The world’s top two players, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep, are both coachless after Halep parted ways with Thierry Van Cleemput.
Halep paired up with Van Cleemput – the former coach of David Goffin – following the Australian Open and played last week’s Doha tournament under his wing, reaching the final.
She then told WTA Insider that “we tried for one week and it’s finished. We decided to stop because we are not a good fit together.”
Osaka, meanwhile, also sat down with WTA Insider and shed some light on her shock split with Sascha Bajin, who was with her as she won her first three titles at Indian Wells, the US Open and the Australian Open in the past year.
Sat down with both Naomi and Simona @DDFTennis today for @WTA_insider. You know, for two players whose coaching situations are causing much anxiety for everyone else, they both seem super happy and chilled out right now. https://t.co/iz1uRS4QpW
— Courtney Nguyen (@FortyDeuceTwits) February 17, 2019
“Everyone thinks it was a money-related issue, but it wasn’t. For me, that’s one of the most hurtful things I’ve ever heard,” Osaka said.
“I travel with everyone on my team, I see them more than my family. I would never do that to them.
“I think during Australian Open, I was just trying to tell myself to get through it. I’m not sure, but I think you guys noticed.
“I’m not going to say anything bad about him because, of course, I’m really grateful for all the things that he’s done. I wouldn’t come here and say anything bad.”
The Japanese star, who ascended to world No.1 after winning her second straight Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park, alluded to two moments in Charleston and Beijing last year that changed her perspective on how she should approach her tennis.
“The biggest thing is I don’t want myself to think to be successful I have to put success over happiness, because if I’m not happy being around certain people I’m not going to torture myself,” she said during the same interview.
“So I’d rather just surround myself with people that I really like and that truly care about me and are just really positive. I think I’ve been able to do that.
“If I’m not waking up every day happy to practice and happy to be around the people I’m around, this is my life. I’m not going to sacrifice that just to keep a person around. I have to be happy with where I am at my life.”
She said she would like to have a new coach in her team by the time Indian Wells rolls around, where she is the defending champion.
Halep began talking to Van Cleemput during the Australian Open after his long association with Goffin – a player Halep revealed she admired – came to an end.
But after falling in the Doha final at the weekend to Elise Mertens, Halep opened up about the split.
“He’s a good person, a very nice person, but on court the chemistry is not there,” she revealed. “We couldn’t fit each other tennis-wise. Personally, he is a very nice person. We are friends.”
Unlike Osaka, Halep said she was not immediately looking for a new coach.
Halep and long-time coach Darren Cahill parted ways in November 2018.
“I have my team, I have my hitting partner with me. I feel good like this and I will take my time,” she said.
“I know I said that when I started the year and then I changed my mind because I felt I need a coach. Still, now I feel like I need that freedom, just to stay and just to play with what I learned from Darren for years.
“Now I feel more relaxed, I feel more chilled. The priorities are changing a little bit. I’m more responsible for myself and I try to solve my own problems, on court and off court.”
She will face Eugenie Bouchard in the second round in Dubai after an opening-round bye while Osaka – who also received a bye into round two – will tackle Kristina Mladenovic.
23 August 2016
You can recognise your favourite tennis players when they're on the court, but what about ... More
3 April 2019
As the WTA Tour returns to her favourite clay surface, Simona Halep has a target on her ba... More
18 April 2019
Back on his favourite surface, Rafael Nadal showed no lingering effects of a recent injury... More