x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Caroline Wozniacki must sever family ties to progress

Books have been written about fathers who coach their tennis-playing daughters, but it seems a fair generalisation to suggest that easing dad out of the picture sooner than later is best for all concerned.

Piotr Wozniacki, left, is back coaching his daughter Caroline, after they dispensed with Ricardo Sanchez.
Piotr Wozniacki, left, is back coaching his daughter Caroline, after they dispensed with Ricardo Sanchez.

When she lands in Doha at the weekend, Caroline Wozniacki's entourage will be one person shy of its strength in Melbourne. The coach Ricardo Sanchez last week was diagnosed as excess baggage, and Piotr Wozniacki is again in charge.

Books could be written, and have, about fathers who coach their tennis-playing daughters, but it seems a fair generalisation to suggest that easing dad out of the picture sooner than later is best for all concerned. The hour-to-hour guidance that can be so critical to a youngster's development in the sport can be suffocating when dealing with adults, and Wozniacki will be 22 in July.

Team Wozniacki had it right, in December, when they hired Sanchez, who formerly had guided Jelena Jankovic. Even though Wozniacki was No 1 for most of 2011, her game seemed to have become predictable and passive, and a new voice on the practice court seemed appropriate.

However, her loss in the Australian Open semi-finals apparently was Sanchez's fault, and he was sent packing after clashes with Piotr, a former footballer.

Many elite women's players, from Steffi Graf to Mary Pierce to Serena Williams, did not acquire fully rounded games until after establishing a professional coaching arrangement with an outsider.

To hear that Sanchez is unemployed because he clashed with Piotr Wozniacki would seem to indicate that the former No 1 has some distance to travel before she reaches that turning point.