Novak Djokovic expands his arsenal to dominate
Australian Open defending champion Novak Djokovic predicts new coach Boris Becker will make him a more aggressive player.
Becker's serve-and-volley tactics helped the German to three Wimbledon titles in the late 1980s, among six grand slam trophies overall.
While Djokovic rarely ventures from the baseline and acknowledged more powerful rackets meant that had become the mainstay of the current game, he believes he can still adopt aspects of Becker's style. "Now the game is based on the baseline, longer rallies and so forth," Djokovic said.
"Well, I believe with his great volleys, that aggressive kind of mindset also, from that point of view he can help me."
It comes as Roger Federer has started working with another great serve-volleyer of the 1980s-90s, Stefan Edberg.
While Becker has suggested the success of Ivan Lendl with Andy Murray influenced Djokovic and Federer to also employ past champions, the Serb disagreed. He said Becker's appointment was sparked by his long-time coach Marian Vijda wanting help so he no longer had to travel fulltime.
"He actually had also the initiative of recommending somebody that has been in similar situations and has a similar mindset, knows what I'm going through," Djokovic said.
While Djokovic, who will meet Slovak Lukas Lacko in the first round tonight, is seeded second behind Rafael Nadal, he is the hot favourite to win the tournament for a fifth time and fourth straight.
That status is enhanced by world No 4 Murray, a finalist in three of the past four years, having only recently returned from back surgery.
But Djokovic said he had practised with the Scot since his return and he should not be written off.
"He's striking the ball really well. Obviously it's going to take a little bit of time to get into that match play mode. I'm sure that he's going to be just fine," he said.
Djokovic tipped Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, who like Federer, Murray and world No 1 Nadal is on the opposite side of the draw to him, could also go deep into the tournament.
"Whenever he's fit and ready, he still can beat anyone," Djokovic said.
Meanwhile, few punters give him a chance but Bernard Tomic believes he can turn the Australian Open on its head and send world No 1 Rafael Nadal packing in the first round.
Tomic knows he will need to be at the very top of his game - unlike in his heavy loss to Juan Martin del Potro in the Sydney International final on Saturday night - to have any hope of springing a Melbourne Park boilover.
The 21-year-old admitted he thought "Happy New Year" when he first drew Nadal last Friday but he had since warmed to the idea of challenging the 13-times grand slam champion on one of the sport's biggest stages.
"Everything is possible," Tomic said when asked if he gave himself a shot of winning tomorrow's marquee match-up.
"I'm playing good. I'm pretty confident. I've just got to play the tennis I played early throughout Sydney.
"I have to be on my game, really embrace the moment, have fun, go for my shots.
"Obviously if I can do that, I'm going to give myself a chance."