Kei Nishikori

Maria Sharapova def Simona Halep 1-6 6-2 6-3
Rafael Nadal def Kei Nishikori 2-6 6-4 3-0
Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci def Garbine Muguruza/Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4 6-3
Daniel Nestor/Nenad Zimonjic def Bob and Mike Bryan 6-4 6-2

Rafael Nadal

After two stunning quarterfinals losses in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, Nadal captured his fourth Madrid title, his 27th Masters title overall. Led 2-6 2-4 he was totally outplayed by Nishikori in the final.

Kei Nishikori

Following his win in Barcelona, Nishikori beat Milos Raonic and David Ferrer en route to the first Masters final of his career. And he was just a few games away from a huge upset: beat Nadal, on clay, in front of his home crowd. For a set and a half he was totally in control of the match but had to retire in the third set.
He becomes the first male Japanese player to each the top 10.

Dominic Thiem

The 20-year old Austrian stunned Australian Open and Monte Carlo champion Stanislas Wawrinka in the second round of the Madrid Open. Thiem is the first 20-and-under player to defeat a top-five player in three years. Unfotunately he had to retire due to illness before his third round match against Feliciano Lopez.

Maria Sharapova

She beat Simona Halep to capture her first Madrid title. She remains undefeated on clay this season (11-0) and looks like a serious contender for the Roland Garros title.

Simona Halep

Quarterfinalist at the Australian Open, winner of the Qatar Open, she reached her first Premier Mandatory final in Madrid.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams withdrew from the Madrid Open before her quarterfinal match against Petra Kvitova because of a left thigh injury. She is doubtful for the Rome tournament this week.

Kei Nishikori RG14 outfit
Kei Nishikori and Santiago Giraldo, Barcelona Open 2014

Kei Nishikori defeated Santiago Giraldo 6-2 6-2 to win the title. He became the first non-Spanish player to win the tournament since Gaston Gaudio in 2002.
3-time defending champion and number one seed Rafael Nadal lost to Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals. It was his first loss in Barcelona since 2002.

Escort Kids de la Fundación Sant Joan de Déu en la final del Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell

Escort Kids de la Fundación Sant Joan de Déu en la final del Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell
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Novak Djokovic
Indian Wells

Flavia Pennetta def Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 6-1
Novak Djokovic def Roger Federer 3-6 6-3 7-6
Su-Wei Hsieh/Shuai Peng def Cara Black/Sania Mirza 7-6 6-2
Bob and Mike Bryan def Alexander Peya/Bruno Soares 6-4 6-3

Flavia Pennetta

The 32 yr old Italian defeated the top two seeds, Li Na and Agniezska Radwanska to capture the biggest title of her career. With a semifinal at the US Open, a quarterfinal at the Australian Open, her game has been really solid these last few months. Read her interview here.

Agnieszka Radwanska

She appeared ready to win a title that counts for a big step once again, but as often Agnieszka Radwanska wasn’t able to come through in a big-stage match. Injured (? – but that injury didn’t prevent her from playing in Miami and reaching the quarterfinals at the Sony Open), the 25 yr old Pole was devastated by her loss.

Simona Halep

The Romanian, who won the first six titles of her career last year, reached her first Premier Mandatory semifinal at Indian Wells and is now the new world number 5.

Maria Sharapova

The defending champion was ousted by world number 79 Camila Giorgi in the third round. With this loss she has dropped to number 7, her lowest ranking since the summer of 2011.

Novak Djokovic

First title of the season for the world number 2, a much needed title after his disppointing quarterfinal loss at the Australian Open.

Roger Federer

A resurgent Federer reached the final without dropping a set, but a couple of unforced errors in the third set tiebreaker cost him the final and the title.

Alexandr Dolgopolov

He had never won a set against Nadal before, but Dolgopolov beat him in the third round and then defeated Fabio Fognini and Milos Raonic to make his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal.

Miami Sony Open

Serena Williams def Li Na 7-5 6-1
Novak Djokovic def Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-3
Martina Hingis/Sabine Lisicki def Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina 4-6 6-4 10-5
Bob and Mike Bryan def Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah 7-6 6-4

Serena Williams

She started the tournament slowly with a three sets win over Caroline Garcia and then rolled to the title with straight sets victory over Coco Vandeweghe, Angelique Kerber, Maria Sharapova and Li Na. After a victory in Brisbane and losses in Melbourne and Dubai, she won her second title of the year, her 7th in Miami.

Li Na

First Premier Mandatory final for Li Na who had set point in the first but she lost 11 of the last 12 games.

Dominika Cibulkova

She followed her final in Melbourne with a win in Acapulco, a quarterfinal at Indian Wells, and after her run through the Miami semifinals, the Slovakian makes her entry to the top 10.

