May 13, 2014
What is the best coach/player combiniation of all time? It’s a hard one to judge. Is it someone who pushes you to the extremes, both physically and mentally? A person who is there to love and pick you up after a fall? The ability to squeeze the last drop of sweat from you on the court?Is it something you can measure in titles?
Brad Gilbert and Andre Agassi
Remember, Agassi was the showman who for years couldn’t quite become great. But with Gilbert he landed six Grand Slam titles, including the 1999 French Open, when a rain-break allowed Agassi to take on board Gilbert’s advice and overturn a two-set disadvantage. ‘Brad Gilbert is the greatest coach of all time,’ Agassi claims.
Lennart Bergelin and Bjorn Borg
Further back in time, Lennart Bergelin took charge of a young Bjorn Borg in 1971. Borg already had the basic components to his game, put together previously with Percy Rosberg. But what Bjorn also had was a suspect temperament. The adolescent Swede would let himself down with tantrums – and looked so fiery that some thought he might burn himself out ridiculously early.
Under Bergelin’s careful guidance, Borg learned to control himself. He became the ice man of tennis and won five Wimbledon titles in a row, eleven majors in all. They stayed together twelve years, one of the very greatest player-coachpartnerships of all time, only ending in 1983.
And that was the year another partnership was born. Martina Navratilova was already number one when she asked Mike Estep to coach her.
Martina Navratilova and Mike Estep
‘Why do you want me to do it?’ he asked.
‘I want to win a Grand Slam and become the greatest player who ever lived,’ she replied.
He taught her to attack the net. He trained her like a man – and 250 push-ups became part of her daily routine. In their three years together, Navratilova won ten majors and did indeed write her name in history.