I want to announce that I will begin to work with Australian Darren Cahill, a coach that got a lot of results with Agassi and Hewitt at their best moments and in different years. It won’t be full time because of his obligations but I trust he will help my aggressive tennis with the best tactical moves of the Australian school.
Gonzo will start working with Cahill during the “preview week of Roland Garros”.
Gonzalez proved coach-able under the guidance of Larry Stefanki, who helped guide him to the 2007 Australian Open finals. If I remember correctly, the big hitting Gonzo barely hit an unforced error during the entire tournament. Since then, Gonzalez has posted some impressive results – last year’s semifinal appearance at Roland Garros springs to mind – but he hasn’t quite been able to harness his big game and his combustible mental energy like he did Down Under in ’07.
I’m intrigued by what Cahill could bring to the Chilean’s game. “Australian school” or no, it seems that Gonzalez benefits from good, strong coaching and the confidence it brings. It may be too soon to see any effects at the French, but I’m adding Gonzo to my “serious dark horse contenders” list come Wimbledon and the US Open. Does anyone else think the guy, with the right guidance, could finally win a Big One?
Meanwhile, let’s hope Darren keeps clear notes – he’s currently working with another Fernando. Here’s F. Verdasco chatting this week in Rome about their on again/off again relationship:
“He’s just been trying to give me advice and tried to make me a better player. I haven’t been with him since Miami. Darren is supporting me and he’s coming to Madrid to teach me and make me a better player but nothing else. Everybody around me is helping in some parts of the game. Of course Darren was helping me in Indian Wells and Miami and also a little bit in Australia and he’s trying to make me a better player tactically and with many specific things.”
Cahill is credited in part for Verdasco’s red hot performance at last year’s Australian Open, where the Spaniard lost to Rafael Nadal in a real epic of a semifinal. Darren’s mentored a growing roster of players with varying success since joining up with adidas last March – after turning down a supposedly more travel-intensive gig with Team Federer. His students include newly minted World No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Sania Mirza, Sorana Cirstea, and recently, Daniela Hantuchova, who got this close to beating Venus Williams for the first time in Miami. Dani’s on court coaching sessions with Cahill actually made me reconsider my disdain for the on-court coaching rule.
Hantuchova explains what Cahill brings to the table (via Sydney Morning Herald):
“It’s such an honour for me to be on the court with him – somebody like that. It’s definitely unbelievable support and I appreciate it very much,” said Hantuchova, now a young veteran of 26 and ranked 24th. ”Just giving me his experiences of which shot to hit at what time and just playing a little smarter game, maybe sometimes not going for too much and maybe being a little bit more patient.
”Just looking at the game from a completely different angle and also maybe trying to learn from the men’s game where everything’s so much faster, more powerful, but also smarter … I’ve been on the tour for 10, 11 years, so there are not too many new things I can learn, but with [Cahill] I feel like I’m improving every day.”
We can’t know what he can do for Gonzalez, if anything, but one thing’s for sure: Darren Cahill’s currently one of the most influential people at the top of pro tennis.