The jury is still out on whether Boris Becker has brought anything extra to the table for Novak Djokovic.
But the world No.1 is backing Becker all the way as he attempts to join his co-coach as a three-times Wimbledon champion with victory over Roger Federer in Sunday’s final at the All England Club.
Many consider Djokovic and Becker to be the odd couple of world tennis; the gluten-free and top-ranked Serb a picture of health, an ironman of the game, and the bloated and hobbling Becker a shadow of his former self.
Djokovic, who also continues to lean on lifelong mentor Marian Vajda, added Becker to his coaching team at the end of the 2013, hoping the six-times major winner would provide a grand slam mental edge.
The Serb had won six of his dozen major final appearances – a 50 per cent strike rate – before turning to Becker, whose only four grand slam finals defeats, quite tellingly, came at the All England Club.
And despite making five of the past seven grand slam finals, Djokovic has only managed to win two with Becker by his side.
Worse still, his shock loss as a heavy favourite against Stan Wawrinka in last month’s French Open final denied the world No.1 a coveted career grand slam.
But even after Becker’s clumsy pre-tournament remarks forced Djokovic to defend himself against allegations of courtside coaching, the 28-year-old Serb remains steadfastly loyal.
“It’s just the connection, the link between the two of us. There has to be that kind of chemistry,” Djokovic said.
“We are a team. We do this together, even though I’m an individual athlete on the court and by myself, trying to win the matches.
“We have put ourselves in a position to fight for another grand slam trophy.”
If ever Becker is to prove his worth, the difference, it will be on Sunday when Djokovic takes on a fierce rival trying to win a record eighth Wimbledon crown.
Federer shades Djokovic 20-19 in career encounters, with the pair splitting their 1 previous grand slam matches.
“It’s about the mental approach, I think, especially when you’re in the big tournaments and you’re facing different adversities in the later stages of grand slams when things are getting tougher from every point of view,” Djokovic said.
“It’s where I think his contribution is the biggest to me and to the team.
“Ever since he came to our team last year, obviously for me, it’s a pleasure to have a legend of our sport next to me who is mentoring me and is giving me advices to be better.”
Another loss, though, and it would be hard to say Becker has made Djokovic better.