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Djokovic turns to the master of diving

Mark Hodgkinson
June 27, 2014
How Boris Becker loved to fling himself around the court © Getty Images

If you're going to throw yourself around a grass court, you need to know how to fall properly. Novak Djokovic, who hurt his shoulder while playing France's Gilles Simon in the third round, said in jest afterwards that he would be talking to his coach, Boris Becker, about diving volleys.

I once asked Becker for his advice on that very subject, and the German told me that the landing was key. "If you don't get it right, you're going to land [badly] and you won't be able to walk any more," he told me. "A lot of it will come down to instinct. You don't have time to think about it, so you need to instinctively roll over. You always have to roll over."

Roger that

Two years have passed since Roger Federer last won a grand slam tournament, with that last victory coming here on Wimbledon's Centre Court (it was an occasion that made the runner-up, Andy Murray, weep). But Federer tends to play his best tennis on this rectangle of grass. And Michael Chang, a former grand slam champion and world number two, has told ESPN that he would not be surprised if the Swiss adds to what is already a record collection of 17 majors.

"It's certainly possible that he could win more slams, and that's because Roger is still beating the best players out there," said Chang, who has returned to the tennis stratosphere to coach Kei Nishikori, the first Japanese to break into the world's top 10.

"That certainly wouldn't surprise me if he added to his collection of grand slam titles. If Roger had been losing in the first or second round of grand slams to players he shouldn't be losing to, then I would say that it would be difficult for him to win more grand slams. He's still beating the guys that he should be beating, and he's losing to guys who are the best players in the world. There are always opportunities there, and that's all you really ask for, opportunities."

Robson return

Could Laura Robson's wrist injury, which has kept her off the lawns this summer, galvanise her? A leading British coach, David Felgate, has suggested to ESPN that Robson, who hasn't played since January, could "turn the situation into a huge positive and come back a stronger person for it".

"Is Laura talented? Does she strike the ball well? Yes, both of those things," Felgate, who used to work with Tim Henman, and who is now coaching Croatian teenager Donna Vekic, told me. "And this setback could make her stronger." One of the challenges facing Robson, Felgate said, was hearing the talking heads in tennis expressing doubts about her future. "When all these people suggest they don't care what others say, and they don't read what people say, I don't know anybody who doesn't care what people say. I'm 50 and I would rather people say nice things. If you don't care, you don't have passion. I'm sure she is aware of all these things, and I'm sure she will come back and do well."

But what Robson shouldn't do on her return, Felgate said, was put too much pressure on herself by thinking that she will be playing for the British tennis public. "You've got Great Britain after your name when you're competing in tournaments, but you play for yourself. So don't play for anyone else," Felgate said. "If you're playing for others, you're going to be under too much pressure and I don't think you can perform."

Mark Hodgkinson is the author of Lendl: The Man Who Made Murray. He is writing daily pieces for ESPN during Wimbledon.

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