Young stars Raonic, Nishikori turn to ex-player coaches hoping for Slam breakthrough

Young stars Raonic, Nishikori turn to ex-player coaches hoping for Slam breakthrough

Goran Ivanisevic won one Wimbledon title in his colorful tennis career, but the big-serving Croatian believes he might have won even more if he’d had an ex-player as his coach, like many of the top competitors do today.

“Bad luck I did not have someone like me to coach me when I was (playing),” he said Tuesday at the Australian Open. “I should have had this Goran to coach that Goran. Probably I would win at least five, six more Grand Slams.”

Ivanisevic, 43, is now part of the latest trend in tennis — the exclusive but steadily growing club of former pro players who have turned to coaching in their post-retirement years.

The big-name stars like Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray may have glamorized the ex-player hires in recent years, taking on Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Ivan Lendl/Amelie Maursemo, respectively. But the players just behind them in the rankings have also jumped on the bandwagon to try to close the gap and contend for slams.

Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic both won their first majors last year under the tutelage of former players — Wawrinka is coached by Swede Magnus Norman and Cilic by Ivanisevic. And Kei Nishikori has former French Open champion Michael Chang in his corner, while Milos Raonic is coached by Ivan Ljubicic, once ranked No. 3 in the world.

Chang believes the ex-player coaches have caught on among these players, in part, because they can bring valuable perspective from their own careers that could be the final piece needed for a breakthrough at the majors.

The fifth-seeded Nishikori hired Chang at the end of 2013 and proceeded to make his first Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open, where he was beaten by Cilic. He plays defending champion Wawrinka on Wednesday for a spot in the semifinals.

“The mentality and attitude ends up playing a very important role,” the 42-year-old Chang said.

“We all know everybody can come out here and play great tennis, they all hit great forehands, great backhands and great serves, but the mindset is another element that the public and press don’t see. Something that I try to help him out and give him good advice wherever I can.”




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