Mendoza: ‘Other’ stars hog spotlight in Aussie Open

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By Al S. Mendoza

All Write

Monday, January 13, 2014

CELEBRITIES from different eras are playing key roles in the Australian Open that began on Monday at the Melbourne tennis courts. They are having their baptism of fire in a different arena of battle: Coaching what are already considered as certified stars of the game.

From the results of the Australian Open will we know if the move, monumental as it is, by current stars is good or not but, definitely, it will change the complexion of not only the game but of the way players treat legends before them from hereon.

Yes, the present legends are up in the pedestal but the old ones are now right there, on the stands, making secret gestures to prod their wards of eminent stock to do this and not to do that—motions that can make or break a player in a particular match.


Andy Murray started the trend, hiring Ivan Lendl to coach him in the beginning of the decade. So far, it has yielded Murray a wealth of rewards, netting him the 2012 Olympic gold and the 2012 US Open. But, more importantly, Murray won the 2013 Wimbledon that broke almost a century of a losing drought by a Briton in the world’s most prestigious tennis tilt.

Obviously taking the cue from Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, whose combined Grand Slam titles are more than 20 already with Federer owning a record 17, also hired celebrities of Lendl’s stature. (Lendl owns eight Grand Slams.)

Djokovic enlisted Boris Becker to help him try to win a fourth Australian Open, while Federer took in Stefan Edberg in a part-time deal.

Becker of Germany was, at 17, the youngest ever Grand Slam winner in the history of
the game.

But in his first salvo as coach of Djokovic, Boris said that even as the defending champion Serbian got what appeared as an easy draw, “There’s no such thing as an easy draw at a Grand Slam.”

“Boris brings a new, fresh approach,” Djokovic said. “He is a true legend of our sport, and his experience will help me win new trophies.”

Federer, winning just one title in 2013 and out of the Top 5 for the first time since 2002, saw hopes of regaining his form in Edberg, his childhood idol.

We will see.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 14, 2014.


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