Re: Murray approached by Bollettieri - The Independent
Nick Bollettieri: How my pyramid team could put Murray on top
'He's got that radical streak that I saw in Agassi when I was his coach
Published: 21 April 2006
Andy Murray has the potential to become one of the world's best players, and if he wants to use my 50-plus years of experience in the game - including developing and coaching Grand Slam winners like Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova - then bring it on. I believe I can help Andy fulfil his potential.
I'm not putting myself forward to be his next coach, in terms of the guy who will work and travel with him on a week-to-week basis, as Mark Petchey did until Andy parted company with him last week. But in today's game, the top players use not just one person, but a team. And I have something to offer as part of a team, a wider set-up.
In such a pyramid structure the player is always on top. Next comes the coaching team, with a day-to-day head coach, a physical trainer and maybe others. There can also be a role for an older guiding hand to offer advice, perspective and sometimes one-on-one intensive sessions ahead of big events. That was the role I played with Serena Williams when she was in her pomp. And it's the job I think I could do for Andy.
If he wants to discuss what I have to offer, he knows where I am. In fact, I can reveal to you today that I've spoken with Andy's mum, Judy Murray, in the past couple of days and Andy knows my offer is on the table. They have a lot of options right now and I know they will take their time to make the right decision.
The pyramid base, the thing that gives it stability and strength, is family and other people close to the player. I'm sure Judy Murray, an astute lady, is the key member of that group and will remain so.
So what do I see in Andy Murray that makes me want to work with him? Natural talent. That's a given. Attitude, in spades. I've likened him before to Jim Courier, the ultimate workhorse, because I see his determination to give his all. And he's got that radical streak that I saw in a young Agassi when I was his coach. He knows his mind and he's not afraid to voice it.
Andy has the potential, with hard work and the right guidance and the proper dedication, to win major tournaments. Do you think I'd have been interested in putting myself forward so publicly if I didn't believe he had that potential?
Whatever set-up he chooses, he needs to think long term. This is no time to assume he'll make another massive leap in a year like he's just experienced. The hard climb starts here. This is about building for the future, looking for him to be player of serious stature in three years, maybe more.
The kid's only 18. He's got time. He's not going to be dominating world tennis in a year, not with guys like Federer around. Let's be realistic. But he can be a top contender in his early 20s.
What kind of coach does he need? First off, someone who will listen to him talk his ass off, give him room to say what he feels and what be believes in.
Then the coach needs to have the authority and experience to take that in, understand it, but be able to come back and say: "OK, having listened to what you've said, this is how I see it, and here's why."
Let's be blunt. He needs someone who can criticise the shit out of him in a positive and constructive way.
So how would I suggest that a coach should develop Murray's game? I won't dwell on his strengths because they're apparent: sound serve, good returns, solid if not always pretty strokes (but who needs pretty to win?), a double-handed backhand that can be a weapon, a battling mentality.
What's most important is weaknesses, and how to eradicate them. He can add finesse, but who can't? A main area to analyse would be position on court, and whether playing far behind the baseline as a major tool is always right.
I see a lot of what's good in Lleyton Hewitt's game at its best as being applicable to Andy Murray, but he could exploit the court more, take more positions, add extra elements.
He isn't just a grinder, nor does he need to be that. He has the qualities to be so much more. But this is simple assumption. It's not definitive. Such conclusions in any set-up should only come after the most thorough analysis. If I worked with Andy I'd start with a full physical, technical and mental assessment, from biceps and thighs to movement, grips, style of play.
You examine every part of the man, you get a proper understanding of who he is, where he comes from, what he wants, what drives him.
He needs to focus on who he is, not on who anyone else thinks he is, or who he thinks other people think he is. One of the first things I'd tell him is ignore what the press say. Don't read a newspaper. Except this one, obviously.
The Wit and Wisdom of the Tennis Journalist, Indian Wells 2004
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I remember this one time when I went on a vacation on the Maldives. That was in the year 2001, I think. I went to this spa. I went to walk around with my girlfriend. I walk in, and we want to book a spa. This guy goes, "AHH, I remember you. You beat Sampras. I saw you on TV." That was like, really, how can you remember me? This guy has probably never been off his island and still knows me. I was a little bit shocked. Then I went to play tennis with him because he was actually the tennis teacher. It was nice.
Q. Were you naked at the time in the spa?
ROGER FEDERER: No. It was at the front desk. I didn't walk in naked.