7 top tennis trainers you should know

7 top tennis trainers you should know

Check out the high-profile coaches looking to lead their charges to glory this season

From former players like Andre Agassi to legendary figures such as Paul Annacone, we pick out the most influential tennis coaches to watch out for this season

Australian Open highlights, from Saturday 20 January, 3pm, BBC Two/HD (CH 102/162). Also available for 30 days in Catch Up > Channels > BBC iPlayer

“In tennis, you’re on an island. Of all the games men and women play, tennis is the closest to solitary confinement,” Andre Agassi wrote in his autobiography, Open. As much a mental game as a physical one, Grand Slam tournaments are draining, so assembling the right team to pull you through to the very end is essential.

 

The Australian Open continues this week, and while plenty of racket-swinging stars have been out in force on court since play got under way in Melbourne, you’ll also find a host of supercoaches watching on from the stands. Here, we take a closer look at the back-seat drivers you should be keeping an eye on this week and beyond…

 

1. Michael Joyce

Coaches: Johanna Konta

It’s all set up to be a huge year for Johanna Konta. After last season’s breakthrough ended on a whimper, the British number one ended her partnership with Wim Fissette. In came Michael Joyce, the man widely seen as responsible for Maria Sharapova’s golden reign. Joyce was a long-time coach to five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova, and most recently worked with former world number one Victoria Azarenka. If Konta can better her phenomenal 2017, then Joyce will have more than earned his paycheck.

 

2. Carlos Moya

Coaches: Rafa Nadal

The man credited with Nadal’s latest reinvention has a decent tennis pedigree as a former world number one himself. Prior to joining his fellow Spaniard, Moya carried Milos Raonic to number three in the rankings with the kind of aggressive game that seemed perfectly suited to Nadal. And so it proved. When Moya joined in December 2016, Nadal was without a Grand Slam title in three years. But he ended 2017 in the number one slot, with both the US and French titles to his name.
 

3. Dani Vallverdu

Coaches: Grigor Dimitrov

British tennis fans will recognise Andy Murray’s ex, who – alongside Ivan Lendl – was responsible for the Scot’s purple patch of two Grand Slams and an Olympic gold in 2012 and 2013. Since that split, Dani has changed his relationship status, first guiding Tomáš Berdych to his highest career singles ranking of number four, and then going one better with his current charge, Grigor Dimitrov, who reached number three last season.
 

4. Günter Bresnik 

Coaches: Dominic Thiem

Tennis coaches come and go. And they are often scapegoats for loss of form or lack of championships. But world number five Dominic Thiem knows a good thing when he sees it. Bresnik has coached the Austrian since the age of nine, and has known him since the age of three. A former coach of Boris Becker, Bresnik even published a book called The Dominic Thiem Method where he revealed how he turned the kid into a world-class athlete. Surely everyone’s new parenting bible?

 

5. Piotr Woźniacki

Coaches: Caroline Woźniacki

Talk about keeping it in the family, because the world number three’s primary coach is… her father. Piotr – a former professional football player – has coached his daughter since the age of 14, presumably giving those early daddy-daughter trips to the park a slightly different edge. And although she has been briefly under the wing of a number of different coaches over the years, it is now her dad who she says will see out the rest of her career.
 

6. Paul Annacone

Coaches: Stan Wawrinka

Paul Annacone knows how to work with Grand Slam champions – he’s a former coach of tennis icons Roger Federer and Pete Sampras. It was that CV that attracted everyone’s second-favourite tennis player, Stan Wawrinka. The two worked together during last year’s Wimbledon, although a first-round defeat there due to a knee injury finished Wawrinka’s season. But now Stan’s back. And with long-time coach Magnus Norman leaving his team, Annacone could be the missing piece in his comeback story.

 

7. Andre Agassi

Coaches: Novak Djokovic

It was one of the biggest coaching stories of last season: eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi, out of nowhere, joining Djokovic’s payroll. The Serbian ditched his entire team last term after falling down the rankings, but what made Agassi’s arrival most intriguing was how he would only join Novak’s team for major tournaments. With Radek Stepanek stepping up as Novak’s “day-to-day” coach, you couldn’t think of anyone better than the experienced, cool and calm Agassi for these massive events.
 

For more on the Australian open, click here.

 

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