After months of speculation, Czech tennis men’s No.1 Tomáš Berdych announced he will have a new coach for 2015: Venezuelan former player Daniel Vallverdu. Vallverdu, who was part of the coaching team headed by Ivan Lendl which led Scotsman Andy Murray to triumph at Wimbledon and the US Open, replaces Tomáš Krupa. Berdych made the announcement on Tuesday on facebook.
That Tomáš Berdych was searching for a new coach was hardly a secret: while the 29-year-old player, ranked seventh in the world, has seen considerable success throughout his career (he was part of the Czech team which won back-to-back Davis Cups, he regularly qualifies for the ATP Tournament of Champion) one thing is missing: a Grand Slam title. In 2010, he came close, making it to the final at Wimbledon), but lost.
That is one reason, perhaps, why he originally sought the services of legendary former player tuned coach Ivan Lendl, who turned around Andy Murray’s career, and saw him win arguably the finest silverware in tennis. But Lendl, it turned out, couldn’t meet such a commitment. In October, the former World No.1 met in Prague with Berdych but turned down the offer to work as his coach saying he would be unable to meet the busy schedule due to other activities.
Czech Radio reported that Berdych then allegedly contacted Australian Tony Roche before settling on Vallverdu, who never made much of a mark on the singles tour, just 727th spot. But he played for Venezuela’s Davis Cup team and, as a crucial part of the Murray team, was described by Lendl as “an extremely hard-working and dedicated professional with an excellent understanding of tactics”.
For Berdych, reaching an agreement with Dani Vallverdu became a realistic option in November after the latter left Murray’s team; he had reportedly increasingly taken a back seat with the arrival of the player’s new coach (and former player) Amelie Mauresmo.
Some critics may question the move, arguing that if Berdych originally wanted a so-called “super coach” along the lines of Lendl, Vallverdu isn’t that, at least in terms of his own past achievements as a player. On the other hand, he led the British men’s tennis team, spearheaded by Murray, to gold in 2012. Otherwise, tennis is in something of a super coach era, at least regarding a handful of top players who want to learn from the legends before them: first there was Lendl in 2012, then Boris Becker became Novak Djokovic’s coach in 2013, Stefan Edberg Roger Federer’s for ten weeks in 2014 and – in women’s tennis– Martina Navratilová is set to coach Agnieszka Radwanska part time in the new season.