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Lendl v Becker all over again

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Boris Becker and Ivan Lendl will renew rivalries at the Australian Open in a month’s time – 23 years after Melbourne Park played host to their last ever meeting in a grand slam final.

Becker was on Wednesday named as the new head coach of world number two Novak Djokovic in a move that mirrors Andy Murray’s appointment of Lendl two years ago.

Lendl is credited with helping Murray break his grand slam duck, with his first major title coming at the 2012 US Open.

While Djokovic, already a six-time major winner, is in a very different place in his career compared with Murray two years ago, the 26-year-old Serbian is seemingly in need of fresh impetus after a 2013 campaign with just one grand slam title, and the loss of his world number one ranking.

And perhaps mindful of the stunning success Murray has enjoyed under Lendl’s guidance, it maybe shouldn’t come as a surprise that he has made a similar appointment.

Certainly comparisons between Becker and Lendl are there to be made.

Both men shot to prominence in the 1980s as leading lights of a new breed of hard-hitting ‘power’ players and went on to become multiple grand slam champions – Becker winning six titles from 10 major final appearances and Lendl eight from 19.

They also crossed swords in three grand slam finals, starting at Wimbledon in 1986 – when Becker retained the title he had won a year earlier at the age of 17 – then again at the 1989 US Open – when Becker again prevailed – and finally at the 1991 Australian Open.

That last meeting – won again by Becker – was the last grand slam final between the two, but come January 26 they could again find themselves facing off in the showpiece match on Rod Laver Arena – albeit this time guiding from the stands.

Djovokic is the three-time defending champion at Melbourne Park and will be bidding four his fifth Australian Open crown next month.

Murray, meanwhile, has been runner-up Down Under three times – losing to Djokovic in 2011 and 2013 – and few would bet against the pair going all the way again next month, this time with the added spice of a tactical battle between Lendl and Becker.

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