Milos Raonic, Australian Open 2016

Lucas Pouille’s coach Emmanuel Planque talks about the Canadian’s improved game.

Interview by l’Equipe, translation by Tennis Buzz

“Apart from Djoko, I don’t see anyone who can beat him here.” I told you that just after the match against Lucas (Pouille). I was a bit stunned after the match. I re-watched the match several times and the impression remained. OK, I wasn’t excited by the way Lucas started each set… but Milos gave us nothing. That guy doesn’t even give you the time of day. Right now, I find him fit. We’ve been talking about him as a future Grand Slam winner for two years now. Like Dimitrov? Yes and no. I’m sure Dimitrov will come back. But he’s less impressive and not prepared as well as Raonic. He has less weapons.

He’s really confident with his serve. In Brisbane and Melbourne, he was hitting second serves at 220, 224 and even 226 km/h. At some point you don’t know how to return them: if you step back, he hits a kick serve that bounces really high; if you move forward to cut the trajectory, he hits a 220km/h bullet. The average first serve speed is often mentioned as a way to judge a server, but don’t forget the second serve. He put power in it but it doesn’t mean that many more double faults. That’s tied to his current confidence and the fact that he hasn’t played the top two best returners yet, Murray and Djoko, who can bother him. The idea is to make him run so he’ll serve between 160 and 180 km/h. Because if he serves at 130, he’ll be more accurate, more coordinated, more relaxed. But it’s hard to make him run much when he’ll try and shorten the point quickly.

He has improved his game considerably. Mainly because he doesn’t have any physical problems. Last year, he had to undergo surgery to repair pinched nerve in his foot. Good health means more intensity at practice. You can tell he has worked on his returns. He’s much more consistent. Before he could miss a few second serve returns in a row. Today, he puts you continuously under pressure without taking any risks. He returns hard in the middle, that allows him to take a lot of second shots with his forehand. And then it’s difficult to escape. Facing him, you get tense and you lose 10 to 15 km/h on your serve. I think Milos has assimilated the fact that the best players in the world aren’t the best servers. His goal is to get a ratio of quality of serve/quality of return that is much better than the others’.

He’s part of a very strong project. To me, he’s not a Canadian at all. He’s a Yugo (born in Podgorica, Raonic lived in Montenegro until he was eight). He reminds me of Djoko with his ambition and application. Raonic is straightforward, intelligent, a worker. The guy could easily have been an engineer. Now he’s a tennis player, that’s his job. He’s not emotional, he’s rational. He works on his mechanics. Ljubicic (now Federer’s coach) helped with his serve and second shot. Ljubicic leaves and Raonic takes Moya, who’ll help him with his returns and bring him the deep parts of the game. And above all he has Piatti (former coach of Ljubicic and Gasquet) who is a great coach and who is doing a hell of a job with him.

Would it hurt tennis if Raonic became number one? I don’t agree with that kind of pessimism. I hear some people say Raonic is bland, isn’t sexy, he’s boring … No! Sure, tennis of tomorrow will be guys 1.95m tall moving like guys 1.75 tall and who can return too. Can these critics affect Raonic? I feel he’s there to win. The rest …

Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg, Roland Garros 2015

By Mauro Capiello

Stefan Edberg will no longer be Roger Federer’s coach. With a message on his social channels the Swiss communicated to his fans a decision he and Stefan must have already agreed since long. The original deal was for at least 10 weeks in 2014, it became a successful partnership that saw the Swedish legend travel the main events of the Tour again for two years, almost like in the old days.

Although the media emphasized Roger’s role in the decision, it is clear that such an effort in terms of time and energy must have been a huge stress for the quite and reserved Stefan, who would have never imagined to get back on the stage until only a minute before receiving the Swiss’ call. So we can reasonably suppose that celebrating his 50th birthday in Australia was not in Edberg’s plans and that even if Federer had asked for a further extension of the agreement, this time Stefan would have said no.

As the New York Times reports,

«Edberg confirmed that he had coached in 2015 with the “clear understanding that it would be my last year given the time commitment.”

On the other hand, Roger has always liked to add new persons to his team in order to both bring new elements to his game and renew his motivations. From this point of view, his new coach Ivan Ljubicic (whose analytical skills we’ve been appreciating in Italy since he started commentating for Sky Sports) will probably insist on the mental side of the game better than Stefan could ever do, the Croat having played tennis against many of Roger’s rivals until just a little more than three years ago.

But also Ljubicic, who will join the long time members of the team Severin Lüthi and Pierre Paganini, will necessarily need to start from the huge contribution Edberg gave in refreshing Federer’s tennis, taking the 17 time Grand Slam champion back to his top level of form after a disappointing 2013 season and to compete for the Major titles against opponents averagely 5-8 years his juniors.

