May 16, 2024

Open Court


When coaching consults go sideways – starring Muguruza and Sumyk

KEY BISCAYNE – One of the stated goals from the WTA upon the addition of the on-court coaching consults back in 2009 was to add a television-friendly dimension around the match.

That usually doesn’t happen, of course; many of these consultations aren’t even in English, which leaves out a big chunk of the viewing public that doesn’t speak the language in which it’s conducted, and no translations available.

Most of the time, the players tend to stare straight ahead, barely acknowledging their coach (sometimes it’s their father, too, which is awkward). So they don’t make for compelling viewing on the whole. That’s not even getting into the optics of having grown women – professional athletes – being berated by men twice their age and looking appropriately shamed.

Sometimes, though, it gets a little spicy.

The “discussion” between top-10 player Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain and her French coach Sam Sumyk Friday in Miami was a classic of the genre.

These two have rarely appeared to have much chemistry through a year and a half together; their coaching consults (in English, a second language for both) have occasionally involved Muguruza being extremely rude.

There was the “Tell me something I don’t know” consult …

There was the “I’m totally pretending you’re not even there,” consult … (Rinse, repeat; most of them are like this)

There was the epic consult in Cincinnati when, advised by the chair umpire about a verboten logo on his T-shirt, Sumyk’s response was, “Ah, f… it.”

Muguruza managed to defeat American Christina Mchale in a Thursday second-round match suspended over to Friday – after McHale served for the match in the second set and was up an early break in the third set.

Despite that, she was close to tears for parts of the final set and afterwards, was veering close to tears again – and she won.

The Spaniard has struggled since winning the French Open less than a year ago; there is an ongoing ankle injury, but most of the time she just seems flat-out unhappy.

Her command of vernacular English, however, seems to be improving in leaps and bounds.

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