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Okay, so why is Novak Djokovic reeling off Grand Slam titles at an unprecedented rate, and why can’t anybody on the ATP Tour seem to stop him?

More: Zverev Ends Federer's Halle Hopes

Coach Boris Becker has the answer.

“I think he wants it more,” Becker said.

Becker says that at the heart of Djokovic’s game is his desire, and nobody in tennis can match it.

“I think deep down, the heritage he’s from and the family background," Becker said. “He suffered a lot. He went through hell and back when he was 10, 12, 14. I think when the core comes out—in a Wimbledon final you have to show your true core—he goes further every time.”

Becker said with Sue Barker and Peter Fleming of the BBC earlier in the week and tried to, without giving away any trade secrets, explain what it is that makes the 12-time Grand Slam winner tick.

“He wants to break records, he wants to be better now than he was last year,” Becker said. “There are many aspects of his games that have improved the last two or three years, I’m not going to give you too many details about that. But he has gotten better, and of course there are still a few things he needs to improve on.”

Fleming couldn’t help but add, during the course of the 20-minute interview, that he’d never seen anyone play the sport better than Djokovic is playing it right now. High—and certainly well-deserved—praise for a player that is the first male to hold all four Grand Slams at the same time in 47 years. That’s something that Federer and Nadal could not manage over the course of their illustrious careers, and it might be something that we never see again.

“He’s actually taken the sport to another level of athleticism,” says Fleming. “He’s like a gymnast out there… He’s a lot more aggressive of the forehand than he was say four or five years ago. He can attack and he can defend. In my eyes I’ve never seen anyone play better tennis than he is playing right now.”

Becker concurs, adding that Djokovic’s aforementioned desire and athleticism have made him perhaps the greatest defender and counterpuncher that the sport has ever seen.

“I’ve never seen a player that plays defense better than Novak,” Becker said. “Some of the balls he gets, how he puts defense to offense—it’s second to none.”

Becker says that it’s Djokovic’s perpetual evolution that really has put him head and shoulders above the rest in recent years. “I think what he’s added is a bit of aggressiveness,” Becker said. “A bit of going for the winners. A bit of improvement on the serve, and a bit of understanding that if you win the first couple of matches of a Grand Slam quicker you still have more energy in the semifinal or final.”

Though many have debated whether or not Djokovic’s achievements have been under-appreciated by the media, Becker seems firmly focused on chasing what’s next rather than trying to analyze the merits of Djokovic’s achievements of the last 12 months. The German says that while the Serb has won four consecutive Slams, he understands that there is a difference between winning the Calendar Slam and a non-calendar Slam.

And why shouldn’t he want there to be a carrot still dangling in front of his charge’s face as the season’s third major approaches?

“Technically speaking he’s won four majors in a row, which you could call a Grand Slam,” Becker said. “Now, for the conservatives—and I’m one of them—you’re absolutely right. You want to win the four in one year.”

With the Wimbledon draw just over a week away, the time is now for Djokovic to start preparing for the next leg. That’s something that’s never been an issue with the world No.1, says Becker. “The reason Novak is consistently good over the years is that he just puts everything into the practice,” he said. “There is no practice that he is not intense. That mindset, that mentality, becomes reality for him.”

And, is Djokovic worrying about where he stands in the tennis pantheon, or is he following that drabbest of tennis clichés: One point at a time, one game at a time, one match at a time, one Slam at a time. Becker says it is a bit of both. Novak the historian knows what he’s chasing; Novak the player is too busy chasing—ideally—to overthink it.

“I think it would be a lie to say that he wouldn’t watch the history of tennis,” Becker says. “He’s aware that Roger won 17, he’s aware that Rafa won 14, that Sampras won 14. He’s aware that he’s now passing Laver and Borg and all that. Does he talk about it every day? Absolutely not. But I think he’s a student of the game. He wants to be part of the all-time greats, therefore he knows who won and how many times.”


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