Ricardo Sanchez has always been one of the WTA’s more colorful characters. From “Stopwatchgate” in Stuttgart 2008, where he heckled Venus Williams for taking too much time between points, to the Tokyo drama last season, he’s built up quite an infamous reputation. His latest interview, conducted in Spanish, gives Sanchez’s take on working with Jelena Jankovic, Caroline Wozniacki and most recently, Nadia Petrova; Sanchez says he and Petrova decided to mutually part ways for this season and still have a nice relationship.
Some of the best bits:
On the idea that Petrova is difficult to work with and is not popular on tour:
Nadia is a woman from the East and each has a different character. She’s very quiet, but when she opens up to people, she is a spectacular person…Nadia is not a person who opens to the whole world, but when she does, she gives her heart and friendship.
On his failed coaching venture with Wozniacki:
At this moment, a qualified coach for her does not exist, because father and daughter have a very special chemistry…I do not believe Piotr had the capacity to leave his daughter alone with me, so it did not work out.
Had he been able to work with Wozniacki without issue:
This year, she would have certainly remained in the top five and could have won a Grand Slam…Serena, Azarenka, Sharapova, Radwanska and Petrova are playing better than Caroline. They have far more resources and Wozniacki, at the present time, has a more defensive game.
On Maria Sharapova:
For me…she has not improved in the last three years. This year at Roland Garros…everybody lost and instead there was Errani, who is inexperienced in such games. I have great respect for Sharapova and believe she and Serena are very good for tennis.
On his oldest charge, Jankovic:
If Jankovic calls me and tells me: ‘Richi, grab a plane and we’ll go through the circuit the two of us alone,’ tomorrow, I go where she is.
On the drama in Spanish women’s tennis:
Of course I would [like to be Spanish Fed Cup captain.] If you leave me to my work, in three or four years, Spanish women’s tennis would improve.
On possibly coaching on the ATP:
I would not mind, but on the women’s tour I am at the level of the five best coaches in the world…I have spoken with [Verdasco] and his father several times.
Sanchez is quite observant regarding the goings on with the WTA, and despite his loose cannon of a mouth, many of the things he says in this interview are both thoughtful and correct. Nonetheless, Sanchez’s narcissism is one of his biggest personality traits, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to anoint him as ‘one of the top five’, he *is* a good coach. He got Petrova to play her best tennis in arguably six years at the end of 2012 and was largely the driving force behind all of Jankovic’s success – success that she hasn’t found again.