Former stars have plenty to offer
Potential supercoaches could help a bevy of current tour players
Up Or Down: Men's Field
It's been the season of supercoaches, and though Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl recently went their separate ways, the concept they popularized is still going strong.
Several players have added legends to their team with significant effect -- Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg, Novak Djokovic and Boris Becker (though mostly by being somewhere else), Kei Nisikori and Michael Chang, Marin Cilic and Goran Ivanisevic, among others.
Given the success of those unions, here are some other pairings we'd like to see.
Andy Murray-Andre Agassi
Given that the list of former Murray coaches includes illustrious names like Lendl and Brad Gilbert, it will take a really big name for his next hire to create a stir. There are few bigger than Agassi, whose eye for detail and turn of phrase have also been honed by some of the best in the business.
Combined with a nearly photographic tennis memory and six-Slam résumé, it should produce the effect Murray was talking about when he compared starting to work with Lendl with "trying to impress a new girlfriend."
Because Agassi doesn't seem interested in returning to the tour in any capacity, it's unlikely to happen. But Murray does have a ready introduction -- Darren Cahill, who set up his meeting with Lendl, was once Agassi's coach.
Tomas Berdych-Ivan Lendl
Since Lendl now has some free time, there's another player he could work with whose mind is the only thing standing between him and a Grand Slam. Like Murray, Berdych has the game to win a major, even if it is a completely different game. Like Murray, he has trouble summoning it on big occasions. And like Murray, his unsmiling persona masks a quirky sense of humor.
On top of that, he and Lendl happen to be compatriots. Sounds like Czech-mate.
With another wrist injury setting in, a lot of joy seems to have left del Potro's game. Who better to bring it back than the smiling, bobbing Kuerten, whose flowing game and natural warmth could brighten any stadium? He knows about backing up an unexpected Slam victory with more wins and also had to deal with career-threatening injuries.
With an easygoing manner that wouldn't intimidate the sometimes skittish del Potro, Kuerten might help the Argentine rediscover his enthusiasm for competition as he tries to return to the tour.
Milos Raonic-Pete Sampras
Raonic used to try to copy Sampras as a kid, so imagine the effect of having the real thing in his box. His serve is already modeled on Sampras' own, and pretty effective as replicas go. Sampras should be able to work on the forehand on the run, though it's not clear if he could impart his easy athleticism at net. And the return, Raonic's most glaring weakness, wasn't Sampras' expertise.
But to take the next step, the 22-year-old Canadian needs to start putting away the top players after playing them close. And Sampras, the 14-time Grand Slam champ, was nothing if not a big-match player.
Ernests Gulbis-Marat Safin
If these two ever get together, take cover. They're already good friends off the court, so it would be fascinating to see what they could do on the court. Both have combustible talent and temperaments, but Safin managed to wring two Slams out of his and might be able to get far enough inside Gulbis' head to help him do something similar.
The once-party-loving Safin is now building a political career back in Russia but still takes an interest in the game and might be lured back for occasional tournaments. Whatever were to happen, it would probably be something to see.
Petra Kvitova-Martina Navratilova
A talented Czech lefty having trouble fulfilling her potential -- sound familiar? Navratilova encouraged Kvitova during her run to the Wimbledon title and could produce results by doing so on a regular basis. Her acute awareness of what's happening during a match and experience winning week after week might be what Kvitova needs to find some consistency.
Sam Stosur-Amelie Mauresmo
Big spin, big attacking potential, big problems with nerves. Mauresmo saw, had and conquered all of those -- somewhat. She could help Stosur to do the same and has already established herself as an effective coach while working with Michael Llodra and the French Fed Cup team. After that unpredictable lot, even the wobbly Stosur looks manageable.
Agnieszka Radwanska-Justine Henin
Radwanska is usually compared to Martina Hingis, but what she really needs is power from her small frame -- something Henin knew how to get, along with variety and spin. Henin also had a reasonably effective serve, another thing Radwanska could use, and experience facing down the likes of Serena Williams.
Victoria Azarenka-Dinara Safina
Azarenka has already won two Slams but could try shaking up her game with some of the relentless aggressiveness Safina learned from Zeljko Krajan. It might make her better or worse, but one thing she could definitely learn from Safina is not trying to play through injuries. The two also got along while they were on tour, so it wouldn't be hard for them to work together.
Caroline Wozniacki-Kim Clijsters
Athletic counterpuncher, friendly with just about everyone, got to No. 1 without winning a Slam -- does this one sound familiar, too? Wozniacki has just been through a slew of experienced coaches who apparently just don't get her, so maybe she would do better with someone who has been in her shoes. Clijsters grew her strokes into a formidable, Slam-winning game and could show Wozniacki how to do the same.
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