Apr/16

14

Should Djokovic Hire Borg?

borgNot to jump the gun and overreact over Novak Djokovic’s surprise loss this week to Jiri Vesely in Monte Carlo but the world no 1 has a big challenge ahead that perhaps may need special attention and a little extra new innovative brainstorming. Of course we are talking about Novak Djokovic’s twelfth attempt this year to win the French Open for the very first time. With the young stallions including Thiem and Goffin and Kyrgios rising fast Djokovic’s best and possible final window to be the favorite could be this year. The Djokovic team is of course rock solid right now as is: however the leading voice of the operation has never won at Roland Garros and he never won a clay singles title. Of course we are talking about the great Boris Becker who won five majors and 49 singles titles but never did better than a pair of semifinal showings in Paris. This could be the ever so slightest of flaws in the mighty Djokovic empire. Playing it safe and standing pat could very well be enough and Novak certainly has the goods to roll through Roland Garros later this spring. But just to play it safe why not add a legendary clay court guru to the Djokovic staff? Why not spend on the extra expenses and hire Bjorn Borg – who conquered Roland Garros SIX times – as a special clay court advisor/consultant for the rest of the clay season (if of course the living legend is available or interested)?

32 comments

  • catherine bell · April 14, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    :) – why not hire Chris Evert – 6 times RG winner ? Just as likely as BB who has never done any coaching as far as I know – could be wrong.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 14, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    Lendl did not do any coaching before Andy hired him – Evert would be an interesting choice too – I enjoy her commentary very much – her tennis mind is right up there with anybody -

  • Andrew Miller · April 15, 2016 at 12:54 am

    Toni Nadal has no French to his name :(

    I’d guess Becker would line something up if he felt it necessary. Maybe Wilander. Don’t know who Becker is friends with.

    Sure a clay voice is a clay voice. Nadal might not have his uncle but he did have Al Costa, Moya, Ferreri and probably tons of other former clay champs handing over advice prior to his 2005 win.

  • Coachskelly · April 15, 2016 at 2:03 am

    There is only one person Djok could hire to have any shot at winning French Open!
    “Iron” Mike Russel!

  • Gaurang · April 15, 2016 at 2:20 am

    He knows how to play on clay. He has been the second best player on clay for many years. With the best player on clay no longer at his best, one could say Novak is the best player on clay in the world at the moment.

    Of course he needs to adjust to the clay, and get into his best mode before RG starts. But once he does, only God-mode Wawrinka, God-mode Federer and God-mode Nadal can stop him. But if he turns on his own God-mode, then noone can stop him.

    More than a coach, he needs self-belief and his best form.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 15, 2016 at 7:57 am

    We all love Iron mike Russell but did he never win a match at Roland Garros? Having mp on Guga should count as two wins though :)

  • Andrew Miller · April 15, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Losing to Vesely at a Masters does not a 2nd best player on clay at the moment make.

  • Andrew Miller · April 15, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Or best. Nadal outranks him because of legacy, and Thiem outranks him based on clay record this season.

    Djokovic is NOT the favorite yet for Roland Garros. He may be depending on how he handles Rome, Madrid.

  • Moskova Moskova · April 15, 2016 at 11:09 am

    well said Andrew – djoko is not the favorite for RG.
    btw, down goes FED – unfortunately..

  • Dan Markowitz · April 15, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Please, Nadal and Thiem are favorites over Djoko for RG!!? Djoko lost one match after winning back to back events. He’s the favorite at RG even if he doesn’t win a match on clay going into it.

  • Andrew Miller · April 15, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Actually the Djoko loss, Nadal’s less sure footing, Federer’s soso form following injury, Murray’s box of chocolates approach to clay in that never know what you get, and Wawrinkas 2015 win ending the Nadal as can’t miss French Open champ and throwing doubt as to Djokos cant miss French opportunity, all of it throws the tournament open.

    Hasn’t been this open since late 90s or just before the Nadal juggernaut built steam.

    Or even the post Wilander period where Andres Gomez nabbed a tournament.

    I like the feeling going into the tournament. Right now there’s no clear favorite. We’ve gotten used to the feeling of having one.

    Sure Djoko is the favorite on grass, hardcourts. But this is the one surface where players can hang in there if they dig in.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 15, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Djokovic is the huge overwhelming favorite to win RG – just ask the bookmakers -

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 15, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Andrew: If Rafa wins at least one or possible two masters series before RG then he would surely tighten up those odds which currently heavily favor Djokovic -

  • Andrew Miller · April 15, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Scoop, bookies don’t influence these guys. Only the low ranked players whose challenger salaries haven’t seen a pay raise in decades.

    I think the tournament’s (more) open than it’s been. I don’t think Djokovic is a run-away favorite where he’s never won before.

