The era of super-coaches: How Becker, Edberg and Lendl transformed tennis



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The era of super-coaches: How Becker, Edberg and Lendl transformed tennis

Super-coaches in tennis is a comparatively recent phenomenon, something that became popular only in the twenty-tens. Two-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray can be regarded a trailblazer, for his palmy days with Ivan Lendl served as an incentive for the rest of the top players including Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, to reach out to former Grand Slam legends like Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg, to hone their skills.

A lot many female tennis players as well jumped on to the super-coach bandwagon. Yet, the trend has proven to be more successful in the male players’ domain, the paragon, of course, being Djokovic -- who won four Majors from six finals, under the tutelage of Boris Becker.

Incidentally, former Grand Slam champions like Goran Ivanisevic and Michael Chang too have successfully steered their protégés -- Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori -- towards an unanticipated breakthrough during the 2014 US Open.

Andy Murray - Ivan Lendl The Murray-Lendl partnership was a fruitful in every way; the Czech legend helped polish the attitude of the petulant Scotsman -- who had suffered painful defeats in his first four Grand Slam final appearances -- turning him into a champion of substance eventually, with a win in Flushing Meadows (2012) and SW19 (2013).

The changes were evident -- lesser fistpumps and swearing between the points. Murray transformed into a more refined player under Lendl; no wonder Murray felt ‘gutted’ when the latter abandoned him.
Roger Federer - Stefan Edberg In the case of Federer and Edberg, no deserting happened.

Edberg was meant to be a sojourner from the start, ever since he was inducted into team Federer, following the Swiss maestro's ill-starred 2013 season. Under the prolific serve-and-volley legend of the 80s, Federer made an audacious move by rekindling the offensive aspects of his game -- approach the net and subsequently shorten the points -- to avoid overexertion of his body so as to counterbalance the disadvantages of him being a relatively old man on tour.

Edberg didn’t introduce a new weapon into Federer’s arsenal, but under his edification, the former No:1 regained his mojo and amped up his game. Despite his three Grand Slam final losses (Wimbledon 2014, 2015; US Open 2015), we can say that no youngster in the circuit is even remotely closer to the 34-year-old genius, when it comes to raising a threat to Djokovic.

Novak Djokovic -- Boris Becker Talking about Becker-Djokovic partnership, they can be deemed a perfect team. After three repeated losses at Wimbledon (2013), the US Open (2013), and the French Open (2014), Djokovic turned the tables and prevailed after Becker took over the reins.

Given the tremendous success of their partnership, there isn’t any need for them to part ways anytime soon. A journeyman player might have the potential to become a skilled coach having endowed with the tactical knowledge of the game -- Roger Rasheed, Daniel Vallverdu, etc., are more successful coaches than successful players.

Brad Gilbert was instrumental in transforming Andre Agassi’s career, helping the latter win six of his eight Majors, but Gilbert’s own record at Grand Slams didn’t go beyond the quarter-finals. What makes super-coaches different from the rest is their empathy.

Lendl, Edberg, Becker -- all of them had been there, seen it, and hence, can develop a better bond with their protégés. They come in handy when it comes to the mental aspects of the game, which is pivotal to success. That explains why all three of them had been successfull in their second coming.