French Open finalist Casper Ruud has praised the ATP for experimenting with coaching during matches, although his excitement was not shared by everyone on the latest episode of Ruud Talk.
The ATP will trial off-court coaching after Wimbledon with players allowed to receive instructions in qualifying and main draw matches in tournaments, including the upcoming US Open. The pilot will finish after the ATP Tour Finals in November.
Verbal and non-verbal coaching will be allowed as long as it does not interrupt a player or hinder the opponent, while spoken coaching will only be permitted when a player is at the same end of the court as their coach.
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It has proved a controversial development, with opinion split across tennis, but Ruud said the new generation were open to change and it would not lead to extended conversations between players and coaches.
“I have to give credit to the ATP for trying something new,” began Ruud on his Eurosport show alongside Alex Corretja and Barbara Schett.
“As we have a very big group of young players, and a sort of new generation on the way… and I think we are quite open for some change, some new stuff.
“I think it’s a fair rule. When you are on the same side [of the court] you can communicate. Obviously you’re not going to stay there and talk with your coach for more than four-five seconds because you have to get ready for the next point.
“It’s not going to be a very big dialogue, back and forth, where you really get coached a lot. You are going to get some tips, but I know many coaches and players do this already – obviously trying to keep it under the radar.
“We’re not going to have dialogues of one minute between points because we have 25 seconds to get ready for the next point. I think it’s fun and interesting.”
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Patrick Mouratoglou, coach of Simona Halep and formerly Serena Williams, has claimed off-court coaching has been going on "at almost every match for decades".
But there are plenty opposed to the trial, including Nick Kyrgios who believes tennis risks being stripped of a “unique trait”, while Corretja says he prefers for players to dig themselves out of trouble.
“Listen, we are in 2022. We need to try things,” said two-time French Open finalist Corretja.
“But we know that as tennis players, we need to find our solutions. If I lost 7-6 in the first set, it’s me who needs to find a way to get back into my mindset and try to recover the match.
“On the other hand, I hate when the chair umpires are like policemen, looking at a coach to see if they do a sign… and they give you a warning.
“I think this is a little absurd because it gives extra pressure to the chair umpire, the player feels like they’re observing him, the coach feels like: ‘oh come on, I just said be more aggressive’.
“Let’s see how the coaches also deal with that – if you’re going to be shouting every point, you might disturb the opponent. I think it’s good to have a trial to see how it goes but I feel players should find their own solutions because that’s our sport.
“We need to try to see how it goes. I don’t want to see the player to go next to the coach and just sit there, talking to him. I hate that.
“But it [the trial] was necessary, even if I like the players to find the solutions.”
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Organisers say the trial will be limited to certain conditions, with coaches having to sit in a designated seat.
Among some of the other conditions are no conversations – though the details of what that constitutes has not been confirmed and is only limited to having a “few words and/or short phrases”, and coaches can not follow their player off court if they leave for a comfort break or a medical time-out.
“I preferred to find my own solutions,” added Schett.
“I always thought that is the beauty about the sport of tennis, that you have to find your own way out of trouble.”
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Watch daily highlights from Wimbledon at 10pm on Eurosport 2 and discovery+ from June 27, as well as the two singles finals live on July 9 and 10.
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