Article by Tennis Magazine, April 2014, translated by Tennis Buzz. Read part 1 here and part 2 here.

Georges Deniau

Former coach of the French Fed Cup and Davis Cup teams

What can these former number one bring to today’s great champions?

1 – On their game system in general: a more or less methodical but sharp review because their vision is of the highest level of our sport. It can only be to do a little more or a little less this and that (depending on their qualities, surface, weather, their opponent etc.) and take everything into account (strokes, game areas, duration of rallyes, initiatives, variations, improvisations, adaptations, percentage). With their sharp eye it can bring a decisive bonus on a specific point!

2 – On their personal technique, it is unlikely that they have to intervene. Perhaps a detail, with the coach in place and the desire of the player himself of course.

3 – For the training itself, they had different habits . However, they may suggest things and bring new life with enthusiasm and passion, the ingredients necessary to be effective.

4 – In the mental area where these three cracks (Djokovic, Federer and Murray) are top notch, with Nadal, it is an additional challenge. Prove themselves, prove to their team, and to the skeptics they were right. Any excess of zeal could have the opposite effect: doubt. It won’t be the case . A “detail” will perhaps have done difference. And in this case, it will not be a simple “detail” anymore…

Patrice Hagelauer

Former coach of Yannick Noah

Basically it comes from a need to be reassured. They seek confidence and serenity they sometimes lost and need to confide in a champion, who is somehow their equal. I don’t see that as a work of a coach, it is more psychology, it is more on the emotional level than on the playing level. With these legends, the champions of the caliber of Federer and Djokovic can speak freely and confide. This is very different from the work of a coach who is there all year long and who has not this experience.

Federer is not look not looking for someone who accompanies him on the court, he wants someone to help him feel good. Sometimes a champion simply needs another speech, or the same things said otherwise. Because all that really lies in the field of communication. Former champions see things and analyze them with many
objectivity. They are not in emotions like a coach who lives these situations for the first times can be.

All these experiences make me think of Yannick Noah, who had many discussions with Arthur Ashe, when I was coaching him. These moments were essential for Yannick because Arthur had a role model. He was a character who was shining on an off court. The discussions they had and that could be very intimate really triggered many things with in him, confidence and self-esteem. For me too, in my work as a coach, it brought me a lot. It comforted me in my approach.

Yannick Noah

I was surprised to see Boris and Stefan back to the circuit. But it makes sense. They can bring, share. Boris has experienced amazing things… And they are available. I talked to Boris I can tell you that I feel he’s really motivated.

Paul-Henri Mathieu

Coached by Mats Wilander between January and September 2008

The big difference in the speech of these former players is that they are used to these important situations and they know what to expect. That is something you can not talk about with a coach who has not experienced these major events. In the matches preparation it was interesting for me to have the opinion of a former great player.

At the beginning of my practices with Mats and especially during matches, I felt the need to impress him because he was not everybody else! I was a little scared at first, afraid of being judged, but this disappeared after a few weeks.
What is undeniable is that these champions have a background in more in comparison to another coach. But it’s not enough, otherwise it would be too easy, everyone would take a former player!
What’s difficult for a former player who becomes a coach is to find the right balance and remember you’re a coach and not a player anymore. Some former players understand it very well and others will have difficulty to adapt, and to put themselves in the player’s skin. To coach is something else, it is a full-time job.

To coach is not to judge others, it is also to feed oneself from the player. The former champions know that and in general it works well. But it is not so easy. Everyone is not able to embark on a new career, because it takes time and energy. With stopped our collaboration with Mats, because I needed someone full-time and he had other obligations.

