Novak djokovic had to do without boris becker on his way to old strength. Without the three-time wimbledon winner, who was signed up with much fanfare at the end of last year, the serb secured the prestigious masters double in indian wells and miami for the second time.
On sunday, the 26-year-old humiliated his spanish rival rafael nadal 6-3, 6-3 in the key biscayne final and celebrated his second title of the year. While becker is at home in london recovering from the effects of a spontaneous hoof operation, djokovic is playing as strongly as he did at his best under the direction of his long-term coach marian vajda.
All just a coincidence? Or a first sign that the spectacular liaison between djokovic and becker is already slowly drawing to a close again? "Marian is not just a coach for me. He’s a real friend," said djokovic after the astonishingly one-sided final against a chanceless nadal. "He knows me better than boris, of course, but boris has only just started working with us," says the serbian.
If becker is fit in time, he is expected to assist djokovic again at the clay-court event in monte carlo in mid april. The fact that he was exposed in indian wells was planned from the beginning. His absence in miami was due to surgery at short notice. "I’m looking forward to seeing boris again in monte carlo," djokovic said.
But it remains striking that the six-time grand slam champion is more successful with his usual environment than with becker at his side. Already at the australian open, one had the impression that the great attention around the duo djokovic-becker could distract the serb a bit. Already in the quarterfinals against the late winner stanislas wawrinka the out came. Even from the tournament in dubai, where djokovic lost to roger federer in the semifinals, it is more the pictures of indoor skydiving of the two that are remembered than his sporting performances.
Now, however, djokovic seems to be fully focused on tennis again, which is reflected in his performance. "I think he’s found himself again," vajda told the "new york times". "He feels good again on the site."To claim that this has anything to do with the absence of becker would be mean. But maybe it is not bad for the german tennis legend that vajda will also be in monte carlo. Together, the djokovic team can then find out which mixture is the best for the world number two.
Because djokovic has set his sights high for the upcoming sand-court season. The french open title is the only one missing from his grand slam collection. That also applies to becker, who has spent the last few days in hospital zapping between formula 1, premier league soccer and his wife lilly’s dance performances on a german TV show.
He also watched djokovic’s triumph in front of the television – and saw his protege in absolute top form. "I played a great match, from start to finish everything went very well," djokovic said after the match. Nadal acknowledged this without envy. "Novak was simply better than me today."