Boris Becker revealed he sat Novak Djokovic down to discuss his on-court conduct after narrowly avoiding a potential default at the 2016 French Open and feared that the day would come where he was booted out of a tournament.
That day came on Sunday. Djokovic, the world No. 1 from Serbia, hit a ball in frustration that unfortunately flew straight into the throat of a line judge.
Djokovic was immediately defaulted from his US Open fourth-round tie with Pablo Carreno Busta, bringing his 26-match winning streak to a dramatic halt.
Becker, who coached Djokovic to six Grand Slam titles, was in his box when the world No. 1 almost encountered a similar situation at the French Open in 2016.
Djokovic tossed his racquet blindly behind him and it narrowly missed a line judge. He avoided a default and went on to win the title.
And Becker revealed he sat the 17-time major winner down after that moment to plead with him to be more cautious with his on-court behaviour or risk facing the consequences in the future.
‘He will have been feeling both embarrassed and frustrated by the events of the fourth round as they start to sink in,’ Becker wrote in his Daily Mail column. ‘The fines will be expensive but other aspects to it will hurt him more.
‘When I was working in his coaching team, I was in the player box during that incident with the racquet-throwing at the 2016 French Open when, accidentally, he nearly connected with a line judge.
‘We spoke afterwards about it, because that was a narrow escape. I know what the pressure is like in a big match and was not always Mr Nice Guy as a player.
‘I said to him you can scream as much as you like, break your racquet, but don’t throw things or hit the ball away. I was worried something like this might happen.’
Becker is still a great admirer of Djokovic and admitted he is bothered by not being as popular as great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
‘Like everyone, some of Novak’s biggest strengths can be weaknesses,’ added Becker. ‘He is an emotional player with a streetfighter mentality, it is this kind of fire which has helped him win 17 Grand Slam titles.
‘I like him very much. He is the most humble guy you will find as a superstar, and is always thinking of people worse off than himself.
‘He is highly intelligent and fiercely loyal to friends and family. If you are one of them, he is the kind of guy you could ring at 3am and he would help you.
‘He is a people person and wants to be appreciated like that. He is playing in the era of two tennis gods in Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and is a bit of a gate-crasher. I think it does bother him that he is not as generally popular as they are.’
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