from Il Tempo
by Alessandro Nizegorodcew
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
The three greats back on court as coaches. They were chosen by Djokovic, Federer and Murray.
"I think there has been a generation that has really changed the game. The tennis we showed in the 80s is not so different from today's." Words by Boris Becker, former world No. 1 and Novak Djokovic's new coach. "Bum Bum" joins Ivan Lendl, Andy Murray's current coach, and probably Stefan Edberg, who is expected to announce shortly his sports union with Roger Federer. Becker, Lendl and Eberg, three extraordinary champions from the past, winners of as many as 20 Grand Slam titles on aggregate, three different talents, with extremely different personalities.
Ivan Lendl, born in 1960, has won eight Slams in his career (twice the Australian Open, three times the French and three times the US Open), without ever being able to triumph at Wimbledon, the only major regret of his glittering career. Lendl was the man of the records: he has won at least one tournament a year for fourteen consecutive seasons, from 1980 to 1993, reaching for eleven years ('81 - '91) a Grand Slam final. Player (and now coach) with a rough character, hostile to any outburst of joy, however, he was able to give the British crowd the joy of Andy Murray's Wimbledon title, 77 years after Fred Perry's. The first words from the Scottish champion were straightly directed to his coach with affection: "This title is dedicated to my staff and especially to my coach, Ivan Lendl, who has never managed to win here, even though he played two finals" .
Perhaps Novak Djokovic was inspired by the phrase when he chose Boris Becker, who never triumphed on the clay of Paris, to try and win the only Slam the Serb is missing: the Roland Garros. Just a few days ago the formalization of the union between the current world number 2 and "Bum Bum" Becker. "I know that Novak was very impressed with the Lendl-Murray team - said the German - and wanted to do something. This year, he lost a couple of bad matches in as many Grand Slam finals. Nole is a winner, he wants to continue to triumph to enter the history books. Murray and Nadal moved up a gear. He was left behind of that 5 or 10%. Something was missing for some reason and he decided that he wanted to include in his team someone who could help him, and here I am."
Becker, born in Leimen on November 22nd, 1967, revealed himself to the crowd in 1985, when, at 17, he imposed himself in the Wimbledon final against Kevin Curren. In his career he won six Slam titles (twice the Australian Open, three times Wimbledon and once the US Open) and lost four finals, while his best results in Paris were the semi-finals of 1987, 1989 and 1991. In Rome, Becker played a great tournament in 1994, cheered by Italian fans, but he was defeated by the best Pete Sampras ever seen on clay.
Who almost never played at the Foro Italico was Stefan Edberg, who may shortly formalize his agreement with Roger Federer. The Swede, however, regretted that choice in 1996 ("I should have played here more often"), when, in his last year on the tour, he returned to Rome for the joy of the fans who supported him as if he were an Italian tennis player. It's still in the eyes of those who were present how Edberg cried after the defeat against Krajicek, with the crowd of the Foro Italico Centre Court all paying to this great champion the well deserved tribute of a standing ovation. A champion, the Swede born in Vastervik on January 19, 1966, able to bring home six Grand Slam titles (twice the Australian Open, twice Wimbledon and twice the US Open) and a total of 42 ATP tournaments.
"If it were possible I would be happy to coach Federer - Edberg said - I was very surprised by the fact that Roger is pointing to me because it is now a long time since I left tennis, but it flatters me. He's a fantastic player and I'm sure he can even win more Grand Slam titles. If I would change anything in his tennis? I have some ideas, but it is too early to reveal them."
The trend of champions of the '80s and '90s dusted off as coaches of current top-10 players doesn't only concern Lendl, Edberg and Becker: the union between Wawrinka and Magnus Norman, former world number 2, will continue next year, after a 2013 of the highest level, while Gasquet has chosen Sergi Bruguera, winner of two French Opens in 1993 and 1994, as his new coach.
Lendl-Murray, Djokovic-Becker, Edberg-Federer: 48 Grand Slam titles altogether. The three big former champions are ready to compete for new trophies, new goals, new targets. They dominated the ATP tour for years and want to go do it again through their "pupils." On the other hand, champions once champions forever.
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