Becker on Djokovic: “Maybe we have to say he’s not just the best tennis player…but the best sportsman”

The German says Djokovic should be compared with the likes of Lionel Messi. LeBron James and Tom Brady

Boris Becker BPI / Panoramic

Boris Becker may have moved on with his new role coaching Holger Rune but the former world No 1 has not forgotten the man he helped add to his Grand Slam tally.

Becker, back in the sport after serving eight months in a UK prison for hiding assets in a bankruptcy case, joined the Rune camp in October and will be head coach of the Dane in 2024.

But the German remains a big fan of Novak Djokovic, with whom he worked between 2013 and 2016 and helped win six Grand Slam titles. Speaking on Eurosport Germany’s ‘Das Gelbe vom Ball’ podcast, Becker said Djokovic should be in any discussion as to the greatest sportsman of all time.

“For me, he is the lion king,” Becker said. “We do our best to teach tennis fans what is impossible to teach: What this player has won in his 16-or-17-year career and that he is perhaps playing his best tennis at the age of 36 – he has won three Grand Slam tournaments this year and reached the final at Wimbledon, he was close to the calendar Grand Slam at the age of 36, this is out of this world.

“He plays two and a half hours in Paris on Thursday, three hours against Rune on Friday, another three hours against (Andrey) Rublev – a normal person gets tired, Novak gets better and then beats a strong (Grigor) Dimitrov in straight sets in the final. He then does the same again at the ATP Finals.

Holger Rune and Novak Djokovic at the 2022 Rolex Paris Masters
Federico Pestellini / Panoramic

Becker compares Djokovic to Messi, LeBron James, Tom Brady

“Maybe you have to look at it more generally and (say) he’s not just the best tennis player at the moment, but the best sportsman. I want to compare him to a Lionel Messi, a LeBron James and a Tom Brady – for me, that’s the category Novak Djokovic is in, because all these athletes are dominating or have dominated their sport even in their mid or late thirties.

“Djokovic does the same. I hope he continues to do so for a long time, because nothing better can happen to young players than to compete on the same level as the most successful player of all time. That’s the best lesson in tennis.”

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