Tennis Prose



What has happened to Stefan Kozlov?

The American prospect was once touted as a future star, but his career has went south this year after almost breaking into the top 100 last year in Indian Wells, Kozlov is now ranked 348 after losing first round this week at the Las Vegas Challenger (60 62 to Kamil Majchrzak) as the defending champion.

His last win was first round of Wimbledon qualies against Dustin Brown 61 63.

Since Wimbledon Kozlov has lost 1R qualies at Citi Open to a guy ranked 420 in the world. Then lost 1R at Aptos, took two months off, returned to the Challenger circuit and lost 1R in Mexico, Calgary and this week in Vegas. The last set Kozlov has won was against Brown at Wimbledon.

On the year, Kozlov has a 12-23 overall match record for $82,700 in earnings.

At age 20, Kozlov is going in the wrong direction. So what happened?

Is he using the wrong racquet? Did suffering too many losses crush his confidence and self belief that he belongs on the ATP World Tour? Does he lack the weapons to hurt the other players and it took them a couple of years to conspire and solve the Kozlov game by using more patience and consistency to eventually exploit his lack of firepower?

Just last year Kozlov was able to beat players such as Tennys Sandgren, Denis Kudla, Liam Broady, Marc Polmans, Steve Johnson, Pierre Hugues Hebert, Jurgen Melzer, Peter Polansky, Jared Donaldson, Hyeon Chung and Bradley Klahn.

In 2018 Kozlov has lost to Bryden Klein (499), Jared Hitzlik (420), Jan Choinski (269), Lucas Gomez (672), Kaichi Uchida (296), Daniel Evans (858).

This is a player who even Dan Markowitz opined, after watching him dismantle Benjamin Becker at Newport, that he could win a Newport singles title and contend at Wimbledon.

Kozlov looked that good – on grass. But on hard courts it’s been a different story. The power and topspin which he sees on hard court is overwhelming. Kozlov has yet to win an ATP main tour main draw match on hard court so far. He has won five ATP main draw matches in his career, and none this year.

Is it time to hire a former ATP player like Vince Spadea or even Andre Agassi to try to rebuild the Kozlov game?

It looks like Kozlov lacks the violence and explosion in his shots, the snap, the easy power that most elite players have. He has to defend and counter punch and rely on trickery and cleverness to win points. Somehow he needs to add explosion to his physicality, such as to do extreme boxing training, focusing on full exertion and power punching. Not just light shadowboxing and hitting the mitts at medium pace but full velocity, full savage desperate intensity.

Power and explosion must be added to his physicality and it can be done. Also a different racquet could help. The Babolat Pure Drive he uses has too thick of a frame, he needs a thin beam with a tighter string pattern for more control and power.

One thing is for certain, things have to be changed now. Falling from 114 to 348 in a year is a message that changes need to be tried. The current formula is not working.

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  • jg · October 24, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    what did he work on during the 2 months off, and with who is he working with, sometimes a new coach will reset the player. I thought his forehand was starting to look better but when I say him a the citi open qualifying, my forehand has more pop. He should try a Yonex.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 24, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    jg, his official coach right now is his father but I’m trying to connect him with Jeff Salzenstein. I think he needs the voice of a former player who actually competed and won matches on the ATP Tour. Agree, his forehand looks 4.5 sometimes. He can surely add pop to it. Yonex or Volkl or lead tape.

  • Dan Markowtiz · October 24, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    If JG has more pop on his forehand, Kozlov should work with JG. How about Sock today against Gulbis in Basel? The guy is clueless how to win a match these days. Now granted, Gulbis is playing real good these days, but Gulbis’ serve was off today. In second set, Sock broke back and at 4-all played the diciest shots you ever want to see. Sock is in love with the drop shot like no other player I’ve ever seen.

    Kozlov one of the biggest flops in American tennis ever. Let’s see if he has a DY comeback in him, but not even DY in his younger days, his early teens, was as out to ship as The Koz.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 24, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Dan, Last march Kozlov was one set and a tiebreaker away from being in the top 100 but he lost 75 76 to Young and it’s been pretty much downhill since. He was on the cusp of top 100. She has shown he is a top 100 player. So he can get there again. He just needs some work, some help, some advice, some wins. DY had his down periods and fell out of the top 100 but he never fell to outside 300.

