The German Tennis Federation has created a new job for its men’s icon, Boris Becker.
Becker, 49 and the former coach of Novak Djokovic, is the new “Head of Men’s Tennis.” And, in the process, Fed Cup captain Barbara Rittner will become the “Head of Women’s Tennis.”
Rittner already unofficially fills that role. Whenever there’s a female German player on court at a Grand Slam event (and others), you will usually see her courtside, paying rapt attention. Her leadership clearly has been a source of support to the many and varied German women at the top of the game.
“To have Boris Becker and Barbara Rittner fill these key positions is a milestone on our target-oriented path to recovery,” said German Tennis Federation vice-president Dirk Hordorff.
Hordorff also is the longtime coach of Janko Tipsarevic.
By “recovery”, of course, Hordorff must be referring to German men’s tennis. Because the women have been doing just fine. Angelique Kerber has been the No. 1 ranked player in the world for much of the last year and a half. And they have six other players in the top 100 at the moment. Add to that Annika Beck and Sabine Lisicki, who have fallen out because of injury.
The Germans have eight men’s players in the top 115 on the ATP Tour. And they have the brightest prospect of all, rising star Alexander Zverev, at No. 6.
Most countries wouldn’t feel that count requires a “recovery”. But the Germans are comparing themselves to a history that includes both Becker and Steffi Graf.
The new German Fed Cup captain will be Jens Gerlach.
Becker role in the works 18 months
“I have been in continuous communication with Vice-President Dirk Hordorff for about a year and a half in order to find a suitable role for me at the German Tennis Federation. Naturally, due to my job as Novak Djokovic’s coach until the end of last year, this was not possible earlier. The discussions between me and the Federation became more intense since the first-round Davis Cup tie against Belgium. Finally in Wimbledon we came to an agreement,” Becker said in a statement.
“In general, the goals are to help German men’s tennis through my experience as a former player and coach. Furthermore, I am looking forward to exchanging views with the Davis Cup team captain and the national coaches, as well as with our best men’s and up-and-coming players.”
Becker added that he would begin the job right away,
“I will start my work at the US Open where I will be able to take a closer look at the German players within the framework of my activity for Eurosport.”
He said Rittner, 44 and a former top-25 player in both singles and doubles, had been a great resource during the course of the courtship.
“Barbara Rittner was a great help to me in the past 18 months. Without her support, I wouldn’t do my new task. She gave valuable insights into the ‘new’ German Tennis Federation,” Becker said.
Gerlach, 44, is the former boyfriend and coach of French Open champion Anastasia Myskina. Myskina herself currently is the Russian Fed Cup captain. Gerlach has also worked with Vera Zvonereva, among other players.