Piotr Wozniacki interviewed by @johasger: ‘My son paid a price when we concentrated on Caroline.’ On the tough choices made, and advice to parents: “Don’t coach your kids”

Translation of the article in Extra Bladet December 23, 2017, sports section pages 8-9.

Also read: Interview with Piotr Wozniacki: “I’ve forgotten to enjoy myself and I regret that”

When Caroline Wozniacki was in her mid-teens, Piotr Wozniacki made a decision that not only was the springboard to his and his daughter’s tennis adventure – it also involved a painful choice. He revealed it when he was answering the question: what would he have done if she had chosen to thorw away her racquet and go another way.

“I don’t know. But I think I would have helped Patrik more,” referring to her older brother. “He was a pretty good footballer, but needed some support and help from me. I made the choice then, when Caroline was producing promising results. That meant that I had to be closer to one of my children than the other. It was tough.

“Without a doubt, being so close to her has been a huge gift, but also meant that I would have to be away from my son.

“We all talked about it together, and I’ve very proud of the fact that Patrik accepted it the way he did. He also wanted to help his sister the best way he could.

“Caroline also understood that we needed to do everything possible to keep contact with Patrick as best we could. The two of them are luckily just as close now as they were then.

“It wasn’t just Caroline and I who discussed things. All four of us did. Anna and I motivated the children, showed them the sports world and told them that if they had a dream, they had to believe in it and follow it. Then we’d support them.”

He turns back the clock 20 years to when Caroline chose tennis:

“She was around seven, and we drove around to a lot of tennis clubs to practise and train with those who suited her best. We lived in Herfølge, and drove to Vallensbæk, Birkerød, Værløse Farum …

He didn’t anticipate that the many hours driving and waiting would turn into a full time job:

“I hadn’t foreseen that future. The daily routine was driving Caroline and Patrik to tennis and football, do homework with them – and I don’t know how many times we ate in the car.”

The mayor of Farum, Peter Brixtofte helped them get an apartment in Farum Midpunkt, so the 12-year old Caroline had a shorter trip to the Danish Tennis Association’s (DTA) elite centre, where she could practise on a dispensation.

“But there were problems with being allowed to do physical training and with travelling. They kept saying, ‘we need to wait a bit. She’s too young.’

“So I made the decision that I had to travel with her, because I couldn’t wait for them while they considered their decisions. We travelled to the big junior tournament in Osaka and won. Then won a series of tournaments.

“She was so young, yet she could still compete at that level, so I thought: ‘We need to do something extra.’

“We got a sponsor deal with Nordea, Europæiske, Sony Ericson and many other small firms we drove around to. My business and sport friends help a lot, and so did Farum Tennis Club.

“It was work eight hours a day with practice, travel planning, physical training and doing marketing by driving around and telling people, ‘this little girl will become a top player’.

“The situation was such in Denmark that there really weren’t any coaches with tour experience we could travel with. We trained with people in Denmark, but I was beginning to focus internationally. When she turned 16, we moved to Monaco, and I began to get help from people on the WTA Tour.

“Nothing was as I’d imagined it. Everything was new to me. Everyday contained a small risk of doing something wrong, and all the while, Patrik was very alone home in Copenhagen. It wasn’t an easy choice, because we wanted the best for both of our two children.”

Slowly the father and daughter began to realise what they’d undertaken. The learned together and acted together. Caroline began early on to book their trips.

“We both began to realise what kind of job we had to do.

“I wasn’t a tennis coach. For the first five-six years, I was the worst tennis coach in the world, but all the talking with others on the tour has helped me.

“We’ve also been lucky in that the little things have gone our way, but, from the start, Caroline was very disciplined and willing to do a lot of hard physical training.

“She saw that I went 120% in for everything, whether what I did was right or not. I think I was an OK father, too. That’s how we could stay together for so long.”

Once in a while he considered stopping.

“It happened once in a while. I wanted to find a better coach for her. But Caroline made the decision herself that that wasn’t optimal for her. She thinks I’m the best for her.

“We’ve always discussed all our decisions together. We’ve chosen the path together. It was always important that we agreed.”

Only the fewest of those sorts of partnerships have lasted and been successful in the long run on the Tour. And Piotr Wozniacki would definitely not advise other parents to try and imitate him. He has quite the opposite advice:

“Get a real coach, and help from the second row. DON’T be a coach –be a father or mother.

