Nov/19

3

Marat Safin Interested to Coach a Player

Facing Marat Safin

Marat Safin, former world no. 1 and two time Grand Slam champion has declared he is available andsits interested to coach a professional player.

“I wouldn’t refuse, but no one offered. I wonโ€™t be able to travel all year, for some weeks itโ€™s possible. Players don’t need babysitter. There are interesting guys with kind heart, soul. I would certainly help them. I donโ€™t want to help villains.”

Which players do you think could benefit from the wisdom, knowledge, and inspiration of Marat Safin?

Kerber? Sock? Young? Escobedo?

Diyas? Serena? Osaka?

Tsitsipas? Rublev? de Minaur? Gerasimov? Kozlov?

Bertens? Hsieh? Mladenovic? Giorgi?

Fritz? Opelka? Tommy Paul? Donaldson?

98 comments

  • Andrew Miller · November 7, 2019 at 9:51 pm

    De Minaur, Kecmanovic, Humbert, Tiafoe win today. De Minaur taking care of business. Glad he keeps playing as if he has something to prove. It also sends a message to his peers. Total alpha move.

  • catherine · November 8, 2019 at 1:35 am

    Andrew – I don’t think Mirka ever made the Swiss Davis Cup team ๐Ÿ™‚

    Few ‘couples’ in tennis are between equals, men and women – can only think of Steffi and Andre. Used to be guys and flight attendants – maybe that became a bit of a cliche.

    Players googling themselves – possible. I’ve found some of my comments on T-P online – no idea how they got there and nothing to do with me. So you wonder….

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 1:43 am

    Podcast with Pete Bodo, a gem. Anecdote on Federer, Roddick and his refreshing honesty, the bubble of social media, Becker and his long memory when someone said something about his game, and on and on. On players being the center of their bubble but the need to do so. On the pride of players and how they can’t admit now mistakes.

    A gem.

    https://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2019/11/pete-bodo-journalism-media-roger-federer-boris-becker-coco-gauff/85829/

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 1:45 am

    Haha! Yes Catherine thanks my mistake, meant Fed Cup and Mirka. For her to make Davis Cup would have been a little tough.

  • catherine · November 8, 2019 at 2:00 am

    Re Bodo podcast and tennis journalism – it’s a narrow line, between getting good access for features and losing objectivity. For what it’s worth I think Peter got too close to some players – nothing unprofessional but I believe, even subconsciously, you say to yourself hey, this person’s my friend, someone I don’t want to hurt, and you hold back.

  • catherine · November 8, 2019 at 2:09 am

    Hartt – what’s Bianca doing in Europe when she’s supposed to be resting her knee ? (always reliable t-tonic for this exclusive) And then she’s off to Milan, and back in Toronto she’ll be doing a Christmas tree event.
    By the time the AO comes she’ll be ready to be injured again.

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 6:13 am

    Bodo is amusing. He says one of his friends was available to coach Becker, who was 22, 23 at the time; Bodo tells Becker that the coach is available if he were interested and Becker says no I don’t want to talk to him because four years ago he said I needed a stronger forehand! Bodo wasn’t amazed because he knew some of the players had enormous egos (that egos large and some players much larger), but he was surprised by the comment because the player was holding onto and aware of what other tennis pros and coaches and journalists said about him and held it against them.

    Bodo said it was same for a lot of players that stopped talking to reporters if they didn’t like what the reporters said. He said losing access was an everyday thing and some players never moved on. It’s why he liked Roddick who held it against a reporter that wrote he was a one slam wonder.

    Bodo with Roddick says what he liked was that Roddick told the reporter directly hey you hurt my feelings when you wrote that. That he took the time to say that but still spoke to the reporter while other players just made a point of never speaking to them again. Said the current era puts a lot of distance between player and reporting, and that players have a lot more ability with Instagram etc to control their image.

    Anyways. Bodo talks a lot more similarly about tennis and players to Scoop. Access seems to be a thing of the past. Enjoy your Instagram…but you’re seeing a screensaver of whatever the player wants you to see!!!

