Boris ‘Boom-Boom’ Becker and Novak Djokovic have been quite a brilliant coach-player combo in tennis recently. The duo seemed like a good fit and a sure-shot recipe for success when Djokovic morphed into a dominating champion under Becker’s guidance.
The pair ended their fruitful partnership after three successful years and six Grand Slam titles together.
Now, Djokovic has revealed he has ‘amicably’ parted ways with his entire core team – long-term coach Marian Vajda, his fitness coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch, and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic, with the Serbian implying he might take on a tennis icon as coach.
Djokovic hired Becker at the start of 2014 and had two of the best seasons in his career – that saw him win six of his 12 Grand Slam titles. Last year in particular was phenomenal, when he won three Grand Slams and lost the French Open final to Stan Wawrinka.
But ever since his French Open victory earlier this year, Djokovic has not been himself. The Serb lost in the third round of Wimbledon, was beaten by Juan Martin del Potro at the Olympics, and fell to Wawrinka in the US Open final.
He suffered a wrist injury and judging by his words recently, a crisis of confidence as well. The steely determination that was part of Djokovic’s aura has visibly diminished and he was ousted from the Shanghai Masters this week by Roberto Bautista Agut in the semis.
The Serb seems to be embracing a fresh outlook and now, having parted with the German, who would he hire next? We take a look at five coaches who could help Djokovic get back to his best.
#5 Alejo Mancisidor
Alejo Mancisidor, a 46-year-old former tennis player, is best known for guiding Garbine Muguruza to the pinnacle of women’s tennis. Mancisidor coached Muguruza for 5 years from 2010 to 2015, helping the 23-year-old become the champion she is today. Mancisidor’s influence was crucial in Muguruza embracing her power-packed game which saw her challenge the likes of Serena Williams.
She reached the finals of Wimbledon in 2015 under Mancisidor – a commendable achievement for someone like Muguruza who grew up playing on clay.
Though Mancisidor’s coaching resume is not star-studded, he has certainly proved that he is capable of guiding a player to the top level.
Though the Muguruza has moved on from the Spaniard, there is no doubting the fact that even Muguruza’s French Open win in 2016 is down to him to an extent. Yes, Djokovic is already right up there and what he needs right now might be slightly different but a punt on Mancisidor might be worth taking.
#4 Jimmy Connors
With 8 Grand Slam titles to his name, Jimmy Connors is considered to be one among the best ever to play tennis. He has also proved his mettle as a coach too, having coached the likes of Andy Murray and Eugenie Bouchard.
The American coached Andy Roddick, who was struggling to get out of the shadows cast by Nadal and Federer, for a 19-month period between 2006 and 2008 and also had a brief spell in charge of Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard.
Roddick enjoyed a period of resurgence under Connors’ charge, reaching the US Open finals once and the Australian Open semifinal before a spate of injuries laid him low. His work with Eugenie Bouchard has also been lauded.
The Canadian sensation had lost her mojo prior to the 2015 US Open when he worked with her for a while. She promptly reached the 4th round of the Grand Slam – a marked difference from earlier tournaments. Connors has done it all and certainly shown that he can improve players. Might well be a good option for Novak.
#3 Amelie Mauresmo
Well, it was about time a woman’s name cropped up in this list and Amelie Mauresmo has very good credentials as a coach. The 2-time Grand Slam winner proved herself capable of working with a top male player after her stint with Andy Murray between June 2014 and May 2016.
She is credited with bringing an element of calmness and quirkiness to the Scot’s game – all at a time when he was struggling under a cloud of self-doubts. Murray went on to reach the finals of 3 Grand Slams under Mauresmo’s guidance and was quick to credit the Frenchwoman for his improvement.
Though he split with her this year, Djokovic’s entourage might be tempted to recruit Mauresmo, given that Djokovic also appears to be struggling under self-doubts. She might provide a fresh perspective to the World No.1. It is also worth noting that Mauresmo worked with Marion Bartoli during her Wimbledon triumph in 2013.
#2 Brad Gilbert
Brad Gilbert a successful tennis player during the ‘90s, has coached a slew of top stars and has a coaching resume most would die for. Some of the stars he has coached are Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray, and the Japanese sensation Kei Nishikori.
Gilbert is known to be a highly technical coach and made his bones by coaching Agassi for 8 years. Gilbert’s influence can be measured from the fact that Agassi won 6 of his 8 majors while working with the American. Also, Andy Roddick won his only Grand Slam – the 2003 US Open under Gilbert’s guidance.
In fact, Agassi described Gilbert as “the greatest coach of all time”. He would go on to play a significant role in the rise of Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori as well before guiding Sam Querrey lately. Though he currently works as a broadcaster, there is no doubt that he still has the ability to help Djokovic overcome his ‘comparative’ slump.
#1 Stefan Edberg
Stefan Edberg enjoyed a famous rivalry with Djokovic’s current coach Boris Becker during their playing days and the Swede has proved himself capable of rivalling Borg even in coaching.
When Federer sought the help of Edberg in 2014, he was going through a lean period by his lofty standards. The 17-time Grand Slam winner rediscovered his touch soon and even reinvented his serve-and-volley game though he failed to win a Grand Slam.
Edberg’s influence on Federer was evident in the way went about managing his ageing body while still maintaining his game. In fact, a lot of work Edberg did was to help Federer adapt his mindset.
Federer described Edberg's role as "more of a mentor than a coach", and it might just be what Novak needs. A change in mindset might be the perfect tonic for Djokovic right now, and who better to administer it than Edberg.