“I’ve spent an amazing amount of energy, and we reached an understanding. I don’t think many others could. I’ve seen thousands of examples of the opposite, because parents didn’t get the right kind of advice.

“As a parent, you need to keep an eye on what’s happening, but don’t be front and centre. The kid needs a father and mother to come home to.”

Translated by MAN

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Novak Đoković on a day-to-day coach, his diet, his tennis bag

Novak on coach, diet, bag…

Original link (IN SERBIAN): http://sportklub.rs/Blog/Sasa-Ozmo/a174309-Meso-ili-ne-otadzbina-trener-sokolovi-Novak-izbliza.html

New coach (besides Agassi)

I have a list of candidates, but I don’t want to reveal anything because I would not want to put anyone in an awkward position. He has to meet my wishes, but also Andre’s – Agassi is my mentor, head coach, priority, and he needs to say OK before I hire anyone. Both of us have to be sure as that coach would spend more time than Andre with me. We have spoken to one man and I hope, ideally, that I will have someone by Wimbledon – if not, then after Wimbledon.

Image of the new coach?

He would have to fit in with our vision of life and tennis – Andre and I have a lot in common in terms of how we perceive the game and everything that surrounds it. We have to take everything into consideration as I am not the same person I used to be before I became a father, for example – it is a big change; family on the road, lot of obligations, different rhythm, so a new coach would have to adjust to that.

More specifically, I would like it to be someone with experience at the top level, preferably an ex-player because that is a bonus – because then the communication goes much easier: he already understands my mental state on the court, while I am preparing, travelling, recovering… Those type of conversations can be long or short, depending on the person. Also, I’d prefer someone younger because that is the kind of energy that drives me and inspires me.

His diet?

I don’t want to get too much into it because people read the papers and draw certain conclusions, yet they are not well-informedenough about the subject or they don’t know much about the person. My diet is based on vegetables. You can find proteins in vegetables as well, not just in meat, but our people (in Serbia) know only about meat because it is our culture. I also eat fish and eggs as a source of protein, but I haven’t been eating meat since August or September 2015. I’ve got my own reasons, both ethical and health. I don’t want to succumb to pressure. I am not going back to meat at this time.

On his tennis bag

Novak has 12 hawks that symbolize Grand Slam titles, why hawks?

The hawk is my favourite bird, one of my favourite animals. It has something to do with my Montenegrin roots. My late grandpa used to call me „Hawk“ (common nickname in Serbia, Montenegro…), so there is that as well. Also, I find hawks fascinating as they don’t prey on the sick and the small. Besides, when it attacks, it does so with enormous speed, so I like to think of myself as a hawk when I attack a tennis ball. Yellow smilies symbolize Masters titles and blue smilies stand for World Tour Finals titles.

What must Novak have in his bag?

It happens often that I forget my wallet or phone. When I go to practice, especially during the tournament, I am focused on what I need to do, so people close to me often complain that they can’t reach me. Aside from tennis shoes, rackets and lenses, there is nothing that HAS to be in my bag. I carry a cross that I got at the Ostrog monastery. I got a really nice gift from a girl in China that I used to carry around for a few years, but I am not attached to things and I am not superstitious. My day does not depend on whether I brought something with me or didn’t; I won’t feel depressed if I forget something.

On Serbia

I’ve got unconditional love for my country—it’s my home, I belong there. In the last ten years or so, since I am not living there any more, I feel butterflies in my stomach every time I go back, and memories from my childhood start coming back to me. A man can go around the world, but there is no place like home.

It is normal that there are people who love me less and those who love me more. I try to do what I can—I am a human being also: I make mistakes, mature and try to learn from those mistakes, and I always stand up for values that I believe are right, values instilled in me by my parents and everyone who contributed to my maturing and evolving.

 

Translated by Saša Ozmo

Magnus Norman on French Open feelings & a coach’s most important job

Interview with Magnus Norman by Sebastian Güstafsson for SweTennis.

A week has gone by since Stan Wawrinka hit the winning point and won the French Open.  His successful coach Magnus Norman is back in Sweden. SweTennis spoke with the Filipstad native about what is most important for a coach of a top player and of his feelings after the win.

