by Pete Borkowski
Stefan Edberg with Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov last year in Cincinnati
With the former coach of Roger Federer now available, there are a handful of players who could use the veteran guidance that Edberg brings to the table.
Roger Federer wasted no time in announcing who would replace Stefan Edberg as his new coach. However, there has been no word yet about whether or not Edberg will look for a new player to coach. Whether or not Edberg intends on continuing to coach, there are plenty of players on the ATP World Tour who could use his guidance. Here is a list of players who should consider hiring Stefan Edberg.
The controversial Australian is currently without a coach and desperately needs one. Edberg would be a near-perfect fit for the feisty 20-year old. Stylistically, Edberg would be perfect because not only did he play a very similar style to Kyrgios, he just spent two years working with Roger Federer who played a near-identical style. Edberg helped Federer shape that new, aggressive, net-charging style that has brought about his renaissance. Kyrgios is already a big-hitting player who loves to charge the net. Edberg would go into that partnership familiar with the style and would be able to help him perfect that style. Edberg has already done that twice, for himself as a player and with Federer as a coach. He likely would be able to do it a third time with Kyrgios.Perhaps more importantly, Edberg might be able to help calm Kyrgios down. Kyrgios’ tennis is not what is threatening to hold him back as a player. It’s his attitude. Kyrgios is more famous for temper tantrums and insulting Stan Wawrinka, than he is for winning tennis matches. The problem for Kyrgios seems to be that he is content to spend his career making everyone on the tour hate him. He will never be the star that he could be due to that in this writer's opinion. Edberg may be able to help him solve that problem. Both as a player and coach, Edberg is noted for his calm approach. He was often unflappable and focused on the court and brought those skills to coaching with Federer. Kyrgios needs someone calm who can help him adjust his focus and stop acting like a buffoon on the court. He does not have to be an ice man like Edberg, but he would do well to channel his attitude more like John McEnroe. Edberg can help Kyrgios to calm down and focus more on his tennis rather than pissing off his opponent.
To replace Edberg, Federer hired Canadian Milos Raonic’s former coach Ivan Ljubicic. Not only would it make sense in a karmic way for Raonic to hire Edberg, the Swede would actually be a great fit for the big serving Canadian. He might even be a better fit than Ljubicic is with Federer. Raonic plays a bigger hitting game than Edberg or Federer, but there are elements of that Federer-Edberg style that Raonic should learn. One of his main problems comes when he gets bogged down in long rallies. His groundstrokes are not nearly consistent enough to stay with the great baseline players on the ATP tour. Raonic needs to end points more quickly like Federer does, a tactic perfected under Edberg. In that same vein, the Canadian needs to attack the net more. Raonic is already a solid net player, but he needs to attack the net even more. On top of being a good volleyer, he is six-foot-five and nearly impassable at the net. This writer believes that Raonic needs to spend more time at the net to take his game to the next level, and Edberg would be the perfect coach to help him do that.
There is a bigger factor though that would make Edberg ideal for Raonic. The 25-year-old has struggled with injuries throughout his career, most notably his back, which ruined the final months of his 2015 season. It has flared up again this week in the IPTL. Raonic is essentially in the same situation that Federer was in when Edberg took over coaching duties late in 2013. Back injuries are threatening his career and a change needs to be made. While Raonic is seven years younger than Federer was, he is in a similar situation. Edberg helped fix Federer, adjust his style and extend his career. He could do the same thing with Raonic; help the young Canadian adjust his style and lower his injury risk. Despite his youth, the injury to the Canadaian could derail his entire career if not addressed properly. Edberg has a proven track record in that department. He would be perfect for Raonic and Milos could be preferable for him because there is a lot less attitude involved.
“Baby Fed” spent the winter being coached by the former coach of Juan Martin Del Potro, Franco Davin. However, there has been no word whether Davin will become Dimitrov’s full-time coach for 2016. While Davin can be a good fit for Dimitrov, he did not make much of a mark in the Fall. Edberg could be a better fit for Dimitrov. Stylistically, he may be familiar with Dimitrov’s style as the Bulgarian was not nicknamed “Baby Fed” for nothing. He plays a similar style to Federer and could learn a lot by emulating the Swiss maestro. This may not appeal to Dimitrov though, as he has been trying to shake the “Baby Fed” nickname. Still, there is success in that style of tennis. Edberg helped to shape Federer as we know him today and he could certainly help Dimitrov.
But like Kyrgios, ball-striking and shot-making are not what is holding Dimitrov back. His confidence is streaky and sometimes his head just does not seem to be in the match. Edberg should be able to help him focus. The Swede may also be able to understand what is going on in Dimitrov’s head better than anyone. Dimitrov’s career is actually not dissimilar to Edberg’s, only with less success so far. Like Dimitrov, Edberg was a junior sensation and entered the tour with high expectations, only to struggle to find consistency. While Edberg did win his first Grand Slam two years after his junior Grand Slam, he would struggle for consistency over the next two seasons. It was not until several years into his career that he found that needed consistency. Dimitrov had a great junior career and appeared to be well on his way to great things in 2014, only to tail off considerably in 2015. Edberg understands the mentality of the pressure of high expectations. He can pass on what he learned in his own career to Dimitrov and could help the 24-year-old Bulgarian reach the heights that he was expected to reach.
Holding Pattern For Edberg
At the moment, it appears as though there are more young players who could use Edberg’s guidance more so than veterans. Edberg’s lone coaching experience is with a veteran, so he may be better suited to helping an older player. At the moment, there are not really any veterans who fit for Edberg. However, any player on the ATP World Tour would be fortunate to pair up with the Swedish legend to propel their game to the next level.
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