The relationship between a professional tennis player and his or her coach can’t be quantified. It’s largely immeasurable contribution that coaches make, though they rarely get attention when the big points are won by their pupils.
Unlike football, basketball or baseball where the coaches are employed by an organization and function like a company, in tennis, coaches are hired directly by the players.
Coaches play a huge role in the overall development and professional success of the players. From technical to tactical to psychological, the best tennis coach wears multiple hats and conveys countless messages. Here, DSport has listed down the top 10 most successful coach-player partnership of all time.
Stefan Edberg with Roger Federer
Stefan Edberg is a Swedish former world no. 1 professional tennis player (in both singles and doubles). A major proponent of the serve-and-volley style of tennis, he won six Grand Slam singles titles and three Grand Slam men’s doubles titles between 1985 and 1996.
Edberg began coaching Roger Federer in January 2014 and Federer’s net game has improved by leaps and bounds under his leadership. Edberg has helped the Swiss maestro to enter into a new era of tennis driven by an aggressive, playful and confident approach. Under Edberg’s mentorship, the Swiss star has won 11 tournaments including three top-level ATP Masters 1000 events. Federer failed to add to his haul of 17 grand slam titles while working with Edberg but has reached three finals and two semi-finals and has been runner-up at the World Tour Finals in both of their seasons together. This partnership ended in December 2015.
Boris Becker and Marian Vajda with Novak Djokovic
Boris Becker is a six-time major singles champion and the youngest Wimbledon men’s champion at just 17 years.
Novak Djokovic hired him as the full-time coach in December 2013. In three seasons, Becker contributed to 6 of Djokovic’s 12 grand slam titles and 14 of his 30 Masters 1000 titles. In 2016, Djokovic and Becker parted ways.
Marian Vajda started working with Djokovic in 2006, and the past three seasons together with Boris Becker, who quit in December last year. Vajda helped develop the Serb into one of the most dominant champions of the Open era. Not to mention the fact that Djokovic moved up 35 places in the rankings after only one year with Vajda. From No. 40 to No. 5 in 12 months. That’s an impressive coaching.
Ivan Lendl with Andy Murray
Ivan Lendl is a former world No. 1 professional tennis player and is currently coaching current world No. 1 Andy Murray, alongside Jamie Delgado. Lendl won eight Grand Slams singles titles. He has 94 career titles to his credit, second of all-time behind Jimmy Connors.
Lendl was appointed as coach to Andy Murray in 2011. Lendl has been credited with improving Murray’s maturity and consistency, guiding the Scot to his first two Grand Slam victories in the 2012 US Open, and 2013 Wimbledon Championships, thereby ending the 77-year-old wait for a male British tennis player to win a Grand Slam Major. On March 19, 2014, Murray ended his two-year partnership with Lendl and again re-joined in 2016.
Magnus Norman with Stan Wawrinka
Magnus Norman is an ATP tennis coach and a retired professional tennis player from Sweden. His career highlights include reaching a Grand Slam final at the French Open in 2000, and an ATP Masters Series title at the 2000 Rome Masters.
He owns a tennis academy called the Good to Great Tennis Academy, among its students are Stan Wawrinka and Gaël Monfils. Grigor Dimitrov was also a former student of Norman. Coaching Wawrinka to his first Grand Slam title in 2014 was one thing, but to ensure that the Stan stayed on point in 2015 and was therefore ready to take his chance at Roland Garros is perhaps more impressive.
Nick Bollettieri with Andre Agassi
Bollettieri is an American tennis coach. In his 80s, Bollettieri is still working at his tennis boarding school. He has participated in the development of many leading players, including Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles, and Mary Pierce. He has also worked with Maria Sharapova, Daniela Hantuchová, Jelena Janković, Nicole Vaidišová, Sabine Lisicki, Sara Errani, Tommy Haas, Max Mirnyi, Xavier Malisse, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Martina Hingis, Anna Kournikova, Marcelo Ríos, Kei Nishikori, and coached Boris Becker for two years.
The earliest Bollettieri pupils to reach no. 1 were Monica Seles, Jim Courier and Andre Agassi.
Paul Annacone with Pete Sampras
Paul Annacone is an American former touring professional tennis player and current tennis coach. He is the former coach of open-era leader in Grand Slams Roger Federer and former World No. 1 Pete Sampras. Annacone achieved greater success as Pete Sampras’s long-time coach.
The two worked together from February 1995 up to the end of 2001, and again from July 2002 until Sampras’ retirement.
In August 2010, Roger Federer hired Annacone to be his full-time coach. Annacone led Federer to two straight year-end championships in 2010 and 2011, a return to the World no. 1 ranking, and his seventh Wimbledon Championship.
Patrick Mouratoglou with Serena Williams
Patrick Mouratoglou is a French tennis coach and sports television commentator. Mouratoglou has coached several tennis players including Marcos Baghdatis (whom he coached to the final of the 2006 Australian Open), Julia Vakulenko, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Aravane Rezaï, Jérémy Chardy, Laura Robson, Yanina Wickmayer and Grigor Dimitrov.
Since June 2012, Mouratoglou is mentoring Serena Williams. The Frenchman has instilled a new sense of focus and intensity in Williams’ overall approach to tennis. Williams has won eight Grand Slams out of 14 with Mouratoglou at the helm, and she was a whisker from winning the Calendar Slam in 2015. Playing different roles at different times in Williams’ professional career Mouratoglou was able to find a way to get the greatest player of her generation.
Toni Nadal with Rafael Nadal
Toni Nadal doesn’t need any introduction. The partnership between Rafael and Toni began in the town of Manacor, Mallorca when the now 30-year-old Rafael was just four.
Although Rafael was naturally right-handed, his uncle persuaded him to play left-handed, believing it offered him an advantage.
Under Toni’s guidance, Rafael became one of the most physically fit and mentally strong players on the men’s Tour. His breakthrough came in 2005, when he won the first of a record nine French Open championships at the age of just 19.
Under uncle Nadal’s mentorship, Rafa has amassed 69 singles titles, including 14 grand slam championships, and occupied the No. 1 ranking for 141 weeks. In 2010, Nadal became only the second man after Andre Agassi to complete the career Golden Slam of all four major tennis tournaments and Olympic gold when he won his first US Open.
But from 2018, one of the most successful player-coach partnerships in the game will no longer be seen Toni Nadal will step down as his coach after this year’s ATP Tour.
Brad Gilbert with Andre Agassi
The author of ‘Winning Ugly’, which must be the most referenced coaching manual in tennis, Gilbert is best known for the work he did with Andre Agassi. Andre Agassi won 6 of his 8 majors with Gilbert as his coach. Agassi described Gilbert as the greatest coach of all time.
Gilbert also helped Andy Roddick to win his first Grand Slam at the US Open in 2003. He also coached Andy Roddick, Andy Murray, and Kei Nishikori.
Tony Roche with Ivan Lendl and Roger Federer
He has worked with four world number ones, in Ivan Lendl, Patrick Rafter, Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt. Lendl hired Roche as a full-time coach for Roche’s advice on volleying.
Roche coached the Swiss maestro Roger Federer from 2005 to 12 May 2007. Roche had significant influence on the grand slam record-holder. Federer was already world No.1 when he began working with Roche but the Australian mentor kept him there.