Top 10 tennis coaches of all time

Patrick Mouratoglou at the 2018 US Open
Patrick Mouratoglou at the 2018 US Open

The relationship between a coach and a tennis player is complex, and needs to be look at objectively. In tennis, unlike in other sports like football and basketball, coaches are hired by the players rather than by the team or club. The compensation paid to tennis coaches is variable, and much less than what their counterparts in other sports earn.

On the face of it, working with a single individual may seem easier than working with a team. But it is far from easy; tennis coaches play a key role in formulating strategy, tweaking the gameplay of their pupils, helping make tactical and technical adjustments to their game etc. And seldom do they get the credit that they deserve.

For example, when Manchester City win the Premier League, Pep Guardiola - their coach - gets a lot of credit. But when Novak Djokovic wins a Grand Slam, everyone talks only about him but not his coach - Marian Vadja.

Over the years, most coaches have accepted that their job involves them staying away from the limelight and tutoring their pupils in multiple ways to improve their game. Here, we take a look at 10 of the greatest coaches of all time.

NOTE: The order is not meant to convey their position in the Top 10.

#1 Patrick Mouratoglou

Patrick Mouratoglou is a French tennis coach and reputed tennis analyst. Mouratoglou has worked with several tennis players over the years. Those include Marcos Baghdatis (whom he coached to the final of the 2006 Australian Open), Grigor Dimitrov, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Laura Robson, Yanina Wickmayer and Jeremy Chardy.

Since June 2012, Mouratoglou has been the head coach of tennis superstar Serena Williams. The Frenchman took on the challenging task of guiding Williams to more Grand Slam titles despite knowing that she was in her 30's.

So far, their partnership has worked wonders. Mouratoglou has infused a sense of focus in Williams’ overall approach to tennis, and she has won 10 Grand Slams, an Olympic gold medal and 3 WTA Finals Championships with the Frenchman as her mentor.

The Mouratoglou Tennis Academy is one of the most sought after tennis schools in the world.

#2 Mike Estep

Martina Navratilova was coached by Mike Estep
Martina Navratilova was coached by Mike Estep

Mike Estep was the coach of the legendary Martina Navratilova. Prior to taking up coaching, he was a professional on the tour himself, winning two ATP singles titles and seven ATP doubles titles in his career.

Estep's coaching career was extremely productive as he guided players like Martina Navratilova, Hana Mandlikova, Jana Novotna and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to Grand Slam titles.

Most notably, he was part of Navratilova's team during 10 of her 18 Grand Slam Singles triumphs.

#3 Brad Gilbert

Brad Gilbert
Brad Gilbert

The author of ‘Winning Ugly’, the foremost coaching manual available to coaches and novices, American Brad Gilbert is renowned for his partnership with Andre Agassi. Agassi won six of his eight Grand Slams with Gilbert by his side; he has on numerous occasions heaped rich praise on Gilbert.

After parting ways with Agassi, Gilbert became the coach of rising American tennis star Andy Roddick. He guided Andy Roddick to his only Grand Slam title, at the US Open of 2003.

Gilbert later coached Andy Murray between 2006 and 2007. It was then that the Scot became the top-ranked British player.

In recent years, Gilbert has also worked with Kei Nishikori and Sam Querrey.

#4 Nick Bollettieri

Nick Bollettieri
Nick Bollettieri

One of the most widely respected and admired tennis coaches, Nick Bollettieri has played mentor and guide to a host of successful tennis players. 'Tennis Handbook' authored by Bollettieri has been the go-to book for budding players and coaches over the years; it features everything from tactics to strategy to even mental conditioning.

Bollettieri has been the coach of many players who went on to become World Number 1. Some of his most famous pupils include Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Marcelo Rios.

Bollettieri also played a pivotal role in stars like Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Mary Pierce and Maria Sharapova winning Grand Slam titles. In 2014, he was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

#5 Boris Becker

Novak Djokovic sought the services of Boris Becker as his coach and mentor in December 2013. Prior to this, Becker had no experience in coaching, so it was quite a challenge for him to help Djokovic get his nose ahead of two of the greatest athletes that the sport has had - Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The Becker-Djokovic partnership, in conjecture with Djokovic's childhood coach Marian Vadja, worked like a charm. In a span of just three years, Becker helped the Serb win 6 Grand Slam titles and 14 ATP Masters 1000 titles.

In 2016, Djokovic and Becker decided to go their separate ways. Becker is currently working as an analyst for BBC.

Since 2017, he has also taken up the responsibility as Head Coach of the German Tennis Federation.

#6 Paul Annacone

Paul Annacone
Paul Annacone

American Paul Annacone was a professional tennis player during the 1980's. He achieved a career high ranking of World Number 12 in 1986. At the doubles level, he even won a Grand Slam at the Australian Open of 1985, and his career-high doubles ranking was World Number 3.

