LONDON: Novak Djokovic admits his second Wimbledon title came as a major relief because it vindicated the decision to hire Boris Becker as his coach.
Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in five sets in an epic final at the All England Club on Sunday to secure his first major trophy since his surprise decision to appoint three-time Wimbledon champion Becker in December.
The Serb, who had lost his previous three Grand Slam finals, made Becker his main coach, with Marian Vajda, with whom Djokovic had won all six of his major titles, filling in on a part-time basis.
The partnership got off to an inauspicious start when Djokovic failed to win a fourth consecutive Australian Open title, a quarter-final loss to Stan Wawrinka his earliest at a Grand Slam for four seasons.
Djokovic did not win a title until his first tournament back with Vajda in Indian Wells in March, and he won again two weeks later with the Slovak in his corner after Becker underwent hip surgery.
The 27-year-old conceded the new regime had got off to a bumpy start.
But Djokovic had turned to Becker to try to give him the edge in Grand Slam finals again and at Wimbledon, with Vajda back home, it all fell into place as he held his nerve to defeat Federer.
“You can’t expect the relationship to start off right away with a grand slam,” Djokovic said on Monday.
“Obviously, because of the difference in character and approach, we’re different people and it took some time to get that understanding going and the right chemistry.
“The last couple of months we were very successful, and Marian Vajda contributed to that.
“It wasn’t part of the schedule for Marian to be in Rome but I considered that tournament to be a turning point in my relationship with Boris because Marian graciously accepted to be there and spend time together with Boris.
“We won that tournament, the three of us, and it was a time when I started feeling much closer to Boris and understood what message he’s trying to convey to me.
“There were a few things he said that were important but most of all is the mental toughness and the self belief.
“He believes in my game, he knows that I have the game to win this tournament and I just needed to hang in there and stay tough regardless of what I go through on the court.”
Having won only one of his previous six Grand Slam finals, there could not have been a bigger test than having to come through a deciding set against seven-time Wimbledon champion Federer, having served for victory in the fourth and seen a match point slip away.
But Djokovic managed to refocus during a toilet break before the fifth set and, after saving a break point in the seventh game, turned the match back in his favor to end his Grand Slam drought.
“It wasn’t about where I was but about what I went through in this moment,” said Djokovic.
“I took some time to refocus and forget about what happened in the fourth set, forget about the missed opportunities and move on.
“I had this positive encouragement to say to myself, and even though you go through different emotions during such an important match and there are times when you have doubts, and especially after the fourth set the disappointment that brought with it the fear and all these different demons inside.
“When you start fighting them that’s the biggest fight that you can have. That’s what I experienced and I managed to have my conviction stronger than my doubts and managed to push myself the very last step to win the trophy.”