Down the line: Should the WTA rethink on-court coaching? Davenport thinks so

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Muguruza and Sumyk.

We’re halfway through the Miami Open and we’ve already seen everything from iguana court invasions to awkward fights during on-court coaching visits in the WTA matches.

Garbine Muguruza’s exchange with her coach Sam Sumyk during the Spaniard’s second round encounter with Christina McHale made headlines worldwide and prompted ex-world No1 and current TV pundit Lindsay Davenport, who coaches Madison Keys, to suggest that mic’ed up on-court coaching visits needed rethinking.

A frustrated Muguruza had apparently directed some ill-advised comments towards Sumyk during the clash and when the Frenchman came on court later for a coaching visit, he told her “don’t tell me to shut the f*** up ever again.”

Muguruza appeared almost in tears while she apologised to Sumyk, and to many, it made for some uncomfortable viewing.

Sumyk actually tried to muffle the sound coming out of the microphone so no one would hear the conversation when it got tense, but we could still hear parts of the exchange.


When on-court coaching – which is only allowed in WTA matches, and not on the ATP or ITF – was introduced in 2008, it gave fans a new and unique viewing experience, bringing more insight into a player’s psyche during a match.

While it continues to draw lots of criticism, primarily because tennis is meant to be a contest between two individuals, relying solely on themselves, it also has its supporters amongst the WTA following.

We’ve seen the dialogue get quite tense between players and their coaches at times.

But we’ve also seen the brilliance of the likes of Davenport, while talking to her charge, Keys, and hilarious moments like when Madison Brengle told her coach Nicole Melichar, while she was defeating Serena Williams in Auckland, “I think she’s surprised at how bad I am”.

Granted, having that kind of unfiltered access to a conversation between a coach and a player is not too common in individual sport. Some people brand it as “intrusive”, but I personally enjoy it immensely and find it very insightful. Why have on-court coaching if we can’t listen to what they’re saying?

Things might get awkward sometimes but how often does that happen?

I’m all for anything that adds personality to the sport and this definitely achieves that.

MIAMI TALKING POINTS

What’s going on with Aga?

Agnieszka Radwanska has slipped to No8 in the world and has not won back-to-back matches this year since Sydney, which was in the second week of January. Her latest setback was a straight-sets drubbing to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, in which she could only muster winning three games. With the rise of Karolina Pliskova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Elina Svitolina and others, Radwanska must up her game is she wants to stick around in the top-10.

Is Miami leaving Crandon Park?

The Miami Open lost their appeal to get permission for expanding the host venue, Crandon Park, and the facilities have been in dire need for an upgrade for some time now. Players and journalists have complained about the venue and it’s looking likely that the tournament will relocate for the first time since 1987. Players were asked about their thoughts on the matter this week and it looks like the response is: As long as it stays in Miami, we’re happy if it moves!

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Nadal joins 1,000 matches club but where does Rafa rank?

Sport360 staff 27/03/2017

Rafael Nadal came back from an awful first set to defeat Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber 0-6, 6-2, 6-3 and advance to the fourth round of the Miami Open on Sunday.

It was the 1,000th ATP match of the Spaniard's stellar career and of the ten other players to have reached and gone beyond that landmark - Nadal has the highest winning percentage at 82.19%.

Here's a breakdown of the players that have played the most singles matches in men's tennis history, as well as their overall win-loss record and winning percentage.

Nadal, Roger Federer and David Ferrer are the only three players who are still active in the list. Nadal creeps into the 1,000 club at No.11 - what do you make of of the stats? Share with us your thoughts by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook. 11 Rafael Nadal Matches Played: 1,000 Win-Loss record: 822-178 Win percentage: 82.19% 10) Brian Gottfried Matches Played: 1,004 Win-Loss record: 680–324 Win percentage: 67.73% 9) David Ferrer Matches Played: 1,034 Win-Loss record: 696-338 Win percentage: 67.31% 8) Stefan Edberg Matches Played: 1,071 Win-Loss record: 801-270 Win percentage: 74.79% 7) John McEnroe Matches Played: 1,075 Win-Loss record: 877-198 Win percentage: 81.58% 6) Ilie Nastase Matches Played: 1,085 Win-Loss record: 780-305 Win percentage: 71.89% 5) Andre Agassi Matches Played: 1,144 Win-Loss record: 870-274 Win percentage: 76.05% 4) Guillermo Vilas Matches Played: 1,215 Win-Loss record: 929-286 Win percentage: 76.46% 3) Ivan Lendl Matches Played: 1,310 Win-Loss record: 1,068-242 Win percentage: 81.52% 2) Roger Federer Matches Played: 1,340 Win-Loss record: 1,094-246 Win percentage: 81.79% 1) Jimmy Connors Matches Played: 1,535 Win-Loss record: 1,256-279 Win percentage: 81.82%

