Article by Tennis Magazine, April 2014, translated by Tennis Buzz.
When a number 1 from yesterday meets a number 1 from today, what do they talk about? Stories of number 1 of course!
But what can these legends bring to champions whose achievements have nothing to envy theirs? That’s the question… One thing is sure: the 80’s and 90’s are trendier than ever. In fact, the courts took a very vintage look lately.
Two legends, Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker, but also Michael Chang, Sergi Bruguera and Goran Ivanisevic have made their return to the circuit at the Australian Open, alongside their peers.
Ivan Lendl was a pionneer, as he started working with Andy Murray two years ago. But the trend took momentum in the offseason, with associations between Cilic and Ivanisevic (November), Gasquet and Bruguera (end of November), Nishikori and Chang (mid-December), and at last but not at least, two partnerships who had some kind of a bomb effect, Djokovic with Becker and Federer with Edberg (end of December).
What can these former great players add compared to a conventional coach? And why the glories of yesterday have chosen to come back on the circuit? With interviews of players and coaches, Tennis Magazine updates on these duos.
Without a doubt, to have Ivan Lendl by my side was a real bonus.
Readily acknowledged Andy Murray after his first Grand Slam victory at the US Open in 2012, nine months after the beginning of his collaboration with the Czech.
The pair, intriguing at first, was conclusive. Their two parallel respective experiences were obvious: like his coach, Andy Murray finally captured his maiden Grand Slam title after four defeats in the finals.
I knew what he was going through and the frustration that he could feel, explained Ivan Lendl .
Former champions turning to coaching is nothing new. Some have not left a great memory in this role. Mats Wilander with Paul-Henri Mathieu and Marat Safin, Jimmy Connors with Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova were not really successful. But what’s surprising today is the high number of these collaborations that almost occured at the same time. So, simple coincidence or new trend?
Tennis has always followed trends. Two years ago you had to eat like Djokovic, and 3 players out of 4 found out they were “allergic” to gluten. Now your coach must be a former number 1 or 2 when you are a top 10 player.
Critic, Patrick Mouratoglou distrusts the new trend. So, what can be the actual contribution of these former legends of yesterday to today’s great players?
Their experience is of course their first quality. The top players are seeking some sort of alter ego, someone who like them has experienced the stress of tennis at the highest level.
I was looking for someone who had experienced similar situations, and I thought of Boris, explained Novak Djokovic
Same speech for Marin Cilic, who saw in his compatriot Goran Ivanisevic the ideal person to take him in the top 10.
It is important to have the support from someone like him . He brings me all his experience, and all the things he experienced in his career.
Just as Richard Gasquet who found in Sergi Bruguera a champion who has experienced a very high level with two Grand Slam victories (Roland Garros 1993 and 94), Andy Murray explains how working with someone who has been there can be benefical:
All these players know the state of mind you must have when you play for major finals. And maybe, knowing the situation themselves, they better understand certain decisions taken on the court, under pressure, while it is more difficult to grasp for someone who has never known it.
For Sam Sumyk, Victoria Azarenka’s coach, the experience of high level is an undeniable asset:
They have a greater background than 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.
For Patrick Mouratoglou , despite his reserves, there is a special relationship between all these legends:
They can talk the same language and shed a different light, or alternatively strengthen positions
For Patrice Hagelauer, Yannick Noah’s coach when he won Roland Garros in 1983:
Former champions see things and analyze them with more objectivity. They are not in emotions like a coach who lives these situations for the first times can be.
If one can understand this process for players looking to access to the highest level like Gasquet, Cilic and Nishikori, it is less evident for Federer or Djokovic, who have at least as much, if not more,
experience at the high level that their own coach and already an outstanding record.
Even though he already has a beautiful trophy case, Novak is not satisfied with his six Grand Slam titles. He wants more and he wants the better team around him to improve, said Boris Becker in Melbourne
Novak Djokovic choice has surprised. How to interpret the world number 2 decision to shake up his stability with his historic coach, Marian Vajda, while he was on the rise after a fantastic year-end. Novak Djokovic wants to see further:
When you change something in your life, it is always risky, but I do not want to think like that. I chose not to be in fear of change.
Novak Djokovic, who has not won a Grand Slam since the Australian Open in 2013 or Roger Federer, seeking
his former glory, want to see in these new collaborations a way to improve again, or return to the top .
