It is an eventful day for Novak Djokovic. This morning, he announced the appointment of former World n°1 Boris Becker as his head coach. Shortly afterwards, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced that the Serbian has been chosen world champion for 2013, a decision that is vastly criticised by many.
Becker as head coach
Appointing Boris Becker as head coach seems, at first glance, an odd decision from the World n°2 and his team, as the German has never been a coach for a top player before. However, the six-time Grand Slam champion could bring much valuable experience to Djokovic’s team, and it is likely the aspect on which they will focus.
As the Serbian said in his statement: “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.“
This is not to say that Djokovic’s coach of the last eight years, Marian Vajda, is stepping down. Vajda remains on the team and will make most of the coaching decisions. Nevertheless, for him, it was an important, and needed, move. “I realised that Novak needed a new head coach in order for him to continue improving certain parts of his game“, said Vajda. “At the same time I will have more time for my family. “
What aspects of Nole’s game can Becker work with him to improve? His net play, for one, might be an element on which they will focus, and one that could be very helpful for him in the long run.
Becker will travel with Djokovic’s team to Australia, where the Serbian is the three-time defending champion, and should be present in the other three Grand Slams as well. In addition, the German will be with the team in the Masters 1000 of Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome, Cincinnati, Shanghai, and Paris, as well as at the ATP 500 event of Dubai and at the ATP World Tour Finals.
The controversial ITF award
Today, the ITF elected Novak Djokovic as the 2013 world champion, a decision that is criticised by many, since the Serbian was chosen ahead of Rafael Nadal, who ended the season with a 75-7 record (two Grand Slams, five Masters 1000), compared to Djokovic’s 74-9 (1 Grand Slam, the ATP World Tour Finals, and three Masters 1000).
However, as the ITF states, the selection “is based on an objective system that considers all results during the year, but gives special weight to the Grand Slam tournaments, and two ITF international team competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.“
To understand that emphasis, Djokovic has won one Grand Slam (Australia), made two more finals (Wimbledon, U.S. Open), and reached one semifinal (Roland Garros). Furthermore, he finished the year with a 7-0 record in Davis Cup, where Serbia lost in the final to the Czech Republic.
Nadal, for his part, won Roland Garrros and the U.S. Open, but did not play the Australian Open and lost in the first round of Wimbledon, and finished the year with a 1-0 Davis Cup record in singles.
When we look at the selection this way, the choice of Djokovic seems more logical as, after all, the ITF is the governing body behind the four Grand Slams and the Davis Cup. Where the controversy arises is because Nadal has had an amazing season, which he started only in February, and reached the final of 13 of his first 14 tournaments (won 10 of them, including two Grand Slams and five Masters 1000), before losing in semifinals in Shanghai and Paris, and reaching the final in London.
However, Djokovic’s Grand Slam consistency, and his impressive Davis Cup record made the balance weigh in his favour, and had him elected ITF’s world champion for the third consecutive year.