Hewitt linked with Roche
TONY Roche is poised to become Lleyton Hewitt's coach after being sacked suddenly by world No. 1 Roger Federer.
Roche, regarded as the world's best tennis mentor, is expected soon to confirm his intentions to work with Hewitt after his three-season partnership with Federer disintegrated at the weekend.
Hewitt's manager David Drysdale said yesterday Roche was a strong contender to join the South Australian's camp.
"I'm not sure what Rochey's frame of mind is at the moment, but I'd talk to him, without a doubt," Drysdale said.
"He's worked previously with Lleyton in Davis Cup with great success."
Federer, suddenly wallowing despite winning six of the past seven majors, could team with an Australian again by hiring either Darren Cahill or Roger Rasheed.
Cahill was not available for comment yesterday, while it is known Rasheed has been approached recently by two top-20 players.
Both men formerly worked with Hewitt, who remains without a full-time adviser.
Hewitt has not had a full-time coach since Rasheed's abrupt resignation in Adelaide in January.
Federer has now hired and fired three of the best: South Australian Peter Carter, Swede Peter Lundgren and Roche.
He is top seed for the Hamburg Masters this week, and has shown he can excel without a coach, as he did when winning three majors in 2004.
He is known to be interested in Cahill, who was extremely close to Carter, the man who laid the foundations of Federer's game.
Australia's Davis Cup coach, Cahill guided both Hewitt and Andre Agassi to grand slam successes and the world No. 1 ranking.
Angered by his fourth defeat in as many tournaments since winning in Dubai in February, Federer issued a curt website statement over his parting from Roche.
"I thank Tony very much for his efforts over these last years, during which I appreciated the 12-15 weeks per season we would work together," he said.
"I am also grateful for the sacrifice he made, travelling so far from his home in Australia and leaving his family."
Roche and Federer had shared a quirky handshake arrangement since the start of 2005.
Roche was adamant his travelling commitment would not stretch beyond 15 weeks a year on the road. He routinely refused to attend the US Open, an event Federer has won for the past three years.
And, apart from two dedicated practice blocks, Roche and Federer collaborated on site at only the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
The rest of the work was done either by telephone or email.
Yet, with 25 titles, six majors and an overall record of 192 wins and only 13 losses, the Federer-Roche tandem is one of the best in history.
But it ended in disharmony with rumours of disagreements over scheduling - Roche was not intending to oversee Federer's bid for a fifth consecutive Wimbledon crown.
And there were suggestions the Sydneysider had privately decided to move on because of clashes on other issues, some of which are believed to relate to bonuses.
Hewitt first approached Roche to become his coach in 2002 when Pat Rafter retired.
Roche, who turns 62 on Thursday, had just had hip surgery and was not in a position to help out.
He is now, and there is an obvious connection given both men live in Sydney.
Roche has previously helped Ivan Lendl (world No. 1 and six majors), Rafter (world No. 1 and two majors) and Kiwi Chris Lewis (1983 Wimbledon finalist) achieve career-defining results.
A brilliant but injury-prone serve-volleyer, Roche won the 1966 French singles title, but lost five other major finals.
He played in five winning Davis Cup teams and coached the 1999 champions.