Ana’s new coach, Heinz Gunthardt (pictured above in 1985) was interviewed by the Swiss paper, Tages Anzeiger, on Tuesday. Here is my Google-assisted translation (click here for the original):
Heinz Günthardt how did your cooperation with Ivanovic come to be?
We’ve only agreed that I will help her out for the time being, until the tournament in Miami. Dan Holzmann, her manager from Basel, asked me just over a week ago.
Did you have to think twice?
No, because I found the offer to work with her very interesting, and it is a big task. And also the tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami are not a bad alternative if it’s cold at home, minus 15 degrees.
How to start the cooperation?
We have been training in San Diego for three days. This is ideal in terms of her next tournament, which takes place just around the corner in Indian Wells, California. Here, you can already play tennis outside.
Ivanovic was ranked No. 1 after after winning the French Open 2008, since then she has slipped to rank 23rd. What do you know about this?
I have known it only loosely, and frankly did not see her play too often. I am therefore a bad judge of how her game has developed over the past two years. Her results were certainly not convincing. She also had some injury breaks, there’s a lot together. And because the power density in women’s tennis is much higher today than before, you slip in the world rankings even faster if things do not go well.
What’s your first impression?
After three days I can not say much. We are in the evaluation and acquaintance phase. Apparently it has not gone badly so far – otherwise we would have hardly imagined myself as a coach. She has an enormous amount of power in the arm and can still grow everywhere, even athletically. She seems to have fun playing tennis – and she can too. In addition, she is very nice.
Ivanovic plays an exhibition at Madison Square Gardein in New York on March first. Are you participating?
I assume so.
Would you be willing to care for her as full-time coach?
We would have to talk about it. As far as I know, she isn’t looking for someone who travels 45 weeks a year with her. It is envisaged that I look after her more selectively.
Click here for more from Tages Anzeiger
Ana Ivanvoic spoke briefly via conference call on Thursday, and seemed enthusiastic about their long-term future together:
I’m really enjoying the time I’m spending with him (Gundhardt) on the court. He makes it very fun. We’ve already worked on a few things about my game and I feel a lot more confident about certain things and a lot more clear out there. I really hope it’s going to work out in the long run.” (click here for more)
So it sounds like they’ve been making some progress. If things go well in the States it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to stay together once they return to Europe for the clay season (both live in Switzerland). It will be interesting to see what counts as success for them – quarterfinals or better at Indian Wells or Miami? And just how big a task is Gundhardt willing to take on?