  • Hartt · November 8, 2019 at 6:23 am

    Catherine, I recently rediscovered Tennis Tonic as THE source for tennis gossip. I wanted to know the name of FAA’s girlfriend which I’d seen a couple weeks ago but had forgotten to write down. Tennis Tonic did not disappoint. What would we do without them? ๐Ÿ™‚

    I knew Bianca had been in Paris, watching Shapo play, etc., and Canadian sources had the Christmas tree story, but I hadn’t heard about Milan. Coach Sylvain Bruneau said the original plan, before the injury, was for Bianca to have a two week holiday before getting back to training, and they hoped to keep to that schedule but of course it will depend on her knee.

    Regarding FAA’s girlfriend, I learned she is Ajla Tomljanovic’s cousin, so maybe that is how she and Felix met. Of course she has tons of photos on her IG, including many with Ajla. She is very attractive, but quite tiny, and looks very small next to Felix.

  • catherine · November 8, 2019 at 6:53 am

    Hartt – Tennis Tonic can sometimes be unreliable – eg the spread they did not long ago about Jack Sock’s girlfriend Katie Boulter – that one was done and dusted a couple of years ago ๐Ÿ™‚

  • catherine · November 8, 2019 at 6:57 am

    Also, I thought Bianca had a problem with her miniscus and Bruneau even mentioned minor surgery. I don’t know if that diagnosis has changed but if she goes to Aust and has to retire then her whole team should be sacked.

  • catherine · November 8, 2019 at 7:06 am

    Andrew – it’s always been my belief that a tennis match can be well reported without talking to the players at all. Same with other sports.

    I’d never take any notice of IGs. Except maybe as a sign of severe dissociation between image and performance. No names but I’m sure we can all think of a few.

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 7:25 am

    Catherine, Bodo does a pretty good job talking about the craft in the podcast and I think you may enjoy it. The reporter Bodo mentioned, Doug Robson, was the one that characterized Roddick as a “one slam wonder” and Roddick felt hurt and said so. Robson didn’t stop reporting on Roddick or tennis.

    I think what you write is true, that reporters don’t need to speak to players to report. Seems it could be helpful but players are also protecting an image and their own feelings. The podcast talked about the bubble players live in and how it has to be a bubble – but that also suggests that the reason some players do well or not is what’s going on in the bubble, or how that bubble isn’t responsive to changes beyond it.

    Aka a reason a player won’t fix their awful backhand etc or learn how to volley isn’t because they aren’t capable, but that the message isn’t getting through that bubble. Nothing that hasn’t been a a thousand times on TP buy nice to hear that it’s got some truth to it. The player doesn’t want to know, the team won’t tell the player, and then the player loses consecutively and they say keep your chin up and play your game…all the while their ranking heads to new lows, which the player knows but us tossing that news under the rug.

    Yeah you don’t have to talk to the player. Bodo said this in part because the players throw up smokescreens. That wall of denial in the press room (unless you’re Ivanovic, who said way too much! Lovely person it seems) extends beyond it.

  • Hartt · November 8, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Catherine, yes I know you have to be careful with Tennis Tonic. Even in the article about Felix they had to acknowledge they’d been wrong linking him to Bouchard. I don’t know of anyone else (except maybe Scoop, who has linked Genie to just about everybody!) who ever thought they were an item.

  • Hartt · November 8, 2019 at 7:45 am

    In the podcast, when they were talking about how tennis reporting has changed, it struck me how much I enjoy podcasts, especially when there is an interview with a player, coach or experienced journalist. Part of it is practical, it is a way of getting news without looking at a screen and part is the comfort of lying on the couch listening to a story.

    But the best podcasts are terrific, and there is so much variety.

    I listen to Match Point Canada each week and they often interview Canadian players. Recently their guest was Francoise Abanda. I’m not a big Abanda fan, but I do have more sympathy for her after hearing the program. She was doing well at the Tevlin Challenger, but talked about losing so much time from ongoing shoulder problems. The very next day she had to retire from her match because of her shoulder. The show’s hosts said she could no longer serve as well because of the shoulder issues. So it sounds like Francoise, who is just 22, may never get her career going again.

  • Jon King · November 8, 2019 at 8:10 am

    Andrew, great stuff about the bubble players are in. It also goes with winning early. So many juniors win early but have huge flaws. They are talented enough to keep winning until they reach a certain level, then get walloped.

    We just went to the ITF in Boca Raton. The #1 seed was a girl named Owensby who we have pretty much seen grow up in tennis. She won everything from age 7. But you could see she was winning without real weapons and relying on her smarts and anticipation skills. I know coaches who suggested changes through the years but as long as she was winning, nothing changed.

