July 18, 2024

Open Court


More coaching news as Berdych makes a move

Only a few weeks remain in this rather brief off-season, and the coaching news keeps coming.

The latest on Tuesday is that Tomas Berdych, who clearly hit a plateau with longtime coach Tomas Krupa, has hired Andy Murray’s former coach/associate coach/hitting partner/lifelong friend Dani Vallverdu to be his new coach, along with athletic trainer Azuz Simcich.

Mauresmo-Vallverdu_newThe news comes after Berdych’s significant (but so far unsuccessful) efforts to get another former member of Team Murray, Ivan Lendl, to come on board.

Vallverdu is younger than Berdych, who is 29 and likely starting to hear the clock ticking in terms of trying to take that last, big step and win a Grand Slam.

The Venezuelan former pro departed Team Murray a few weeks ago, along with longtime Murray trainer Jez Green.

Only the participants know the real story. But when Murray added coach Amélie Mauresmo to his team, reportedly without consulting the current members of said team, it seemed to be the beginning of the end.

Both have landed on their feet; Green is working with one of the up-and-coming teenagers on the men’s side, Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

What else?

Well it seems the reports that American Madison Keys was adding both countrywoman Lindsay Davenport and former Kim Clijsters and Simona Halep coach Wim Fissette to tag-team her coaching concerns were premature. Or short-lived.

Madison Keys-RogersCup_new

Fissette is out. And Davenport’s husband Jon Leach will also be working with her.

The original news certainly had us thinking that Keys was really, really serious about taking the next step in 2015. This, not so much.

Davenport definitely has that “supercoach knowledge” – she’s been there, done that. But she has no coaching experience. She also has FOUR children aged seven and younger. It doesn’t matter how much help you have, or if your mom comes along. That is a huge priority and responsibility – as it should be.

Davenport also has a television commentating gig with the Tennis Channel.

Jon Leach on court with wife Davenport at the 2008 Australian Open.
Jon Leach on court with wife Davenport at the 2008 Australian Open.

As for her husband, he has great tennis DNA. His father, Dick Leach, coached the USC Trojans for 23 years. His brother Rick was a longtime Tour player, and a former No. 1 in doubles. Jon himself was a two-time All-American at USC.

But Leach has a full-time job as an investment banker with Morgan Stanley. And as far as we know, also has zero coaching experience. And, apparently, isn’t giving up his day job.

Here are some Tweets from Davenport on the issue:

Just a personal opinion, but doesn’t the whole thing sound oh-so-casual and hardly serious?

Keys also joined the Leachs on a family vacation in Hawaii, where presumably there was some training done in preparation for 2015.

Not too sure exactly what to make of all that. It’s right up there with John Isner’s hiring of the non-experienced Justin Gimelstob as his full-time coach for 2015.

Meanwhile, their competitors are getting better.

One thing’s for sure, if these two arrangements pay dividends, the notion of top players needing an experienced or full-time coach to work with them still be struck a death blow.

On another note, fellow American Sam Querrey will be working with Tom Gullickson this season.



The latest rumours from the Twittersphere have Canadian Genie Bouchard working out with longtime ATP Tour coach (Andy Roddick, Fernando Gonzalez, Marcelo Rios, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Tim Henman, John McEnroe) Larry Stefanki in Miami.

We’ll note a conspicuous lack of the female animal on that list.

We shall see …


JohnLaffnie De JagerWTA Tour veteran Daniela Hantuchova, who has worked with former Justine Henin/Li Na coach Carlos Rodriguez during the off-season both at his academy in Beijing and in Dubai, has signed on John-Laffnie de Jager as a traveling coach.

De Jager, a South African former doubles specialist who has worked with a lot of the top duos on the ATP Tour, was the captain of the UAE Royals team in the IPTL. He’s also the South African Davis and Fed Cup captain, has been a captain in World Team Tennis in the U.S., and does TV commentary.

De Jager got to the semi-finals of the doubles at the 1998 U.S. Open with tennis commentator Robbie Koenig. He also reached the finals of the French Open mixed doubles in 1995 with Canadian Jill Hetherington.

Also – and this is from memory, so I may have it wrong – I believe De Jager, whom Martina Navratilova knew from World Team Tennis, was her coach when she returned to the tour to play doubles after her first retirement.



Across the pond, the new coach-player tandem of Fabrice (The Magician) Santoro and Sergiy Stakhovsky took its first steps Tuesday.

Santoro is just back from his three-week stint as captain of the Micromax Indian Aces, the team that won the inaugural season of the IPTL.

The two were among several French players and coaches (Kristina Mladenovic, Alizé Cornet) who were practicing at the national centre at Roland Garros (indoors, of course).

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