Original article published at Ubitennis.com, but full text is below:
It would appear that 2014 is the year when old grand slam winners return to the tour as coaches. Just this week, Roger Federer announced via Twitter that he spent a week training with Stefan Edberg, sparking conjecture that Edberg might be in contention to be his coach. Today, we learned via the ATP that 6-time grand slam winner, Boris Becker will be joining Novak Djokovic’s team in 2014.
During the Statoil Masters Tennis in London, we had a chance to talk to Sergi Bruguera, the 1993 and 1994 French Open winner about his return to the tour as coach of Richard Gasquet, France’s #1 player. Few players can say they achieved the goal they set for themselves as a child. Bruguera can count himself as one of the lucky few. Coached by his father since the age of five, Bruguera’s sole goal was to become a tennis player in order to win the French Open. So, complete was his love of clay court tennis that he did not play on hard courts until he was 10 years old. He counts Bjorn Borg as his idol because of his backhand and effective use of topspin.
A persistent ankle injury would cause Bruguera to end his career at age 31 in 2002. He had earned 14 singles titles, ranked as high as #3 and won a silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. He was excited to return to the Champions Tour as his twins are now older and he feels comfortable traveling. He beat John McEnroe 6(3), 3-6, 10-7 but lost to Wayne Ferreira, 6-4, 6-4 in the Legends Tournament at Statoil.
How did the relationship with Gasquet come about?
He is coached also by Grosjean. I know him very well. We talk a lot about tennis. He was the person who says my name; he thinks I can help Gasquet. We talked and had a very good connection. I hope see that next year goes very well.
How will the relationship work? Will you be traveling with him?
Yes, I will split with Sebastien Grosjean; we are going to do half and half. He’s going to go to Doha and Australia and the United States and I will do the indoors and the clay. This is how it will be in the beginning, but when you take on a player professionally, you have to see how it works and if you will need to travel.
What are your goals for Gasquet?
My goal is to help him, be as better player as possible. Even if he’s number 9, he can improve in everything. He has lots of potential to be even better. Let’s see if we can help him to arrive to his full potential.
What are the key things you’d like to see change in his game?
First, I’d like to just work with him to see but he can improve everything except the backhand; this is one of the best backhands I’ve ever seen in my life. All the rest: tactic, mental and the game. Technically, he can improve on everything. He can work on a lot of things because he is a player than can do anything. He can change tactic. He can go to the net; he can play high; he can play fast; he can play angles; he has a lot of variety.
How far can Gasquet go in the rankings?
I don’t know. I never like to say things like that even when I was playing. It’s like you put pressure on yourself. You have to work as hard as you can, the right way and then let’s see how far you arrive. Let’s see where they put us after all this work.
For a man who succeeded in achieving his dream of winning the French Open, one wonders what might be possible when he takes on Gasquet during the clay season. Do you see Gasquet making deep inroads during the clay season with Bruguera by his side?