Today was the best day of tennis, not only in terms of quality, but the weather was absolutely perfect, too.
Mats and I came in early for Ana because she had a day off after her match yesterday.
As we walked into the facilities we were greeted with the daily “G’day, mate,” and we headed straight for the cappuccino.
It makes it so nice to be at one of the slams and be greeted as if you are a local and have people actually remember your name. It makes it feel like home, and that is what it feels like for all of the players here at the Australian Open. This is the friendly slam, the happy slam.
I have been coming here since 1992 when I was working with Monica Seles, who won the tournament that year. Each year I look forward to the Australian Open because it is a very special place to me — with results also backing this up. Besides Monica, I’ve had a few other nice experiences:
Mary Pierce won in 1995
Mary Pierce reached the final in 1997
Nathalie Dechy reached the semifinal in 2005
Ana Ivanovic reached the final in 2008
Fernando Verdasco reached the semis in 2009
I hope this year will be another special year for all of the people I work with.
Mats and I arrived in Australia a little earlier than normal as we had planned to prepare with Ana Ivanovic and to spend some time to soak in the coast of Australia. One of the routines we had during our preparation was the early start to our days. We would start at 7:30 with a good warm-up and finish the morning session around 10:30. This gave us the rest of the day to relax and recover from our hard work.
So when we walked in at 7:30 yesterday and nobody was there besides the staff and security of Melbourne Park, it reminded us of the work we did in the off-season. Yesterday we finished the morning session with Ana on Court 16 at 9:20. This was planned because after working with Ana we had our prep with Caroline Wozniacki on Hisense Arena. She was getting ready for her first round match against Wozniak.
I also found out why Caroline is using the name Wozniacki and not Wozniack or Wozniacka, which is normally used in the standard rules of Polish. Peter, Caroline’s father, explained that when they moved to Denmark they wanted to have one family name. Peter’s name is Wozniacki, so Caroline kept the same last name to make it easier because the family now lived in a different country.
After Caroline’s prep, I moved to show court No. 2 where Maria Kirilenko was warming up for her match. She was still a little sore after the match with Sharapova. What can you expect after a match of 3 hours, 22 minutes?
When I was walking off Court 2 I had a half-hour to meet up with Mats and walk over to watch Caroline’s match, which she won 6-4, 6-2. She put in a solid performance and can look forward to her next round. Next I walked over to Maria’s match, which had just started, and Mats went to see Daniela Hantuchova, who is a new member of our team.
All three girls won their matches, and it was time for some lunch and a meeting with Ayumi Morita and her team. She lost her match yesterday, but she is staying for an extra couple of days to plan our schedule and get some more court time with us. After finishing the meeting and going over the schedule, Mats and I went over to see one of our players from last year, Sorana Cirstea
Sorana is now working with the Patrick Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in Paris, France. Our team is different because we are a team of advisers and consultants and advise players and their teams on their on- and off-court development. The Mouratoglou team is a real tennis academy that supports the players year-round, and they have decided to invest into the best players in the world to create champions. They started last year and have a big group of players who are now calling Paris their home base.
Although no longer part of our team, she is still sponsored by adidas and is a player of the future. We believe with the new structure she will get more continuous support during the year, which we could not provide. Unfortunately she lost, but looking at her movement she is still a month or two away from her best. Sorana was in a cast for six weeks at the end of last year, and to see where she is now, it’s easy to see her team has done a great job to get her ready for the Oz Open.
During our meeting with Ayumi, we also planned an indoor court session (there are 6 indoor courts at this year’s Australian Open, and it gives those players a good chance to work before they head back to colder climates.) Even though the indoor season on both tours has been reduced to a minimum, it does help to take advantage of these courts and work on some technical, tactical or mechanical parts of your game.
Since it was now 6:30 p.m. and I was done with the day, I decided to meet up with some friends and watch tennis as a spectator rather than as my job. We wanted to see Andy Murray, who has just signed on with adidas. However, it was so busy on Margaret Court Arena that we could not get in. Instead of sitting in the stands we went to the Oval. We sat down and watched Henin and Dementieva on the big screen. However, my friend wanted to watch the fifth set of the Blake vs. Del Potro. I am glad I listened because it was a great match, won by Del Potro 10-8 in the final set. I was freezing by the end of the match, and my friend had to go home. It was 10:30 p.m. now. I decided it would be a good to have my own personal workout. As I walked into the gym, Mats was already there and in full swing of his workout. In addition to Mats and me, Del Potro on the bike with ice packs all over his legs, arms shoulders and wrist, while Justine was stretching after her victory over Dementieva.
I’m now back in the players’ lounge with my cappuccino on my right while we are getting ready for Day 4. Ana is first on so I’ve got to run. It is 8:30 a.m., and we are warming up on the match court where she will play Gisela Dulko at 11. Caroline Wozniacki will follow her on the same court. So I will park myself for two matches of two young tennis stars.
Have a great day and enjoy the tennis.
Sven and Mats