Dubai - Novak Djokovic previewed his defence of the Dubai Open title with a tribute to the role of his head coach Boris Becker in the spectacular advances made in the 14 months they have been working together.
During that time the Serbian has won two Grand Slam titles, taking his total to eight, and built an overwhelming lead as world number one - now nearly 4 000 ranking points.
Some of the credit, he claims, should go to Becker, whose experience in winning six Grand Slam titles and two Davis Cups with Germany has helped Djokovic cope with the psychological stress of continuously playing at the very highest level of the game.
"Especially in the second half of 2014 things started to get together and clicked for us in the relationship, on and off the court," Djokovic said. "We never had an argument, we never had a fight.
"Now it's been a little bit over a year and I learn constantly something new from him from a psychological point of view, mostly because he has been in these situations before.
"So he understands what I go through, the challenges that I face, the obstacles that I need to overcome to win big titles and to be number one in the world, because he was there," Djokovic added.
By happy coincidence their similar paths on the tennis court have an important parallel off it as well. Both became fathers at a similar age, while each was trying to maximise exceptional talent at its peak.
"We talked a lot about that and how that is influencing your tennis and your career, and how you can organise your life in order to get that flow moving," Djokovic revealed. "Obviously that gave him a new energy, new motivation.
"He tried to use it not as anything negative, as a distraction, or something similar, but as a source of happiness, a source of new motivation, something that gave him a way of going out there and being even better on the court.
"It requires obviously more people, and a better organisation because a baby is not easy to handle -- but it is possible.
"It's a challenge but it's all a matter of organisation with your close ones and understanding what your priorities are, and the support that you get."Roger Federer's the best example of this. We are talking about one baby - and he's got four!"
The only problems which emerged in Djokovic's relationship with his head coach came with a slip of the tongue.
Attempting to explain how Becker had contributed something new to his success, Djokovic managed instead to utter: "He contributed something new to my sex........."
This was a blooper from which he eventually recovered by saying: "I guess my PR's hands are sweating now," before correcting himself good-humouredly with: "as I say he contributed a lot - yeah!"
Djokovic concluded: "We still want to achieve a lot, Boris and I. We feel like it's only a beginning. We have won two Grand Slams together and played a final at the French Open, and so there is a lot of good success there, but of course there is always high expectations for him and for myself."
Djokovic will start his bid for a fifth title in Dubai on Tuesday, with his nearest rival being second-seeded Federer, who has a record six titles.
Federer starts Monday against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, twice a former finalist.
However, Djokovic was also scheduled to play Monday in men's doubles. He is partnering Serbian compatriot, Laslo Djere against Daniel Nestor, the Belgrade-born Canadian who has won eight Grand Slam men's doubles titles, and Rohan Bopanna of India, holder of the doubles title at the event.