I don’t think that we’re cheat­ing. I don’t think that’s how you can call it. I mean, there are spe­cial ways of, I would say, com­mu­ni­ca­tion

The Herald - Sport - - WIMBLEDON -

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, as I said, that’s ba­si­cally present in those mo­ments.”

Asked if the com­mu­ni­ca­tion went as far as sig­nals, or Becker giv­ing him spe­cific ad­vice about how to serve, Djokovic in­sisted that would have been picked up long ago. But, while try­ing to ab­solve him­self of blame, he ad­mit­ted that ten­nis has a prob­lem with play­ers and coaches who at best try to bend the rules about on-court coach­ing.

“Well, I think with all the cam­eras pointed out to him and to the box, I think you would al­ready no­tice if he would just kind of go kick serve, slice, to do the back­hand or fore­hand,” he said. “But again, we can’t pre­tend like that’s not hap­pen­ing in ten­nis.

“Of course, there’s sit­u­a­tions when it hap­pens, and not just with the top play­ers, with ev­ery­body. This is a very com­pet­i­tive sport. You’re alone on the court. Of course, there’s cer­tain rules.

“But also there are times when, you know, 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.

“I think it just de­pends. Also that’s up to the chair um­pire or su­per­vi­sor to de­cide if some­body’s break­ing the rules or not. I think as long as it’s some­thing that you can tol­er­ate, let’s say, within the ways of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, I think it’s fine.”

Had eighth seed David Fer­rer with­drawn from the tour­na­ment be­fore to­day’s or­der of play was is­sued rather than shortly af­ter, Kohlschreiber, the world No 33, would have been moved to another tie. In­stead, both the Ger­man and Djokovic will have to make do with a match-up that is far tougher than ei­ther would have wanted to be faced with at this early stage of the com­pe­ti­tion, where a com­fort­able meet­ing with a lowly-ranked op­po­nent is al­ways to be pre­ferred.

Should he get the bet­ter of Kohlschreiber, Djokovic will then play the win­ner of the match on No 2 Court be­tween two men who are com­pet­ing here for the last time – Lley­ton He­witt, the 2002 cham­pion, and Jarkko Niem­i­nen. Ei­ther man would be al­most as dan­ger­ous as the Ger­man.

He­witt can be guar­an­teed to ex­pend ev­ery avail­able ounce of ef­fort in a bid to pull off an un­ex­pected win if he does make it through to­day, and has won all five of his meet­ings with the Finn.

SIDE BY SIDE: Novak Djokovic, left, and Rafael Nadal chat af­ter a train­ing ses­sion yesterday

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