Boris Becker has said playing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal had brought the best out of Novak Djokovic, and that the Serb had found it difficult to stay motivated when the two missed the second half of 2016 with injuries.
Djokovic was unstoppable in the first half of 2016 that saw him win the Australian Open, titles at Qatar, Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid and complete a career Grand Slam by beating Andy Murray to clinch the elusive French Open in June.
Six-time grand slam champion Becker, who is the Serbian ace’s coach, said the absence of the big two thereafter demotivated Djokovic who lost the top ranking to Murray last month when the Brit won the Paris Masters.
“Novak is a competitor at heart – if I have one guy who has to play for my life, I would pick Djokovic. That's how much I trust him,” Becker told CNN. "But he didn't have any opponents anymore. His time was with Nadal, with Federer.
“Andy was always the fourth guy, so (Djokovic) lost
Murray finished the year at No 1 by beating the Serb in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London last weekend.
“This could be possibly a turnaround for Novak Djokovic's 2017. As much as this loss is going to hurt him, it's probably going to inspire him to be remotivated, re-energized for next year. Maybe it was a good thing in the end.
“His pinnacle was winning the French Open and winning four majors in a row. Naturally, his motivation was a bit off afterwards. He really didn't know what the next big goal would be. And then a guy called Andy Murray didn't lose another match the whole indoor season,” the 49-year-old German said.
Becker also lauded Murray, who recorded a personal-best win streak of five titles and 24 matches.
“People only talk about Andy Murray's last six months but you've got to give him credit – he was in the final of the Australian Open, the final of the French Open, he won Olympic gold. He really turned on the form when he had the sniff of the No. 1 ranking, and he was the better player," Becker said.