Boris Becker: Novak Djokovic lost top spot because he didn't work hard enough
Boris Becker has parted ways with Novak Djokovic by suggesting the Serbian player's days of dominating tennis are over unless he changes his ways.
The German icon, who has departed his role as Djokovic's head coach, believes the 12-times Grand Slam winner surrendered his number one status because he didn't practice enough after completing the career Grand Slam by winning the French Open in June.
Djokovic, 29, was world number two behind Rafael Nadal, and had won six Grand Slams when Becker was appointed in December, 2013.
The German left on Tuesday by "mutal agreement" with Djokovic doubling his Grand Slam haul to 12 in a dominant 223-week spell as world number one.
But there has been a notable slump in Djokovic's pristine form over the past six months which has led to the loss of his status as the game's outstanding performer.
Novak Djokovic, Paris 2016 - French OpenAFP
Andy Murray relieved him of the number one position after a glorious run in the second half of the year, eight of his nine titles were won from June onwards, culminating in a comfortable victory over his fierce rival in straight sets at the ATP Tour World finals in London last month.
The challenge for Djokovic is attempting to revisit his incredible run of form, but Becker believes that won't happened unless the Serbian is willing to put his profession first.
Becker said recent times working with Djokovic had been challenging:
"A decision like this does not happen overnight. It is a progress. I think the last six months have been challenging on many levels. Our hands were tied a little bit because we couldn't do the work we wanted to do. He didn't spend as much time on the practice court in the last six months as he should have and he knows that."
Djokovic suffered serious shocks to the system in the second half of 2016 including defeats to Sam Querrey in the third round of Wimbledon, Juan Martin del Potro in the first round of the Rio Olympics and Stan Wawrinka in the US Open final.
His veneer of invincibility had been well torn down by the time Murray met him to decide who would end the year as world number at the O2.
"But the profession of a tennis player is probably the most selfish one in sports because it has to be about you and he is the first to say he is a family man so of course his wife and the rest of his family had to take back seats."
"That can't be forever and I think that is what he meant. I don't think there were problems. I have met his wife - she is lovely and very, very supportive of her husband.
Novak Djokovic faces mediaAFP
"But they don't spend enough time together. I had it too, 20 years ago. It is just the nature of the beast, being a tennis player."
Becker, the youngest winner of Wimbledon at the age of 17 in 1985 amid a haul six majors, was content with his contribution to Djokovic's domination of the sport in recent years.
"It was an unbelievable ride," he said. "We had three years of lots of success.
"Of course there are one or two losses that I would like to erase and not be reminded of but overall if somebody would have told us three years ago we are going to win six Grand Slams together, regain the No 1 spot in the world and just be the most dominant player, I would have signed up for that."
Djokovic's statement on split
"After three very successful years, Boris Becker and I have jointly decided to end our cooperation. The goals we set when we started working together have been completely fulfilled, and I want to thank him for the cooperation, teamwork, dedication and commitment. On the other hand, my professional plans are now directed primarily to maintain a good level of play, and also to make a good schedule and new goals for the next season. In this regard I will make all future decisions."
What Djokovic won under Becker
- Wimbledon 2014
- Australian Open 2015
- Wimbledon 2015
- US Open 2015
- Australian Open 2016
- French Open 2016
- Six tour titles in 2014 including World Tour Finals
- Eight tour titles in 2015 including World Tour Finals
- Five tour titles in 2016
Our view - Becker's frustration obvious in timely divorce
All has not been well in the world of Novak Djokovic as a tennis professional over the past six months. Whatever has gone on in his life away from tennis has not been helpful to his focus on the court. That is not fraternising with hyperbole, just a fact of life that is borne out by a gradual deterioration in his form and results.
He is just human and probably enjoys his life away from hitting balls for hours every day, but the warning signs were there back in July when Becker warned him about the dangers of failing to prepare properly after his loss to Querrey, an outcome that helped Murray claim a second Wimbledon title. Becker felt he had enjoyed winning the French Open "a little bit too much". For his part, a confused Djokovic said that he lost his nerve in the US Open final defeat to Wawrinka, an astonishing admission for a figure whose iron will seemed to make him devoid of such fraility.
The self-belief and confidence has been draining from Djokovic's system from the US Open relapse while Murray was hellbent on closing an 8,000 points gap at the top of the rankings, a deficit that seemed impregnable after his rampaging win over the Scotsman at Roland Garros.
erbia's Novak Djokovic (C) posing with his trophy flanked by his coach former German tennis player Boris Becker (C-R) in the locker room after winning the men's final match against Britain's Andy Murray at the Roland Garros 2016 French Tennis Open in PariAFP
Despite his astonishing recent success, it is a moot point if Murray has improved dramatically, but his work ethic has given scope to feel better about himself. We know Djokovic has nosedived because his outgoing coach has said so.
While Djokovic has suddenly started talking about enjoying his tennis, Murray has been straining every sinew for success. Enjoyment is not part of the process for a tennis professional at such an elite level. Murray, reunited with coach Ivan Lendl in the past six months, has basked in a sense of relief more than enjoyment with his frame holding up well after back surgery cast doubts over his career in 2013.
Against a man who seemed to have his number for years, Murray will go into next month's Australian Open quietly confident about his prospects of toppling Djokovic if they come across each other in Melbourne. Djokovic must hope the divorce from Becker brings him rosier times, but he would rather be in Andy Murray's position at the end of the year than attempting to rediscover his form and himself.
Tennis legend Boris Becker is joining Eurosport - the six times Grand Slam champion Becker will offer tactical analysis and unique insights for Eurosport's German-language coverage during the Australian Open coverage from January 16-29.