But Annacone is most well-known for his work with one of the sport's all-time greats - Pete Sampras. Theirs was initially a 7-year partnership, from 1995 to 2001, after which Annacone took a one-year break to recharge his batteries.

He again joined hands with Sampras, and their reunion culminated with Sampras winning the 2002 US Open in his final tournament. Sampras won 10 of his 14 Grand Slam titles with Annacone as his mentor.

Annacone later coached Tim Henman for a period of 3 years. In 2010, he took up the coaching responsibility of Roger Federer, and was part of Federer's box when the Swiss won two of his Grand Slam titles.

After his work with Federer, he has had stints as coach of Sloane Stephens and Stan Wawrinka, and presently serves as the coach of American Taylor Fritz.

#7 Ivan Lendl

Ivan Lendl and Alexander Zverev at the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals trophy presentation
Ivan Lendl and Alexander Zverev at the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals trophy presentation

Despite winning as many as 8 Grand Slams as a player, Ivan Lendl wasn't satisfied, and he kept looking for ways to stay connected with tennis even after retirement.

Lendl took over as the coach of a player who had enormous potential but had tasted little success at the Grand Slam level - Andy Murray. The Czech had a big role to play in Murray's transition from being a Slam contender to becoming a Slam champion; he aided Murray in winning his first ever Major title at the US Open of 2012.

In 2013, he coached Murray to the Wimbledon title, thus enabling the Scot to achieve a lifelong dream. Their partnership initially ended in 2014 when Murray hired Amelie Mauresmo as his coach.

But the two re-kindled their relationship in 2016. Murray won the Wimbledon Championships and the Olympic gold that year, which helped him finish the year as World Number 1 for the first time.

Lendl currently serves as the coach of Alexander Zverev.

#8 Tony Roche

Tony Roche
Tony Roche

Part of the 'Big 5' of Australian tennis in the 1960's and 1970's (the other 4 members being John Newcombe, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Ken Rosewall), Roche was a very skilled singles player. He won the French Open in 1966 and was twice runner-up at the US Open and at the WImbledon Championships. He won a total of 46 singles titles in his career, as many as 12 Grand Slam doubles titles.

After his retirement, Roche became the coach of Ivan Lendl in order to help him hone his volleying skills. Although Lendl never won Wimbledon, their partnership was fairly productive.

Later on, Roche coached Pat Rafter and helped him become the Number 1 player in the world. He also worked with Roger Federer between 2005 and 2007, a period during which Federer won 8 of his 20 Grand Slam titles.

Post his stint with Federer, Roche took up an assignment with fellow Australia Lleyton Hewitt to help him re-establish himself as a top player.

#9 Toni Nadal

Toni Nadal
Toni Nadal

The partnership between Rafael and Toni Nadal began in the town of Manacor, Mallorca when the now 32-year-old Rafa was just four. Toni is the brother of Rafa's father, so their bond has always been quite close.

Toni was the one who insisted Rafa play with his left hand in order to get an advantage over right-handed opponents, who are in the majority.

Under Toni’s tutelage, Rafa became one of the most accomplished and mentally strong players on the men’s tour. His breakthrough came in the year 2005, when he won the first of a record 11 French Open championships.

With Toni as his coach, Nadal has won 16 of his 17 Grand Slam titles. Their long partnership came to an end by mutual consent at the end of the 2017 season. In fact, Toni even found a new successor to take over from his duties in Carlos Moya.

Nowadays, Toni is involved in promoting tennis at the grassroots level at the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy in Mallorca.

#10 Harry Hopman

The legendary Harry Hopman at Wimbledon
The legendary Harry Hopman at Wimbledon

The most decorated Davis Cup coach of all time is Australian tennis legend Harry Hopman. He won a total of 16 Davis Cup titles in his 22 year spell as coach of the Australian Davis Cup Team between 1939 to 1967.

Some of the most famous players under his tutelage include Ken McGregor, Frank Sedgman, Lew Hoad, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe, Tony Roche, Roy Emerson, Ashley Cooper and Neale Fraser.

Hopman managed to earn tremendous respect even from a teenage John McEnroe; the notoriously short-tempered American would always address him as “Mister”. Hopman helped nurture McEnroe into the tennis legend that he would become.

The Australian opened the famous Hopman Tennis Academy in Florida, which continues to produce top tennis talent even today. Legends like Rod Laver and Roy Emerson have on numerous occasions spoken about the influence that Hopman had in their careers.

The Hopman Cup, played in January every year, is named after him. Hopman was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1978.

Edited by Musab Abid


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