Wotjek Fibak

Former champion, former coach of Ivan Lendl and Djokovic’s advisor during the 2013 US Open

For me, the cases of Becker, Edberg and Lendl are very different. Djokovic, when he started working with Becker was at his best. Technically , tactically and physically. He had not lost since a few months. The only thing to expect from Becker is that he doesn’t change anything, waste anything. The bonus, for Djokovic is to have a star in his box, and have him as friend. This is not a need, it is more a trend now than a necessity…

Edberg, he came alongside Federer in a crisis, or just out of a crisis. But he is like all the Swedes, except Wilander: as much as Becker is open, lively and funny, Stefan is shy, and do not talk much. But Federer is a little “in love” with him and Edberg is his idol. Edberg brings his presence and can make Federer a little more aggressive. It worked in Australia until Nadal. But Federer can’t beat him by coming to the net or playing rallyes, so… Becker and Edberg are financially independent. With them, it is more a story of fun and friendship than real coaching.

It is really different for Lendl. Murray needed Ivan’s help mentally, physically and tactically. He improved everything. Djokovic and Federer, what could they change?

But I am very happy with this trend. It’s great!

Sam Sumyk

Victoria Azarenka‘s coach

As I am someone curious, all these experiences interest me. We must be patient before making a true assessment .
Tennis is often played on details, so the help Edberg can bring to Federer or Becker to Djokovic is certainly on details. It can be technical or psychological. It may be taks about the game or small changes in all the parameters of the game. This is the advantage of high level it is not just the technique of the forehand or backhand, there are a lot of parameters that come into play.

All these champions have experienced so many things, they went through so many emotions. They have a
background more important than ours, that mine for example. They have an asset that lambda coach do not have: the anticipation. They understand better what is going to happen, they have more instinct yo know how the player will react on different situations. Even champions of the caliber of Federer or Djokovic can still improve and change their game. Their is no limit, it is only a matter of will.

Players have the right to go for it, if it’s allow them to improve. When you engage in a certain way, you don’t always know what will happen. You are still a little in doubt, but it is positive, it moves forward.
With Vika, we experimented with Amélie Mauresmo, it seemed interesting to have a woman with us, to have an outside view, someone with her experience, someone Vika would respect. It was worth it, and it was rewarding for everyone: Vika was able to share with Amélie, but I found it also interesting for me.

Arnaud Di Pasquale

I don’t think we can talk of trend. Be careful, work with a former great it’s not the miracle solution. The high level, this is not an exact science. What’s true is that the higher you go, the more you need to unlock things that are difficult to perceive, to feel. The idea, in my opinion , for these players is to have an advisor more than a coach. They expect a speech, a psychological intake more than a technical input. Moreover, it seems that they rely on these former champions on specific periods.
Often, they already have a full-time coach. To not have been a great champion is not a disavantage for a coach. It is a bonus to surround themselves with someone who has experienced the highest level, but the contribution of the great champion does not replace the role of the coach. You can learn how to do this or that shot even if you were not able to do it yourself at very high level, the French system proves it. There’s a lot of theory in the efficency of shots.

Flavia Pennetta captured the biggest title of her career at Indian Wells last week, a moment she has been waiting for all her life.

Interview by Iolanda Gambuzza for Corriere del tennis, translated by Tennis Buzz.

Q: Have you ever won a trophy so hard to lift?
No. I tried to lift it, but it is heavy.

Q: How do you feel?
Happy, very happy.

Q: A few days ago you said you did not think you’d reached the final, and now you’re the champion.
Yes, I actually did not believe it. Now I’ll need a few days to understand what happened. I think I’m too calm now. I called my dad and he was out of breath, so I told him: “Dad, breathe!”

Q: Did you call someone else?
My father and my mother.

Q: They were tired?
Yes

Q: I know that for you it is still too early to understand what happened, but do you think that has a special meaning in the light of the long career you’ve had and the fact that just last year you were close to retirement?
After so many years and after a lot of hard work this is the moment I’ve been waiting for. It happened when I didn’t expect it, in fact, at the beginning of the week I would have never said that I would be in the finals or semi-finals, or even that I would have won. I waited for a long time and I finally won a trophy that counts.