    The cracks started to show this summer when she was handled easily by a girl Clervie Ngounoue who was years younger. At the ITF Boca this week she was the #1 seed but barely got out of the first round vs a mid level player, then lost in the 2nd round to another younger girl. Its obvious that the other girls have now passed her by and at age 16 has to either revamp her game or lower her tennis goals.

    So the bubble can start quite young.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Jon did you see the girl who should win the ITF Boca Mi Lan?

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 9:05 am

    Most tennis players are smart and refrain from telling a reporter about his backhand or forehand or why he won lost. Reporters just get crumbs and cliches when they try to get technical with players. Most reporters are technical kindergartners compared to players, so most players talk to reporters as if they are a grandparent or kindergartner. As Thiem once revealed the ATP school teaches players to talk to reporters as if you’re talking to your grandparent. This is why I think players like to do Biofile and Behind the Racquet interviews, they aren’t focused on the xs and os and the question line is a different angle which they like instead of talking about their forehand and backhand.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 9:06 am

    Catherine, Tennis Tonic just reported that Agassi and Shields have begun dating.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 9:11 am

    De Minaur actually looks unbeatable. Has everything and does not miss. Nightmare to play. Watch out.

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Jon, that’s interesting about the player that was winning everything and suddenly wasn’t – her competition changed and the player didn’t or didn’t know how to, stuck in her own patterns with no “plan b” because it’s not there! Players can recover from this, add new dimensions. But they’d have to acknowledge that, and that’s got to be harder than we think it is.

    I was so struck by how much the player is in their own world. For Bodo he and the podcast hosts Pantic and Falconi suggest that the bubble is necessary because the player is on court alone (I watched a Mirjam Bjorklund match on YouTube from a few years back…it was stark. It was in Brazil, somewhat bad lighting? One stand totally vacant, maybe ten people watching from the other side – players have had far fewer spectators, but that was a pretty good example of being alone in middle of nowhere).

    Player is alone out there, they go with the partner that brought them to the dance. Then as they lose their team says nothing because they can’t, player used to routines, not interested or tries changing and suddenly loses more so goes back to what they’re good at.

    I think players should play dubs to practice new shots in a safe environment. But it’s hard to go against instinct, even when the situation is different. Under pressure the player goes for their go to move.

    Anyways. They suggest that bubble is airtight. Bodo says the bubble has to be at least somewhat responsive so that the player has more of a grasp on reality e.g. that they need to work on parts of their game, that maybe they need to get stronger, develop some SV (Francis Tiafoe is a perfect example – he needs to up his forehand and also look for more SV opportunities and make it a staple of his game because he has a sixth tense and comfort around the net and it’s obvious to everyone but Francis).

    The bubble is needed and natural. Just that it can’t be airtight so that there’s no responsiveness to changes in game, opponents, feedback…etc.

    The girl you mention, anticipation is such a gift in the sport. Perfect example of a player that should make the effort to broaden their game. Including hitting harder!!!

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 9:30 am

    re Bjorklund: not sure how she’s playing now. She didn’t stand out on the YouTube clips though there was one video that was obsessed with her (guess she has a superfan or an agent fishing for sponsors or something). She seems very strong, good strong serve. Big forehand but not much in the way of consistency or anything else. First time watching her play. Her ranking was high 500s in 2017, then mid 400s in 2018, now 300s in 2019. That’s not super awful in terms of improvement.

    Case in point is Muchova. Her ranking was mid to high 200s (260s) at the same age (21) and then caught fire within a two year period, going into mid 100s in 2018, then low 20s.

    But yeah it is who bankrolls that. Playing international tournaments isn’t normal even on Swedish currency. I haven’t heard of a lot of players and see so many names I don’t know. Bjorklund seems like a carbon copy of a power game without much in the way of strategy. Maybe she’ll Google herself and she that!

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 9:32 am

    And, Bjorklund isn’t Muchova!!!!!!! It’s an unfair comparison…to both players. Just that the ranking is going in the right direction. And that it’s not an awful career move to hang out with Shapovalov hahahahahahahaha

  • catherine · November 8, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Scoop – I agree with you here, as far as reporters doing technical stuff with the players. Mostly it’s just a waste of time, if they get much response at all, because a reporter is writing a story for a certain audience and it’s not the same one as a pro player and their coaching team. So good writers describe a match in a way which brings out character as well as the mechanics of how X or Y won/lost.

