Towards the end of each year, the firing and hiring of coaching staff – or often a more simple and amicable parting of ways – becomes the topic du jour in tennis.
This season is no different. So to keep up with it all, here’s a look at which players have recently made changes their coaching personnel.
The Wimbledon champion will link up with fellow German Rainer Schuettler, the retired ATP player who reached the Australian Open 2003 final. As reported on WTA Insider, the former world No.5 will replace Wim Fissette, from whom Kerber separated before the WTA Finals after less than a year together. “I am really looking forward to the opportunity of working with Angelique during this phase of her career,” Schuettler said in a statement. “She has obviously shown what a great champion she is and I hope my experience can bring a fresh perspective to an already strong team.” In a statement re Fissette from Kerber’s management team translated by Germany’s Tennis Magazine, the split was “due to different views in regards to the future collaboration.” Added Kerber: “We were talking a lot. When you decide also like to not working anymore … if you know it (that’s) why I decide to split before (the WTA Finals). There were some details, but I don’t want to go too deep into the details.”
After several fruitful years – the zenith being Halep’s victory at Roland Garros earlier this year – the Romanian and coach Darren Cahill will no longer work together. In what appears to be an entirely amicable parting of ways, Cahill wrote on Instagram: “After much thought and discussion, and many years with 30 plus weeks on the road away from my family, I’ve decided to take a 12 month break from coaching to be home more for support as our children enter important stages of their lives with the final year of high school, sports and college preparations all becoming more time consuming. I’d like to thank Simona for the last 4 amazing years.” Halep replied on Twitter: “I was lucky to have you and what a journey we had. Wishing you and your family nothing but the best and I’m sure I’ll see you soon!”
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I would like to announce that Simona and I will not be continuing our partnership in 2019 purely for family reasons on my part. . After much thought and discussion, and many years with 30 plus weeks on the road away from my family, I’ve decided to take a 12 month break from coaching to be home more for support as our children enter important stages of their lives with the final year of high school, sports and college preparations all becoming more time consuming. . I’d like to thank Simona for the last 4 amazing years. Her understanding, personality, work ethic, generosity and professionalism made it a pleasure to stand by her side as her coach. She’s a young woman of total class and someone I respect greatly which is something more important than any result achieved. . Basically, I had the dream job and I want to thank her for making it that way, and the opportunity to work with someone so talented and dedicated. . I wish Simo and her team nothing but continued success and I look forward to supporting her from the sidelines next year. . A special mention to Theo Cercel, Andrei Cristofor and Virginia Ruzici for all of the support, belief, friendship and great work through the years. . And finally, to the Romanian fans that show unwavering passion and support for their girl. You guys rock, seriously. Thanks for adopting this Aussie as one of your own for the last 4 years and making me feel welcome in your country. Mul?umesc ?? . I will continue to work with the ESPN team at the AO, Wimbledon & US Open tournaments in 2019. . Cheers, Darren
Bencic has split with Slovakian coach Vladimir Platenik. Platenik, who previously coached Dominika Cibulkova and Daria Kasatkina, will be looking for a new partnership, while Bencic aims to build on a 2018 season that saw her move 128 ranking places to No.37.
The Ukrainian has promoted hitting partner Andrew Bettles to be her new head coach after a career week at the WTA Finals. Bettles has been working as Svitolina’s main coach since she parted ways with Thierry Ascione after the US Open and worked briefly with Nick Saviano during the Asian swing. “I’m the kind of person that I like something fresh,” she said in Singapore. “I think we (Ascione and I) got a little bit stuck that moment. For me, was just, yeah, the time to move forward … the career is not that long.”
Azarenka has reunited with Wim Fissette, who last month split from Angelique Kerber (more on that below). Azarenka and Fisette were snapped together at the IMG Academy in Florida with revered coach Nick Bollettieri as Azarenka prepares for the 2019 season. She previously worked with Fissette from early 2015 until she became pregnant and stepped away from the tour in July 2016. At the beginning of 2018 Azarenka started working with US college tennis coach Slava Konikov and during the clay-court season linked up with Benjamin Ebrahimzadeh, who remains listed as her coach on the WTA website.
Bertens has added former player and countrywoman Elise Tamaela as a part-time coach and travelling physio. Tamaela served as interim coach for Bertens’ during her title run in Charleston this year. Dutchman Raemon Sluiter will stay on as the world No.9’s full-time coach in 2019.
The Australian announced on social media that she and Josh Eagle would no longer be working together. The Queenslanders worked together for two years, with Eagle presiding over Stosur’s run to the title in Strasbourg in 2017. “Josh and I both felt it was time to move on and finish our coaching partnership,” Stosur said. I want to take the time to thank Josh for everything he has done to help me with my career and his unwavering dedication to make me a better player and most importantly, grow as a person.” Stosur has not yet lined up a replacement for Eagle.
Sakkari has hired Mark Petchey as her new coach for 2019. Petchey coached Andy Murray during his rise to the top 50 but more recently has been providing ATP analysis for BBC, Sky Sports and ITC. Sakkari split with Thomas Johansson at the end of this season.
Former world No.4 Konta has locked up Dimitri Zavialoff – former coach to Swiss players Stan Wawrinka and Timea Bacsinszky – after recently separating from Michael Joyce. Following a first-round loss at the US Open, Konta said of Joyce: “I still definitely feel we’re doing good work. I think you need to give things time. I feel, yeah, happy with the relationship that we have.” Within six weeks, the relationship ended.
The Austrian’s co-coach Galo Blanco has announced he will focus on his new role as part of the Davis Cup executive committee, and therefore cannot continue to work with Thiem. Blanco joined Thiem’s entourage in late 2017 to work alongside long-time coach Gunter Bresnik. “That’s a shame. That was a really good collaboration, but it does not work anymore. He can not go on tour with anyone,” said Thiem at the Vienna Open, in an interview translated from German. Thiem will continue to work with Bresnik, but admitted in the same interview he was looking for a new touring coach to replace Blanco.
Meanwhile, the Canadian former top-five player has snapped up Joyce. Their first tournament together was last week’s WTA Luxembourg Open, where Bouchard started in the qualifying rounds and won six straight matches to reach the semifinals. Joyce is the fourth coach Bouchard has worked with in 2018.
Pliskova is one of the rare players showing faith in female coaches, revealing in Singapore she will keep working with Rennae Stubbs and Conchita Martinez in a co-coaching arrangement through the off-season and next year’s Australian summer circuit. Pliskova split with Czech coach Tomas Krupa at the start of the US summer and re-united with Stubbs, whom she worked with briefly in late 2017. Martinez came in for the US Open fortnight while Stubbs was unavailable.
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