Monday, April 14, 2008

Feet of clay?

Another Davis Cup weekend has come and gone (man, how about that Richard Gasquet? and now the clay-court season really kicks into gear. The women had their first big tournament in the spring swing and Maria Sharapova bagged her first title on the dirt. But with tournaments a-plenty this week (the men are in Valencia, Houston and Estoril, and the women are in Charleston and Estoril, too), the biggest news this week is Roger Federer bringing in Jose Higueras (both pictured above) to help out some as he ramps up his clay-court preparation earlier than usual by hitting Estoril.

Now, I have some concerns about this move. First, why Higueras? I know Higueras helped Michael Chang and Jim Courier win French Opens, but that was a looong time ago. Higueras helped those two by teaching a hard-court player how to play on clay and getting a temperamental freak-out machine to realize he didn't have to blast winners all the time (Chang and Courier, respectively). Basically, I think Higueras gets guys to play within themselves, or in the case of Robby Ginepri, motivates them to work harder. But Federer's a completely different animal than those three as his game is way more free-flowing and versatile than theirs. If he gets Federer to dial down his game, I think it can be disastrous.

Second, if Federer feels he needs a coach, which I think he does, too, why go with someone so surface-specific? So after Estoril and if they go through the clay swing, does he dump Higueras? There's no way Higueras can help Federer at Wimbledon. Or during the hard-court season, for that matter.

I hope it doesn't look like I'm always dumping on Federer, I just think he's at a crucial point in his career where the wrong move can snowball. I think this working-with-Higueras move is almost like hitting the panic button. Know who I wish was still around coaching that would be good for Federer? Tony Pickard. He got Stefan Edberg to the finals of the French back when the players were practically playing on mud, and Edberg did it by attacking. But Pickard's so far removed from the game there's no way that would work. I have some other ideas on possible Federer coaches, but I'll save them for later—or I might just shut up about them if the Higueras thing works out! Stay tuned.

(Photo: Getty Images)


Steve said...

Hi Van

thanks for the comment. It's good a question about Higueras. I'm not sure what to make of it. I guess you could see it as a sign that Federer's confidence is still intact.

He wants to win the French Open or failing that preserve his No 1 status by picking up enough points on clay. Higueras can help him with this.

And perhaps Federer feels that despite a bad start to the year he's still good enough to win Wimbledon or the US. We'll see!

Keep on blogigng...


Shelia said...

Hi Van!

Thanks for stopping by Black Tennis Pro's today. LOVE to meet other tennis lovers. We are not as voluminous in the U.S. as other countries, but we're committed! :D

Take Care,~~Shelia