For many players, the New Year will start with new voice in thier ear. The off-season is the ideal time to switch coaches and get in a decent training block together before the real action starts in January – and a number of pros have already brought in fresh blood.
Federer brings in Ljubicic
Stefan Edberg was only ever planning to work with Roger Federer for a single season, so it came as little surprise when the Swede quit at the end of his second year with the Swiss. What did raise a few eyebrows was the appointment of Ivan Ljubicic in his place. The Croatian parted ways with Milos Raonic at the end of November, just days before the announcement he was joining the 17-time Grand Slam champion’s entourage.
“It’s the first time that I’ve had someone within my team who has actually played on Tour against the players that I’ve played against,” Federer told reporters while on IPTL duty in Dubai. “My coaches in the past have all been players from a different generation. I think Ivan can bring something very exciting to my team, and motivation.”
Murray back with Mauresmo
There’s plenty of baby talk surrounding Andy Murray these days. With wife Kim expecting their first child in February, the world No.2 has said he will skip out on the Australian Open if he is needed back in the UK. In the meantime, however, Murray revealed in Dubai that Amelie Mauresmo had returned to his entourage after giving birth to son Aaron in August. The details of their new working relationship now that Mauresmo is a mother remains to be seen, but her return also marked the end of Jonas Bjorkman’s involvement, the Swede having served as interim head coach in Mauresmo’s absence.
“Nice to have Amelie back in the team out in Dubai,” Murray wrote on Facebook. “Thanks to Jonas for helping out this year. I enjoyed working with one of the nicest guys on the tour, bring on 2016.”
Keys leaves Davenport for Levine
The tennis world was abuzz in January when Madison Keys, the American teen packing some serious power, began working with former world No.1 Lindsay Davenport and immediately made a run to the Australian Open semi-finals. It seemed like a match made in heaven, but with Davenport’s various commitments – as both a leading US commentator and a mother of four – the duo simply couldn’t spend enough time together.
“Obviously we still wanted to work together,” said Keys in Los Angeles. “But our tennis travel is insane. Like a mother of one wouldn’t be able to do it… It just became a lot. This point in my career, I wanted someone who would be there every single day.”
Enter Jesse Levine, the 28-year-old former world No.69. The Canadian’s career was ended by a persistent elbow injury in 2014, but he has found a route back into the game after impressing Keys during a trial run in November.
Petkovic commits to De Witt
There were tears and fears for Andrea Petkovic at the close of the 2015 season. The German, one of the most popular players on tour, ended the year limping through a 6-0 6-0 defeat to Carla Suarez Navarro while suffering with a knee injury, but her comments after the match revealed there was more to her emotional state than the physical pain she had endured on court.
College-educated, well-read and articulate, Petkovic questioned whether tennis was her true calling. “I was sort of questioning the tennis thing,” Petkovic told the WTA. “I felt like maybe this was really the year for me to figure out if I want to play tennis, because there are so many other things that I enjoy doing.
“I feel like somehow this was the first year I felt like I was losing time [playing tennis]. And it’s so strange because I’ve never felt that. Tennis was always something I chose and something I wanted to do and this year not so much anymore.”
Ending the year as the world No.24, Petkovic took a break in New York, assessed her options, and resolved to commit to tennis in 2016 – underlining her commitment by installing Jan De Witt as coach. “I have full confidence in Jan” said Petkovic of the Dutchman, who has been working with Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils.
“He is a modern coach, very accurate, very structured. And he works a lot with video analysis, he is very determined and knows exactly where he wants to lead me as a player.”
Coric and Vesely set sights higher
Two of the ATP Tour’s young guns have opted for fresh input in the off-season. World No.44 Borna Coric, still just 19, has hired Andy Murray and Samantha Stosur’s former coach Miles Maclagan ahead of the 2016 season. Maclagan, who also worked with Laura Robson, replaces former Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson.
Three spots above Coric, and three years older, Jiri Vesely has turned to Tomas Krupa, who has worked with Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek and Barbora Strycova in the past, in a bid to break the top 25 next year.
“The goal as a player is to reach similar results to those with whom Tomas Krupa has worked with,” Vesely told the Czech press. “I have dreams and goals and I want to do everything we can to get them implemented. That’s why I hired him. I believe that I will get information that will make me a better player.”
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