from La Stampa
by Stefano Semeraro
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Djokovic chooses the Geman to get back to number one: but it doesn't always work out.
"I am very pleased to have been named by Novak Djokovic to be his coach, together we will do great things." Bang, or better Bum bum, since the quotation belongs to Boris Becker, the former wunderkind who, between the '80s and '90s, turned Wimbledon into his garden and tennis in a battlefield with his Sturm und Drang serve and volley.
A surprise wedding which confirms a trend, the revival of the '80s, launched a couple of years ago by Andy Murray with the hiring of Ivan Lendl. In recent days, in fact, Michael Chang and even Becker's rival Stefan Edberg got back in the circle: the former will follow the Japanese talent Kay Nishikori, the latter, after having spent ten days in Dubai training with Roger Federer, might accompany him on the tour next year "for a few weeks," as the Swiss confessed to his magic circle.
Mix everything with Jimmy Connors' failure (hired and fired after only one tournament this summer by Maria Sharapova) and a dose of hope from Sergi Bruguera, double French Open champion in the mid '90s, since a few days at Richard Gasquet's side, and you will get the vintage cocktail of a generation and a half of stars that, after facing each other on the courts, are now getting back to the challenge from the bench.
The decision of the restless Nole, it must be said, is puzzling. That the world no.2 felt the need of a more offensive mindset was understood since the (failed) attempts to combine his historic mentor Marian Vajda (who will continue to follow him) with the doubles player Mark Woodforde and then Todd Martin.
Becker, who will advise Novak in the Slams and in eight other tournaments, has a luxury pedigree (6 Slams), but has been out of the loop for long, has got no experience as a coach, has never shined as a tactician and, as a player, had a completely different style from the Serb's.
In recent times, then, he has made himself heard especially for some clownish appearance in TV shows and for some rumours on the miserable state of his finances.
Technical operation or marketing stunt? Djokovic believes he can replicate the magic spell between Lendl and his buddy Murray, who, with the sphinx from Ostrava placed in the stands, took the monkey off his shoulder winning the triplet Olympics-US Open-Wimbledon.
"Boris is a legend - said Nole - with his experience he can help me win more trophies."
Relying on big names is not always a guarantee of success. This is demonstrated by the cases of Connors, who also followed Roddick always without great success, or Mats Wilander, who did not have great influence on Marat Safin's career, while Ivan Lendl has been good for Murray, Tony Roche masterly led three number ones like Lendl, Federer and Hewitt, Billie Jean King contributed to wean Martina Navratilova.
For alchemy to work out there must be a common project, compatible characters and lots of patience. At a first glance, it does not seem the case with the new duo, but, since he won Wimbledon in 1985 at age 17, Bum bum is used to amazing everyone, and not just the tennis world.
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