  • Chazz · October 24, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    Something was up with Sock today because he was hitting mostly backhands instead of normally running around to hit forehands. He must know that’s a losing strategy. Gulbis took an injury timeout in the first set for his leg and then Sock took one shortly after for his hip. If I’m coaching him, I have no problem with a lot of drop shots because his hands are his biggest asset. He should come to the net more too. He’s screwed after next week because his one week ranking plummet will be close to a record.

  • Dan Markowitz · October 24, 2018 at 4:00 pm


    Did you see the game at 4-all? He hit two drop shots that were very ill-advised. Mark Knowles, who was coaching Sock at the Open, said on telecast today that Sock needs to use his forehand to come to net more. One problem Sock has is that his serve is not ultra-effective. He doesn’t win as many free points on it as he should with his live arm.

    I think with Koz he should really reach out to Spadea. Vince has been in his shoes, granted not at 20 years old because Vince was top 100 at 20, top 50 at 24 and top 20 at 25 and didn’t drop out of top 100 until he was 26. He was no. 237 at one point and it took him two years before he broke top 100.

    So why wouldn’t you want to work with Vince? But Kozlov might be cheap and it’s hard when you haven’t earned a lot of money in your career and had mostly USTA coaches to take money out of your own pocket and hire a legitimate coach, former player.

  • jg · October 24, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    wonder if sock’s problem with taking the forehand and transitioning to net is the extreme forehand grip, its hard to transition with that grip–even Nadal flatens it out at times–when Sock plays doubles he doesn’t have to transition.

    I could coach Kozlov, I would send him to south america and only play clay court tournaments–even futures for 6 months, and learn to blast the forehand

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 24, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    Dan, didn’t Vince once say if Kozlov listened to him he could be top 50 easy? Text me Vince’s ph# and I will send it to Stefan. Just sent Salzy’s # to Kozlov. Salzy is a great coaching mind too and I think he can help too.

  • Chazz · October 24, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    Dan, no I didn’t see that game. His knowing when to use the variable shots and come to the net is definitely a mental issue.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 24, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    Sock knows how to play tennis. He broke into the top ten a year ago and he’s got plenty of big singles wins over the likes of Dimitrov, Nishikori, Isner, Johnson, F LO, Gasquet. The guy knows how to play. But he’s hindered now by a severe loss of confidence. He’s forgotten how to win. He’s probably over-thinking now and playing scared.

  • Dan Markowitz · October 25, 2018 at 10:33 am

    No Scoop I’m sending you JG’s number instead of Spadea’s. I like his Jared Donaldson approach of sending the Koz packing to So America and have him tough it out on the clay. (By the way side note here, I was playing tennis in Newport the other day with this guy who know’s all the mover’s and shaker’s of Newport tennis, and he said Donaldson was actually taught by this Chilean guy who is the one who recommended that Donaldson move down to Argentina as a teen. I hope to hook up with this guy and see how he can help Cal’s game. Also, Scoop, if you’re around Thanksgiving week, Cal is playing 12’s Indoor Nationals at Billie Jean King Center in Flushing so come check it out. He’s playing doubles with Bobby Reynolds’ nephew so hoping Bobby will be there).

    I know JG’s tennis pedigree is impeccable. He took lessons with the same pro I did who taught us to hold our backhand grip with our thumb up the backside of the grip. JG was smart though, he didn’t hit a one-hander, he opted for two. Pretty rare in those days. He’s an innovator.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 25, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Dan, seei f this Chilean has any background with Marcelo Rios or some insider stories which I’m sure you will be entertained by because not a day went by in the life of Rios where something bizarre, weird or odd didn’t happen. Must have been a serious coach to be able to convince the Donaldson clan to send their son away to Argentina and not Spain, why Argentina? I used to put my thumb behind the grip too like that which restricts agility of the stroke. Fixed it though upon recommendation of an opponent. Important move as my backhand is solid now and a good weapon. Good idea by jg to have Kozlov go Rambo style and get down and dirty. Salzy has some ideas to bounce to Koz too. Everybody does I guess.

  • Jg · October 25, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    Good idea Dan, we can co coach and call in Spadea as a consultant if necessary. Is Reynolds the coach at Vanderbilt now? ( my son went there), how did Cal hook up with his son? I think Wayne Ferrera’s Son is going to Vanderbilt, or some other former top player. Kozlov would have benefited from
    College but South America is the next best thing.

