Novak Djokovic has unexpectedly hired tennis legend Boris Becker as his head coach at the onset of an important year for the Serbian star.
As reported on Djokovic's official website, the world No. 2 is ecstatic to have the six-time Grand Slam winner as an integral part of his team:
I am really excited to have the opportunity to work with Boris. He is a true legend, someone who has great tennis knowledge and his experience will help me win new trophies from the Grand Slams and other tournaments. Becker is a great person, too, and I am sure he will fit in our team in the best possible way.
Djokovic cited Becker's ability to bring a "fresh approach" and believes the duo will form a "winning combination."
Becker will prepare Djokovic for the Australian Open on Jan. 13, 2014, and will follow the 26-year-old across the globe to Dubai, Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, Cincinnati, the U.S. Open, Shanghai, Paris and London.
Although Becker's experience of dealing with pressure, expectation and competitive rivals makes him an ideal coach for Djokovic's cause, the announcement is particularly surprising when you consider the German has made a successful career out of punditry since calling time on his playing days, as noted by tennis writer Simon Cambers:
Becker stated he is "proud" to help Djokovic on his quest to topple Rafael Nadal as the world No. 1. He joins Marian Vajda on the team, who recently confirmed the decision to hire Becker was reached between himself and Djokovic:
In a few weeks Novak and I will start the eight year of our cooperation. During that period we have achieved almost all the goals we had. I realized that Novak nedeed a new head coach in order for him to continue improving certain parts of the game. In the same time, I will have more time for my family.
Will the appointment of Becker thrust Djokovic back to the ATP No. 1 spot?
Despite recently losing his place atop the ATP World Rankings, Djokovic ended the year with an excellent World Tour Finals victory over Nadal at London's O2 Arena, per Piers Newbery of BBC Sport.
He finished the year with a 22-match unbeaten run and enters 2014 with momentum right behind him. Becker's expertise could prove to be a shrewd move and ensures Djokovic's game doesn't have time to stagnate now that new ideas will be brought to training.
Becker's appointment will also throw up an interesting sub-plot when Djokovic inevitably faces Andy Murray. The British Wimbledon winner is currently coached by Ivan Lendl, who endured a fiercely competitive rivalry with Becker during the duo's on-court days of decades gone by.
It will be extremely interesting to see how Becker impacts Djokovic's game, and indeed, if the giant star's alterations force his rivals to switch up their strategy when facing him in Grand Slam competition.
Djokovic undoubtedly has the tools to overcome any opponent in the world, but Becker's appointment may give him an extra edge as we gear up for what should be an entertaining year.