Like all great trilogies, this series can never truly end with three. After looking at Nishikori and Cilic yesterday, we’ll conclude “The Legend of the GOAT Coach” with some recent WTA hires and a matchmaker service that would make Patti Stanger‘s head spin.
Agnieszka Radwanska / Martina Navratilova
After the season came to a close, Radwanska announced that a Grand Slam-winning consultant/”super-coach” was set to join her team in 2015. Several names were floated around but on Monday, several Czech papers and later the Pole herself announced that Martina Navratilova would work with her for 12-15 weeks next year, with particular focus on the majors.
They tweeted about it and everything.
Per her coach Tomasz Wiktorowski, the 2012 Wimbledon finalist has big goals – including a Slam victory and an Olympic medal – for the next two years. Grand Slam draws have broken Radwanska’s way more than once in the past, but when the door was open, she hasn’t been able to make the most of it.
In Navratilova, the 25-year-old has one of the most experienced big-stage players in tennis history on her side, and it will be interesting to see the results of this partnership. Is the singles and doubles master going to encourage Radwanska to increase her ventures into the forecourt? It would make use of her great instincts and help her finish points earlier. Will the world No. 6’s serve get a little more punch or placement under the watch of her illustrious mentor?
Radwanska’s shot-making all-court foundations certainly won’t be revolutionized and although she plans to add a few kg of muscle over the course of the off-season, the Pole still won’t be thumping the ball the way many of her contemporaries are able to.
Radwanska played her best match of 2014 at the Australian Open, getting an albatross named Victoria Azarenka off of her neck. But just one round later, she looked drained and tired in her loss to Cibulkova. Looking flat-footed in too many matches this year, particularly at the Slams, won’t get Radwanska closer to either of her goals. But Navratilova knows a thing or two about how to stay mentally and physically fresh during a Slam fortnight; that might just be the most important edge Radwanska’s going to gain.
Navratilova may help her improve, but here’s hoping she never changes.
Madison Keys / Lindsay Davenport
A few days after Simona Halep cut ties with Wim Fissette, it was announced that he would work with young American, Madison Keys. But the renowned coach wasn’t the only hire Keys made: the 19-year spent most of November in Hawaii working with Lindsay Davenport. The 3-time Grand Slam champion was supposed to be working alongside Fissette at the Slams and be in Keys’ corner at US tournaments as well.
Or so we thought.
Less than a week after the announcement, it would appear that he is already out of the picture:
Davenport and Keys seem like an obvious fit. Their service motions are eerily similar- though Keys has switched to the platform stance – and both possess booming ground strokes. After winning the biggest tournament of her career in Eastbourne, the second half of 2014 proved more mixed for the American. Matches like her second round loss at the 2014 US Open revealed some of the World No. 30’s weaknesses and areas she has to improve on. From time to time, Keys still struggles to harness the natural power that comes off of her racquet, particularly when pitted against more tenacious players like Alexandra Krunic. This results in rollercoaster matches, with phases of scintillating ball-striking followed by bouts of impatient play.
Having been an aggressive baseliner, Davenport seems primed be able to help Keys become more patient with her own game and adjust to playing longer rallies – a lesson the 38-year-old had to learn herself early in her career.
Naturally, rumors have already surfaced reagrding the quick split from Fissette. Has the Belgian received a better offer? Is currently coachless Eugenie Bouchard poised to make a move? Did Fissette and Keys just not click? Or did the American decide against a big change?
We’ll probably know more when 2015 gets going in 3 weeks.
The question is how much input the 1999 Wimbledon Champion is going to have during the Grand Slams and big WTA events. Since 2010 the former World No. 1 has been working for Tennis Channel, doing commentary and analysis. Don’t be surprised if another coach gets added to Team Keys at some point down the line, especially since Davenport and husband Jon Leach probably won’t be traveling too much in 2015.
The GOAT-Player Matchmaker
After looking at all these established work-relationships, we’ll finish this series by having a bit of fun and suggesting some possible future collaborations. Some are more serious.
Others, not so much.
Mary Pierce and Alizé Cornet: Just imagine the coaching time-outs. Mary would pray. Alizé would cry.
Andy Roddick and John Isner: It makes more sense than Gimelstob and Isner. But then, almost everything does.
Marat Safin and Fabio Fognini: Oh, those poor umpires. But it would make for hilarious viewing.
Anastasia Rodionova and Ilie Nastase: See above.
Martina Hingis and Belinda Bencic: Swiss Misses gotta stick together. Plus Bencic has worked a ton with Hingis’ mum.
Chris Evert and Jelena Jankovic: Imagine Jankovic shouting at Chrissie sitting in her box, in matching floral print dresses. Invaluable.
Eugenie Bouchard and John McEnroe: Would encourage her to be even more aggressive. Also, she’s not here to make friends – and he’d be ok with it.
Nick Kyrgios and Lleyton Hewitt: You know, when (if) Hewitt retires.
Which super coaching pairs would you form? Is the GOAT-coaching trend starting to wear thin?
Sound off in the comments!