Even champions of the caliber of Federer or Djokovic can still improve and change things intheir game, says Sam Sumyk. This is the advantage of high level, this is not just the technic of a technical or backhand,
there are lots of parameters that come into play. The help Edberg can bring to Federer or Becker to Djokovic is on details. It can be in all areas: technic , way of thinking , or state of mind.
Former champion and coach of Lendl , the Pole Wojtek Fibak is more direct :
What they bring is their presence. That’s all, but it is not nothing.
Stefan Edberg also thinks his help will be in the details:
I think I can really bring a small something. And maybe that little something can bring back Roger to where he was some time ago.
A sentence pronounced before the Dubai tournament, where Federer beat Djokovic for the first time in almost two years.
At this level , the difference is therefore on things sometimes insignificant, although difficult to define:
The higher you go, the more you have to unlock things that are difficult to perceive, to feel, said Arnaud Di Pasquale
Eveyone agrees on this, Roger Federer will not revolutionize his game and play the serve and volley constantly to “please” Stefan Edberg, the same goes for Novak Djokovic. But according to the Serbian, Boris Becker contributions can be numerous:
He can help me progress on a lot of aspects of my game: serve, return, volley. But his most important help is on the mental part.
Roger Federer, like Wotjek Fibak, prefers to talk about inspiration rather than mental concerning the presence of Stefan Edberg, his childhood idol, at his side.
I did not hire Edberg to explain me how to come to the net. For me, it is something else, a global thing. I don’t see him in the role of a coach, but more as an inspiration, a legend spending time with me.
Beyond the technical, tactical or physical aspect, the help would be, in general, psychological.
Basically it comes from a need to be reassured, explains Patrice Hagelauer. 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.
Here we are far away from the role of the coach, in the strict sense, but more in the role of an advisor.
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, explains Di Pasquale.
We must not forget that coach is first of all a full-time job, says Mouratoglou.
Without removing anything to the experience of the great champions, a great player does not necessarily make a good coach, while most coaches were not No. 1 or Grand Slam winners.
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, says Arnaud Di Pasquale .
But only time will tell the impact of these former champions on today’s champions. But it’s obvious it is difficult to compare the cases of Federer and Djokovic and those of Cilic or Nishikori who are still quite far from the top. And the job of a full-time coach has nothing to do with the role that Edberg and Becker play.
We’re not going to find a single answer to very different situations. How else to explain the success of players who keep the same coach for a very long time, if not forever? Like Rafael Nadal, for example …
I went to the Indian Wells tournament with my sister-in-law. We had General Admission tickets for the first three days, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We saw lots of players and some really good tennis.
An overview of part of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden taken from the top of Stadium 3. You are looking at Stadium 1 and the one shady place on the whole site…the treed lawn.
We spent all of our first day watching the practise courts. You can see how close you can get to the players! Here is Feliciano Lopez.
Fernando Verdasco, who was practising with Feliciano Lopez.
Pennetta was practising with Sara Errani:
Haas was practising with Grigor Dimitrov:
And here is Roger Federer! We had to sit in the adjacent practice court to see him! He gets a crowd! We had hoped to see Roger and Wawrinka play doubles but would have had to get to the stadium a couple of hours earlier.
Stefan Edberg, now Roger Federer’s coach:
Vasek Pospisil was practising with Feliciano Lopez in the afternoon.
Andy Murray was practising with Wawrinka:
Photos and text by Cindy
More Indian Wells pics:
Click to enlarge the pics:
The second-ever World Tennis Day took place on Monday 3 March 2014. World Tennis Day aims to promote tennis and increase participation among players around the globe, and this year’s celebrations were centred around exhibitions featuring Grand Slam or Davis Cup champions, on three different continents:
– Li Na vs Sam Stosur and Tomas Berdych vs Lleyton Hewitt in Hong Kong
– Pat Cash vs Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras in London
– Bob and Mike Bryan vs John and Patrick McEnroe, and Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic in New York
For the first time this year an event was organized in London, and obviously I couldn’t miss that! Read my recap below and stay tuned for more pics and videos.
Cardio tennis demo
To start the evening, a demo of cardio tennis, a group fitness activity featuring fast paced drills and games. It combines the best features of tennis with cardiovascular exercise.
It does not require tennis skills, but is all about keeping your heart rate up, burning calories and having fun. The main purpose is to get fit.
Ivan Lendl vs Pat Cash
The Ivan Lendl from today is really different from the somewhat cold and robotic player he was back in the days. Believe me or not, Lendl was the real entertainer of the event, he kept talking and joking with the crowd and his opponent.
