Boris Becker On Coaching Split: Djokovic Wasn’t Practicing As Much As He Should Have Been [Video]
by Tom Gainey | December 7th, 2016, 9:59 am

24 hours after parting ways with Novak Djokovic, Boris Becker revealed to Sky Sports some of what led to the split, which he called “mutual”.

“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,” Becker said. “He didn’t spend as much time on the practice court in the last six months as he should have and he knows that.

“Success like this doesn’t happen by pushing a button. Success like this doesn’t just happen by showing up at a tournament. You have to work your bottom off because the opposition does the same.”

Becker said after Djokovic completed the career Slam at the French, Novak wanted to spend more time with his family and less on tennis, something the German found no argument with.

“I don’t know if he had any personal problems based on what I know,” Becker said. “He is happily married. He has got a beautiful son.

“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.

“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 added that the loss of the No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray will hurt Djokovic, but the Serb will rise up again.

“But he has got to go back to work,” Becker said. “He has to go back to the office and practice these hours and refocus on what made him strong in the first place.”

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41 Comments for Boris Becker On Coaching Split: Djokovic Wasn’t Practicing As Much As He Should Have Been [Video]

Truthsquad Says:

Wow…Boris waited a whole 24 hours before gently throwing Novak under the bus…Very classy move!

Markus Says:

Nothing mean in that interview. Becker just said it as it is. In fact, I think he even sugarcoated it.

RZ Says:

I would think that the contracts for coaches of top tennis players involve a level of non-disclosure about issues, habits, etc. But either clearly not or Boris is disregarding it. Or maybe practice/lack of practice is not covered if there was such an agreement.

skeezer Says:

I think this is where Fed has had an advantage over other married top tier players, his wife played pro tennis and understands the selfishness a tennis player has to have and the sacrifice to be on top.
BB has clearly proven he is a top level coach. Wish him all the best.

Giles Says:

Let’s see come next year. Talk is cheap. In another 3 months Boris will be involved with another player and joker will be on the back burner on his list of players he will support.

Yolita Says:

Predictably, pundits are ignoring all the nice things Boris said about Novak, to focus on the one comment which could be spinned in a negative way.

Boris said, about Nole’s slump after RG. “It was the natural reaction to perfection”. People forget that after winning Roland Garros, Novak had on his mantelpiece the 4 GS titles, the WTFs, 5 masters titles and 3 masters’ runner-up plates. 13 out of 14 elite events. As close to perfection as we had ever seen in the history of men’s tennis. Naturally Novak wanted to rest and take it all in.

He also wanted more time for his family, Boris said. And Boris agreed: “Good for him”, Boris said.

But of course that’s a boring topic of conversation, isn’t it?

Finally: obviously Novak practiced less. Wasn’t it clear to everybody who watched him play that that was not peak Novak?

MMT Says:

Yolita: I’m open to being convinced that the press has embellished here – they do it frequently. However, in this case, whether they’ve embellished or unfairly focused on the negative, it seems to me that Becker has opened the door with the comments in the first place. In and of itself, that seems to be fairly newsworthy, and I find it difficult to criticize their attention to that.

Do you have examples from any of Federer or Murray’s former coaches that detail the issues with them just after a split, that would suggest that these comments from Becker are standard and/or being blown out of proportion? I suggest those two because they’re very high profile, they’ve had many high profile coaches, but I don’t recall these kinds of comments being made – criticizing a player’s training and commitment.

I can’t also help but notice that he seems to take little responsibility for the turn in Djokovic’s fortunes, which I’ve always found ironic of all the entourages. Everyone blanketly accepts when the entourages are given credit, but nobody (but me, it seems) finds it ironic that they’re never assigned blame, nor do they ever take responsibility for a players’ poor results. Until I see someone in an entourage hold their hand up and say, “I didn’t do enough, you can blame this one on me,” I think it’s a bit of having your cake and eating it too…but I digress.

I do recall some reporting that there were financial disagreements that contributed to the split between Federer and Roche, but I don’t believe they were quotes from Roche himself, just reporters claiming inside information. That seems to reflect poorly on Federer, but again that came from press and importantly not from Roche, as I recall. But I don’t have links to those reports, that’s just from memory.

prao Says:

Boris is spot on. He was forthright before taking on the job in 2014 about the fact that he had a family and it would not make sense for him to commit 100% unless his protégé did the same, nor would it be fair for both without absolute dedication from both. If i recall, it was vajda who suggested Becker’s name to begin with to add a big match player mindset and game and the results are pretty obvious. He has said he would not coach other top players on tactics/ strategy should this stint end, and if he saw a lack of commitment from Novak’s side now and going forward, makes total sense. My only question are how much Novak’s injuries were a factor.

prao Says:

MMT, if Djokovic said winning grand slams and being no 1 were no longer top priorities of his, then frankly why would Boris be required? He was brought on board to help with big matches and improve Novak’s game. It’s not just from Novak’s perspective, Becker felt imo his role was unnecessary considering Novak’s new found priorities.

