October 23, 2020

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From Konta to Ostapenko in … a week for Thomas Hogstedt

Thomas Hogstedt and Jelena Ostapenko are teaming up for Roland Garros. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)

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ROLAND GARROS – Say what you like about well-travelled coach Thomas Hogstedt. But never say he lets the grass grow beneath his feet.

The experienced Swedish coach, who turned 57 on Monday, spent the last month on a trial with British player Johanna Konta at the US Open and in Rome.

But before Konta lost to Garbiñe Muguruza in the third round at the Foro Italico, that was it for the relationship.

But Hogstedt didn’t have time to mourn it. He’s here in Paris with … Jelena Ostapenko.

Here’s how a VERY cheery Ostapenko looked on the practice court with Hogstedt and hitting partner Andrei Gorban (and a frozen-solid mom Jelena).

Team Ostapenko a moveable feast

Ostapenko – whom we tend to forget actually WON Roland Garros just three years ago – has gone through a fair few coaches in the years since.

She had Gorban with her at Indian Wells, although the tournament didn’t end up taking place.

At the Australian Open, it was an interesting association with … Marion Bartoli that began the previous fall.

I chatted with Hogstedt following that practice – but couldn’t 100% remember (perhaps because I was shivering) which player he had been working with at the US Open.

So, not wanting to make a complete fool of myself, we didn’t get into the details of the end of that, and the beginning of the association with Ostapenko.

Hogstedt said that his main gig of late has been working with the young boys as part of the German tennis federation.

He jokingly called himself the “Bob Brett” of Germany (in a nod to Tennis Canada’s early hiring of Brett as the under-12 guru in the early days of its national high-performance program).

Why the German federation would have him working with the boys (his work with Germany’s Tommy Haas back in the day notwithstanding) rather than the girls – when he has predominantly been known as a successful coach on the WTA Tour – is a question for them.

Ostapenko looked very cheery on the practice court with Hogstedt. So we’ll see if their (both quite quirky) personalities mesh in a way Konta and Hogstedt did not.

Konta and Hogstedt not a fit

After an unsuccessful trial with Hogstedt, Konta is coachless in Paris. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)

“Whenever you get to know a coach you have to be open to seeing if it’s something that works for you but it just wasn’t something that worked for either of us,” Konta told Sky Sports. “Things have to match up, you have to be able to bring the best out of each other, and we just didn’t feel that it was going to be a good fit.”

Konta is in Paris with her hitting partner Dan Smethurst.

And she gets Coco Gauff in the first round.

Dan Smethurst is the man on the hotseat for Jo Konta at Roland Garros this week. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)