Boris Becker says Novak Djokovic ‘thrives’ on noisy crowds

Novak Djokovic’s former coach, Boris Becker, has claimed that noisy crowds and hecklers will only spur Novak Djokovic on at the Australian Open.

Djokovic eased past Andrey Rublev in straight sets in the quarter-finals, but the match was disrupted by a heckler. Boisterous crowds have been commonplace at this tournament.

“It’s a theatrical play on the court, where you want to entertain your spectators,” Becker, who coached Djokovic from 2013-2016, said on Eurosport Germany’s Matchball Becker show.

“You need the feedback. The louder and more emotional it is the better for the performances of the players – and Djokovic, in particular, thrives on that.”

Becker, who won six grand slam singles titles in a professional career spanning from 1984 to 1999, went on to coach Djokovic to six.

Seven years after they parted ways, the Serb is still on top of his game, and Becker credited Djokovic’s resilience and his serve as critical factors in him staying at a world class level.

“I’m not surprised, but repeatedly impressed that he is able to deliver his performances again and again,” he said.

“He has been on the tennis tour for quite a few years now, and he has been a bit injured physically – that he always finds the motivation and the strength to play his best tennis right on the dot is impressive.

“The most important thing is that he doesn’t let that impress him now – the semi-final is coming up and he must not look to the future too euphorically.”He must tick off the match now, relax a bit tonight, and then concentrate on the next match from tomorrow.

“At the beginning of his career, the serve was a weakness in his game, but he has understood over the years that the serve is important, and has also worked on improving it – and now it is his strength.

“Today, that also made the difference. Not only the power of the serve but also the many free points that resulted from it. He hit 14 aces. You didn’t see that from Djokovic before.

“On top of that, he made 80 per cent of the points when the first serve went in – those are fantastic numbers, which only the best service players in the world have.”

Djokovic will play unseeded American Tommy Paul in the semi-finals. Should he see off that challenge, as expected to, he will face either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Karen Khachanov in the final.

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By Leonard Solms

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