  • Jg · October 25, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    Random, but can Tommy Haas beat Kozlov if they played today? I say yes
    And easily.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 25, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    Yes Marcus Ferreira goes to Vandy, but not doing much in Futures. Reynolds is the coach at Auburn now but he attended Vandy.

  • Dan Markowitz · October 26, 2018 at 8:14 am

    But Kozlov isn’t the only young American faltering. In that Vegas Challenger going on, Tommy Paul and Noah Rubin also lost early on. I think with the Koz what I was struck by him when I interviewed him a few years ago in Newport is his defensiveness and stubbornness. Now I realize you get defensive as a tennis player and stubborn.

    Like with my son, his coaches tell me he’s slow on the court and needs to get quicker feet, but he won’t or doesn’t like to run. He’s playing against bigger kids now in the 14’s and he hasn’t had his growth spurt yet so his legs are short and sturdy, but not quick and he doesn’t want to do the one thing he has to do, run, around the track, around the block, up stairs. Fritz Buehning said he did much better as a pro when he ran and no tennis players liked running but they did it. His father would drop him off, he said sometimes, when they had dinner at the country club and have him run the 1.5 miles home.

    So anyway, when I asked the Koz about the criticism of his forehand by Tim Mayotte he totally discarded it. Maybe he needs to open his eyes and ears more to how he can change his game, but I think I heard the USTA dropped him from their training group so he might not have great coaching.

    Also, I didn’t know this, Tom Gullickson, the pride of Wisconsin, retired earlier this year as a coach. Good man, great hands.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 26, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Dan, Callum has to run and do sprints, do spider drills, do duck walks, do squats and lunges. He has to get in the state of mind to love to run like a young cat or dog loves to runs and play. Not just run in response to when he has to run to the ball. He has to get out in the yard and run around like a cat or dog chasing an imaginary target, love to run, love to show off his running and it will make him quicker on the court and being quicker on the court translates to winning those two or three extra points a set which translates to more match wins. Bring him to NJ and I will show him all my secrets of how I got so fast and still pretty fast today.

  • Chazz · October 26, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Surprised you guys haven’t mentioned jump roping. That’s huge for conditioning in my opinion.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 26, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Chazz, but rope jumping is bad for the lower joints, the straight up and down hopping on concrete is very bad. on a softer surface it’s okay but it does not develop speed as well as other short sprints. it does help with building leg strength though.

  • Chazz · October 26, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Scoop, I think you have to do it in tandem with running. I think you can get a pretty good routine going that switches between sprints and jogs on the treadmill and rope jumping. You may be right about the joints. I’m curious about what the pros routine’s are with running and whether or not they jump rope.

  • Chazz · October 26, 2018 at 10:24 am

    BTW, Fritz was playing incredibly well vs Copil but choked away the first set. He had 8 break points and 3 set points and couldn’t win any of them. Too bad because he was hitting running winners all over the court. Never seen that movement from Fritz before.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 26, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Chazz, I am around pro tennis tournaments and Eddie Herr and I follow a lot of players on IG and can’t recall seeing any showing themselves jumping rope in a long time. I see a lot of core exercise routines, agility, some sprinting but no jump rope. The lat I saw was of Djokovic doing a log roll with his head up to strengthen his core. He also did an agility balance obstacle course. I think jump rope may have been phased out as old school.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 26, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Chazz, remember on this site Tim Mayotte talked about the lack of “efficiency of movement” of Fritz. Would not be surprised if Fritz read it here and worked on it. Mayotte is a master coach with a very observant eye for the details and subtleties that make a top player.

  • Chazz · October 26, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Yeah, I have watched a lot of Fritz matches in the past couple years and he was getting to shots and hitting winners today that he never would have before. It’s a shame he blew the key points. Copil is playing really well, he beat Cilic in the previous round by a similar score.

  • Matty · October 28, 2018 at 1:16 am

    I converse with Copil regularly and he credits that Murray match in DC with giving him enthusiasm and a positive belief. It will be a fun match today in Basil.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 28, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Kozlov won his first round Q match in Charlottesville vs Emil Reinberg, a WC out of UVA, 46 76 61. Big win for Kozlov. Now plays a Greek kid Chrysochos.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 28, 2018 at 9:56 am

    If the ATP does not need OCC why does the WTA players. I thought the word is that women are equal to men. Does OCC prove that this equality crusade is a hoax?

