former coach

Cahill Turns Down Murray, Lendl To Return And Bryan Bros. Make History

*The Aussie former coach of Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt, Darren Cahill, has ruled himself out of the running to become Andy Murray’s latest coach. The Scot had hoped to land the former US Open semifinalist following his recent split with Miles Maclagen but Cahill has intimated he would rather concentrate on his work with Adidas and ESPN. Todd Martin, Sven Groeneveld, Larry Stefanki and Tony Roche are other names linked with the position. “I think the world of Andy and I think he’s a major winner in the waiting,” said the Las Vegas-based Cahill. “But if I was going to go back to full-time coaching, I’d probably would have hung in there with Roger, seeing whether Roger offered me the job.”

*Ivan Lendl has confirmed that he intends to join the ATP Champions Tour having rarely picked up a racquet since his retirement in 1994. Paris is the chosen destination for his return, the site of his famous French Open victory of 1984 where he came from two sets down to beat American John McEnroe in the final. This gives McEnroe a shot at revenge. “Oh boy, l’m looking forward to it,” he said. “We had some great matches together but it’s been a long time and he hasn’t played for more than 15 years so I think we need to discuss a few things, both on and off the court. I know he’s been working most of the last year to get back into the type of shape he needs to be in, because it doesn’t get any easier as you get older. But we’ll be giving it our all, that’s for sure.” Yannick Noah will also make his return to the tour after a seven-year absence and Mats Wilander will also be present. The other two contestants of the October event are yet to be announced.

*They’ve done it, the Bryan brothers have finally become the most successful doubles team of all time following last week’s Farmers Classic in Los Angeles. Title number 62 came courtesy of a 6-7 (6), 6-2, 10-7 triumph over Eric Butorac and Jean-Julien Rojer. It was their 100th final together and was their sixth title in LA. “It’s sweet, feels awesome, hanging out with family and friends after the match,” said Mike. “It’s a cool feeling.” “Sixty two brings a smile to our face,” added Bob. “It’s been an emotional ride, talking about it every day for the past couple of months. To finally do it is incredible. There were definitely nerves out there and those guys were playing great. It was a very hard fought match. Our legs felt like jelly, arms spaghetti… It was a flood of emotion. I never thought we’d be this consistent, this healthy our whole career. We’ve never given up on each other.”

*Following on from that record-breaking win many of the world’s top doubles players have been paying homage to the feats of America’s doubles specialists. Arch rivals over recent years have been the Canadian Daniel Nestor and his long-time Serbian partner Nenad Zimonjic. Nestor was beaming with praise at the achievement: “They are the face of doubles. They’ve pretty much been the No. 1 team for 10 years. When people think of doubles they think of the Bryans. They are fun to watch. I don’t think any team in history has been as consistent as they have been. They rarely have bad losses and they’ve won a lot. 62 titles is an amazing achievement and they’ve got a lot of time to go. They could reach 80 or 90 titles easily.” To see what Zimonjic, Mark Knowles and James Blake, among others, also had to say visit the ATP website.

*The first signings for the 2011 Hopman Cup have been anounced. John Isner and Serena Williams have signed up to play for the United States. Justine Henin and Steve Darcis will play for Belgium while Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic will partner up for Serbia. Lleyton Hewitt has agreed to return for Australia and Gael Monfils will play for France alongside Kristina Mladenovic. Tournament director Paul McNamee said: “It’s a spectacular line-up. There is potential for some really great match-ups for both the men and the women, not to mention the mixed.” We are now just waiting on the name of Hewitt’s female partner.

*Tennis’ long-running ‘anti-grunt’ campaign has received fresh backing from French star Marion Bartoli who was shrieked off court by Victoria Azarenka on Vika’s route to lifting the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford last week. “It’s difficult to play against those kinds of players,” Bartoli said. “I think it’s fine to grunt sometimes when you make an effort, but sometimes it’s just so loud. It’s hard to focus on the other side of the net. But it’s not something I can get bothered by, because otherwise I would lose my concentration so much. I just need to forget about it, but it’s hard.” There were other grumbles too from the elder Bartoli. To see these and Azarenka’s defence, visit

*Another grumbling tennis queen this week is teenage American sensation Melanie Oudin. The 18-year-old has, at times, struggled to hit the form which saw her dazzle the courts of New York in that incredible giant killing run of 2009. Pressure seems to be mounting, and she seems to increasingly lose her temper on-court. “It’s kind of annoying sometimes when people are like ‘Pull it together Melanie,’ and they yell at me kind of,” she said after her 6-1 6-3 defeat to Victoria Azarenka in the second round at Stanford last week. “Really, like you get down here and play. I know they mean it in a good way, like to say ‘C’mon’ Melanie,’ but you don’t have to say ‘Pull it together,’ like ‘Get your energy up’ That’s what some lady was telling me.” The full interview can also be seen at

