By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON (Reuters) – Yet to feel completely at home on the Wimbledon lawns, Stan Wawrinka became the latest player to jump on the super-coach bandwagon by joining forces with former All England Club champion Richard Krajicek this month.
Krajicek knows a thing or two about playing at the heartland of grasscourt tennis as not only did he triumph in 1996, he was also the only man to have beaten seven-times champion Pete Sampras at Wimbledon between 1993 and 2000.
Hence when Wawrinka’s head coach, Magnus Norman, suggested that the world number four could do with a little extra help during the grasscourt season, one man topped their wishlist.
“It’s been going well so far.Richard has a lot of experience as a player,” said the Swiss, who is bidding to conquer the only major where he has yet to reach at least the semi-finals.
“He used to be amazing tennis player, really aggressive on the court, serve and volley a lot.”
Wawrinka — the only player outside tennis’ Big Four of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to have won multiple grand slam titles over the past decade — came within a whisker of reaching the last four 12 months ago.
But after going down 11-9 in the fifth set to Richard Gasquet, Wawrinka is hoping Krajicek can push him further and iron out the few shortcomings in his game.
“Few things in my game that we want to work on,” said Wawrinka, who has the ability to blow rivals off court with his wondrous single handed backhand.
“He brings his experience, a few things in the technique side. It’s really interesting to have someone like Richard.”
Having a former slam winner in their corner has worked wonders for some players. Since hiring Boris Becker 2-1/2 years ago, Djokovic has been almost unbeatable and is currently the holder of all four majors — a feat last achieved in 1969.
Murray won his two majors and the Olympics with Ivan Lendl in his camp and has just rekindled that relationship, while Swedish great Stefan Edberg added another dimension to Federer’s silky court craft during a two-year spell together.
Canadian Milos Raonic hopes a recent link-up with triple Wimbledon champion John McEnroe will prove fruitful.
With Dutchman Krajicek in his corner, Wawrinka is cautiously optimistic about what he can achieve at Wimbledon this year.
“We’ve talked a lot about the way you can play on grass… the tactics, what’s good to do on grass, how you need to be ready mentally,” said the Swiss, whose union with Krajicek got off to a bad start as he was beaten in the first round at Queen’s Club less than two weeks ago.
“The last few years, I’ve started to play my best tennis on grass.I know I can play my best game.
“I’m ready for the tournament.So excited to start one more Wimbledon. Hopefully I can do something big this year.”
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Martyn Herman)