Becker: “Djokovic Didn’t Have Any Opponents Anymore”
I found the above interview with Becker quite inspirational and on point.
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.
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.