Open Letter to Boris Becker – Eurosport
By Rafaela Prifti
Boris Becker, former coach of Novak Djokovic, told Eurosport Germany: “It is not acceptable that Novak is always the bad guy and Roger and Rafa are always the good guys – that is unfair. I know Novak privately and professionally, and I can only say that he is a fine guy.”
Last Sunday, US Open delivered an upset in denying the world number one, Novak Djokovic, his dream of 21 major titles and the calendar Grand Slam. After his triumphs at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon earlier in the year, it was Daniil Medvedev who claimed his first title in three straight sets (6-4) in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows.
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, known as the Big Three in tennis, each have 20 grand slams. Winning the US Open would have taken the Serb past the tallies of the Grand Slam titles held by his rivals.
In the final set, Novak was able to get a break that seemed to draw from the supportive energy of the fans in the crowd. Yet, a few minutes later, it was all over. After shaking hands with the winner, an emotional Djokovic sat down and burst out on the tennis court, while waiting for the ceremony to begin. He choked up again during his speech as he thanked the fans for making him feel “respected and loved”.
With both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in post-surgery recovery, Novak Djokovic had a once in a lifetime opportunity to make tennis history. Known as a competitor who throws temper tantrums on the court, Novak doesn’t get a fair treatment from the media, according to Boris Becker: “It is not acceptable that Novak is always the bad guy and Roger and Rafa are always the good guys – THAT IS UNFAIR.”
Such statements only feed Novak’s ego and victim complex.
Referencing his speech at the US Open award ceremony, Becker said that he hopes that it (the speech) “ensures that Novak is finally seen in a different light.” To bolster his argument, the German former coach and tennis player mentioned that the Serb stands up for other players. Interestingly, no word from Becker on Djokovic Tweeter posting about athletes’ mental fortitude with regard to the US gymnast Simone Biles at the Tokyo Olympics. In what could be described as a quick karma reward, the Serb did not win Gold and after smashing his racket walked away from the mixed double match leaving the tennis partner to fend for herself at the Tokyo Games.
In Becker’s comments, there is a justification for everything Novak does. When he smashes his rackets, Novak is justified in his anger by Becker who says “Who doesn’t” do that? A lot of tennis players don’t allow their anger to be displayed in public! When Novak walks away from the Olympic games, he is allowed because “he is a proud Serb” and the exhaustion from “the travel, the Olympic village, the opening ceremony” have taken a toll on him. Doesn’t stress affect others who refrain from such misconduct? When Novak loses the US Open finals, it was because “he was tired and should have taken three or four or weeks off as he usually does after Wimbledon”. Excuses, right?
Finally, Boris Becker addresses the issue at the heart of who Novak Djokovic is. “He wanted to make history. He wanted to become the most successful Grand Slam player of all time. He didn’t want to become one of the best – he wanted to become the best, and he would have underlined that with a victory here.”
There it is! The difference between Djokovic and the two great rivals. In the past years, reporters have asked Rafael Nadal what would it mean for him to have 20 major titles. He answered that he sleeps all right with 19.
The point is athletes strive to achieve new records and push the ceiling in their respective sports. It is partly why we admire them. Novak Djokovic wants to be the first for the sake of being the best. That’s not the media’s fault. Also complaining about a perceived unfair treatment does not help him. On the contrary, might have a negative impact on Novak Djokovic because it feeds his complex of victimhood. Let him cry it out!