Super Coach Paul Annacone appeared with Roger Federer on the practice courts a few weeks ago in Toronto, though Roger wouldn’t say at the time if their trial relationship was moving beyond the test phase. Speculation increased when Annacone was a no-show during the Rogers Cup final and then failed to follow Roger to the Cincinnati Masters.
Well, the speculation is over – Roger Federer confirmed via his website today that Annacone will be joining Team Fed (thanks, Nusi, for the heads up!):
Paul and I have had a good trial period. He will be working with me during the US Open and I look forward to having Paul as a member of my team going forward and he will be integrated more and more as his responsibilities with LTA wind down.
See you soon
I got some additional on-the-ground intel from GTT reader Judy this morning – she’s out at Flushing Meadows and sent me this quick note (hope she doesn’t mind me sharing):
“Fed practice with gasquet for over 1hr. sev and paul looking on. ljubi came by. federcone in action.”
Interesting that Severin Luthi, Roger’s long time coach, and Paul Annacone are both hovering around Federer’s practice court. Is Roger going for the new-fangled team coaching scenario that Murray and Djokovic have popularized (and, at least in the case of Djokovic, scrapped)? Will Paul consult at key moments while Luthi continues to be his day-to-day traveling coach – a la past Team Fed super coachies Higueras and Roche? Notice that Roger doesn’t outright use the word “coach” in his announcement, in fact, I have yet to read a quote where Roger utters the “c” word when talking about Annacone. (Feel free to share if you find one. . .)
Quotes from Roger’s pre-tournament press conference today point towards a collaborative style of coaching (via Reuters):
“We’ve moved it from a test trial to integrating him (Annacone) into the team now, so that’s going ahead,” Federer told a news conference at Flushing Meadows on Saturday.
“It’s just nice to hear a fresh, different voice for a change,” Federer said.
“I just think the dynamics work really well with Severin, and Paul and me coming into the conversation just makes it really interesting. I can go with a very clear mindset into the matches.”
It’s not coaching, see, it’s conversing. What’s it all mean? I guess we’ll find out.
Kind of an aside, but I’m curious what you think – Fed’s been careful to mention that Annacone still has “stuff” to do for the British Lawn Tennis Association. Steve Tignor over at Tennis.com reported that Annacone couldn’t be seated for the Rogers Cup final a couple weeks ago because Federer was playing LTA poster boy Andy Murray. I’m wondering if part of the reason Fed’s loathe to define his relationship with Annacone is due to some kind of non-compete clause in Annacone’s LTA contract. Just pure speculation, of course, but something to think about as we watch this relationship blossom.
So how does everyone feel about the Federer/Annacone pairing?