Australian Open 2014: Novak Djokovic admits Boris Becker link-up is a 'risk'

The German has been drafted in as coach

Novak Djokovic accepts he has taken a risk by hiring Boris Becker as his head coach.

The Serbian is bidding for a fourth straight title at the Australian Open after three seasons where he has had more success than any other male player.

But, after losing the US Open final to Rafael Nadal last year and ceding his number one ranking to the Spaniard, Djokovic decided he needed a change.

The approach to six-time grand slam winner Becker came at the end of September and caught the tennis world by surprise when it was announced last month.

Marian Vajda has been Djokovic's main coach since he was a teenager but the Slovakian will now take a back seat, travelling to only a handful of tournaments.

Djokovic said: "Whenever you make a change in life, it's a potential risk. But I don't want to think from that perspective.

"I'm really excited about this co-operation. I'm excited about this partnership that I have with Boris that also has been approved and supported by Marian, who is still in the team.

"He's still going to travel with me on certain tournaments that Boris is not going to be there. We're going to spend a lot of time on preparations.

"Also, they have a great communication. All I see is positive results, and I hope for that, obviously. I cannot predict or promise anything now."

The US Open final was the last match that Djokovic lost and he takes a 24-match winning streak into the year's first grand slam.

Explaining how the appointment of Becker came about, Djokovic said: "I talked with Marian, who has been my head coach for over eight years. I won with him every title in my life.

"He has worked as a coach and he has been a player, involved in this sport over 35 years. So he needed to spend a little bit more time at home.

"So we considered some other options. 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, and could help me from that mental point of view.

"Boris came to our mind. We contacted him last September. That's where it started."

A superstar coach is the must-have accessory for the top male players this year, although Djokovic denied his decision had been prompted by the success of Andy Murray's partnership with Ivan Lendl.

Another 1980s great, Stefan Edberg, is working part-time with Roger Federer while former grand slam champions Goran Ivanisevic, Michael Chang and Sergei Bruguera have all joined the coaching circuit.

Djokovic said: "I'm really glad to have Boris on board. Obviously I'm glad to see there are that many tennis legends coming back and being active as coaches.

"It's really positive for the sport. It attracts a lot of attention. Obviously, they have won so many grand slams between themselves, they've been number ones of the world, they've been champions, they know what we all go through in particular moments, especially in the grand slams.

"They can identify themselves through us. I guess that's where the biggest help would come from, the mental aspect and obviously working with some elements in the game.

"We look forward to working with each other. It's just the beginning. He has committed to work with me and travel with me for more weeks than I thought he would, so I'm really excited about that."

Djokovic's hopes of claiming a fourth straight title appeared to be boosted by Friday's draw, which placed Nadal, Murray, Federer and Juan Martin del Potro all in the other half.

Big-hitting Latvian Ernests Gulbis could provide a test in the fourth round while a rematch of Djokovic's epic 2013 clash with Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarter-finals would be highly anticipated.

But it would certainly be a shock if the Serbian, who begins his campaign against Slovakia's Lukas Lacko in Monday's night session on Rod Laver Arena, does not at least reach the final.

Also in action on the opening day is third third David Ferrer, who faces Colombia's Alejandro Gonzalez while Wawrinka plays Andrey Golubev and seventh seed Tomas Berdych meets Aleksandr Nedovyesov.

PA

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