    It’s the same with a stage performance – eg a dance critic doesn’t have to interview the dancers after a ballet. You have to trust the writer to have a good technical knowledge and also an ability to convey the artistic quality of the performance without discussing
    it with the performers. Imagine – ‘how did you feel before that last pas de deux ?’, ‘Did it worry you when your partner dropped you ?’ Mind boggles…

  • catherine · November 8, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Dimitrov has parted from Stepanek and will be on his own for the time being. He says it’s a good thing to be by yourself for a while. Will this become a trend ? Cheaper.

    Grigor won’t be playing in the Davis Cup so will bypass the Olympics. This brings up another issue – how will the new DC affect eligibility for the Olympics and does anyone care ? Some ATP players aren’t bothering.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Dimitrov very quietly dismissed Agassi also.

  • catherine · November 8, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Grigor says he can still call Andre but he really doesn’t want to spend 90 mins on the phone too often ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 11:12 am

    So Agassi is a lecturer or he likes to talk. Maybe he’s not getting enough deep conversation from Stefanie.

  • Jon King · November 8, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Scoop, we did watch a bit of Mi Lan, she plays a friend of ours girl Blokina next. Blokina is a tiny girl but what a firecracker, very aggressive.

    We thought Mi Lan was very focused, strong lower body. She is a bit plodding and robotic to go to a very high level. But she will be a solid college player no doubt.

  • Jon King · November 8, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    Andrew, this girl is a case study in the bubble. She has had the best coaches and fitness trainers money could buy from age 6. She has the most wins in Little Mo tournaments of any player in history. She won year after year and was even chosen for Junior Fed Cup at a young age.

    But now she meets girls just as fit, with great anticipation, but who can hit harder and take balls earlier. She has gone from the most confident player we ever saw to the least confident. So sadly now its both mental and physical.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    I helped train her last year for Eddie Herr, OJ Bowl. We hit every day. She has the belief, the drive, the focus, the fighting spirit that you don’t see often. She is a very good player too, she wins a lot of matches. The areas needed to refine are her athleticism, and becoming more offensive and aggressive than just stay back all the time. Not sure about the coach choice, Billy Adams has never come close to developing or producing a pro player. He is a good talker though and able to pressure the family to put all their trust in him to develop her. We disagreed with the choice of Adams and left it at that, I felt the better option was Hans Gildemeister who offered a full scholarship, sponsor, and actual pro level experience and success developing pro players like Marcelo Rios. He also has coached Olympic and Davis Cup teams. I feel it was stupid to put all the trust in a guy like Adams instead of Gildemeister. Hans was in Boca and saw her play one match as his kid played on the same court after and he was not impressed in her development in one year under Adams, still too defensive, no aggression from baseline, never goes to net, her weak serve improved only “slightly” and still too stiff. The days I saw her train with Adams in Feb he was making inappropriate jokes to two 16 year old boys. When I asked the kids what he was saying that was so funny, the one 16 year old looked embarrassed and replied, “I can’t say” with an awkward smile. Lan was playing one court over. Nuts. Still she is a great player, great competitor and it’s possible she is so tough and driven that she can make it and make him look like a good coach. But I believe her chances are better under a real pro coach like Gildemeister or at least getting other inputs from other coaches instead of giving Adams total control which he wants. If he really cared about her development he would be open to her getting input from other sources. This shows he’s selfish and insecure.

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Scoop, did you ever figure out how Rios became Rios? Did you get down to Chile?

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    Jon, the emphasis on winning in USA is destroying players. Their games aren’t mature, their bodies can’t handle it, and the absolute best top 25 pro players somehow stay healthy, maybe because the WTA has more resources or the agencies put their foot down. These kids careers are getting blown up before they turn 16.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Andrew, I asked Hans Gildemeister, a legend in Chilean tennis who coached Rios in juniors to no. 1 and who first coached Rios at 13. His reply: “He was born with talent. And good coaching when he was a junior.” Jose Antonio Fernandez, another Chilean pro player, knew Rios since age 11 and he said he had the special talent and a different personality. One day he would ask a million questions, then for three days he wouldn’t say a word. They would train together and Jose said he would be exhausted from playing so hard with Rios, even though he was years younger, and Rios was barely tired. His way of playing was easier on his body.