Ivan Lendl to Pat Cash:
Are you ok? I am supposed to be the old guy!
Cash attacked the net and Lendl demonstrated his back-court skills: drop shots, passing shots and powerful backhands. The Australian took the set 8-6.
Pat Cash, Andrew Castle, Ivan Lendl and Jonathan Ross:
Below, Ivan Lendl being interviewed by fellow legend Mats Wilander:
ITHF rings ceremony
The International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2014 was announced on Monday, newly elected Hall of Famers are: three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, wheelchair tennis pioneer Chantal Vandierendonck, former USTA President Jane Brown Grimes, legendary coach Nick Bollettieri and the “voice of Wimbledon”, John Barrett.
Chantal Vandierendonck and John Barrett were in attendance in London and were honored in a special ceremony.
One of the early stars of wheelchair tennis, Chantal Vandierendonck was the Esther Vergeer of the 90’s: she was the first Wheelchair Tennis World Champion in 1991, she won seven US Open and five Paralympic medals. She is the first Dutch tennis player to be inducted to the Hall of Fame.
A former British Davis Cup captain, John Barrett was the “Voice of Wimbledon” on the BBC from 1971-06. His wife, former top-ranked player Angela Mortimer Barrett, was inducted into the Hall in 1993. Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf are the only other married couple in the ITHF.
Said Christopher Clouser:
“These one-of-a-kind rings are a symbol of all that they have accomplished and their legacy in the sport.”
Gordon Reid vs Marc McCarroll
Wheelchair tennis follows the same rules as able-bodied tennis. Except the ball is allowed to bounce twice. The second bounce can be either inside or outside the court boundaries.
Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras
And finally, the match everyone was waiting for: Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras.
With contrasting styles and temperaments, they played each other 34 times from 1989 through 2002, with Sampras winning 20 of their matches. They played some memorable matches like the 2001 US Open quaterfinal, 2002 US Open final. Their rivalry was the Nadal-Federer of the 90’s.
Of the four Grand Slam champions that played that evening, Pete Sampras was the only player I had never watch playing live before, and I enjoyed watching his smooth serves and volleys.
Sampras struggled a bit at the beginning but from what he said after the match, he doesn’t play much tennis these days. I guess it’s easier to find back your rythm when you play from the baseline than when you play serve and volley.
Agassi took the match 6-3 7-6 on a Sampras double fault.
There was not much interaction with the crowd and despite what they said it’s obvious these guys will never be friends, they just tollerate each other.
Pete Sampras, Elaine Paige and Andre Agassi:
Sampras and Agassi lap of honor:
Despite the (really) high price of the ticket I really enjoyed this evening of tennis featuring four tennis legends. A suggestion for next year: what about Rafter-Ivanisevic and Becker-Edberg matches?
More pics and videos of the matches Cash-Lendl and Agassi-Sampras:
Czech Republic defeats Netherlands: 3-1
Robin Haase def Radek Stepanek 3-6 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-1
Tomas Berdych def Igor Sijsling 6-3 6-3 6-0
Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek def Robin Haase/Jean-Julien Rojer 7-5 1-6 7-6 7-6
Tomas Berdych def Thiemo De Bakker 6-1 6-4 6-3
The Czechs have not lost since suffering a huge upset against Kazakhstan in the first round in 2011. The last time the Dutch won a World Group tie was in 2005 against Switzerland. That’s quite a long time ago…
— judy murray (@judmoo) January 30, 2014
Japan defeats Canada: 3-1
Kei Nishikori def Peter Polansky 6-4 6-4 6-4
Franck Dancevic def Go Soeda 6-4 7-6 6-1
Kei Nishikori/Yasutaka Uchiyama def Franck Dancevic/Daniel Nestor 6-3 7-6 4-6 6-4
Kei Nishikori def Franck Dancevic 6-2 1-0 ret
Lead by 18th ranked Kei Nishikori, Japan sailed into the Davis Cup quarterfinals for the first time with a 3-1 victory against an injury-plagued Canada: Milos Raonic pulled out with a left-foot injury on Thursday while Frank Dancevic retired with a stomach injury in the fourth rubber.
Germany defeats Spain: 3-0
Philipp Kohlschreiber def Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2 6-4 6-2
Florian Mayer def Feliciano Lopez 7-6 7-6 1-6 5-7 6-3
Tommy Haas/Philipp Kohlschreiber def Fernando Verdasco/David Marrero 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-3
Five-time champion Spain will face a World Group playoff in September for the second year in a row. Playing without Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo, Spain was ousted by Germany 3-0.