*Following the conflicting reports about Juan Martin Del Potro’s proposed injury return in last week’s column the reigning US Open champ has posted pics of his long-awaited return to the practice courts on his Twitter page. Serena Williams posted an interesting one this week. She claimed that she was charged $100 to watch the likes of Andy Murray at the Farmers Classic in LA despite the publicity work she had done for the event plus the fact that she is one of the greatest women’s players of all time. “Oh my God, the Farmers Classic tournament in LA is charging me $100 a ticket after I did publicity for them. (Laughs out loud) I’ll send them a bill for my publicity. Anyway, don’t go if you’re in LA. I would have paid $1,000 if I had not done publicity for them.”

*Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova’s win in Istanbul last week has seen her climb to a career high No. 24 in this week’s Sony Ericsson WTA rankings. In the doubles, Liezel Huber has regained the number 1 doubles ranking slot from the Williams sisters following her win in Stanford with returning mum Lindsay Davenport.

*Reuters have been reporting that Victoria Azarenka has pulled out of San Diego having won at Stanford.

*Spanish newspaper El Mundo has held its annual poll of the country’s favourite celebrity with Rafa Nadal coming out on top. He defeated Spanish footballer and World Cup winning hero Iker Casillas who came second.


By Chris Oddo

It was a wild week in the California Desert – conditions were so balmy that I felt like imitating that BNP Paribas commercial where the fans grab the player’s racquets and make a mockery of the match by running onto the court and taking wild amateurish swings at the ball.

Fortunately I didn’t act on any of these feelings – the tennis being played on the courts was so spectacular that I wouldn’t have dared.

Speaking of spectacular, nobody on the women’s side was more spectacular than the 25-year-old Serbian Sensation known as “JJ” to her fans.  I prefer Jelly, but that’s another story for another day.  Whatever you call her, the Serb put together her strongest effort of the young season, staging a Houdini of a comeback against Sara Errani in the 3rd round, then riding the momentum to four straight set victories, and her 12th career title on Sunday.

The win comes on the heels of a parting of ways with former coach, Ricardo Sanchez, and the formation of a temporary no-strings-attached agreement with Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy Director of Tennis, Chip Brooks.

Jankovic, who hasn’t been beyond the 4th round of a Slam since her 2008 U.S. Open final appearance, played at such a high level in this tournament that it’s hard not to consider the possibility of another run up the tennis ladder and into the top-5 again.  The former No. 1 reached the semifinals or better in three of four majors in ’08, but success has not come so easily since.

Part of her success, and perhaps part of what has been missing since she has slipped, has been her ability to aggressively dictate play to her opponents.  Perhaps Jankovic has tended to lean on her defensive prowess too much over the years – but not here at Indian Wells.  She is content no more.  Jankovic seemed to forget to put the pedal to the metal at times in ’09 when the situation called for it.  She didn’t take advantage of her ability to hit very heavy balls and put very significant pressure on her adversaries.  Brooks took notice of this and started coaching her to embrace her aggressive nature.

It’s some of the strategical terrain that Chip Brooks, Jelena’s coach at the moment, mentioned to me in our conversation today, and it was the stuff that was obviously crucial to her success this week.  When Jankovic started to get some wind in her sails with a very decisive win against Israeli Shahar Peer in the 4th round, Brooks said he knew they had a shot.  As a witness to that match, I must admit, it was pretty impressive.  Routinely stepping inside the baseline and scorching winners from both wings against Peer, Jelly was getting on a roll that she was destined to never get off.

Could this be the real deal, or were we simply remembering with fondness a Jankovic that we would more than likely never see again?   Were we seeing ghosts in the machine?

Apparently not.

Suddenly, with a juggernaut of a run to a very prestigious title, Jankovic has worked her way into that category of players that just might do some damage come springtime.

Could she be coming of age for a second time?

It was hard not to notice the ease with which she closed out matches against the likes of Sam Stosur (new to the top-10 this week) and Caroline Wozniacki (now No. 2 in the world).  Not only did she consistently make the first strike against her opponents, taking them out of crucial points, but Jankovic displayed some of the best serving she’s ever produced.  Surrendering three breaks in the final three matches pretty much tells the story.  And what was perhaps even more impressive is that she didn’t face a break point throughout the very tense 2nd set that decided the final against Wozniacki.

“I just have to stay focused and do what I do best,” Jankovic told the press as she spoke to them after her semifinal victory over stosur.  It was a telling statement, and it is indeed good news that Jankovic appears to finally remember what she does best.  Chip Brooks deserves some credit for the turnaround, but, as he told me himself “this isn’t about me, she’s the one out there hitting the ball.”