MMT Says:

prao: When did Djokovic say that winning majors was not a priority? I believe the quote after the US Open was, “I psychologically felt huge pressure, and now I’m no longer thinking about the number of titles. If they come, super, I will accept them,” Djokovic said. ”After all, tennis is not the only thing in the world.” Was there another quote?

prao Says:

MMT, he said exactly what i posted “…being no 1 and winning grand slams were no longer my priorities”. Yes, he also said what you quoted after the open, but imo these statements coupled with injuries are probably the reasons he is reevaluating his goals. Maybe a reduced schedule will help him in the grand slams but he still has to put in the work.

Yolita Says:


I don’t know about other coaches of other players. I am talking about the several interviews Boris has givemn in the past few days about Novak. He has said so much, and only a couple of comments have been deemed interesting enough to talk about by pundits. I think that in the interest of fairness, all of Boris comments about Djokovic and this year in particular should deserve attention.

Check the interviews he gave The Daily Mail,and the Times, on top of the Sky Sports One. Some comments were very illuminating.

A few examples:

1. He mentioned Novak’s injuries, and how they made practicing more difficult. Nobody seemed interested in this toopic. It may be taboo , for all I know.

2. He mentioned the extraordinary period that culminated by winning Roland Garros and Novak holding 10 of the 14 elite events in tennis. Boris said: it’s only natural to sit and take it all in. He said: “It was the natural reaction to perfection”

3. He mentioned Novak’s family and how Novak wanted to spend more time with them. Rememebr when the tennis community thought it was good for players to put famnily first?

4. Boris said, with love in his eyes: “I love my player. I will defend him.”

To ignore everything and just focus on Novak not practicing enough gives casula fans the wrong impression about what Boris has said, all in all, these past days. It’s wrong, in my opinion. It fails to capture the love between Boris and Novak.

Wog Boy Says:

This is how “objective” blogger manufactures the quote to suit his argument:

“I psychologically felt huge pressure, and now I’m no longer thinking about the number of titles. If they come, super, I will accept them,”

Of course, “objective blogger couldn’t gives us a link since Nole never said that. What Nole said was, quote:

“I don’t want to think about winning titles and being the number one any more in order to avoid putting pressure on myself,” Djokovic, the winner of 12 major tournaments, told reporters.

It is clear that means any titles, including GS ones.
Of course, I’ll follow the quote with the link of the article named “Winning grand slams is no longer my priority, says Djokovic”:

prao Says:

Yolita and wogboy, thank you for the great posts. I had seen another link regarding his priorities very similar to the Reuters one but can’t find it right now.

Wog Boy Says:


I wouldn’t bother arguing, you can see huge disappointment on TX and elsewhere that Boris didn’t spit the dummy and didn’t wash dirty linen in the public so they are desperately hanging to anything they can find and take out of context and that is bloody hard to do when it comes to Boris and Nole:)

Truth Says:

Novak suffered an injury then he became briefly distracted, enough to fall off the tennis map.
He threw away over 8000 ranking points. Nothing minor about his mental problems.
He didn’t practice much and was diving head first into his solemn brother Marko’s life.
He’s willing to humiliate himself for Marko. Marko is in the depths of despair without Novak.
Boris doesn’t quite understand. It’s not about not spending time with his wife.
Novak feels guilty about succeeding too much.

prao Says:

Truth, if that is truly the case it is something else altogether. There is no easy answer for that, i’m afraid.

jane Says:

yolita, that’s a great amalgamation of quotes that rounds out the story of their partnership ending. thanks.

MMT Says:

sinha71 – thanks for the link, precisely the one to which I referred. I think the title of the article is interpretive (not a quote) of what he actually said, and ultimately misleading.

And Wog Boy, as usual, you see what you want to see. I made no argument to prao – I just asked for when he said he wasn’t interested in winning majors. The entirety of your diatribe is reflective of your bias.

I should also point out that Djokovic made no mention of not caring about majors or the #1 ranking, simply that he wasn’t thinking about the number of titles because it too much pressure on himself. Those are not the same, and I would be surprised if he meant them to be.

And Yolita, if there is a difference in the way the media portray this, and how other coaches of players of that calibre have commented after a split, it is not because who the comments are about, but rather the comments themselves. To treat them the same, as if they were, would be more indicative of a bias, than to correctly portray them as different.

As I said, I’m open to being convinced, but my analysis would depend on other coaches saying similar things and then seeing if the press reacted or reported it differently.

Wog Boy Says:

BS, you were caught red handed trying to manufacture the wuote to suit your argument and made full of yourself.
Do you really think that anybody will believe you, even Willow, that you didn’t know or couldn’t find what Nole really said, professional bloger like you who throwing link after link in every argument!?
Talking about being biased, I really loved your article about greatest tennis feat in the history since RL 1968, Nole wining non calendar Grand Slam…how can not right about that if you are tennis lover and run tennis blog, good on you;)

Wog Boy Says:

“quote” not “wuote”

“fool” not “full”

Danica Says:

Also, a very telling quote (not verbatim) by Boris: “If I had to pick one player to play for my life, that would have to be Novak”.