Q: How hard was it psychologically?
That’s tennis. Tennis gives you some good times, but it doesn’t last long. I mean you can not enjoy a moment too much because the next day you have to go out there and play another match. Luckily now I have a few days to enjoy this moment and to concentrate again, because in four days I will play in Miami. Of course, tomorrow will be a rest day, maybe I’ll go to dinner with some friends in Miami, given that there are many Italian players coming. The captain of the Fed Cup is also coming, so I think that we’re going to dinner together. Tuesday I’ll have to start over.

Q: After winning a million dollars, will you pay the dinner?
It touches me (smiles).

Q: Before the injury you were in the top 10. Is it still a goal? Did you ever think to win a Premier tournament?
It was a dream, but I think every player has one. I think the first dream is to win a Grand Slam, but Indian Wells is one of the best tournaments in the world and now it’s mine (smiling).

Q: After two weeks of tournament, how are you physically?
I’m fine, but probably tomorrow I will have pain everywhere.

Q: How important is this result considering the fact that exactly one year ago you thought of retirement?
It ‘s amazing. I perfectly remember that last year, the day after the match against Francesca, I was talking with my physiotherapist, Max, and I cried because everything was going wrong. Now, a year later, I have this trophy. Everyone in my team is happy because we worked very hard and without my physiotherapist, my coach and my family I probably would not be here.

Q: Now you’re number 12 in the world.
Yes.

Q: What do you think of the fact that many of the top players today have passed the age of 30?
Even if we are “old” we are still top athletes, we also have experience from our many years in the circuit, so we know how to manage ourselves better and how to control better our emotions. But no one is as Francesca (Schiavone): 34 years old and she is one of the most powerful players on the circuit. When your body is fine, you can do great things.

Q: So the most difficult part is to keep your body in shape?
Yes, you have to.

Q: Will you update your autobiography?
No, no, that’s okay (smiles).

Q: For example, Na Li did translate her autobiography in English and then won the Australian Open, a Grand Slam that is played in an English-speaking country. That said, when comes out the English version of yours?
Really? I don’t know, I’ll ask.

Q: People have spoken well of your book
Well, the setting is not that of a book, but rather a diary of my life. Everything is there: there’s tennis, but not too much, because it’s Flavia more as a person than a player. Everyone knows me as a player, but for the fans it is hard to know you as a person.

Q: Tell us about when you’re racing to your box and Fabio watered you?
It was hot, so it was nice (smiles).

Q: Have you asked him to stay or did he?
I asked him to stay but it was not a big sacrifice because he had decided to leave today, so he only had to change the scheduled flight time.

Extract from The Rivals by Johnette Howard:

“Evert and Navratilova played the first of their eighty career matches in Akron, Ohio, to no fanfare. It was March 22, 1973, and Navratilova – who was merely hoping to make Evert remember her name – lost the first-round encounter 7-6 6-3 before a few hundred people.

It wasn’t until two years later in their sixth match, a 1975 quarterfinal in Washington DC, that Navratilova beat Evert for the first time. Navratilova was so thrilled, she didn’t sleep at all that night.

It wasn’t until 1976 and their seventeenth meeting – after Navratilova had dropped weight and improved her game – that Evert, by now Navratilova’s friend and sometime doubles partner, publicly betrayed her first scintilla of concern. Navratilova had just beaten her in Houston for the first time ever in a final.

“If she keeps this up, she could be pretty good.” Chris Evert

Maria Sharapova will step onto the court wearing the bright citron Nike Premier Maria Tennis Tank and the grey Nike Premier Printed Maria Tennis Skirt:

Maria Sharapova Miami outfit

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Fila, the official supplier of the Miami Sony Open, is releasing a limited edition model of the brand’s classic Original Tennis shoe featuring the event’s official colors of white, orange and royal blue.

The shoe is constructed of ballistic nylon and leather and features the Sony Open logo across the heel and a tennis ball inspired sock liner. The shoes will be worn by officials and lines people during the Sony Open.

Fila Original Tennis

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The limited Sony Open Original Tennis is currently available on FILA.com, as well as on-site locations at the Sony Open.