Boris Becker, who used to coach Novak Djokovic, told Eurosport Germany: “I’ve never seen Novak cry on the tennis court. He must have really gone to his limit, or over the limit, emotionally. 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.”
Novak Djokovic saw his dream of a 21st major title and the calendar Grand Slam fade away as Daniil Medvedev produced a stunning performance to win the US Open, and Eurosport expert Boris Becker has given a heartfelt perspective on his former charge.
Medvedev was utterly imperious as he stormed to a straight-sets, 6-4 6-4 6-4, victory inside a raucous Arthur Ashe Stadium, while Djokovic was left unable to follow his triumphs at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon earlier in the year.
The world number one was flat, exhausted and devoid of his usual spark throughout as he failed to claim the 21st Grand Slam title which would have taken him past the tallies of his great rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The Serb was left very emotional as the supportive crowd willed him to recover in the final stages, and he was tearful both at the end of the match and when he thanked the fans for their backing in his post-match speech. Becker has said it was a huge moment and that Djokovic deserves more appreciation. “I’ve never seen Novak cry on the tennis court. He must have really gone to his limit, or over the limit, emotionally,” Becker, who used to coach Djokovic, told Eurosport Germany.
“With all the expectations on himself, he must have been asked every day since Wimbledon whether he would win the Grand Slam or become the record holder with 21 majors. It came over him, so to speak. His speech after the event was all the more remarkable. Still with wet eyes he explained to the New Yorkers, ‘today is the most beautiful day of my life, because finally I feel that I am respected and loved’. And this on a day when he could not take advantage of what might have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win all the majors in one year.
“It was an incredible situation, a crazy moment in time. It kind of missed that the winner’s name was Daniil Medvedev, and not Novak Djokovic. Everything that was written before didn’t happen. But back to Novak: those were just open, honest and great words in a very difficult moment.
“I know Novak privately and professionally, and I can only say that he is a fine guy. A competitor who sometimes misbehaves on the court, but who doesn’t? The public, including the media, really have to get used to the fact that there are not just two, but three [legends], who have great qualities as players and as individuals.
IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE THAT NOVAK IS ALWAYS THE BAD GUY AND ROGER AND RAFA ARE ALWAYS THE GOOD GUYS – THAT IS UNFAIR.
“I hope that these two weeks in New York, the final, the following speech and the reaction of the New York audience will ensure that he is finally seen in a different light.
“He publicly stood up for [Stefanos] Tsitsipas [in the toilet break row] after the semi-final against [Alexander] Zverev; he often stands up for other players. That’s often swept under the rug and no one wants to perceive that in any way. There’s another side to him, and it’s very sympathetic. I hope for him and for his family that he’s finally treated a little more fairly than he has been until now.”
Becker then addressed Djokovic’s surprise tilt at Olympic gold at the Tokyo Games, and said that it was probably not initially in his plans when he could have been resting up ahead of Flushing Meadows and his calendar Grand Slam bid.
“If you are completely honest, I don’t know if he really had the Golden Slam on his list like that,” Becker said. “I think he thought about the Grand Slam after Paris. Originally, he didn’t want to go to Tokyo in order to regenerate and play his normal hard-court tour and then play the US Open.
“I think now, in retrospect, it was all a bit much. He is a proud Serb and, of course, he had to represent his country, no question. But he is also just a human being. He can’t win everything all the time, bear pressure and be fit. I think he exhausted himself there, maybe it was all a bit much. Maybe he should have taken a longer break after Wimbledon, like he always does of three-to-four weeks.
“The travel stresses, the Olympic Village, the opening ceremony – it’s all nice, but it’s also incredibly exhausting. And, of course, there was also the question of the Golden Slam. So a lot of things didn’t go in the right direction, and you saw the result in the final.”
Becker had told Eurosport on the evening of the final: “For Novak Djokovic, it was one match too many. He was mentally not able to control his emotions. 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. I have never seen Novak so clueless.
“I am convinced that Daniil will win more Grand Slam tournaments. For me, he is the most ready of the young generation. He knows how to win matches; he knows how to prepare for the big matches. You have to beat him then because he doesn’t get hectic or nervous. He’s one step ahead of [Stefanos] Tsitsipas or [Alexander] Zverev there.”