On-court coaching has been a hot topic as of late and it was brought to the fore even more when Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou wrote an op-ed piece listing all of its advantages and calling for its introduction to all events.
Tsitsipas, who trains at Mouratoglou’s academy, doesn’t share the Frenchman’s views and insists he prefers to fly solo during his matches.
On-court coaching has been in place on the WTA tour for nearly a decade, and is one of the new rules tested out at the Next Gen ATP Finals. Unlike the women’s tour, coaching is done via headsets at the Next Gen ATP Finals, and coaches are obliged to talk to their players in English.
“The coaching on court I’m really not a big fan of, to be honest with you. I think the player should find solutions by himself. I don’t really like to talk when I’m playing on the court,” Tsitsipas told reporters in Milan on Tuesday following his 4-3(5), 4-3(3), 3-4(4), 4-2 victory over Jaume Munar.
Tsitsipas is coached by his father, Apostolos, and the young Greek was asked if his father felt the same way about on-court coaching.
“Probably the opposite,” he said with a laugh.
“I’ll tell you something. I don’t really like talking and having discussions about my game. I want to focus more on what I have to do better to break my opponent or win the next game.
“When I talk too much and analyse the game way too much before the game starts, I don’t really — I don’t know. I’m just a guy with few words. Maybe after the match we can discuss what I did wrong or right, but not during the match. I think that’s a bit more stress or pressure.”
Towel racks were added to the Next Gen Finals court this year to avoid ball kids having to handle dirty towels and place the onus on the players to fetch their own towels and manage their time better between points.
“One thing that I didn’t like that much was the towel thing. I was always had to run for the towel, always had it in my mind when I was playing,” said Tsitsipas.
“I think having the towels whenever you need it, it’s very helpful. It’s one thing less that you have to think about. So I believe to be playing your best game you just don’t need to think about whether you’re going to take your towel now or later. You can just call the ball kid. I think the ball kid, it’s their job to provide towels and balls for the players.”
The world No. 15 added: “Today I was confused myself. I started with one side, then I completely forgot that I have to take it.
“I was saying to one of the physios just before I walked in here that it would be very nice to have two boxes on each side with each player’s name so you can just go there and leave your towel on one side and have another one on the other side. So like this, you are covered.
“Because it was a bit strange. I saw a towel, which I was not sure if it was mine or my opponent’s towel from before. And I was always using new towels for almost every set.”
Last year’s Milan runner-up, Andrey Rublev, admits he forgot to take his towel back to is bench after the third set of his five-set win over Taylor Fritz and says on-court coaching is “not real” because coaches are reluctant to reveal too much information that could later be used by rivals.
Rublev, who is the only repeat visitor to the Next Gen Finals, has his own set of reservations about the format and new rules of the competition.
“Like I said always that I’m not a big fan of these rules. I think it’s a little bit not fair because, in the end, everything makes no sense,” said the Russian.
“It’s not the same physical. You don’t need to be strong. Even if you play so you don’t feel nothing today and the other guy is playing so good, you still can win the match, which is not happening normally when you play the real match. And I think this is little bit not fair because the other guys, they have little more chances to win always.
“Look, for example, the match today of Tsitsipas that make amazing season beating top players, and now — I’m not saying nothing bad about Munar.
“But he’s top 15 and Munar is, I think, 80, 90 in the world, which looks like normally Tsitsipas supposed to win, like, not easy but with confidence, and the match was so close.
“It was just a few points that change everything. Three sets on a tie-break, and it was — like, you don’t see the difference between the players. Looks like both of them playing amazing. I mean, of course both of them playing amazing, but you know what I try to mean.”
The third match of the day saw Frances Tiafoe overcome Hubert Hurkacz 4-1, 4-2, 2-4, 4-3(10).
Frances Tiafoe has been the life of the party so far this week at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, cracking jokes and messing around with his fellow contestants.
But how well does the American actually know his rivals in the 21-and-under tournament?
We put Tiafoe to the test and he surprised us with his knowledge.
The world No. 40 begins his campaign at the Fiera Milano on Tuesday against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz (19:30 local time, 22:30 Dubai time).
Jaume Munar is the No. 7 seed at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan this week, where he has landed in Group A alongside Stefanos Tsitsipas, Frances Tiafoe and Hubert Hurkacz.
Here are a few facts to know about the 21-year-old Spaniard…
– Munar is from Mallorca and trains at the Rafa Nadal Academy. He is coached by Nadal’s best friend, Tomeu Salva and considers Nadal a mentor. They may hail from the same island, and Munar has a strong supporter in Nadal but the youngster insists there is no room for any comparison between him and the 17-time Grand Slam champion.
“It’s different, starting with the fact that Rafa got his first Roland Garros at 19 while I’m still here fighting to get into the top 100, I think there is no real or good comparison,” Munar told Sport360 in Milan.
“But anyway it feels special to have Rafa behind me, mentoring me. He’s trying to help as much as he can, I’m also working with one of his best friends on my team. Of course it’s special to have Rafa just in front, but I cannot be compared to one that is that big and important in tennis and in sports.”
– On June 18, 2018, Munar became the youngest Spaniard to reach the top 100 since Nadal achieved that feat on July 16, 2007.
– Munar is enjoying a career-high ranking of 76 this week, which makes him the Spanish No. 8. He is the youngest of nine Spaniards in the top 100.
– His nickname is ‘Jimbo’ because his fiery attitude on the court resembles that of Jimmy Connors.
– His favourite surface is clay, favourite shot is serve and favourite tournament is, of course, Roland Garros.
– If he weren’t a tennis player, he says he would have liked to be a doctor.
– His best ATP result so far was reaching the semi-finals in Kitzbuhel last July.
– He qualified for the main draw at the Australian Open and Roland Garros this year. He claimed two five-set wins at the majors this season, coming back from two sets down to defeat world No. 41 David Ferrer in the French Open first round, and defeating Ruben Bemelmans in the US Open first round.
– Owns three Challenger titles (Segovia 2017, Prostejov 2018, Caltanissetta 2018).