    There was MAYBE one player I can think of who entered a tournament where he was heavily favored without having won it before. I’d say Muster when he played Chang in the French Open final. He won it once and never again.

    But Muster entered that match, arguably, as one of the best clay players of all time. I don’t think Djokovic is one of the best clay players of all time. I think he’s an excellent player on all surfaces and a great clay court player. But not a dirt devil.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 15, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Djokovic is an excellent clay player and he has the masters series to prove it – he should have won the FO three out of the last five years imo – he’s always been excellent on clay but like many other top clay players has been overshadowed by the greatest clay player ever – Nadal was the favorite the year he won his first Roland Garros – we all just knew it was his title – Roddick was a pretty clear favorite the year he won US Open also – have to think about other GS favs going for the first –

  • Andrew Miller · April 15, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Roddick certainly entered New York in 2003 with some big wins. He had beaten Federer for the first time in Canada. He had Brad Gilbert in his ear. I think he also beat Agassi for the first time. I saw him in 2003 I think? He had suddenly become consistent and was hitting his backhand with some authority.

    It wasn’t pretty but he hit it hard.

    Doing something that you’ve never done before is hard – see Serena and tying Graf. Hard to do. It was epic yo see Federer win the French in 2009 – he struggled mightily during the tournament with a five setter V Haas and vs Del Potro. And Soderling knocked out Nadal for him, so the field was clear. And it was still a mammoth task.

    Sure if anyone is or has been up for it, Djokovic. But I don’t think he’s favorite – he’s one of a few players capable of this. But no one has played a point yet and we are barely two weeks into the clay season. So far, Djokovic doesn’t look like the annointed one. Maybe he will be in a weeks time or in two weeks. But now he looks less favored than a handful of other players. He will also have to contend with more confidant players generally who see the big four around him really struggling.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 16, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Djokovic is the heaviest favorite to win this next major that I can ever think of Andrew – maybe Pete at Wimbledon a few years was a certified lock and so was Rafa a few years in Paris but I think Djokovic this year for Paris is also a darn lock – regardless of this loss to Vesely – now if he loses early in the next tourney to a player like Gabashvili or Sock or Isner then yes that will alter everything -

  • sharoten · April 16, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Still think so Scoop? Rafa is looking very Rafa of oldish and that was a wonderful win against Murray.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 16, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Sharoten: Yes I do – Rafa is knocking at the door again and he’s having a fantastic run this week and his confidence is rebuilding but it’s a whole different ballgame for Rafa to play this kind of tennis against Djokovic -

  • Andrew Miller · April 16, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Still believe a French player is due. This is arguably the best group of French players in decades. They are all playing inspired tennis this year and right on time.

  • Harold · April 16, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Nadal needs to close tomorrow, then get the chance to beat Fed, somewhere on the way to the French, and all will be well in Nadal’s head. That old clay invincible gene will click in.
    Only one thing could derail his run, he stays at 5, and gets Djoko in the quarters again. Win or lose, that would take a lot out of him

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 16, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Hugues-Herbert and mahut could be the best doubles team in the world – two straight masters series wins and now in finals tomorrow again going for the hat trick vs murray/soares – French tennis is strong right now -

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 16, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Rafa needs to win monte carlo but he also needs to beat Djokovic on clay at some point before Paris – if he does not there will still be a considerable hole in his psyche – this emergence of monfils could be another wawrinkazization of the elite echelon – La monf looking lethal -

  • Andrew Miller · April 16, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    The French love the clay and might be able to conjure the magic in Roland Garros.

    I’d agree that Djokovic has rented out some long term real estate in Nadals brain. But I also think like Harold said that his confidence could surge back if he enters Roland Garros on a roll.

    Nadal is the only player alive that knows every millimeter of court centrale. That might come in handy to ambush a foe or two on the right day.

    I find it hard to root for Nadal for the French as he has so many of them. He’s the most dominant clay player of all time. And one of a handful of best players the sports ever seen. And one of three living legends who have outshined all other living legends, with a few exceptions.

    But seeing a wounded Nadal come back would probably wake up the Roland Garros crowd as much as anything, unless he’s playing a French player.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 16, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Andrew: You seem to be mistaken – The French Open crowds have been curiously only luke warm on their most decorated champion – Paris loves Federer’s artistry over Rafa’s brutality -

  • Gans · April 16, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    This was not a real loss. He faked it to stay fresh. I don’t like that mentality, but he is playing the cards. The team Djokovic knows when and where to pick a fight. It’s all about RG.
    And if he wins, Djokovic will become unstoppable force. I do like what Nadal is doing. Never count a champion out. He is the only one capable of putting up a fight against Novak and in a few weeks, both will be ready. If they are not in the same draw it will be Nadal-Djokovic final.