Maria Sharapova

She has now lost her last 15 matches against Serena Williams, in fact Serena hasn’t lost to Sharapova since 2004 in Los Angeles! The Russian hasn’t progressed in any area of her game and she could drop out of the top 10 soon.

Martina Hingis

The former world number one teamed up with Sabine Lisicki to win her 38th doubles title, her first in seven years.

Novak Djokovic

Nadal and Djokovic played each other for the 40th times. Djokovic dominated from the start and won comfortably 6-3 6-3. It is his fourth Miami title, his 18th Masters 1000 title overall. Only Andre Agassi has won the Key Biscayne tournament more (6).

Is the Nadal-Djokovic rivalry the best in the Open Era? Vote and share your thoughts.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal is now 0-4 in finals at Key Biscayne, one of just three ATP Masters 1000 events he has yet to win.

Kei Nishikori

Nishikori saved 4 match points to beat David Ferrer in three sets and three hours of play, but he had plenty left in the tank to upset Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. Unfortunately he hurt himself and had to withdraw from the semifinals.

Andy Murray

The Scot announced his split with Ivan Lendl after two years of collaboration, 2 Grand Slam titles and an Olympic Gold medal. The announcement took nearly everyone in the game by surprise but the split was amicable. Check out my video of Lendl being interviewed at the World Tennis Day in London a month ago in which he talks about that Scottish boy.

Lleyton Hewitt

With his win over Robin Haase in the first round, Lleyton Hewitt has become the 21st male player to record 600 match wins. Only Roger Federer (942) and Rafael Nadal (675) have won more matches among active players.

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

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014
Roger Federer – Stefan Edberg

Roger Federer:

Edberg was one of my childhood hero. He was not really sure of himself, but he was very flattered, he came to Dubai and we spent a week together. I’m really happy he found time and desire to work with me. He’s really excited I’m sure he can bring me a different perspective.
I don’t see him as a coach, I see him more as a source of inspiration, a legend who spends time with me and taks with my coach Severin Lüthi and me. I’m not 15 anymore, he won’t revolutionize my game. I did not hire Edberg for that. For me, it is something else, a global thing: it’s an inspiration, a motivation to be able to listen to him and talk to him.
It is also interesting to see what he has to say about the evolution of my game towards the net.
I’ve tried a lot of things, I have some ideas but I’m not sue I can do them in matches. It is interesting to see if it’s still possible to do many serves and volleys on today’s slower courts, or if there are other ways for me to go to the net. You think he will dump me if I don’t go to the net?

Stefan Edberg:

It was a real surprise when I received a call from Roger asking me to help him. I was so far away from the tennis world. But Roger is someone so special on and off-court, someone I respect so much that I said “ok, think about it!”
But it’s such an opportunity to work with him… Maybe I can bring something do that he stays in tennis as long as possible because he is extraordinary for our sport. As long as he is healthy and motivated, he has the potential to do great things. The road will be long , but I think he is still good enough to beat anyone.
I do it because I think I can really bring him something. And maybe that little something can bring back Roger to where he was some time ago.
Roger is on court, but maybe hearing a different voice, different speeches from someone who has experienced this situation in the past, will be effective because there are still some things you can work on, details that can be decisive.

Novak Djokovic – Boris Becker

Novak Djokovic:

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. He knows what I feel, the challenges I’m facing, what I’m going through in difficult times.
I was looking for someone who had known similar situations, and I thought of him.
Of course, tennis has evolved, and today’s game is based on today is based on the baseline. But I think with his game, his volleys and the aggressive style he developed, he can really help me.
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. These are negative feelings.
I am also very pleased to see all these former legends return as coach.
This is very positive for our sport. They won so many Grand Slam tournaments, they have all been number one, they were champions, they know what we’re going through, in the Grand Slams in particular. They can identify to us.

Boris Becker:

I will not go into the details of things we are working on. But because I reached ten Grand Slam finals, I know exactly what a player feels in the final stages of a tournament. As he has already been world number 1, with six Grand Slam titles, I will not teach him how to make a backhand or a forehand. But I think tactically, strategically and mentally, there is room for progress, and that’s why he called me.

Marin Cilic – Goran Ivanisevic

Marin Cilic:

Goran gave me lots of advice on my service. He told me to simplify my gesture “throws the ball in the air and
strikes!” Before, I was thinking too much before serving. But we worked hard on it, and it seems to work. Goran knows what I have work to get to the top. He also brings me all his experience and all the things he has experienced in his career.

Kei Nishikori – Michael Chang

Kei Nishikori:

Michael Chang knows players very well. He gives me great advices on tactics and a lot of confidence. My game will not be fundamentally turned upside down. Michael was part of the top 10 for many years. My goal is to reach the top 10 this is my dream. I hope to learn a lot from him.

Photo by Cindy

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 to 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 in their game, says Sam Sumyk. This is the advantage of high level, this is not just the technique of a forehand 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: technique , 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 little 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 …