The US Open, being the next Grand slam for which one is expectantly waiting and is being looked out for, the cards may or may not have been reshuffled but the support staffs definitely have been.
2015 is already proving to be a unique year, the women are leading the way, and success in 2014 was no obstacle to firing and hiring. The two newcomers who made the biggest impacts at the top level, Eugenie Bouchard of Canada and Simona Halep of Romania, both split with their coaches.
Bouchard separated from Nick Saviano, whose technical acumen and tough-love approach had helped her make a surprisingly quick transition from junior success to the top 10 in 2014, when she reached the semifinals of the Australian and French Opens and the final of Wimbledon.
Simona Halep fired Wim Fissette, her Belgian coach, who had helped her reach the final of the French Open and the WTA Championships and rise as high as No.2 in the rankings.
“To be honest, I don’t really care about that,” said Victoria Azarenka, who has stuck with her longtime coach, Sam Sumyk. “To me, it all feels trendy.”
The trend leaped from the men’s game to the women’s game this off-season, with Lindsay Davenport agreeing to help the young and for now erratic American Madison Keys and Martina Navratilova agreeing to help Agnieszka Radwanska, the perennial Grand Slam contender from Poland who has yet to break through to victory.
“I think the reason Lindsay and Martina take it on is because it’s exciting to see someone who has the talent and you feel you could make a real difference,” said Austin, who is close to Davenport. “Someday I would love to do it and help someone, but not right now. My kids are still a big-time job.”
Amélie Mauresmo, another former women’s No.1, continues to coach Andy Murray after replacing the departed Ivan Lendl last year. But Murray has still tinkered with his staff: He split with his longtime assistant coach, Dani Vallverdu, and fitness trainer, Jez Green.
Vallverdu is now working for Tomas Berdych, the Czech with so much easy power who has yet to convince Lendl to come work for him and who remains one of the best players in the men’s game not to win a Grand Slam title.
That is quite a list, peppered with teenagers and players outside the top 100. But counting out Nadal, particularly if he is healthy, still seems foolhardy in light of his internal drive and body of work.
“He’s obviously started the season slow losing to Berrer, but I wouldn’t put it past him winning the Aussie Open,” said Jim Courier, the former Australian Open champion and world No.1. “Best of five sets gives Rafa time to solve the problem , and if he’s not the best problem solver, he’s among them. Rafa, if the guy’s healthy, is, other than Novak, my favorite. Give him one or two matches and he’s off to the races.”
But Courier also senses that this could be the year when the younger generation steps up to challenge the establishment.
There are other young threats, including Nishikori, who reached the U.S. Open final last year, and Kyrgios, still just 19, whose live arm and lively personality quickly turned him into a star in his native Australia last year when he upset Nadal at Wimbledon. He will be watched closely next week, even if he, too, is not 100 percent healthy.
“I would say the thing I’m looking forward to the most in the men’s games is to see what Kyrgios did with his time off,” Courier said. “Because he didn’t really play after the U.S. Open. Other than team tennis, he didn’t play at all, so I’m curious to see if he’s made some strides forward and developed some consistency. Because his high level last year sure looked as good as anybody’s.”
Editor : Akanksha Agarwal