  • Gaurang · April 17, 2016 at 3:38 am

    Andrew, you are falling to the “very short memory” fallacy that affects a lot of us. Novak’s loss to Jiri Vesely in his first match on clay this year tells me nothing.

    Novak has dominated tennis in the last 1.5 years like nobody else has in the history of the sport. He has consistently been around twice the points of the 2nd ranked player. Pretty much every tournament he played, he played the finals. He hardly lost matches. He owns everybody right now. Every match he plays he starts as a winner, unless the opponent can prove otherwise, which rarely happens.

    On clay, Novak won both the masters he played last year. The third was won by Murray, who we know cannot beat Novak on clay. Novak reached RG finals last year, and had no rest day. He didnt play his best and lost to Wawrinka, who played one of his best matches ever on clay.

    Unless something surprising happens at Madrid and Rome, Novak is the favorite for RG. He is not as favorite as he would be for US Open or Aus Open. He is the favorite but could loose to Nadal, Federer, or Wawrinka, or even a couple others. Even though it is not a certainty, I think we can say Novak and Nadal are the top 2 favorites for RG far above all others.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 17, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Agree with Gans and Gaurang – Djokovis would be unwise to go all out to win Monte Carlo – the years he won it he did not win Paris – Paris is the goal – Rafa looked very good today but despite how well he played (and so did Gael) I still see Djokovic crushing Rafa at Roland Garros -

  • Andrew Miller · April 17, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Nadal wins Monte Carlo.
    Listen guys I like Djokovic a lot. But I’m not going to call him French Open champion until he wins one, which, short term memory folks, he hasn’t done – even in the era of Djokodomination, of which we have entered year four. Djokovic has been the world’s undisputed best player for four years, almost five, and he doesn’t have the French to his name. Asterisk ot not, oh he didn’t play his best boo hooo .
    Please.
    He’s an amazing player. Certainly one of the best I’ve seen in my lifetime, at his best shutting out opponents in a way I’ve only seen a few hall of fame players and future hall of fame inductees do. But let’s face the reality: As of today he doesn’t own Roland Garros trophies and as of today he isn’t the world’s best clay player. He’s the worlds top player and best all surfaces player. That’s what his points on clay say this year.

    He’s certainly a favorite for Roland Garros, but not the favorite. The French players have been doing notably well this year and probably see it as now or never. That’s not short term, that’s what’s taking place at the worlds most important lead up tournaments to Roland Garros. Thiem is also coming on strong. Again, that’s not a typo, it is what is actually taking place as we speak, as in now.

    Granted, Djokovic could be the undisputed favorite in two weeks time. He could win on a faster clay surface in Rome – I’d say he bags that one. He could also win Madrid , a slower surface based on the Spanish complaints that a fast surface favors non nadal players. Depending on what happens, sure – he could win a lot of matches in Roland Garros in the locker room alone, without having even played a point.

    But I don’t think I’m wrong in believing Djokovic has real competition for Roland Garros. Players dont just win the titles before the tournaments start. We fans say that, but the player knows every slam is hard won. Djokovic makes it look easy. But it is hard. Otherwise we wouldn’t even be having this back and forth.

  • Andrew Miller · April 17, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Now as to whether my opinion is credible, well, that’s not my call. I’m a fan even of Dan Kosakowski, whose name appears in very few blogs anywhere, because he has a great one handed backhand. I thought Brian Baker would make more of a comeback which hasn’t happened either. I like supporting Donald Young, because when he’s playing well he is the best u.s. player, and when he’s not he’s the worlds five hundreth best player. So my judgment is clearly not the best.

    But I don’t think I’m short term in saying a player winning x or y title isn’t a sure thing. It hasn’t even been that way for Nadal. His first Roland Garros was more dramatic than we like to recall now and his second was not a given either. He didn’t win in 2009 or last year. He’s seen as beatable these days, by almost anyone with a racquet and some courage. But he’s still the best clay player of all time.

  • Dan Markowitz · April 17, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Andrew,

    We all would’ve like to see Baker make more of a comeback, but the reality is it took him way too long to come back after he hurt himself against QBall at the Aussie O a couple of years ago. When anyone has as many injuries as Baker, the injuries start to cannibalize and take over the body. One injury leads to another and it’s just too much to mount another comeback. Haas couldn’t do it anymore and Muster after awhile was never the same player.

  • Bryan · April 18, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Djokovic doesn’t need a new coach. He and Becker work together well and one bad tournament is no reason to hit the panic button.

    Does Borg even want to coach anyone? He seems to enjoy his fashion business and only being on the sidelines of tennis.

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