In the last two years, Stefan was at Roger’s side in 17 events of the tour (11 in 2014, 6 in 2015). With him in his team, Roger:

– won 11 titles (5 in 2014, 6 in 2015);
– won 3 Masters 1000 events (2 in 2014, 1 in 2015);
– reached three Grand Slam finals and two ATP World Tour Championships finals (all five lost against Novak Djokovic);
– won a Davis Cup with Switzerland;
– won 136 singles matches, losing just 23;
– beat a top-10 ranked player 31 times losing only 12;
– beat current number 1 Novak Djokovic 5 times, losing 8 (one was a walk-over in last year’s London final)

These already outstanding results would have surely been even better, hadn’t Novak Djokovic played two amazing seasons, losing just 14 matches in 2014 and 2015 combined. I think nobody could deny that against any other player Federer would have won at least two of those three Grand Slam finals he played and Team Fedberg would have taken that Major title that has been Roger’s obsession since he took his last Wimbledon crown in 2012.

But even without it, never in the history of tennis a guy well in his thirties has showed this kind of consistency at the top and this is obviously thanks to Roger’s unique qualities, but partly also thanks to the game style adjustments suggested by Edberg. Considering the average level of today’s players, this new approach will keep Roger competitive for at least two or three more seasons (should he decide to still keep playing for such time) and I’m sure that this is something Roger will always pay Stefan tribute for, after any success that should come in the future.

Still, through these two seasons that we followed closely in the Fedberg section of our website, we’ve always had the impression that the partnership between Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer was something going beyond sports goals, statistics, strategies, technique, possibly even beyond tennis. It was the perfect duo, based on a common sensitivity, made up by two similar spirits who have been inspired from each other.

The link between the two is something meant to stay. You can bet that in the future Majors, looking back to his corner after converting a set point, Roger will miss the support of the calm angel he had transformed in his most passionate fan, just like, for a moment, Stefan will regret not being there to root for his pupil from the crowd.

Check out Mauro’s website STE… fans

Also read:
Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg at practice, Roland Garros 2015
Federer and Edberg at practice, Cincinnati 2014
Coach revival: top players choose great from the past

Conchita Martinez:

Conchita Martinez

Cristiano Ronaldo:

Cristiano Ronaldo

Ivan Ljubicic:

Ivan Ljubicic

Virginia Ruano Pascual:

Vivi Ruano

Carlos Moya and Roberto Carretero:

Carlos Moyá y Roberto Carretero

Photo credit: Davinia

Enjoy some pics of Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic practicing together on Friday.

Follow our Roland Garros 2013 covereage. Find us also on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

Former world number 3, Ivan Ljubicic, coaching Milos Raonic:

Ivan Ljubicic

Read More

The new tennis season is fast approaching, and the best players in the world are busy training hard in preparation for another demanding and gruelling year on tour. But before we launch into 2013, we should take a moment to reflect on the careers and legacies of those who hung up their racquets for the last time in 2012…

Biggest ATP Retirement: Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick

On his 30th birthday, Andy Roddick called a press conference and revealed that the 2012 US Open would be his final competitive tournament. The decision caught everyone by surprise, but it seemed fitting for a man who, used to giving his all, knew that his body was no longer able to withstand a brutal training and playing regime.

Roddick had been his country’s number one player for most of the last decade. Blessed with one of the biggest serves in the history of the game, he regularly sent down unreturnable deliveries of over 220km/h, accompanied by his trademark compact swing and shotgun-like pop. He resembled an exuberant puppy on the court, pouncing on short balls and unleashing his formidable off-forehand with relish. Not the most naturally fluid of players, Roddick constantly strove to expand his arsenal of shots, and developed a very effective all-court game. Occasionally, his temper got the better of him, and umpires were often in his firing line, but he earned a reputation for being extremely gracious in defeat, and was a fan favourite wherever he played.

At the time, his 2003 US Open win seemed to herald the arrival of a new hero in American tennis, but Roddick’s main misfortune was to have shared an era with Roger Federer. He fell to the Swiss in four Grand Slam finals, including three at Wimbledon. The most heartbreaking was a 16-14 loss in the deciding set of the 2009 Wimbledon final, a match in which Roddick’s serve was broken only once. In all, he had a 3-21 record against Federer, and one wonders how much more decorated the Nebraskan’s career would have been without that perennial obstacle.

Biggest WTA Retirement: Kim Clijsters

Kim Clijsters

Kim Clijsters has the distinction of retiring for a second time in 2012. The Belgian originally called it a day in 2007, citing mounting injuries and her desire to start a family. The lure of competition proved too strong, however, and she returned to the WTA tour in 2009.
Read More