'It was a very odd atmosphere between Roger Federer and Djokovic', says former No. 1

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'It was a very odd atmosphere between Roger Federer and Djokovic', says former No. 1

Boris Becker was Novak Djokovic's coach from 2013 to 2016, helping the Serbian phenomenon win seven Slam titles. The World number 1 recently ended up in the storm for organizing the Adria Tour without respecting the safety protocols and the rules on social distancing.

The consequences were not long in manifesting themselves, with the exhibition which was canceled after the second stage of Zadar due to the positivity of some players. The same 17-time Grand Slam champion tested positive for Coronavirus together with his wife Jelena, fortunately without symptoms or consequences.

His coach Goran Ivanisevic was also infected after the first two swabs failed. Becker, who had defended Nole's behavior in recent days, recounted some details of their collaboration in the 'Eurosport Tennis Legends' vodcast with Mats Wilander.

Becker on Novak Djokovic

“I started with mentality,” Boris Becker said. “Ultimately, it’s about attitude and then how you approach big matches. Novak Djokovic had lost his way, he had lost a couple of big finals to Rafa and to Roger, so he was mentally down.

I thought his court positioning was a little off. I thought his old approach was a bit too passive to defend. If he let these guys overtake him, and tough guys do that, so it was a whole package”. The former World number 1 says that the change worked, and soon enough Djokovic were considered rivals and equals.

“I remember the very first time I was on the sideline and obviously Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were big rivals. After the match, it was a very odd atmosphere in the locker room when you had two guys in the corner looking at each other, and Stefan [Edberg, Federer’s coach at the time] and me chatting back like it is a walk in the park”.

There are calls for Djokovic to stand down as president of the ATP Players Council, led by former Roger Federer coach Paul Annacone. Federer and Rafael Nadal are on the council. “There’s 10 people on the council; they should figure how they feel about it,” Annacone told Sports Illustrated.

“You have 500 players around the world on razor’s edge, hoping they can play in eight weeks (at the US Open). Every action has a consequence. I think there’s a lot of his peer group who are scratching their heads.

His passion to do something good clouded all the information, all the science. It was a good cause, driven by the right reason, but the end result was pretty disastrous”.