Friday, 13 February 2015


'Rehab'; Meaning- Rehabilitation- 'To restore to good health or usual life, To restore to good condition, To cause to be regarded again in a positive way, Reestablish esteem for, To restore the former rank'.
All of the above; The Free Dictionary of Farlex.
Fascinating isn't it what becomes of ex tennis players once they have reached their 'use by date'? Many lead a 'Rock Star' lifestyle until their wealth runs out, many buy a business, many venture into coaching but one thing is for certain, there are no guarantees of replicating success. 
There have been some amazing stories however of sports stars' offspring doing just as well as their famous parents. Jessica Korda won the 2012 Australian Women's Golf Open. Jessica Who ?? Her father is Petr Korda the 1998 Australian Open Men's Singles Tennis Champion, her mother Regina made it to World Number 25 in the Women's rankings. Is it in the genes ? 
The 'second' most famous Czech Tennis Professional on the planet would have to be Miloslav Mecir, former World Number 4 who made it to the semi's or better of all 4 Grand Slams. He famously lead eventual champion Stefan Edberg by two sets to love in the semi finals of Wimbledon in 1988 before finding a way to lose it. 
I have never seen so many passing shots hit in two sets on grass in my entire life but somehow the Swede managed to start guessing the right way and weathered the Czech storm.
Mecir's son is now ranked just outside the top 200 on the Men's Pro tour and qualified for the 2014 French Open Men's Singles Championship. Should we expect more from the son of a former legend of the game ? All in your perception. Is being part of the World's best 128 Male Tennis Professionals in the World's toughest Grand Slam considered a success ? I would call it just that.
As Miloslav Senior however would be the first to admit, it's one thing to make the main draw, it's another to actually make an impression. As good as Mecir Senior was in the 80's and as good as he no doubt would be as a coach of the sport it may just lay with the mind teaching.
Look at Ivan Lendl. Now from memory before he hooked up with Australian Legend Tony Roche Lendl was possibly zero from 6 Grand Slam finals, he just couldn't bring his best game to the Championship decider. Roche somehow managed to get inside Lendl's head and make him realize that his early round form was the sort of play he should bring to the last match of the tournament. 
Perhaps easy to say but some coaches just know how to get the best out of their players. Look at the way Lendl buried his demons of the past by not winning Wimbledon himself, his only major tournament failure, but by coaching Andy Murray to victory in 2013. Do you think that this was perhaps a 'rehabilitation' of sorts by Lendl who quit as Murray's coach not too long after that famous victory ? You do the sums. 
Lendl has all but disappeared from the Men's Pro Circuit once again after countless years in 'hibernation'. It was as though he personally knew he could get the title with Murray that he didn't quite manage himself. He just needed 'that' phone call from a qualified 'student', Murray was just that, a qualified player who needed a strategic mind to help him win.
My heros of the 70's and 80's Borg and Wilander do spasmodic teaching of the game with no huge victories to speak of though Wilander did spend time with former World Number 1, enigmatic Russian Marat Safin. By all reports Bjorn teaches juniors in Sweden, Mats teaches club level players in high profile Country Clubs in the US. 
I would love to have seen Borg teach a current player how to block out everything but the flight of the ball as he did himself including many McEnroe tantrums. There is an art to the 'bounce, hit' theory in tennis as opposed to the 'other end syndrome'.  
I would also love to have seen Wilander teach a base liner the art of coming in when the going got tough as he did, to shorten the points when the heart rate lifted. Both of these legends had a rather unique way of playing and finding a way to win, their combined 18 Grand Slam victories prove it.
It would be in the best interests of tennis for these two former champions to teach some current players however they both have other interests in life and kids of their own. Committing to professional students isn't their priority. 
So what of Becker and Djokovic, Edberg and Federer ?
Roger is looking to his idol for one last hurrah and Novak is looking to Becker for immortality however when you look at these two past champions they both are missing one tournament victory, The French Open.
If Either of these two former legends can take their 'students' to either a maiden victory in Paris in 2015 or another title as is the case with Federer then perhaps they may just follow Mr Lendl's path and retire forever from the sport of tennis.
I suppose it would be a case of mission accomplished..........

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