Novak Djokovic had to overcome ‘inner demons’ to compete with the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, according to his former coach Boris Becker.
Djokovic began his coaching relationship with the former No.1 at the start of 2014 when he had six Grand Slam titles to his name, and when their partnership finished at the end of 2016 he had doubled his tally.
Becker spoke of the first interaction between him and the Serb when he reached out, “We spoke, I said ‘I’m too old to bulls**t you.’”
He continued, “It gets personal, I’m like do you want your mother to cry or do you want his mother to cry? You’re a proud Serbian, you’re a proud family man, you would do anything to protect your family. That’s how you have to be. That’s the attitude.”
The three-time Wimbledon champion even referenced Djokovic’s three biggest rivals at the time, who he had lost to in Grand Slam finals.
“Rafa wants to do the same, Roger wants to do the same and Andy [Murray] wants to do the same. They want to protect their families. So now go out and do it.”
The German added, “Then we still had to overcome a couple of inner demons that I can’t talk about. Why you faltered at the last hurdle.”
Novak Djokovic vs Nadal, Federer and Murray before and after 2014
Novak Djokovic vs Nadal overall: 30-29
Djokovic vs Nadal before 2014: 17-22
Djokovic vs Nadal after 2014: 13-7
Novak Djokovic vs Federer overall: 27-23
Djokovic vs Federer before 2014: 15-16
Djokovic vs Federer after 2014: 12-7
Novak Djokovic vs Murray overall: 25-11
Djokovic vs Murray before 2014: 11-8
Djokovic vs Murray after 2014: 14-3
The 22-time Grand Slam champion himself also commented on the effect that Becker had on him at the time, “We did talk about all the off-court activities that could be favourable and also the other ones that are actually a distraction.
Djokovic added, “He asked me, so what do you want from tennis? Do you have clarify of your goals? So I said of course, I want to write the history of the sport and I want to do it with you so we clicked right away.”
The Serb used his 2014 Wimbledon final win over Federer as an example of Becker’s presence coming into play, “Having him there, – he was just so serene, he was just so strong and he stood his ground. He knows exactly what I’m going through.”
Djokovic continued, “Okay, I’m back here again where I need to be and focused on the next point. Throughout the match there was a lot of oscillations, right? In those most important moments having Boris there just gave me that fuel and that extra inch to overcome the challenge.”