Indeed she is.


By Maud Watson

The New Fraulein Forehand? – A couple of weeks ago I criticized Serb Ana Ivanovic for appearing to disrupt the balance by focusing on too many off court activities while her tennis career was in a fast downward spiral. Today I must applaud her for once again seeking a full time coach, and a good one at that. Ivanovic has hired Steffi Graf’s former coach Heinz Gunthardt. Granted, each individual player has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, but given the champion player that Steffi Graf evolved into under the tutelage of Gunthardt, there’s reason to believe that Ivanovic may soon find her game back on track.

Career Resurrected – Nearly 7 years ago, Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero was on top of the world. He’d won Roland Garros, reached the finals of the US Open, and achieved the No. 1 ranking. Then, a bad bout of chicken pox and other miscellaneous injuries saw his ranking fall off the map. Nearly the forgotten man, it would be 6 years before he’d break his title drought with a tournament win at Casablanca in 2009. After a shaky start to 2010, El Mosquito has won Brasil and Buenos Aires back-to-back and has put in a good showing in Acapulco. His ranking is now in the top 20, with a realistic chance of being inside the top 10 for Roland Garros. It’s nice to see his hard work pay off, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll add another Slam to his resume before he hangs up the racquet.

Shakin’ with Shakira – While allowing his knee to recuperate, Rafael Nadal had a bit of fun making it on the small screen. The famous Spaniard teamed up with Colombian pop sensation Shakira to shoot a steamy music video for her new single Gypsy, which will be out this coming April. Don’t let too many tongues start wagging, however. Both are in long-term relationships and deny that there is anything going on between the two of them.

Cautious Federer – It’s rare to see the Swiss maestro pull out of an event due to injury or illness, but that’s exactly what Roger Federer was forced to do at Dubai this week. The 16-time Grand Slam winner is suffering from a lung infection. He hopes to be back at Indian Wells, but he’s making no promises. You can’t argue with Federer’s cautious approach. After all, part of what has allowed him to build such a stellar legacy is his relative good health and lack of injuries over the course of his career. That doesn’t happen by accident. He’s nearly always been excellent in setting his schedule and recognizing when his body needs to rest. This time is no exception.

Tomic Makes the Team – Due to a combination of his improving results and Hewitt’s unavailability for Davis Cup duty, Aussie Bernard Tomic has now become the youngest player to be named to an Australian Davis Cup squad. There’s no doubt that Tomic has the talent to make it to the top, but his attitude and meddlesome father have caused him more than his share of troubles in his young career. Perhaps a dose of maturity and a good showing for his adopted homeland will do much to improve his image and serve as a springboard to greater success.

Murray Dumped Over Playstation?

While Tiger Woods is having relationship problems due to spending intimate time with other women, British tennis ace Andy Murray problem’s lie with too much time playing video games.

The Telegraph in the United Kingdom is reporting that Murray’s split with girlfriend Kim Sears was partially due to too much time playing Playstation. Writes the Telegraph, “Sources close to Sears said one of the causes [of the breakup] was the world number four’s long hours playing video tennis and PlayStation 3 games such as the best selling Call of Duty sequel. Brad Gilbert, Murray’s former coach, has said in the past that Murray spends “seven hours a day” playing video games.”

The U.K’s tabloid newspaper The Sun quoted another source saying, “He would spend all his time glued to them (video games). In the end she just got fed up with it. She wanted more out of the relationship.”

Justine Needs To Comeback, For Her Own Sake

The Belgian media have recently been speculating that former world No. 1 Justine Henin is preparing for a return to professional tennis at the beginning of next year. Henin, who will compete in an exhibition in Dubai this December, has denied the rumors through her former coach, Carlos Rodriguez.

However, based on her recent forays into the workforce outside of tennis via acting, singing, and as a television presenter, we hope she hasn’t truly quit her day job.



Television Presenter

Justine Henin Making A Comeback?

After Kim Clijsters, apparently Justine Henin is also on her way back to the WTA Tour, according to according Belgian newspaper Vers l’Avenir.

Wrote Vers l’Avenir based on various sources “Her decision to make a comeback is almost definitive. As of January, 2010 “Juju” will be back on the tour.”

Henin has started to train again. Officially she is preparing for the exhibition matches in Charleroi and Dubai later this year.

Carlos Rodriguez, former coach of Henin, said on the Belgian radio RTBF that he doesn’t believe the rumours.

“There is nothing that indicates a comeback. We have never talked about that. I am really surprised,” said the Argentinan coach.

He did confirm that Henin is training for the exhibition matches in Dubai and Charleroi at the end of 2009.

“She is currently training,” he said. “Two, three times a week to get back in shape. She hasn’t played tennis in a year.”