Friday, 19 August 2011

Caro parts ways with Piotr.


World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and her father, Piotr, have ended their coaching relationship, Ekstra Bladet reports. The father and daughter apparently discussed her moving in another direction after Dominika Cibulkova upset Wozniacki at Wimbledon. The Wozniackis are said to have hired a new private coach to travel with Caroline, but he/she has yet to come on board, so Piotr went with Caroline to Toronto and Cincinnati.

Wozniacki fell in the opening round of both tournament, to Roberta Vinci in Toronto and to Christina McHale in Cincinnati. Piotr was heard yelling at the slumping Caroline when he came on court during her loss to McHale.
The identity of the new coach is so far unknown but is said to be a former touring pro.

Wozniacki's agent, Lagardere's John Tobias, confirmed to that Piotr is stepping back, but said that no definitive hire of a new coach has been made yet.

Wozniacki has also worked with adidas Player Development coach Sven Groenefeld. Piotr Wozniacki, a former soccer player in Denmark, is said to have encouraged his daughter to try someone else out. Wozniacki, who has yet to win a Grand Slam, has been criticized for playing too defensively.

"We've heard from morning to night how Caroline should play," Piotr told the newspaper. "So now she tries something else. It is intended that she should be a very aggressive player. But as you can see, she cannot win matches right now, because she does not know how she should play. But whatever, I'm Caroline's father, and I will always support her."

She is scheduled to play in New Haven next week.


A few comments:

1) The Cibulkova “upset” at Wimbledon?

These are some of the players Domi’s beaten this year: Goerges at Wimbledon (R32), Sveta at Madrid (R64), Masha at Madrid (R32), Bepa at IW (R32).

Three of those have come in the last four months. You’ll note that the Wimbledon match in which Domi’s purported to have “upset” Caro was preceded by a win over Goerges– was that also an upset?

And here some of the players she’s lost to: Petra in Madrid (QF), Masha at Wimbledon (SF), and Marion in Stanford (SF).

We all know what a nutjob Domi can be and still is. There’s no point in defending her on that front – I think I might even prefer it that way.

But she’s also a top 20 player who’s reached the R16 or better at every Slam playing some of the best tennis of her life. Reading of her “upset”  above you’d think Caro had been routined by Christina McHale.

There’s getting defensive, and there’s putting your head in the sand.

Caro’s problems, whatever they might be, began well before Wimbledon with those consecutive losses she suffered to Goerges. Unless, of course, that too was an upset.

2) Not completely sure this is entirely a good or a bad move.

It’s certainly clear this is the first major crisis of her career. Not responding proportionally wouldn’t be wise. She’ll likely benefit from hearing a new voice. And that’s not even a knock on Piotr.

What’s not clear is what direction that new voice will take her in. Her stated ambition is more aggression. Much as the world has been calling for this, is that even possible? Probably, but to what degree?

Tennis is a game of organic growth –  with very few exceptions, you don’t suddenly wake up one morning and remould your groundstrokes. Doing so usually (and sometimes irrevocably) turns you into a different player and mostly proves counterproductive.

But there’s a bigger issue at stake. Much as aggression is being touted as her Holy Grail (and it is precisely that), the fact remains she was winning these types of matches just six months back. Whatever the issue is it may run deeper than any single technicality can account for. Whilst it’s simply indisputable that Caro will benefit from more aggression, she might still wind up losing matches, whether that’s under Piotr, Navratilova or the Cookie Monster.

3) Piotr’s Piotr..

Whatever your thoughts him (of which there are many) or on her game (of which there are also many), the fact remains she made world #1 under his tutelage.

Personally, I don’t think the very intense image of him hollering at her, comparing her to a “junior”, with her staring vacantly off into the distance during her loss to McHale, did anyone much good.

But they do seem to have a good relationship – and if they don’t, the fact is we simply don’t know any better. She may simply have come as far as she can with him. They may even be parting to preserve/strengthen that familial bond. Easy to forget that during the inevitable snarkfest that this episode will inevitably provoke.

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