It took six months for Djokovic's relationship with coach Becker to blossom

LONDON • Few things in life run smoothly, particularly stress-ridden, high-profile relationships between ruthlessly motivated people who deal in sporting success.

So it is not surprising that Novak Djokovic admits to having differences with Boris Becker, his coach.

Yet, 30 years on from a memorable afternoon when a 17-year-old German, who went by the nickname of "Boom Boom", hurled himself around the All England Club's Centre Court to become Wimbledon's youngest men's singles champion, the look of triumph on Becker's face was obvious when Djokovic won that same title for the third time on Sunday.

"We are on a high and the whole team is ecstatic," said an elated Becker after Djokovic had denied Roger Federer a record eighth Wimbledon title for the second year running. "This is a very special day in our lives."

When Djokovic hired Becker as head coach in mid-December 2013, he made no secret of his reasoning.


  • Boris Becker has overseen Novak Djokovic's run to the top of the game, but how do they compare as players on the biggest stage?

  • Australian Open

    Djokovic has won five championships at the Rod Laver Arena, including this year's title, while Becker triumphed in 1991 and 1996

  • French Open

    Roland Garros is the one Grand Slam title to have eluded master and apprentice. Becker lost in three semi-finals while Djokovic has finished runner-up three times

  • Wimbledon

    Both men have won three titles at SW19. Becker won his first at the age of 17, in 1985, while Djokovic was 24 when he beat Rafael Nadal in 2011

  • US Open

    Djokovic and Becker have each lifted the US Open trophy once. Djokovic's win was in 2011 while Becker beat Ivan Lendl in 1989.

Although the Serb had spent 101 weeks as world No. 1 and collected six Grand Slam titles, he had lost four of the previous five Grand Slam finals he had contested.

Djokovic, desperate the trend should end, noted how the coaching influence of Ivan Lendl had taken Andy Murray from a habitual runner-up to champion. He wanted the input of somebody who had experienced the ultimate pressure moments and come out on top.

However, the compatibility of the pair was immediately in question and as one observer at the time wrote: "It could be a great fit. Or it could all be over by Christmas."

The new partnership suffered an early blow when Djokovic lost at the Australian Open quarter-finals.

Djokovic admitted on Sunday that working with Becker has not always been easy.

"At the beginning, it was important for the two of us to understand each other as people, not just tennis players," he said. "How we approach life and how we approach tennis in general... and it took time.

"It was not always easy at the beginning. We weren't always on the same side. That doesn't mean we were arguing or had fights."

It took nearly six months to really create the chemistry they now have, both on and off the court.

"It started with Rome in May last year," said Djokovic. "I started to feel we were making the right connection and then came the final of the French Open and before winning Wimbledon. That swing of about two months really catapulted us to a positive side."

Another Wimbledon victory cements the partnership and, while Djokovic admires Becker's toughness, the feeling is now mutual.

"He's a tough cookie," Becker said. "I call him a street fighter and when the going gets tough, he gets better. When he bleeds a little bit, he goes forward. That's his trademark."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2015, with the headline 'It took six months for Djokovic's relationship with coach Becker to blossom'. Print Edition | Subscribe