare was much more prominent too and I think he enjoyed that role quite a bit.
And so did I. So I will miss his partnership with Djokovic and not just for the success they had. It’s hard to see Djokovic have that kind of chemistry and success with someone else but I guess you never know.
The main point I want to make is that it was an unbelievably successful partnership and instead of feeling sad, angry, or depressed it is something that should be celebrated. Becker took Djokovic from someone on six major titles straight into the GOAT debate in a question of two and a half years.
The climax was the elusive French Open title which gave Djokovic the career slam and personal slam and propelled him into the GOAT debate. If he doesn’t win anything more from here on he will still be in the GOAT debate with Federer and Nadal.
Neither of them completed the personal slam and neither of them was as dominant as Djokovic was in 2015. Djokovic reached the highest level of tennis ever played. He was the most complete and unbeatable player in history in his time with Becker.
He didn’t have a poor head-to-head record against his main rival like Federer and he didn’t rely heavily on one surface the way Nadal did. He didn’t have the mental flaws of Federer or the negative and defensive game of Nadal.
He could do it all. I’m not saying it is over but this is the end of the Djokovic-Becker era. And I wanted to celebrate the incredible success they had through this post and give Becker and the partnership the tribute it deserved.
Who knows what is next for Djokovic but does it really matter? Of course, as fans, we want more success and to see him win more slams, but I think Djokovic achieved his most important goals at this point.
He set himself apart from Federer and Nadal with the personal slam and by winning the most Masters titles and through other things that I already mentioned. Sure we don’t want it to end now but I think we should view whatever is left as a bonus.
Personally, I’d love to see him win at least 2-3 more slams to leave no doubt whatsoever that he is a superior player to Nadal. To me, he is already a better player but it would just be nice if he makes it impossible for even the Nadal fans to deny it.
It would be nice if he can win 18 slams and surpass Federer too, but I never thought that he necessarily has to do that to be greater than Federer. Unfortunately, the brainwashed masses think grand slams are the only thing that matters in the GOAT debate.
It is the most important but it is far from the only. But like I said Djokovic has already carved out a very telling and unique legacy for himself in tennis. To become the undisputed GOAT he would have to win 18 slams but I think when Becker and Djokovic came together at the beginning of 2014 them or any one of Djokovic’s fans would have been ecstatic if they knew what the current outcome would be.
He is already in the GOAT debate and he still has the rest of his career to make an even stronger case for himself and to try and set himself apart from Federer and Nadal completely.
I was glad to hear that Vajda is staying with him at least so that there is still a familiar face left which have been with him through it all. I don’t know what lies ahead and whether Djokovic will hire someone new but I do think if Djokovic wants to stay dominant he must win the Australian Open next year.
Especially with him and Becker breaking up and the uncertainty that surrounds that I think it would go a long way towards reassuring his fans that he is still the dominant force in tennis. If he doesn’t win it the people who are pessimistic about the Becker breakup will become even more pessimistic.
No one knows what the future holds but it should be interesting to find out and from what I hear Djokovic is already back in Monte Carlo training hard!