Boris Becker credits his once fierce rival Ivan Lendl with paving the way for him to coach Novak Djokovic.
Becker, the winner of six grand slam titles, will guide world No.2 Djokovic for the first time at the Australian Open, as the Serb attempts to win the title for a fifth time.
The German is among a growing band of past greats mentoring the game’s current elite.
Lendl has coached Murray for two years, helping the Scot to his breakthrough triumphs at the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon, as well as Olympic gold in London.
Much more recently, Roger Federer hired Stefan Edberg to help him break his grand slam title drought.
Other past grand slam champions Goran Ivanisevic (coaching Marin Cilic), Sergi Bruguera (Richard Gasquet) and Michael Chang (Kei Nishikori) are also working with current players.
Becker believes his own grand slam success will help him coach Djokovic through similar experiences.
But he says it’s Lendl’s success with Murray that opened the door for him and others.
“It’s been a trend in tennis ever since the relationship with Lendl and Murray worked,” Becker told reporters at Melbourne Park on Friday.
“Obviously when we played in the mid-80s to mid-90s it was a little bit slower, but we still had graphite racquets, it wasn’t just wood so the game is not that different to when we played.
“I think it’s a smart move by the current players.”
During their own playing days, Becker and Lendl had an at-times heated rivalry, including meetings in three grand slam finals, all won by the German.
But Becker doubts that will add any spice to the Djokovic-Murray duels.
“Of course we want to win, of course we’re all very competitive, but I think it’s about Djokovic, Murray, Nadal and some of the other players and not so much about the coaches,” he said.
Becker refused to publicly divulge anything about how he intends to help Djokovic, already a winner of six majors himself.
But the 46-year-old expressed hope the job would be long-term.