Federer may be considering hiring Higueras as coach

LISBON, Portugal -- Roger Federer could be in the market for a new coach in a bid to get out of his 2008 funk.

Jose Higueras, who used to coach Jim Courier and Sergio Bruguera and also worked with Pete Sampras and Jennifer Capriati, will be alongside the top-ranked Swiss at this week's Estoril Open, tournament organizers said Saturday.

Higueras, who won 16 ATP titles and represented Spain in the Davis Cup as a player, coached Michael Chang to his 1989 French Open trophy. Higueras is accredited with Federer's entourage and was at the Estadio Nacional on Saturday as Federer practiced on the clay courts. Federer opens against 80th-ranked Olivier Rochus of Belgium.

Federer split with coach Tony Roche last May, but a poor start coming into the clay-court season may have persuaded him to look for help. Federer's health could be a factor -- he had a stomach virus at the Australian Open and mononucleosis.

The 26-year-old Swiss is only two Grand Slam titles shy of tying Sampras' record of 14. He needs a French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam.

Federer is off to his worst start since 2000 -- the last time he went four tournaments without a victory. It is the first time Federer has failed to reach a tournament final in four consecutive events since reaching No. 1 four years ago.