London: Novak Djokovic has admitted he can "tolerate" tennis' top stars breaking the rules and communicating with their coaches on court. The reigning Wimbledon champion accepted "we can't pretend it's not happening in tennis" in claiming every top star breaches governing body rules forbidding coaches instructing players in the middle of matches.
Serbia's Novak Djokovic at a press conference prior to the Wimbledon Championships in London yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
Coach Boris Becker has revealed Djokovic's back-room staff "have our ways" of signalling to the Serbian on court "to tell him it's good or it's bad". The 28-year-old himself rejected suggestions his on-court communication with his coaching team represents significant rule breaches.
"We can't pretend like that's not happening in tennis," said Djokovic of mid-match communication between players and coaches. "Of course there are 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 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 in 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.
'Don't call it cheating'
"I don't think that we're cheating, I don't think that's how you can call it," said Djokovic. "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."
Djokovic will start the chase for his third Wimbledon crown by taking on Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber on Centre Court today. French Open king Stan Wawrinka will take on Portugal's Joao Sousa in Centre Court's final match today.
'Not my concern'
Djokovic insisted "it's not of my concern" that Wimbledon rivals Andy Murray won a fourth title at Queen's and Roger Federer claimed an eighth Halle crown. The 11-time major champion claimed he needed "emotional, mental rest to recharge my batteries" after his shock French Open final defeat to Wawrinka, to justify his absence from the major Wimbledon warm-up tournaments.