Reem's Dubai diary: Wozniacki hires Serena's ex-hitting partner Sascha Bajin

Reem Abulleil's diary from day two at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships involves Caroline Wozniacki hiring Sascha Bajin as her new hitting partner (plus), and her confusion over a WTA rule.

Reem Abulleil
by Reem Abulleil
20th February 2017

article:20th February 2017

Wozniacki and Bajin (Photo via QTF)
Wozniacki and Bajin (Photo via QTF)

Ever wondered what the protocol was when a player decides to hire her friend’s former coach, or hitting partner?

The coaching carousel on the women’s tour never stops and it’s often tough to keep track of the constantly changing players’ entourages.


I still think of Petra Kvitova when I see David Kotyza, even though he now coaches her fellow Czech Karolina Pliskova; while Sascha Bajin, Serena Williams’ former hitting partner, will always be associated with the American legend in my mind, even though he has worked with three other players since.

Bajin is a recent addition to Team Caroline Wozniacki, who has hired him as a hitting partner on a trial basis until Charleston (starts in April).

He spent years working with Serena Williams before joining Victoria Azarenka, who is now taking time off after delivering her baby last December.

Bajin was briefly seen working with American Sloane Stephens but is now with Wozniacki, who is a good friend of Williams.

“I definitely talked to Serena about it, too. Just wanted to hear. And also how she feels about me working with him. You just want to know that you don’t clash,” Wozniacki said on Monday.

“She said he’s a very hard worker, and she has nothing bad to say about him. She likes him a lot.

“We are trying it out a little bit until Charleston, and then from there we both want to see how it’s going and how we feel. But he’s a great guy. He know knows what he’s doing. He brings a lot of positive energy, as well. He’s a hard worker.

“I’m enjoying having him on my team, and we had a good start so far. Let’s hope that it continues.”

Wozniacki, who is coached by her father Piotr, admits Bajin’s role is beyond that of a hitting partner.

“He helps my dad. He looks at the matches, too. He scouts and they talk a lot what they feel I can improve on and things like that,” said the world No15.

“He comes with inputs and practices. He’s definitely a hitter plus. Assistant coach, I guess.”

Fuzzy on the rules

Wozniacki may be making smart hiring decisions, but when it comes to the WTA rules, she did get a bit confused yesterday.

The Dane is seeded No10 in Dubai, while Barbora Strycova, who had the same number of ranking points as Wozniacki during the week the seedings were made, is No9 in the draw.

After Johanna Konta’s last-minute withdrawal, Strycova took the Brit’s spot in the draw, which gave her a first round bye.

Wozniacki however did not have a bye as the No10 seed.

“Unfortunately I didn’t have a bye which I would have loved right now,” said Wozniacki, who made the Doha final last Saturday and played her opening round in Dubai on Monday (Doha and Dubai are a 45-minute flight apart).

“I have the same amount of points, I think, as Strycova. I’m not sure quite how it’s calculated. I think they told me it’s because she had played more tournaments than me last year, which doesn’t really make sense.

“But anyway, I’m through to the next round. I’m not gonna complain. It’s all right. I’m just gonna grind it out.”

The actual rule is that when players have the same number of points, the tiebreaker for the higher ranking spot is the number of points accumulated at the grand slams, Premier Mandatories and the Premier 5s.

If those points are tied, then the number of tournaments played is the tiebreaker.

Strycova had 75 more points that Wozniacki in the categories mentioned above, which is why she had the higher seeding and got the bye following Konta’s withdrawal (thanks to WTA Insider for making the calculations).

I’m sure Wozniacki will agree that that makes more sense.


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