Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Saina Mirza Need to work together for Indian tennis Growth: Becker

Vastavam web: Legendary Boris Becker feels the three icons of Indian tennis, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Saina Mirza need to bury their differences and work together for the betterment of the sport in the country. Talking about Indian tennis, which has not been able to produce world-class singles players in the last three decades, Becker said the trio (all doubles specialists) need to unite to take the game forward in their country.

“India has a long success history in tennis. You have to have large pool of players, so that some of them go on to win titles. At the moment you don’t see them but I would say it is a matter of time,” the German great told. Federer is 37 but is still going strong despite his fourth round loss at Melbourne Park.

Seventeen-time Majors winner Rafael Nadal too is well and truly back in the mix and reached the final at Melbourne Park after an injury lay-off. Becker, speaking ahead of the Laureus World Sports Awards here on Monday night, said equaling Federer’s tally of 20 Grand Slams is now in the realm of possibility.

“One of the misfortunes of playing in an era with Federer and Nadal is you can’t really compare yourself to them. Normally, after 15 Grand Slams and seven Australian Open titles, you would say ‘wow’. It is wow but the next question is ‘will Novak ever break Federer’s record?” said Becker, who coached the world number one to six Grand Slam victories between 2014-2016. “Tennis is fickle and sensitive. Lot of things have to be right in your personal and private life. For Novak, it is perfect at the moment. Therefore he is on his way (to match Federer’s feats) and hopefully nothing happens in the meantime,” said the German, who himself won six Majors.

Is Becker surprised by Djokovic’s red hot form? “Yes and no. Because he has a champion’s mindset and that is something you never lose. He has his work ethic back, as well as his discipline, his desire and his love for the game, so, it was a question of time when he is going to win again,” Becker said.”When he is on, he is very very good. And he is still young enough, younger than Nadal ( who is 32). There is an open window for him in the next two years to add to his trophy collection.

“When Federer won his 20th, nobody thought anyone could even come close. Now you have two guys (Djokovic and Nadal). Every Grand Slam is witnessing history.” Nadal, Federer and Djokovic are superstars not just in the tennis world, they are also considered as global sporting icons. Their intense rivalry will go down as one of the most competitive in history books and the sport will be a lot poorer when they retire.

However, Becker sees the men’s tennis landscape changing in the next five years. “The younger generation will struggle to quickly move into their roles. But hey when I started playing it was Borg-McEnroe, I thought it was the greatest rivalry the world has ever seen. Next thing I know is I am involved with Edberg, Wilander and Lendl and then came Sampras and Agassi,” he said.