He found the courtside seats uncomfortably small for his imposing frame, but in every other respect Boris Becker enjoyed his first experience as coach of a player at a Grand Slam tournament. Novak Djokovic, his new charge, gave the German every reason to be happy, beginning his quest to win the Australian Open title for the fourth time in a row with a 6-3, 7-6, 6-1 victory over Lukas Lacko here last night in his first competitive match of the season.
"You can practice as much as you want to, but a match is different," Becker said afterwards. "I thought [Novak] played very well. Yes, he made a couple of unforced errors on the backhand, but I thought the serve and the forehand were excellent, as was the way he approached the whole match. Considering that he is the defending champion, the pressure was on him and he hasn't lost here in a couple of years, I thought he approached it very well."
Becker looked involved and animated throughout as he sat forward in his seat. "I wasn't nervous, I was excited," he said. "It feels very normal to be in the locker room again. It feels normal to be here. I haven't been here for 15 years, but I had already done a couple of weeks before – I think that was important – so I don't start here from scratch. The reaction from everyone in the locker room and from tournament officials has been great."
Had he found himself wanting to be out on court, playing Djokovic's shots for him? "At 46 years of age, I can't play like I used to any more," Becker said. "Therefore I can't even think: 'I would have done this.' I am happy to be talking about tennis and not playing any more. That is the good news. At 46 years of age, you have to positively come to terms with the fact that you are no longer 25. I am. I don't look back and wish I was 25. I am happy to be 46."