Boris Becker on Novak Djokovic, coaching Alex Zverev and Rafael Nadal’s Australian Open chances

Boris Becker Eurosport

Boris Becker will be part of the Eurosport team covering the Australian Open over the next fortnight and he gave his views on all aspects of the tournament that is the most unpredictable Grand Slam event for years.

On favourite Novak Djokovic, the defending Australian Open champion, and about the on-going discussion about Novak and his personality and standing at the Tour…

It’s not the first time Djokovic has faced headwind. You have to take a stand for him, because he hasn’t always been treated fairly in the media. He knows how to deal with it. During my time with him, I’ve seen him almost as a street fighter who fears nothing and is not afraid of opposition. He’s the best in class and also responsible for the other players, so to speak. But that makes him stronger because he’s been through this for years. He has already won the Australian Open eight times and is the top favorite in the tournament. Everyone else knows what it means to play against Djokovic in Melbourne.

Alexander Zverev delighted

On Alexander Zverev being among the tournament favourites…

He is one of the favourites in the tournament. I would be very wrong if he doesn’t get very far in the tournament. He’s getting into his best tennis age. He knows that the responsibility is on him. The time for excuses is over.

On a possible coaching comeback, potentially as Alex Zverev’s coach…

As of today, I can’t imagine whether I will coach him again as a full-time coach. Because of the pandemic, there are more important issues for me at the moment than becoming a coach. At the moment, I see Zverev as the only German who can win a Grand Slam tournament. I would like to see a successor, help him and support him. That’s why: never say never. But as of today, the question doesn’t arise.

On his other top favourites besides Djokovic and Zverev in Melbourne…

People sometimes forget Rafael Nadal, he has a total of 20 Grand Slams and is playing against tennis history, so to speak. I also count him among the top favorites. But especially Dominic Thiem, who had a fantastic year in 2020 and made his breakthrough to the top of the world. He won the US Open and only just lost to Djokovic in Melbourne last year. I see Thiem right at the top. 

Rafael Nadal pulling a face

On the general challenges players have at the Australian Open…

They all have one problem: They don’t have enough matches. They all start from scratch, that’s the big unknown. Every favourite is afraid of the first round, all the favourites have to find themselves in the first week. Even Novak Djokovic is not someone who plays his best tennis at the drop of a hat. Due to the lack of preparation from all players, this Australian Open is perhaps more open than ever before.

On his love for the Australian Open and the fact that he can’t be on-site…

January is actually always firmly scheduled Australian for me. I love the country, I love the people, I love the tournament. It is the most beautiful, most relaxed Grand Slam for me. But we’re in different times at the moment, so I’m dealing with it quite rationally. We’re meeting with the Eurosport crew in our cozy studio and we’re also really excited and looking forward to it. It’s also a Herculean achievement on the part of Eurosport. From the outside, it always looks easier than it is. But we are a well-coordinated team.

Watch the Australian Open live on Eurosport and Eurosport app.

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