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UK Coaching Team
2
Talent and Performance

Tennis: the Former Greats Coaching Top Players

Not every former professional decides to turn to coaching. What prompts those who do make that decision to take the plunge, and why are so many of the current crop of tennis players turning to the previous generation of ‘greats’ for help in finding that cutting edge? Matt Majendie finds out

From January 30 1989 until February 10 1992, just three men held tennis’ world No.1 ranking. All three of that triumvirate – Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker – have since become key figures behind the legends of this century’s game.

Lendl was a factor in Andy Murray’s rise to Wimbledon champion before the pair decided to go their separate ways in March 2014.

At that point, the Becker and Edberg factors were unknown quantities, having joined up as head coach for Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer respectively only as the Lendl/Murray connection was coming to an end. But that meant that the former ‘big three’ of the men’s game had three of the current ‘big four’ under their tutelage at the same time, highlighting the prominence of this trend in the sport.

Darren Cahill, who guided Murray on the circuit for a time, played a key role in partnering the Scot together with Lendl. He also played a key role in helping Lleyton Hewitt make history as the youngest male No.1 and guided Andre Agassi to be the oldest top-ranked player in the world.

Throughout the history of the sport, former players have moved from playing to coaching (the oft-used phrase is that it’s the next best thing to playing).

Cahill himself was on the men’s tour with a Grand Slam best of a semi-final at the US Open and a singles ranking as high as 22 before his career was cut short at the age of 25 by injury. By his own reckoning, he fell into coaching by mistake, just helping a 12-year-old lad. “That 12-year-old boy happened to be Lleyton Hewitt, and it just went from there,” he says.

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