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Becker to duel Lendl as coach


Boris Becker. Picture credit: PA Wire.

Boris Becker. Picture credit: PA Wire.

Boris Becker. Picture credit: PA Wire.

BORIS BECKER and Ivan Lendl will renew rivalries at the Australian Open in a month's time – 23 years after Melbourne Park played host to their last ever meeting in a grand slam final.

Becker was yesterday named as the new head coach of world number two Novak Djokovic in a move that mirrors Andy Murray's appointment of Lendl two years ago.

Lendl is credited with helping the current world number four break his grand slam duck, with his first major title coming at the 2012 US Open before he became the first British men's champion at Wimbledon in 77 years this past summer.

While Djokovic, already a six-time major winner, is in a very different place in his career compared with Murray two years ago, the 26-year-old Serbian is seemingly in need of fresh impetus after a 2013 campaign that saw him win just one grand slam title and cede the world number one ranking to Rafael Nadal.

Both men shot to prominence in the 1980s as leading lights of a new breed of hard-hitting 'power' players and went on to become multiple grand slam champions – Becker winning six titles from 10 major final appearances and Lendl eight from 19.

They also crossed swords in three grand slam finals, starting at Wimbledon in 1986 – when Becker retained the title he had won a year earlier at the age of 17 – then again at the 1989 US Open, when Becker again prevailed, and finally at the 1991 Australian Open.


They could again find themselves facing off in the showpiece match on Rod Laver Arena – albeit this time guiding their charges from the stands.

Djokovic is the three-time defending champion at Melbourne Park and will be bidding for his fifth Australian Open crown next month.

Murray, meanwhile, has been runner-up Down Under three times – losing to Djokovic in 2011 and 2013 – and few would bet against the pair going all the way again next month.

"I am proud Novak invited me to become his head coach," said Becker. "I will do my best to help him reach his goals and I am sure we can achieve great things together."

Becker will work to prepare Djokovic for the first grand slam of the season in Melbourne, which starts on January 13, and will also accompany him to the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, as well as tournaments in Dubai, Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome, Cincinnati, Shanghai, Paris and the season-ending World Tour Finals in London.

Djokovic hopes Becker's experience can help him get back to the top of the world rankings.

"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," said Djokovic.