Novak Djokovic is set to take on two rivals when he steps onto the court at the Rolex Paris Masters on Friday – his old coach Boris Becker as well as Holger Rune. The German is now working with the 20-year-old and Djokovic has already noticed that Becker is using one of their old tactics with Rune as the duo prepare to face the top seed in Bercy.
Djokovic and Rune will meet in the Paris Masters quarter-final – a rematch of last year’s final which saw the Dane upset the six-time former champion after coming back from a set down to lift the trophy. The world No 7 already has a winning 2-1 record against Djokovic, also beating him in the Rome Masters quarter-finals earlier this year.
And Rune now has an extra trick up his sleeve as he is working with the Serb’s old coach Becker. Djokovic himself has noticed that the pair have been playing chess together, something Becker used to do with him to help his mental focus.
“I saw they are playing chess,” the 24-time Grand Slam champion said at the start of the week. “That was the first thing that Boris introduced to our team, as well, playing chess.”
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With Becker now using their old tactics to help Rune in his quest to beat Djokovic and defend his Paris Masters title, the 36-year-old explained the benefits of playing chess. He added: “I think it’s great, you know, for focus and I think just mental clarity and strategy.”
Becker’s partnership with Rune is his first coaching job since being released from prison last December. While Djokovic was happy to see his old mentor back on the circuit, he said that it would be difficult to come up against him while facing the 20-year-old on court.
“Boris is a dear friend, someone who has been through a lot in the last several years of his life. I’m really glad to see him back on the tour as a coach,” the world No 1 continued. Speaking before he knew that he would be facing Rune in their quarter-final, Djokovic also said: “It’s probably not going to be that nice and comfortable for me seeing him, if I face Holger, seeing him in the opposite box, because that hasn’t happened yet.
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“If it does, obviously that’s not a great feeling. But at the same time, I have maintained a friendly relation with Boris and he knows I really love him a lot and his family. I’m really glad that they came together.”
Djokovic will also be hoping that the stomach bug he has struggled with in recent days improves after raising concerns during his three-set victory over Tallon Griekspoor on Thursday night. The top seed was five points away from defeat but rallied back to win 4-6 7-6(2) 6-4.
After the match, he admitted: “Well, it’s hard to have a clear mind when you spent more time on the toilet seat than on the court the last three days. Just the energy levels were very low the last few days and I’m taking it day by day. Today is probably the worst day so I’m just hoping that tomorrow will be better, that the curve will start going in the right direction for me.”
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