Novak Djokovic

12 Grand Slams combined on one side of the net, 1 on the other side: Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic joined by their coaches Boris Becker and Goran Ivanisevic practised together on court Suzanne Lenglen on Friday.

Marin Cilic and Goran Ivanisevic

Novak Djokovic and Boris Becker

Novak Djokovic

Marin Cilic

They were joined at the end of the session by Richard Gasquet, his coach Sergi Bruguera and Paul-Henri Mathieu. Bruguera and Ivanisevic seemed happy to see each other, look at that hug:

Sergi Bruguera and Goran Ivanisevic

Sergi Bruguera and Goran Ivanisevic

Bruguera and Ivanisevic both made their big breakthrough in Paris in 1990 as they knocked the first two seeds out of the first round of the French Open. The Spaniard beat Stefan Edberg (finalist in 1989) while the Croat beat Boris Becker. Bruguera was defeated by another Swede, Jonas Svensson in the next round but Ivanisevic reached the quarterfinals where he lost to Thomas Muster.

More pictures (click to enlarge):

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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 …

As you already know I spent a few days in Paris to attend the BNP Paribas Masters. Nadal, Djokovic, Federer… I’ve had the chance to watch the best battle for the number 1 spot or for a qualification to the ATP Finals in London. Here’s a quick recap of my week.

Day 0 (Sunday, October 27 )

Paris. Last time I was in Paris was in May for the French Open, but the weather is the same: it rains. No tennis for me today but a walk on the Seine waterfront. You can read here about all my wanderings in Paris during the week.

Today is the last day of the qualifiers. Matches are played on courts 1 and 2 (300 spectators each), the reduced capacity of these courts means that spectators are close to the players. Santiago Giraldo, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Michal Przysiesny, Bernard Tomic, Igor Sijsling and Robin Haase qualify for the main draw.

Day 1 (Monday, October 28 )

Feliciano Lopez

No schedule nonsense like last year, and some interesting matches on Centre Court for the day session:
– Lukas Rosol defeats Jérémy Chardy 6-3 6-4
Feliciano Lopez – Bernard Tomic: an hard-fought victory for Feliciano.
Fernando Verdasco – Ernests Gulbis: another Spaniard against another headcase.

The day session ends quite early and we are allowed to watch Federer practising. He seems really relaxed and jokes with Michael Llodra. On the other half of the court Nishikori warms up seriously with a sparring partner.
Kei Nishikori – Julien Benneteau: a solid performance by the Japanese player.
– in the other match of the night session, qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert beats Benoit Paire 6-2 6-2. Booed by the crowd for his lackadaisical play, Paire calls the spectators morons. Yep, a really nice guy that Paire.

On court 1, Marin Cilic -who comes back after a four month doping-ban- defeats Igor Sisjling in 3 sets. Other results:
Santiago Giraldo def. Adrian Mannarino 6-3 2-6 6-4
Robin Haase def. Denis Istomin 7-6 6-3
Philipp Kohlschreiber def. Andreas Seppi 6-3 3-6 6-4

Day 2 (Tuesday, October 29 )

Kei Nishikori and Jo Tsonga

A beautiful day today in Paris. Before tennis, a visit to the Musée des Arts Forains and a walk in the Parc de Bercy.

– I missed the first match on Centre Court, Grigor Dimitrov – Michael Llodra: 6-7 6-3 6-3 for Dimitrov, Llodra announces 2014 will be his last year on the circuit.
– Pablo Andujar – Vacek Popisil: an unexpected win for the 28 year old Spaniard. Andujar was at home in Valencia when he received a call announcing him the forfeit of Gael Monfils. He replaced him in the main draw and got past the young Canadian.
Richard Gasquet – Fernando Verdasco: with this win, the Frenchman moves a bit closer to the ATP Finals.

A hot dog, a glimpse at Djokovic practice, and I’m ready for the night session and the second round match between Kei Nishikori and Jo Wilfried Tsonga, hands down the most entertaining match I’ve watched all week.
– next match on center court is Djokovic against Herbert, let’s say I’m not Djokovic biggest fan, so I pass. The world number 189 has two set points before losing to the world number 2 in straight sets.

Other results:
Michal Przysiezny def. Jarkko Nieminen 6-3 7-6
Nicolas Mahut def. Alexander Dolgopolov 7-6 6-1
Ivan Dodig def. Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6 6-4
Marcel Granollers def. Dmitry Tursunov 6-4 6-4
Kevin Anderson def. Mikhail Youzhny 4-6 7-6 2-1 ret.

Day 3 (Wednesday, October 30 )

Rafael Nadal

Nadal, Federer, Ferrer, Del Potro: the big names are out on court today.

– Gilles Simon – Nicolas Mahut: Simon wins the 3 hours battle opposing the two French players. I was quite surprised to see the crowd was really pro-Simon, wonder why because he must have one of the most boring game ever, and let’s not talk about his personnality.
Juan Martin Del Potro – Marin Cilic: Cilic’ coach Goran Ivanisevic in the stands to watch his player lose to recent Basel winner, Del Potro.
Rafael Nadal – Marcel Granollers: the indoor court at Bercy is far from Nadal’s favourite surface but he’s targeting a strong finish to the year. 7-5 7-5 victory for the world number, who was playing his first match in four years at Bercy.

Other results:
David Ferrer def. Lukas Rosol 6-0 2-6 6-3
John Isner def. Michal Przysiezny 7-6 4-6 6-3
Nicolas Almagro def. Ivan Dodig 6-4 6-3
Stanislas Wawrinka def. Feliciano Lopez 6-3 3-6 6-3
Philipp Kohlschreiber def. Tommy Haas 6-2 6-2
Tomas Berdych def. Pablo Andujar 6-2 7-5
Roger Federer def. Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-4

Day 4 (Thursday, October 31 )

No tennis for me today, but a visit to the Manufacture des Gobelins, and a street art tour in the 13th arrondissement.
No surprise at Bercy today: all the favorites are through to the quarter-finals. For the first time in the tournament history, the eight quarter-finalists are qualified for the ATP Finals in London.

Stanislas Wawrinka def. Nicolas Almagro 6-3 6-2
David Ferrer def. Gilles Simon (FRA/15) 6-2 6-3
Novak Djokovic def. John Isner 6-7 6-1 6-2
Juan Martin Del Potro def. Grigor Dimitrov 3-6 6-3 6-4
Roger Federer def. Philipp Kolhschreiber 6-3 6-4
Tomas Berdych def. Milos Raonic 7-6 6-4
Richard Gasquet def. Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-2
Rafael Nadal def. Jerzy Janowicz 7-5 6-4

Day 5 (Friday, November 1 )

Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro

Last day of my vacation in Paris today, but before I leave, a walk in Chinatown on the morning and two quarter-finals on the afternoon: read the complete quarter-finals recap here.

Hope you enjoyed this recap, you can find all Bercy 2013 articles here.

Without a doubt the most boring match I’ve watched all week. Both players have the same playing style: big serve with solid groundstrokes and I had the feeling they were playing the same point over and over again. The most entertaining part of the match was players challenging the calls, go figure…

19 aces for Cilic who made a lot of errors on important points (easy volleys in the net, smashs 3 meters behind the baseline…) and a 6-4 7-6 for the recent Basel tournament champion, Juan Martin Del Potro.

Bercy is Cilic first tournament after a four-month ban following a failed doping test.