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Tennis: Djokovic heads into 2017 guided by long-time coach plus new guru

After dispensing with the services of Boris Becker following three successful seasons together, Novak Djokovic heads into the 2017 season guided by his long-time coach plus a newly acquired Spanish guru.

Djokovic confirmed the long-rumoured split with celebrity coach Becker on Tuesday after winning six of his dozen grand slam titles under the guidance of the German.

The number two Serb, 29, who lost the top ranking last month to Andy Murray, will carry on with long-time mentor Marian Vajda, who has guided him through most of his career. He also looks like keeping ‘love guru’ Pepe Imaz onside.

Imaz brings his ‘long hug’ therapy and touchy-feely style to the team, an addition which evidently must please Djokovic.

The new-age Spaniard who once played on the ATP, was added to the team this year to combat Djokovic’s fall in enthusiasm for the sport after completing his grand slam title collection by winning the French Open for the first time.

A statement on Djokovic’s website said that the player’s goals with the six-time grand slam champion German, 49, had been “completely fulfilled.” Becker joined the Djokovic team in December, 2013.

“After three very successful years, Boris Becker and I have jointly decided to end our cooperation,” said Djokovic. “The goals we set when we started working together have been completely fulfilled, and I want to thank him for the cooperation, teamwork, dedication and commitment.”

Despite the major change, Djokovic still emerges as a main title contender for the Australian Open next month along with Murray.

“I am sure he will be back in form next year. I am sure that the finals loss would have hurt, that losing the number one title would have hurt, that the ATP Finals loss would have hurt,” Becker told Britain’s Sky Sports.

“Sometimes you need to know what it feels like to lose. Novak hasn’t lost anything in two and a half years. So I’m convinced, as his number one fan for next year, for him to regain his form.

”But he has to go back to the office, he has to get back to work and practise. He needs to refocus on what made him number one. Success doesn’t happen just by showing up at a tournament. You have to work your bottom off, it won’t just come to you.”

Djokovic won seven titles in a productive 2016, though his level dropped off from his impeccably high standards in a 65-9 season. GNA

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