  • catherine · October 28, 2018 at 10:35 am

    Scoop – you’re a bit late to this argument, it’s been going on for quite a while. My view is that OCC shouldn’t be allowed for men or women but it looks like it’s here to stay for the WTA. Not in GSs though.

    Is there any reason you’ve brought this up now ? BTW, Svitolina who just won in Singapore is against OCC if I recall correctly, although she uses it.

    The ATP has coaching in the Nextgen, via radio/earphones. That seems just as stupid to me.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 28, 2018 at 10:52 am

    I tweet by Wertheim about OCC today sparked this thought of unequality. If they really believe in “Equality” they should end OCC. I like it though as it gives the sport some extra drama and insights. It also gives coaches a platform to show their goods. It also shows a personal side of players in the head of battle, like Muguruza infamously telling off Sumyk, “Tell me something I don’t know.”

  • catherine · October 28, 2018 at 11:08 am

    I can see your point but I’ve never liked it myself. I think in tennis you should be out there on your own.

    Something I’d like to know – does OCC really make any difference ? Can’t think of a way of proving that.

    As someone said, can’t remember who, ‘tennis is about the players, not about the coaches’. In a match ie.

    No way Simon is going to end OCC. He’d like to roll it out.

    BTW – maybe Kerber didn’t think Fisette’s OCC was good enough. One reason to oust him. Of course you’d have to know German to make a judgement there. Or is there a rule that OCC must be in English ? If so, very unfair.

  • Hartt · October 28, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    It was not easy, Copil played pretty well, but Fed managed to win his 9th title and career No. 99.

    So the ball kids bet pizza, and I get a treat. 🙂

  • Hartt · October 28, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    I meant to type his 9th Basel title.

  • catherine · October 28, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    This is a bit off topic but this seems the newest general thread. I’ve been reading Julie Heldman’s book about her life in tennis (and out of it) and was reminded me of how little we know about what goes on and how much is guesswork and you only find out years later the truth and may not even then. And this in an era where nothing much seems private.

    I’m still bemused about the Fisette/Kerber break but I’m not going to say anything more about it now except – I noticed Fisette has not made any comment at all on Twitter since July and Angie, who has departed on vacation sounding very pleased with herself, has said nothing. Not a word. Like it hasn’t happened. That was not how she dealt with sacking Beltz last year. She’s not coming out of this well.

    So. I wonder how much Scoop finds out, in doing his books, stuff people never talked about when it mattered, and now feel free to let the world know.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 28, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    OCC really isn’t coaching it’s a pep talk. This is the majority of OCC: “you can do this”,
    “c’mon, keep fighting”, “don’t panic and try to relax”, “have fun out there.” Do women players really need this? If they do then feminism is a big hoax 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 28, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    I cannot recall ever hearing a coach OCC a player with actual tactics, set ups or a new strategic gameplan other than, Go to her forehand, or go to her backhand. I think OCC is to give viewers more entertainment value to make up for the monotony of many of the matches were are identical baseline bashfests between two one dimensional players.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 28, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    Catherine I can say the media gets a bare minimum of the true stories of what really happens in tennis. Just the surface but most happens beneath the surface as we know. It’s the same with boxing. The public has no idea how much they don’t know. The model works well as the public always is clamoring for more. I do know that in boxing and tennis there are some covered up blockbuster stories that would shock the world if they went public. But they won’t because the mainstream media either doesn’t know about it or they know it would be frowned upon severely if the story was leaked. But this is the way it is with everything really, the public knows so very little about the truth. Like the saying says: The most hated man in the world is he who tells the truth.

  • catherine · October 28, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    Scoop – yes – a lot of OCC I’ve heard is in the range of ‘C’mon’, ‘be positive’ etc and nothing much more. A true feminist would say women shouldn’t need that and I agree. (In the WTA Finals Sloane had a substitute coach and what he was saying seemed completely pointless and didn’t help her at all.)

    Re ‘true’ stories – the big difference between now and years ago (the time Julie H was writing about) is of course social media, which is a big fake in that things are presented as the truth to fans when of course they are nothing of the kind. Just a good opportunity to mislead and cover up. Kerber is saying, this is my life, this is how I am, to get all the likes and nice comments on Twitter and IG when you only have to see her on court to know this is a false impression. It’s not exactly a lie but it’s not reality either. You’re a consumer of what she wants to tell you and nothing else.

