Roger Federer’s desire to reclaim his place at the top of men’s tennis from Rafael Nadal has led to an almost inevitable trial period working with Pete Sampras’ former coach Paul Annacone.
Federer took to the high seas after his Wimbledon quarter-final loss to Tomas Berdych, hiring a yacht for a two and half weeks vacation sailing around the Mediterranean with wife Mirka and twin daughters Charlene Riva and Myla Rose who celebrated their first birthday on July 23.
Now his vacation is over, and Federer is practicing in Zurich in the millionaire tennis club, Grasshoppers. This is the same club that prepared special US Open-like Decoturf hard-court for him last summer when he was in Zurich waiting for the birth of his twins. This club has otherwise clay courts only and there was one old hard-court – concrete, which they completely renewed last spring/summer solely for Federer.
Now is the time to get back to work and Federer, who for the most part has used Swiss Davis Cup captain Severin Luthi as his only form of playing advisor in the last few years, has announced he will be seeing how he and 47 year-old Annacone, currently ending a contract as Head of Men’s Coaching with Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association, gel.
“I've been looking to add someone to my team, and I've decided to spend some days with Paul Annacone," Federer announced on his own personal website. "As Paul winds down his responsibilities working for the Lawn Tennis Association, we will explore our relationship through this test period. Paul will work alongside my existing team, and I am excited to learn from his experiences."
The inevitability to the relationship comes because not only did Annacone work with Sampras, who has become a close friend and confidante of Federer through exhibition tours they have undertaken together.
After working with Sampras from 1995 to 2001 and again on a part time basis in 2002, so helping the American to nine of his 14 Grand Slam titles, the Long Island-born coach spent several years in the employment of Tim Henman, who arguably spent more social time with the Swiss than any of his peers.
Three years ago Federer sought to employ Henman’s former fitness trainer Johann De Beer who instead opted to join Annacone at the LTA. Federer and Henman shared a lunch table with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Wimbledon just a few weeks ago.
Last year Federer tried a similar trial relationship with Darren Cahill, former coach to both Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi, but it came to nothing because the highly rated Australian preferred to commit himself to television commentary work with ESPN and being part of the adidas Development Program.
Federer split with Tony Roche in May 2007, blaming a lack of dialogue brought on by the pair’s age difference. Since then he has worked occasionally with Jose Higueras, the California-based Spaniard who guided Jim Courier to four major titles.
Annacone is expected to spend 10 days with Federer now, and possibly work together for the US Open which starts at the end of next month.
Tony Godsick, Federer’s manager with IMG, confirmed: "They will take the necessary time to see if the relationship can work. I would assume that Paul, if he can work it in with his remaining responsibilities and schedule with the LTA, will join Roger for some of his upcoming summer hard court events in North America."
Tennis Events Are Perfect for Aiding Charities
Professional tennis is about far more than just hitting the ball, even winning the trophy at the end of the week. Many players use their high-profile to help raise money for charity. Remember the mixed doubles that Roger Federer helped organize on the eve of the Australian Open this year to raise money for the Haiti earthquake victims?
Tournaments also get in on the act too, and Los Angeles has long been a leader in raising money for good causes.
This past weekend the event raised over $500,000 as more than 12,000 fans descended upon the LA Tennis Center, first on Friday to see Keith Urban and the Avett Brothers perform as part of Starry Night to benefit the GRAMMY Foundation as well as the Southern California Tennis Association.
On Saturday Andre Agassi took on John McEnroe to benefit the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. It was all a great success, with a delighted tournament director Bob Kramer declaring, "The most important thing from the past couple days is that we raised needed funds for some very worthy causes that really emphasize helping children."
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