Novak Djokovic had new coach Boris Becker smiling proudly on Monday as he made a convincing start to his quest for a fourth straight Australian Open title. In their first competitive match together, Djokovic eased to a 6-3 7-6(2) 6-1 win over Lukas Lacko of Slovakia with an attentive Becker sitting courtside throughout.
"It felt different, but in a positive way," said the Serb, after extending his winning streak in all events to 25 matches. Unlike Ivan Lendl, who makes a habit of sitting expressionless through Andy Murray's matches, Becker was animated as he sat with the rest of the Djokovic team.
The Serb added Becker to his coaching team in an effort to find that extra one or two percent that might help him add to his tally of six grand slam titles. German Becker, who won Wimbledon three times and six grand slams in all, had done little coaching before accepting the role with Djokovic but the world number two said he was already making his mark.
"He definitely has great observations on my game and on tennis in general," he told reporters. "We do speak a lot about different things. We try to get to know each other as much as we can.
"And the understanding is great in the beginning. I did not expect ourselves to understand each other so well right away in the second or third week that we working are with each other."
Djokovic admitted he was a little rusty in the first two sets against Lacko but improved as the match went on to set up a clash with Leonardo Mayer of Argentina in round two.
And the four-time champion said he hoped the Becker effect would be clear to see over the coming weeks and months. "Of course there are parts of my game where he definitely can help me out, where I can improve," he said.
"I still see the room for improvement with my serve, with the return, with net play and so forth. "But also from the mental point of view. Boris has won so many grand slam tournaments, was number one.
"He knows exactly the way I feel, what I need to face, what sort of challenges I need to overcome during the tough moments, the tough matches. "That's also where he can give the right and positive input."
And the Serb said that Becker's nationality was also a benefit. "He has, of course, the German discipline and determination to do everything in the right way," Djokovic said. "Of course, he's balancing that with being a storyteller - he's a fun guy, so we get along really well."