“The two minutes Stan and I had in the dressing room after the final—they’re moments you remember.” Magnus Norman

Magnus Norman isn’t someone who needs big headlines.  Since Stan Wawrinka’s win in Paris, he’s been praised by all; but Magnus keeps both feet firmly planted on the ground and almost excuses himself for being called the world’s best coach. When, on the Good to Greats home page, he wrote down his thoughts after Wawrinka’s win he was was praised as much for his wise words as his coaching role with Wawrinka.

No time to enjoy

Magnus has now been home in Sweden for a few days, and on Tuesday it’s his Good to Great job that’s the focus.  On Wednesday it’s back to London where Wawrinka’s grass season starts.  Has he managed to land after the Paris success?

“I haven’t had time to enjoy it, actually.  So much happened after the final, but Stan and I had a couple of minutes together in the dressing room after the match. Those are the moments you remember,” says Norman.

Raised his game at the right moments

Stan Wawrinka announced his separation form his wife in the middle of April, and there was a question whether he could steady himself mentally.

“The mental part, it’s no secret.  We worked well day-to-day since Monaco.  Every day was focused on the right things.  After, Stan has managed to raise his level at the right moments when he’s had self-belief.”

Many ask what the most important job is for the coach of a top player, the mental or the tactical.

“It depends on the individual’s reactions in different situations.  It can vary day to day and match to match.  It’s up to me as coach to figure out what’s most important for the player on the day.”

He’s made some tactical mistakes himself.

“I’ve made a ton of bad decisions through the years when I coached important matches.  [For example,] in London, when Stan played serve and volley against Federer on match point.”

There’s a hair’s breadth difference between genius and folly

“If it had worked, it would have been a brilliant tactic.  But it didn’t and the whole world questioned it.  The margins are very small and it’s a personal choice every time.”

Swedish interview with Jonas Björkman on his Murray trial: “It will be a tough challenge”

From http://www.tennis.se/Nyheter/Nyheter/MurrayanlitarBjorkmanHankanblivarldsetta/ by Johanna Jonsson

Jonas Björkman might soon be back on the ATP tour – as a coach for the world nr. 4 Andy Murray. “I’m super excited to be asked,” said the Swede to tennis.se.

Andy Murray might strengthen his coaching staff with Swedish competency. 42-year-old Jonas Björkman is a hot topic for the job as assistant coach beside Amélie Mauresmo.

The parties will test the collaboration for a week.

” I met with him constantly when I was in Australia and afterwards I talked with his agent who wondered if Andy could give me a call. We’ve spoken several times since, both he and I and Amélie and I. It’s been going on for the last two to three weeks. It’s really good. I’m super excited to be asked such a great question,” says Björkman.

If the test week goes well, Björkman will work with Murray for 20 weeks a year. Head coach Mauresmo has 25 weeks in her contract.

“The way it looks now, Amélie and I will be together at certain times. We’ll share a bit during those periods. It feels really good after talking with them and it’s been interesting hearing how they’ve worked together the last eight-nine months,” says Björkman.

“Want to add more positive energy”

Björkman had a top ranking of four in singles and eight in doubles. His list of merits includes 54 doubles titles, of which nine are Grand Slams. He has six singles titles and two Grand Slam semi-finals. He retired in 2008.

As his coach, Björkman hopes to add his own strengths and help his new pupil to become more aggressive.

“He has a tendency to be very defensive, but the match against Berdych at the Australian Open was the best I’ve seen him play in a long while. The aggressiveness was wonderful to see and I think he needs to work on that. We talked after that about being more aggressive with his returns and work more on his volleying, how he moves forward and positions himself.

“It will be a tough challenge for me. Then I want to add more positive energy. Sometimes he has certain periods where he gets down on himself a bit too much,” says the Swede.

“Can threaten Novak for the number one ranking”

Murray’s best ranking is number two in the world, but Björkman sees number one potential in the Brit.

“The steps are big from three to two to one, even if it’s only one ranking spot. Age-wise he’s at his absolute peak now and onwards. I think he has every chance to win several Grand Slams and could threaten Novak (Djokovic) for the number one spot. Those are his goals and hopefully I can be there with him on the journey,” says the 42-year-old.

But before the parties can test the collaboration, Jonas Björkman has one more duty to fulfil – as a participant in the Swedish entertainment programme “Let’s Dance”.

“I hope I have some dancing weeks left. Then we’ll try and find a suitable week,” says Björkman.

Andy Murray stopped his years-long collaboration with assistant coach Dani Vallverdu before the start of this season.