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Split with Becker won't hurt Djokovic: Roche

Kolkata, Dec 10 (IANS) Thirteen times Grand Slam doubles winner and veteran tennis coach Tony Roche on Saturday made light of World No.2 Novak Djokovic ending his successful partnership with coach Boris Becker, saying it won't hurt the Serbian.

"I don't know the ins and outs of what happened. But I don't think it will affect him," Roche told reporters on the sidelines of the Premjit Lall Invitational Tournament at the Jaidip Mukherjea tennis academy here.

"He is such a great champion. He will surround himself with good people. It's not going to hurt him," the 71-year-old one-time Grand Slam singles winner said.

Djokovic, with 12 major titles, was recently dethroned by Andy Murray as the No.1 player. He parted ways with Becker after three seasons -- and a half dozen Grand Slam titles -- as a pair.

He backed his former student Roger Federer to get back to winning ways.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner has seen a sharp dip in form in recent times, which has resulted in the most decorated tennis player dropping to No.16 in the rankings.

"If you're still competitive getting to semi-finals and finals, you're not far away from winning," Roche said.

"So if he was losing first or second rounds it would have been different. He is still very consistent and has a chance. He always is in good shape and I don't think age at this stage is a problem for him."

On whether Djokovic can regain the top spot next year, Roche said, "That's the big question. Murray at this stage has got the jump on the guys. He has finished the year very strong.

"But 2017 is a new year and Novak plays very well in Melbourne so it's always nice to get back to a place where you have been successful as you always feel confident.

"So I think the beginning of the year is going to be very interesting because you got (Rafael) Nadal and Federer coming back," he added.

"Wawrinka has proved he is dangerous in slams and won slams. Then you got the new brigade coming along, it's interesting time for mens's tennis."

--IANS

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