July 11, 2024

Open Court

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Break doesn’t slow down WTA coaching musical chairs

Madison Keys

USTA head of coaching Ola Malmqvist will be on board in the US Open bubble as Madison Keys looks to make another coaching change. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)

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The players have been off the tour for nearly six months.

But that doesn’t seem to have slowed down the annual game of WTA coaching musical chairs one bit.

We’ll try to lay out the broad strokes here.

Keys coachless in NYC

Madison Keys, who has been a frequent participant in the coaching carousel sweepstakes, finds herself in the US Open bubble without a coach.

Keys parted ways with Nacho Todero after the Australian Open. She is scheduled to open her “Cincy” campaign against Ons Jabeur Monday night.

It had been her second go-round with Todero, who worked with her as part of the USTA staff back in 2013-14 and then went on to work with Monica Puig for many years (but more on that later).

https://opencourt.ca/wordpress/2019/03/01/madison-keys-back-with-juan-todero/

Ola and Lindsay to the rescue

Madison Keys
The Madrigal-Keys combo from early 2019 was short-lived. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)

The 25-year-old Keys, currently ranked No. 13, was already in Indian Wells with her two standbys when the pandemic shut things down. Lindsay Davenport and USTA head of coaching Ola Malmqvist were on hand. And Davenport was set to help out through Miami and Charleston as well.

During the shutdown, Keys worked some with USTA national women’s coach Henner Nehles. Nehles had that job for three years, left to be the associate head coach at Oklahoma State for a year and returned last July.

He was in the box (and on the hotseat) for Keys’s desultory opening loss to Ons Jabeur Monday night.

Henner Nehles was there to support Keys Monday night – for naught. (WTATV.com)

Meanwhile, Todero (whose father worked with Genie Bouchard for a period before the pandemic hit), is back on comfortable soil.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CD2V5DrlEs2/

He has reunited with Puig, who found herself in some drama exactly a year ago at this time when her coach, Kamau Murray, suddenly dumped her to go back to HIS old charge, Sloane Stephens.

https://opencourt.ca/wordpress/2019/08/21/wta-musical-chairs-part-mmcxi-murray-dumps-puig-for-stephens/

Got that straight?

Madison Keys
For a time, Madison Keys had Thomas Hogstedt and trainer Scott Byrnes on her team – shown here at Rogers Cup. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)

There’s more.

Sabalenka on a trial with Kindlmann

Madison Keys
Are Sabalenka and Tursunov done – truly done? Time will tell. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)

After stopping and starting with Dmitry Tursunov a few times last year, Aryna Sabalenka is on a coaching trial with Dieter Kindlmann in the US Open bubble.

Kindlmann would have arrived for the Lexington event two weeks ago. But there was the matter of quarantine exemptions, and he needed to be on the approved list for the bubble.

The German former player has worked with Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber (who fired him last year to back to HER former coach, Torben Beltz) and, of course, Keys.

Madison Keys
Kindlmann, who had worked with Maria Sharapova, lasted about a year with Keys.

Whether Sabalenka and Tursunov have truly quit each other as coach and pupil – we shall see.

Another reunion, after a long break

Meanwhile, Frenchman Sam Sumyk (ex of Genie Bouchard, Garbiñe Muguruza and Pavlyuchenkova service, among others), was spotted courtside for Vera Zvonareva’s first-round match Monday.

Sumyk also had a long association with Victoria Azarenka, during her finest seasons.

Sumyk and Azarenka at the 2015 Australian Open. Right after that Sumyk left and went with Genie Bouchard, a relationship that lasted less than six months. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)

Sumyk and Zvonareva were together more than a decade ago, when Zvonareva had her best results.

No doubt there will be more. That’s how the WTA Tour rolls.

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