In part two of our Tennis365 exclusive, Boris Becker discusses whether or not Novak Djokovic gets the credit he deserves and why he rates Andy Murray as “one of the best”.
Tennis365: You worked as Novak Djokovic’s coach – does he get the credit he deserves?
Becker: “Maybe not, but he is in an era when we have two incredible popular and successful players in [Roger] Federer and [Rafael] Nadal and that is a factor. Novak has had an incredible career and it was a privilege for me to work with him and get to know him and his team. I wish him all the best for the future and for sure he can win more majors.”
Tennis365: How highly do you rate Andy Murray?
Becker: “One of the best, for sure. In another era, maybe he would have more Grand Slam titles to confirm his quality, but this is a challenging time in tennis. His drive, his passion, his desire to get the best from himself is exceptional. He has the right attitude to succeed and many of the kids coming through could learn from him.”
Tennis365: What of the future… how do we replace these great champions?
Becker: “There does not seem to be an obvious answer why the talent is not coming through to challenge these amazing players at the very top of the game, even though we have discussed this for a long time. We have some kids coming through, but Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Nadal are still the best when they are fully fit. I believe that the 19-year-olds of today are not as mature as the 19-year-olds that were coming through back in my days on the tour. Physically they are fine, but mentally, they are not quite strong enough to put everything they need on the court.”
Tennis365: So why are the kids coming through not mentally strong enough?
Becker: “There are challenges now that maybe I didn’t have when I came through with one focus on winning Wimbledon. There are other distractions. How they approach the game, their priorities, how to handle this world we now live in. Social media is everywhere and the media in general is so powerful and it can be difficult for a young man trying to appreciate how to live with the kind of spotlight that falls on top tennis players. Sometimes these young guys believe their own hype and forget that they need to be on the practice court in great shape at 9am every morning. That is a problem with attitude and it can only be corrected with maturity.”
Tennis365: Why was it different for you?
Becker: “In many ways I was lucky to be surrounded by guys who all became successful in their teenage years. Mats Wilander was young, so was Michael Chang and Stefan Edberg and they were winning Grand Slam titles in their teenage years. I won Wimbledon as a teenager. Now, you don’t see teenagers going close in the big tournaments, but hopefully that will change.”
By Kevin Palmer
* Boris Becker spoke to Tennis365 in association with Sky Sports.
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