Boris Becker has said “street fighter” Novak Djokovic deserves to be cut some slack by the media.
As well as being a 17-time Grand Slam champion, Djokovic is a controversial figure in the world of sport.
He has some outspoken views, and courted controversy in the run-up to the Australian Open, which starts next week live on Eurosport, with his comment about players being asked to quarantine on account of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Australian star Nick Kyrgios labelled Djokovic a tool for his demands that were flatly rejected by Victorian state officials.
It all became rather ugly, with Djokovic not faring well with regard to coverage in the media.
Becker, who coached the world number one earlier in his career, has backed Djokovic to win his ninth Australian Open - and wants the media to celebrate him as opposed to questioning him.
"It's not the first time Djokovic has faced headwind,” Becker told Eurosport. “You have to take a stand for him, because he hasn't always been treated fairly in the media. He knows how to deal with it.
During my time with him, I've seen him almost as a street fighter who fears nothing and is not afraid of opposition.
“He's the best in class and also responsible for the other players, so to speak. But that makes him stronger because he's been through this for years.
“He has already won the Australian Open eight times and is the top favourite in the tournament. Everyone else knows what it means to play against Djokovic in Melbourne.”
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While Djokovic is Becker’s pick for glory in Melbourne, he has tipped his fellow German Alex Zverev to go deep in the tournament.
"He is one of the favourites in the tournament,” Becker said of Zverev. “I would be very wrong if he doesn't get very far in the tournament.
He's getting into his best tennis age. He knows that the responsibility is on him. The time for excuses is over.
Becker was asked about the possibility of coaching Zverev in the future, but played down the prospect of linking up with the 23-year-old on a regular basis.
"As of today, I can't imagine whether I will coach him again as a full-time coach,” Becker said. “Because of the pandemic, there are more important issues for me at the moment than becoming a coach.
“Never say never. But as of today, the question doesn't arise.”
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