World No 1. Novak Djokovic, who has experienced a serious downswing in his career in 2016, is said to be splitting with his coach, former World No. 1 Boris Becker at the end of the season, it has emerged.
Following his win at the 2016 French Open – the first title at Roland Garros for the Serbian ace, Djokovic has seen several early-round exits – most notably this year at Wimbledon, where he was ousted in the third round by the big-serving American Sam Querrey; he also struggled at the Olympic Games this year, crashing out in the first round in both singles and doubles – the former to resurgent 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro.
Djokovic said in several interviews that he had seen “serious personal problems" in addition to the wrist injuries that had hampered his play, and many of his losses had been both physical and psychological.
Becker and Djokovic joined forces in early 2014, when Djokovic had won six Grand Slam titles. Together, the pair would go on to add another six to Djokovic’s tally, and overcame the Serb's French Open ‘jinx’ this year.
After progressing to the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters, Djokovic told reporters the pair were “still working together, the plan is now for the rest of the season,” but qualified that statement by saying the two had “not yet talked about” their plans next year.
"We are still working (together), yeah, for now the plan is the rest of the season, what's left, indoor tournaments.”
The Serb will play the BNP Paribas Paris Masters and the ATP World Tour Finals this year, where he is both top seed and reigning champion.
A series of strong performances early in the year in addition to the two opening Grand Slam titles have ensured that Djokovic’s ranking has not been under threat despite his recent spate of losses, but the Serb, who had a number of walkover wins at this year’s US Open, has not been playing in his usual form, or been able to entirely replicate the successes of his 2015 season.
It is now World No. 2 Andy Murray who, with a display of consistency no other player on the tour has appeared to have had, is closing in on Djokovic’s World No. 1 title – a feat he could well achieve next year. The Scot is also into the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters and yet to drop a set here; on self-confessedly his “best season yet”, Murray has also not seen struggles with either injury or consistency.
Former World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, who recently dropped out of the top 4, has also had his own struggles with form of late, and has suggested he may sit out the remainder of the 2016 season himself.
Djokovic is yet to explicitly make a statement regarding his potential split with Becker, but the fact that the two have not commenced discussions regarding the upcoming season, especially given that his top ranking could well be under threat.