  • Hartt · November 8, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    Sylvain Bruneau received a Canadian coaching award. This is one coaching relationship that should last for a good while yet.

    “Sylvain Bruneau, coach of Bianca Andreescu, is receiving the Jack Donahue Award as Canadian Coach of the Year.

    Incredibly well deserved honour for Sylvain, who helped guide Andreescu to four titles in 2019 including the US Open, Rogers Cup, and Indian Wells.

    Well done, Sylvain!” (Match Point Canada tweet)

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    De Minaur routs Tiafoe 41 42 04 41, the baby faced destroyer continues his late season rampage.

  • Hartt · November 8, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    Thank goodness de Minaur got rid of that awful mustache!

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    De Minaur showed Tiafoe what’s necessary. Hope Tiafoe takes notes. De Minaur entered the tournament to send the younger players a message, and beat all his peers. He’s been doing that. This is the kind of cutthroat tennis he has played fairly consistently this year.

    Every single opponent De Minaur faced in Milan should be going home thinking wow I got my bleep kicked today, I’ve got to recognize it actually happened and my way of just going along without committing isn’t working.

    My bet is most will be like oh De Minaur is older than I am and has so much experience etc etc etc. That way of thinking does not work.

    Tiafoe should step away and know that he’s got to change it up. If he’s arguing with his coach then the coach has to expand the team. Or Tiafoe has to expand the team. It also shows that Tiafoe may consider his coach lucky just to be there. Can’t speak for Tiafoe but not a good thing.

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Scoop, any players Rios likes? I’d guess maybe McEnroe, Laver? Rios always seemed in another world.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Andrew: From my Marcelo Rios book, quotes by Luke Jensen: “…I truly believe if you believe in people from another planet and stuff like that, one day we will unmask Rios as a person from another planet. His game was that way. He acted that way. He just wasn’t about our kind. He had his own kind. His own way. And just let him do his thing. A love for everything that he brought to the game. Don’t try to resist it or box it up and everything like that. Just keep his game…” Rios surely loved Jensen’s evaluation of his career because he followed him on Instagram.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    No Andrew, no one or any pro athlete like Rios or even similar. The originality, weirdness, creativity, unpredictability, magic, and excellence are why we are drawn to the Rios phenomenon and why we still talk about it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    Andrew, to answer your how did Rios become Rios questions, Jose A. Fernandez, who knows Rios since age 11, said, “I think he is a natural with passion. His closest junior competitor in juniors in Chile was as talented – Gabriel Silberstein. He didn’t develop as good physically and retired with a back injury.”

  • Hartt · November 8, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Sinner just defeated Kecmanovic in 4 sets. After the first set it was all Sinner. The kid is good!

    A very nice birthday present for coach Piatti.

    So it will be the young Italian vs de Minaur in the final.

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Sinner shows the fight taking down the promising Kecmanovic. These guys are good. It will be interesting to see how much Sinner wants it, De Minaur has shown excellent aptitude and attitude when playing big servers.

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    De Minaur follows the Stefanki rule: beat everyone ranked below you.

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    Tiafoe congratulating De Minaur. Really good stuff. Such a difference from the ice cold handshakes on WTA tour. And classy from Tiafoe. He may have had a so so next gen finals tournament for him, and a year of extreme highs and lows. But that was good stuff.

  • catherine · November 9, 2019 at 1:03 am

    Fed Cup – Kiki bts Tomjlanovic 6-1 6-1 and Barty bts Garcia 0 & 0. Caroline’s career is truly in the tank. A couple of years ago she’d have got a couple of games off the Barty of today. Never had a decent coach – as far as I know she’s stuck to her father most of the time. So the Cup will go to Oz for the first time in 47 years – both sides have one good player but Barty is in a different class.

  • Hartt · November 9, 2019 at 6:32 am

    Tiafoe gave de Minaur an affectionate cuff as he walked past him on his way off the court. It sounds like he is extremely popular with the other players, a very warm and friendly guy.

  • catherine · November 9, 2019 at 7:40 am

    Kiki seems to be playing better after Bajin’s abrupt exit – any connection I wonder ?

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