Novak Djokovic denies cheating claims

Reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic has insisted that communicating with his coach Boris Becker during matches does not consitute cheating, even though players are not permitted to be given instructions on court.

Novak Djokovic and Boris Becker
Novak Djokovic and Boris Becker

Coaches will come under nearly as much scrutiny as the players over the next fortnight at Wimbledon with every facial gesture captured on the TV cameras and repeated in super slow motion.

And Djokovic himself is feeling that intense focus following some unguarded comments made by his own coach which have blown up into a pre-tournament talking point.

His coach Boris Becker had told Five Live: "There are moments when he looks up and he needs assurance that what he is doing is right. And then we have our ways about it to tell him it's good or tell him it's bad. And then it's up to him to change it."

Men's title-holder Novak Djokovic, who has former champion Becker working as head coach alongside Marian Vajda, was asked at his pre-tournament news conference on Sunday whether Becker pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable - the insinuation being that instructions were being passed.

"I don't think that we're cheating," said Djokovic, who has worked with the German since 2013. "I don't think that's how you can call it. I mean, there are special ways of, I would say, communication.

"As (Boris) mentioned, the way you look at each other, the way you feel your box, and box feels what you're going through on the court.

"I think that's something that just gives you that reassurance, gives you that confidence.

"It's not necessary that he tells me where to serve or to which side of the opponent's court I have to play, because that doesn't happen.

"But it's more, you know, encouragement, and more of a support and reassurance in those moments."

With so many cameras following the matches of the top players Djokovic feels it would be picked up immediately if a coach was offering specific tactical instructions.

But he also said that there were times when the player leaned heavily on his support team.

"We can't pretend like that's not happening in tennis," he said. "Of course, there are situations when it happens, and not just with the top players, with everybody.

"Of course, there are certain rules, but also there are times when the team of the player communicates with the player when he gets to go and take the towel in the corner, which is closer to the box, or, you know, different ways.

"I think it's all fine as long as it's not regular. Also that's up to the chair umpire or supervisor to decide if somebody's breaking the rules or not."

Djokovic, bidding for a third Wimbledon title, will open play on Centre Court on Monday with a tricky-looking test against Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber.

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