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At Wimbledon, Becker gets best of Edberg again, only this time as coaches, not players

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LONDON - Just as he did so often during their playing days, Boris Becker came out on top against Stefan Edberg.

This time, though, they were not out there on the grass at Wimbledon, serving-and-volleying the way they did in the old days.

Instead, they were sitting up in the players' guest boxes at Centre Court, filling their current roles as coaches: Becker works with champion Novak Djokovic, Edberg with runner-up Roger Federer.

After edging Federer 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4 Sunday, Djokovic climbed into the stands for a big embrace with his entourage, including Becker.

"It's been a great ride, and I'm enjoying myself a lot. It's very easy to work with Novak, because he's so motivated. He wants to work every day He plays to win. He's not happy with a semifinal and final," Becker said. "It's just a great honour for me to be part of his team."

Djokovic and Federer have played each other 35 times, the same number of meetings Becker and Edberg had in the 1980s and 1990s when they were on tour.

Becker won 25 of those, including the 1989 Wimbledon final. Edberg did win their two other title matches at the All England Club, in 1988 and 1990.

This was Djokovic's seventh Grand Slam title, one more than Becker won as a player. But the coach still holds the lead when it comes to Wimbledon championships: Becker won three, while Djokovic now owns two.

"Roger played unbelievable today. It's the best Roger I've seen in years, and it could've gone either way in the fifth set," Becker said. "Novak finds another way. He digs deep and finds another way."

Djokovic announced in December that the 46-year-old Becker would join his team this season, part of a staff that already included longtime coach Marian Vajda, along with physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic and fitness trainer Gebhard Phil-Gritsch.

Less than two weeks later, 17-time major champion Federer said he would be adding Edberg to his staff. Edberg won six major titles, and Federer has referred to him as a "childhood hero."

Asked at the outset of Wimbledon how having Becker aboard helps him, Djokovic said: "This is his surface. This is his home. This is where he feels most comfortable. Of course, he's very inspired to convey his messages, his advice to me, and try to point out the few objectives and few priorities on which I should focus."

Seems to have worked out just fine these two weeks.

___

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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