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Is there another shake-up at the top in tennis?

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Stan's the Man in Miami: Wawrinka is the top seed in Key Biscayne.

Stan Wawrinka’s first experience as a top seed at a Masters 1000 event has gone smoothly so far as the Swiss comfortably set up a Miami Open third round meeting against Malek Jaziri thanks to a 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos on Saturday.

In the absence of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, who are both nursing right elbow injuries, Wawrinka finds himself at the top of the draw for the first time at an event at this level and the Swiss world No3 seems unfazed by the occasion.

Murray and Djokovic have had somewhat of an inconsistent start to 2017. While each of them has captured a title in the first three months of the year, they both uncharacteristically lost early at the Australian Open last January. Murray also lost his opener to world No129 Vasek Pospisil in Indian Wells earlier this month while Djokovic suffered two losses to Nick Kyrgios in Acapulco and Indian Wells.

The world top-two’s shock defeats have made way for the resurgence of Roger Federer, who returned from a six-month injury layoff to win the Australian Open in his first official tournament back, followed by a title run at Indian Wells.

Rafael Nadal has also slowly gathered some steam thanks to making finals in Melbourne and Acapulco.

Does Wawrinka sense there could be an opportunity for him to finally crack the top-two for the first time?

“Yes and no. Yes because for sure if you look, Andy and Novak, they’ve been struggling the first three months of the year. That’s it. They are a little bit injured now, so we’re going to see what’s going to happen. But you have Roger playing so well. Rafa also playing well,” Wawrinka told reporters in Miami ahead of his third round against Tunisia’s Jaziri on Monday.

“Again, the opportunity can only come if you play well, only if you win matches, win tournaments, win big tournaments. That’s all I’m focused on. I don’t accept to improve my ranking just because another player is not playing well. I expect to improve my ranking if I deserve it and if I make the point, make the win. That’s it.”

Nadal is No2 in the ATP Race to London, behind leader Federer, and is slowly approaching his previous grand slam-winning form. He still tips Murray and Djokovic though to rule the roost and is not ready to make any bold declarations about himself just yet.

“The year just started,” said the Mallorcan. “We have nine Masters 1000s, we only played one. We have four grand slams, we only played one. We have a lot of 500 tournaments; we only played couple of them. So it’s true that Roger started unbelievable and that’s great. Is true that probably Andy and Novak didn’t start as well as they did last couple of years. But in my opinion, they are probably favourites because they have been there for the last couple of years playing more consistently than what we did.

“So it’s very early. I feel that I am playing well. I can talk about myself. It’s obvious that Roger is playing great, but the year just started. Just let’s see what happens here, and let’s see what happens especially for me after this tournament that I have five tournaments that probably – not the most important of the year, but one of the most important.”

Canadian world No5 Milos Raonic is back from a one-month hamstring injury layoff and has been following the action from afar.

He echoed Nadal’s views and feels the momentum can swing suddenly in the world of tennis.

“I think it’s just like an opening. I think Roger stepped up and he’s played some great tennis. He’s really stepped up,” said the 26-year-old Raonic.

“Obviously Novak hasn’t been at his best, Andy hasn’t been at his best, so it’s been Roger’s year so far. But at the same time, it’s a year that’s long. Andy, throughout these two tournaments last year, didn’t play so well, and then all of a sudden he gets on a very strong tear throughout clay, grass, and finishes the season and the year No1.

“So there is plenty more tennis to be played, as I’m sure everybody is well aware of and guys are working towards.”

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