— Tommy Haas (@TommyHaas13) January 31, 2014
France defeats Australia: 3-0
Arnaud Clément relied on his two top players Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to get past Australia, lead by Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt and Guccione were previously undefeated in the Davis Cup as a doubles team, but they were overpowered by the French pair.
— Richard Gasquet (@richardgasquet1) February 1, 2014
Great Britain defeat USA: 3-1
Andy Murray def Donald Young 6-1 6-2 6-3
James Ward def Sam Querrey 1-6 7-6 3-6 6-4 6-1
Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan def Colin Fleming/Dominic Inglot 6-2 6-3 3-6 6-1
Andy Murray def Sam Querrey 7-6 6-7 6-1 6-3
Great Britain are into the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup for the first time since 1986. It is also the first time Britain have beaten the USA since 1935! The hero of the tie is James Ward, ranked 175, who beat former top 20 Sam Querrey on Friday.
Italy defeats Argentina:
Carlos Berlocq def Andreas Seppi 4-6 6-0 6-2 6-1
Fabio Fognini def Juan Monaco 7-5 6-2 6-2
Simone Bolelli/Fabio Fognini def Eduardo Schwank/Horacio Zeballos 6-7 7-6 7-6 6-4
Fabio Fognini def Carlos Berlocq 7-6 4-6 6-1 6-4
With his third victory of the weekend, Fabio Fognini sent Italy through to its second quarterfinal since 1998. It is Argentina’s first opening round defeat in 13 years.
Kazakhstan defeats Belgium: 3-2
Mikhail Kukushkin def Ruben Bemelmans 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-3
Andrey Golubev def David Goffin 7-6 3-6 4-6 6-2 12-10
Ruben Bemelmans/Olivier Rochus def Evgeny Korolev/Mikhail Kukushkin 6-2 6-7 6-3 7-6
David Goffin def Mikhail Kukushkin 4-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-0
Andrey Golubev def Ruben Bemelmans 6-2 6-3 6-1
Switzerland defeats Serbia: 3-0
Roger Federer made last-minute decision to play the Davis Cup tie in Serbia and he joined forces with recent Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and doubles pair Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer to oust Djokovic-less Serbia 3-0.
The Davis Cup has never been a top priority for him and it remains a true hole in Federer’s impressive curriculum vitae.
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) January 29, 2014
Japan – Czech Republic
France – Germany
Italy – Great Britain
Switzerland – Kazakhstan
Which team will win the Davis Cup this year?
- Switzerland (67%, 31 Votes)
- France (20%, 9 Votes)
- Czech Republic (7%, 3 Votes)
- Great Britain (4%, 2 Votes)
- Italy (2%, 1 Votes)
- Germany (0%, 0 Votes)
- Japan (0%, 0 Votes)
- Kazakhstan (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 46
Dominika Cibulkova defeats Simona Halep 6-3 6-0
The Slovakian continues her impressive run and qualifies for the second Grand Slam semifinal of her career, after Roland Garros in 2009.
Agnieszka Radwanska defeats Victoria Azarenka 6-1 5-7 6-0
What a demonstration of skills by Radwanska who ousted defending champion Azarenka to reach her first semifinal in Melbourne.
Azarenka struggled to cope with Radwanska’s anticipation and sublime touch. If she produces that same high quality tennis against Cibulkova, the Wimbledon 2012 finalist will start favourite in the final, whoever she faces.
Rafael Nadal defeats Grigor Dimitrov 3-6 7-6(3) 7-6(7) 6-2
The world number 1 struggled to defeat Kei Nishikori in the previous round and he struggled again to get past Baby Fed, Grigor Dimitrov.
After half an hour Nadal was already one set down but he raised his level and won the second set on tiebreak. Two big forehand errors when Dimitrov had Nadal at his mercy cost him the third set tiebreak and then the match. Nadal will play on Friday his fourth Melbourne semifinal, which his 22nd Grand Slam semifinal overall.
Roger Federer defeats Andy Murray 6-3 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3
For the first time in a Slam we could have an all-Swiss final. But first, Wawrinka would have to beat 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, and Federer would have to find a way past Nadal, who he hasn’t beaten in a Slam since Wimbledon 2007.
Andy Murray showed an encouraging performance in the Australian Open, a few months after his back surgery. It bodes well for him for the rest of the season.