Humble Rafa Says:

his wife played pro tennis and understands the selfishness a tennis player has to have and the sacrifice to be on top.

His wife also rips his opponents from the stands..pathetic. Remember, cry baby thing?

Willow Says:

Wogboy @ December 8th 5.10pm, many thanks for remembering me in your post, SEASONS GREETINGS or A MERRY CHRISTMAS, depending on the way you choose to celebrate, your such a gentleman, what would we all do here without you ;-) ….

Giles Says:

Willow. The man insults you and you are sucking up to him? Geez

MMT Says:

Wog Boy: The quote from sinha71’s link is there in plain English. How I could manufacture it when it was posted by in September is beyond my ability to comprehend.

As for the reuters link, he says he doesn’t want to “think” about the number of titles or the #1 rank, not that he doesn’t care about winning grand slams…coincidentally for the same reason as quoted in the link: that he doesn’t want to put too much pressure on himself. But one still has to infer that he doesn’t care about winning grand slams from that, because he didn’t say it, according to even the reuters quote.

Again, the title of that article, as well as the article is a stretch, and not a good one (in my opinion) that misses his point: that he wants to return to playing for the enjoyment, not that he doesn’t care about winning grand slams.

Try as you may to dissuade people from reading my blog as “biased”, it always comes back to the same thing: your bias towards Djokovic, not mine. You’re using the (erroenous) contention that the absence of a post that YOU want to read is evidence of MY bias? As you said yourself, “…anyone can have a blog…” so if you want that piece, go and write it – it’s a free internet.

I’ll continue writing what I want to write, with rational analysis that is not based in bias for or against any player.

Willow Says:

MMT I Enjoy reading your posts, and your blog, so keep up the good work, and SEASONS GREETINGS too BTW ;-)) ….

skeezer Says:

^same here!

Willow Says:

Giles spot the sarcasm my dear ;-) ….

Willow Says:

^Roughly translated means, insult me all you like, as i dont care anymore, nobody is going to drive me away, they can like it or lump it, but im here to stay ^ ….

BBB Says:

I don’t understand the fuss. Nobody’s saying Djokovic is lazy. He is not as dedicated to practicing right now because he is prioritizing his family. Would Djokovic disagree? Unlikely – seems like it was a conscious decision. Becker himself respects it. To me, Becker is simply saying that you have to choose between being a family man and dominating men’s tennis, and Djokovic for the past six months has chosen family man over tennis.

Danica Says:

My sentiment exactly.
When (and if) Nole decides it’s time to go back to tennis 100%, he will do it.
I am fine with whatever he decides.

rognadfan Says:

If I understand correctly, the last 6 months, Nole went to the tournaments thinking that he would lose them because he didn’t have enough practice? That’s bullshit.
The lack of practice- or (whatever issue there was) hurting his game- came after he started losing the tournaments.I agree his mental state may be was not up there due to some issues, but he was still working hard and going to the tournaments to win.

He is a family man now but let’s face it- he certainly didn’t have a mind set of ‘I am happy to go to a tournament and lose in the final/semifinal, so I am not going to practice’ during those last few months.
Show me otherwise please!

Adam Sykes Says:

I do understand Beckers Point, it must be annoying trying to train one of the best in the world and he just won’t put in the time to better himself. Especially when he could see Murray working hard and overtaking Djokovic. I think it’s time for change and a mix up from the Djokovic camp

BBB Says:

Of course he’s not happy to lose. Who said he was? He thanked his family at the French Open for putting up with him and acknowledging how challenging it was. He’s been performing at less than his best ever since, winning despite his subpar game rather than because of it. I suspect he hoped that he’d be able to win despite a reduced practice schedule.

Can people really not muster a shred of objectivity about any player that isn’t their favorite? It’s pathetic.

Danica Says:

“I suspect he hoped that he’d be able to win despite a reduced practice schedule.”
Exactly. My feeling is that he was too confident. That he thought that even a slightly lesser level would be enough. That’s why Boris was mentioning “pressing of a button”.

Wog Boy Says:

The Queen of Gypsy music died today, this is her singing Gypsy anthem, marvelous video, marvelous song, lyrics next to none, says everything about Gypsy life and struggling,
RIP Esma Redzepova:

If you wonder why I posted it here, simply, she is (was) the Gypsy from the Balkans, proud to be one.

Willow Says:

Thanks for that Wogboy ;-) ….

MMT Says:

Thanks Willow – I intended to write a wrap up of 2016, but to be perfectly honest, I lack motivation. Back here to see read a bit and see if it reappears.

Thanks again to you, Skeezer and any “closet” readers. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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