    The public is pretty gullible and the media are keen to keep their access. So frustration all round. Better wait, as Julie has, until the important people are dead. Or are too old to care 🙂

  • Hartt · October 28, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    We only ever get part of the story in any case. With Julie H’s book we are getting just her perspective. She probably told the truth as she saw it, but other people who were involved would have a different point of view.

  • Hartt · October 28, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    Regarding OCC, I dislike it for many reasons, and agree that often it is simply a pep talk. But sometimes the coaches try to give too much in the way of tactics. Then I think why don’t they just say a couple key points, there is no way a player, especially one who is frustrated, is going to absorb all that info, much less put it into play.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 28, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    Catherine, this is one reason why I enjoy doing the Facing books and I think some people love them, is they show the player from a perspective of their peers and opponents and media. Not sure if any of the players like the books about them, only heard from Marcelo Rios, he liked it. McEnroe, Fed, Rafa, Hewitt, Pete and Safin haven’t contacted me or given any feedback. Kerber could be somewhat phony but most people in the public spotlight have to be to avoid controversy and trouble, to spout cliches means their media lives will be much more hassle free.

  • catherine · October 29, 2018 at 3:35 am

    Scoop – No, I don’t think Kerber’s a phony, not at all, and as you say – she’s just following the rules for people in the public eye – but in the issue with Fisette it’s all gone a bit pear shaped, her management haven’t handled the situation well and Angie’s trying to avoid any mud slinging by saying nothing and putting anodyne stuff on her social media. Her fans probably prefer that anyway.

    It’s only nosy and hyper-alert people like me who want to see through the cracks.

    I’m curious about her new coach. Angie’s career is disappearing in the rear view mirror now I suspect, so I wonder who’d take the bait.

  • catherine · October 29, 2018 at 3:47 am

    Hartt –

    I think Julie has been pretty honest and even-handed, from what I knew of her and those times. Her book is certainly not the usual memoir. I imagine BJK might have a different perspective although it’s Julie’s memory I trust.

    I certainly haven’t seen anyone contradicting any details about Gladys Heldman – except you might say Julie hung on to the bad stuff for too long.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 29, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Catherine, what is your theory for the Kerber Fissette parting? Do you think there were romantic entanglements involved?

  • catherine · October 29, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Scoop – I hardly think so. Fisette hasn’t had long stints with any of his charges and I can’t really see all those relationships being romantic. You’d soon get a reputation for that kind of stuff – really unprofessional. Also Fisette has a young family so he’d be pretty stupid. And gossip gets around and I haven’t seen/heard any.

    I’ve really no idea what happened – could be he wanted her to devote more time to training etc, could be just a matter of $$$$. Maybe the German press has more but I don’t read German with facility. And I don’t know what kind of entourage Kerber has. I know Fissette dislikes interference which is one reason he left Simona. Konta had a bunch of people around her too.

    The kiss-off announcement from Angie’s management mentioned Wim’s ‘professionalism’ and also that they couldn’t agree on future ‘cooperation’ which sounds to me something to do with commitment to the game.

    But whatever, seems clear that bad feeling was ultimately involved – Fisette went from being ‘exactly the right coach for me’ to completely dispensable in a matter of months. And no personal comment from Angie herself. Sad.

  • Hartt · October 29, 2018 at 10:46 am

    This does mean that Fissette is available to help another WTA player improve her game. 🙂

  • catherine · October 29, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Or maybe he’ll give it all up as a bad job and move to the ATP 🙂

  • H · October 29, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    Re Fissette, that sounds like a plan! 🙂

  • catherine · October 30, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Re OCC
    (Thanks to anonymous poster on Youtube.)

    ‘The Sabalenka-Tursunov dialogues gain more and more popularity in the Russian section of YouTube. Never a dull moment with Aryna and Dmitry. Here, another gem. After winning rather uneventful first set, 6-4, she summons up the coach, for no apparent reason. He hobbles up, looking exasperated: “What’s wrong?” She (somewhat taken aback): “Nothing. What’s wrong [with me wanting to have a chat about some mistakes i’ve made, at 5-3]. He (visibly suffering and rubbing his knee): “Just hurt my leg badly, when running up to you”. Spends the next couple of minutes explaining that she plays well and does everything right and should stop worrying about the mistakes she’d made in the games long gone… Implying, she didn’t need to bother him at all, putting his knee at such a risk. Great pair, sitcom stuff.’



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