Thursday, August 11th, 2022 12:03:18

Great Game, Great Players With Great Coaches

Updated: February 8, 2014 3:32 pm

Tennis has historically been called the sport for a lifetime. It is now a global sport, the appeal of which is growing continuously in countries once considered tennis’ black spots. It evolves as a slam-bang showcase of raw power and astonishing athleticism. Traditionalists will always lament the absence of touch, finesse and variety, but there is no harnessing the impact of innovation and technological progress. In any era, the world’s elite players were the envy of everyone who ever picked up a racket. The tennis market is changing now, it’s becoming more competitive, and viewers are smarter, so you need something new to grab the eye balls. This something new has persuaded current tennis stars to replace their coach with former greats.

Scotland’s Andy Murray announced the inclusion of Ivan Lendl as his fulltime coach. Lendl, who won eight Grand Slam titles in an illustrious career, has never coached before but Murray said he still had plenty to offer. Murray said: “Ivan’s impact on the game is unquestionable and he brings experience and knowledge that few others have, particularly in major tournaments.”

British tennis fans, longing for their first male Grand Slam winner since Fred Perry in 1936, will be hoping the unlikely figure of Ivan Lendl can help break the country’s long title drought. Now 51, Lendl is rated as one of the world’s greatest players, having won 94 ATP Tour titles in a career that spanned 16 years. He came from two sets to love down to win the French Open final against John McEnroe in 1984 to claim his first Grand Slam and, after winning the 1985 US Open, he remained as the world’s top ranked player for 156 consecutive weeks.

Tennis’s most glamorous and hottest lady Maria Sharapova has announced that she’s hiring Dutchman Sven Groeneveld, (former mentor of Monica Seles, Mary Pierce and Ana Ivanovic and led them to Grand Slam titles) as her new coach to start the 2014 season. Groeneveld was previously a consultant and coach at the Adidas Player Development Program. Sharapova has been without a formal coach since her ill-fated summer link-up with Jimmy Connors, which lasted only one match. The Russian 26-year-old had previously split from long-term coach Thomas Hogstedt after she bowed out in the second round at Wimbledon.

World number two Novak Djokovic has appointed six-time Grand Slam winner Boris Becker as his head coach. The 26-year-old Serb, who has also won six major titles, will start work with Becker before the Australian Open, which started on 13 January. Djokovic’s long-time coach Marian Vajda will continue as part of his team. Defending Australian Open champion has been with Vajda since 2006 but other coaches have come and gone on a regular basis during that period too.

“Boris brings a fresh approach and together with Vajda he will make a winning combination. He is a true legend, someone who has great tennis knowledge, and his experience will help me win new trophies, Grand Slams and other tournaments. He is a great person too, and I am sure he will fit in our team in the best possible way,” Said Djokovic. Becker first shot to prominence by winning Wimbledon as an unseeded 17-year-old in 1985. During a 15-year professional career, the German won 64 ATP Tour titles, including three Wimbledon singles crowns. Djokovic will be hoping to reclaim his world number one spot from Spain’s Rafael Nadal in 2014.

Roger Federer has added Stefan Edberg to his team. Federer, owner of a record 17 Grand Slam titles, refers to Edberg as his “childhood hero.” Severin Luthi will continue to work with Federer, too. In October, Federer split with Coach Paul Annacone after three and half seasons together. Federer finished 2013 ranked number six. It’s the first season since 2002 he didn’t reach a major final.

World number nine and French number one Richard Gasquet has replaced coach Riccardo Piatti with Sergi Bruguera. Gasquet found out on the eve of his final match at the ATP World Tour Finals that coach Riccardo Piatti decided to end their partnership without further notice. He then secured the coaching expertise of former French Open champion Sergi Bruguera. Bruguera, now aged 42, won back-to-back Roland Garros titles in 1993 and 1994 and has won 12 titles mostly on clay, before being forced to retire from top flight tennis eight years later because of persistent ankle problems.

How they fought

Stefan Edburg, coach of Roger Federer, was a tough competitor of Ivan Lendl, coach of Andy Murray during their times. Edburg won 14 times against Lendl while Lendl beat him 13 times. As far as their wards are concerned, Andy Murray won 11 times whereas Federer tasted success on nine occasions. Edburg also has close shaves with Boris Becker, winning only 10 times, whereas Becker has the tally of 25 wins against him. But, Federer balances Edberg’s losses by winning 16 times against Becker’s ward Djokovic who won 15 times against him. Becker though fell one short (winning 10) against Lendl who won 11 times against him. While his ward Djokovic won 11 times against Lendl’s ward Murray who won only eight times.

These stats do show how tough and closely contested tennis was among the players of last generation. Much is the same among the players of this generation as well and with the combination of these two generations fans are expecting thrilling and gripping tennis on court.

By Sorabh Aggarwal

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