Boris Becker has endured sleepless nights to inspire Novak Djokovic’s attempt to equal his own record of three Wimbledon titles.
Djokovic must deny Roger Federer his record eighth Wimbledon crown for the second year in a row in tomorrow’s final – 30 years after Becker sealed his first All England Club triumph.
The 28-year-old Serbian revealed his mentor and coach Becker lives every point while spurring him on, ahead of a re-run of last year’s final.
Djokovic can also emulate Becker’s feat of retaining the Wimbledon crown this weekend, and hailed the German’s pivotal influence in his backroom staff.
“Boris, for sure he’s got a different motivation now than he had when he was playing,” said Djokovic after dispatching Richard Gasquet in a one-sided semi-final.
“But he’s going through the emotions with me like when he was playing; at least that’s what we talk about and that’s what he tells me.
“I can see that. There are times when he doesn’t sleep well before the big match, stuff like this.
“It’s just the connection, the link that you make between the two.
“There has to be that kind of chemistry in order to really deliver, you know, team wise, something that you want.”
A teenage Becker wowed the Wimbledon crowds en route to his first title in 1985, before returning to defend that crown a year later.
Now the 47-year-old has forged a formidable off-court coaching career with Djokovic.
He has helped propel the Serbian to five of the seven grand slam finals staged during their partnership.
Djokovic breezed past 21st seed Gasquet into his fourth Wimbledon final, defeating the Frenchman 7-6 (7/2) 6-4 6-4 to set up that his with Federer, who dismissed Britain’s Andy Murray in similar fashion.
Imperious seven-time champion Federer marched past 2013 Wimbledon winner Murray 7-5 7-5 6-4, honing in once again on a potential 18th major title.
Eight-time major champion Djokovic insisted Becker shows as few weaknesses as a coach as he did as an unruffled player – and is keen for that to rub off on him.
“He doesn’t show that. He doesn’t show that,” said Djokovic, asked if sleepless nights fray Becker’s nerves.
“He’s extremely tough mentally, always was – as a player, now as a coach.
“We only talk about that after the match is over or a tournament is over.
“We talk about it a little bit. He never says that.
“He never shows his weakness, I think that’s one of the characteristics and virtues that helped him to be a champion.
“We are a team, we do this together even though I’m an individual athlete on the court and by myself, trying to win the matches.
“Regardless of who is on the court, in my box, supporting me or not, I need to do my job.
“I need to be able to overcome certain challenges, mental challenges and physical challenges, in order to win matches and to be at the top.
“We put ourselves in a position to fight for another grand slam trophy.
“I think the continuity of these results is giving us a lot of hope, a lot of belief, and actually gives us a reason to believe that everything we’re doing is for the right cause and we’ve been doing it in a right way.”
Federer has not won a grand slam since beating Murray at Wimbledon three years ago but the No 2 seed believes wins such as yesterday’s vindicate his decision to keep playing.
“It’s definitely one of the best matches I’ve played in my career,” Federer said.
“I always knew the reason why I keep playing. I enjoy it. I work hard in the practice. In a match like this, I can have a great performance.
“And clearly it’s an amazing feeling when you come back from the match and everybody’s so happy for you.
“Even inside the Royal Box when I was walking back, there was applause all the way to the locker room.
“That’s something I don’t remember really having, except maybe on one of the wins I’ve had here.
“So I just feel overall that people are very happy for me, and at the same time I’m very pleased how well I’m playing.”
Bjorn Borg has predicted Federer will retire at the end of next season. Five-time Wimbledon champion Borg suspects the Swiss, who has 17 grand slam titles and is seeking more, will want to bow out at the top.
And a year that could see Federer go for gold at the Olympic Games in Brazil may offer that opportunity.
Borg said: “At 34 (Federer turns 34 in August) he still has the motivation, is still going out and working really hard – he wants to go out and win more tournaments and more grand slam tournaments. I think he’s going to play one more year.”
The 59-year-old Swede added: “I think next year he wants to try to go for the Olympics in Rio, and then after next year I think he will step away from the game. [Although] I hope not.”