Is Federer-Djokovic rivalry a continuation of Edberg-Becker rivalry?
Coaches of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Milos Raonic played each other 30 years back. I get a déjà vu feeling watching the matches today.
Players have somehow chosen coaches with similar temperament and surprisingly their results in Grand Slam events also in parallel.
A tennis coach can essentially provide many benefits to a player, including:
- Strategic insight.
- Statistical analysis.
- Stroke adjustments.
- Adding a new weapon to the arsenal of shots.
But are the coach’s career results a forecast of his prodigy’s results?
Stefan Edberg was a major proponent of the serve-and-volley style of tennis in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
In January 2014 Edberg began coaching Roger Federer, reviving his serve-and-volley skills in time for Wimbledon 2014. Edberg has always been a specialist at the fast grass court game winning Australian and Wimbledon twice before mastering the hard courts at US Open. So has Federer.
Roger Federer is someone who has achieved everything tennis has to offer (He doesn’t have an Olympic singles gold, but that isn’t a big dream in tennis anyway). He is just ageing, and can use some more variety to his already diverse and beautiful game, such as the increased focus on serve-and-volley, and the techniques to shorten the rallies that he started using under Edberg’s guidance.
Federer’s latter career half and Edberg’s look surprisingly similar with 2 Wimbledon wins. Edberg finally conquering hard courts at US Open in 91, 92. Now can Federer emulate that — not unless he plays the US Open!
Note: Early this year(2016), Federer has moved on from Edberg to Ljubicic
Andy Murray on the other hand, is someone who has been known to come up short in the big moments, holding a 3 wins–8 losses record in Grand Slam finals. Lendl has been runner-up in a record 11 grand slam finals.
Lendl’s game relied on strength and heavy topspin from the baseline and helped usher in the modern era of “baseline power tennis”. Lendl’s forehand had a tighter topspin; was faster and flatter. Just like Andy Murray’s. Although unlike Andy who has won 2 Wimbledons, Lendl has never won a Wimbledon.
Lendl-McEnroe rivalry was legendary in the 80s with Lendl holding a 21–11 edge over McEnroe. Could this be the forecast for the next decade of tennis with Murray-Raonic rivalry?
In case of Novak Djokovic, Boris Becker has taken the role of coach in 2013.
Becker’s game was based on a fast and well-placed serve, that earned him the nicknames “Boom Boom” and great volleying skills at the net. He could supplement his pure serve-and-volley game with brilliant athleticism at the net. However this is pretty much the inverse of Djokovic’s game. However Djokovic’s athleticism comes with his serve and the sheer angles he can play from the baseline.
Becker, one of the most effective players in his era on grass courts and carpet courts, had less success on clay — pretty much like Djokovic (whose single French Open wins looks almost bleak compared to rest of his Grand Slam wins). Interestingly, the Becker-Edberg (25–10, 1–3 in Grand Slams) rivalry only compares with the Djokovic-Federer rivalry today (23–22, 9–6 in Grand Slams).
John McEnroe has joined Milas Raonic in 2013 when the young Raonic was just breaking in the top 10, soon went on to be the finalist in Wimbledon 2016. If the performance of prodigies are similar to that of the coaches, he is in for fantastic 2–3 years ahead starting with a very successful US open.
After saying all this, one of the most successful coach has been Toni Nadal, uncle and coach of Rafael Nadal who was neither a tennis player or a coach until his nephew. He has a total of 12 Grand slam titles as coach. Pretty good,isn’t it?