Raonic parts ways with coach Krajicek (updated)

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ROLAND GARROS – In the wake of a good – but not great – French Open, world No. 6 Milos Raonic is making yet another coaching change.

Raonic, whose main coach for the last several years has been Riccardo Piatti, announced on Twitter Thursday night that he has parted ways with his second coach, 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek.

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Tennis.Life has learned the Canadian has had discussions/negotiations with at least one other candidate, 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash. But Krajicek’s successor reportedly will be longtime doubles star and current Tennis Channel analyst Mark Knowles.

(Update: Raonic finally officially announced this on June 13 – so faithful Tennis.Life readers had the scoop way ahead of time!

It seems all of this is all in the family. Raonic is managed at CAA by Amit Naor. Who also manages Coco Vandeweghe, who ended up with Cash as a new coach. Naor also manages the broadcast side of Knowles’ career. Tennis is all one big circle of life.)

Krajicek and Raonic began working together at the Australian Open this year. But because of a lingering hamstring injury, Raonic played very little tennis from the Australian Open through to the beginning of May in Istanbul.

Raonic has put out a lot of Tweets of this type in recent years: mutual decision … remain good friends … parted ways … wish him luck.

Coaching turnover

Raonic has made a lot of coaching moves over the last few years – especially by the standards of top-10 players.

The Canadian joined forces with Ivan Ljubicic just before Wimbledon in 2013. A few months later Ljubicic’s own longtime coach Piatti (who had been coaching Frenchman Richard Gasquet) joined the team.

It seemed like quite a seamless operation. Ljubicic was the quarterback overseeing the entire operation. Everything ran through him; he ensured the coaching message was consistent and that the team ran like a well-oiled machine.

But by the end of 2015, Ljubicic was gone.

Krajicek

A short time later, Ljubicic joined Team Federer.

By the Australian Open a month later, the new “super coach” was in place as former No. 1 Carlos Moyá signed on.

Raonic reached the semi-finals in Oz and, but for an adductor injury, might well have made the final – or even won it. He was playing that well. Raonic had defeated Roger Federer in Brisbane a few weeks prior and his aggressive, net-rushing game was paying dividends. He was in a commanding position over Andy Murray when the injury made it too difficult to run. 

The McEnroe era

A few months later, word leaked out that Raonic would begin working with John McEnroe. The association was to be announced once Raonic was out of the French Open, in time for the grass-court season. But McEnroe, who was in Paris, spilled the beans.

So … when Wimbledon rolled around, Raonic technically had three coaches on his payroll: Piatti (who was not there), McEnroe and Moyá.

The two former No. 1s got in good workouts hitting against each other, much to Raonic’s amusement. And McEnroe got plenty of publicity (and credit) in London as Raonic reached the singles final.

McEnroe and Raonic remain friendly. McEnroe is a New Yorker and Raonic a part-time New Yorker; they have many friends in common.

Krajicek
Raonic hit the sack with the “self-appointed commissioner of tennis” in Paris. But there will be no renewed association with John McEnroe during this year’s grass-court season. (Eurosport)

But any future collaborative efforts between the two … didn’t happen. There was criticism during Wimbledon of McEnroe’s perceived conflicts of interest as he was both commentating for television and coaching Raonic.

And in the end, the American decided to stay with his bigger source of revenue – although, from what we understand, his weekly rate for working with Raonic was sky-high.

Raonic had a tough US Open, losing in the second round to Ryan Harrison and suffering cramping that prevented him from taking part in the Davis Cup two weeks later.

Successful Moyá era ends

By the end of 2016, Moyá also was on the road out of Milosville. This after a season when Raonic reached his first Grand Slam final, made the ATP Tour Finals and finished the season ranked No. 3 in the world.

Krajicek

Quickly, Moyá was announced as a new coach for longtime friend and fellow Mallorcan Rafael Nadal. So at least when Raonic’s super-coaches leave, they leave to go work with legends.

A few weeks later Krajicek (whom Raonic had approached to work with him during the grass-court season before McEnroe accepted the job) was on board.

Krajicek

The plan was that the Dutchman would do many more weeks on the road than Moyá had. But Raonic’s early-season injuries put a crimp in those plans. 

Krajicek was not scheduled to be in Paris for the French Open, with Piatti on hand. But he had planned to spend at least a few days at the event before meeting up with Raonic at Wimbledon.

Asked about that after his loss to Pablo Carreño Busta in the fourth round in Paris, Raonic was vague about Krajicek. Turns out that was a clue.

Keeping the body healthy

In April, right after Miami, Raonic parted ways with longtime strength and conditioning coach Dalibor Sirola. It was Sirola who announced it.

Claudio Zimaglia, Raonic’s long-time physiotherapist, is still on board. But there’s a rotating cast of characters in that role, including this blue-jeaned fellow in Paris.

Krajicek

“Obviously the physios have always rotated due to availability, so I’ve always had three guys that I’ve worked with at different times,” Raonic said before the French Open.

On Sirola, he said this: “Just I think he felt he was off the road too much, and we weren’t making progress in terms of trying to stay healthy.”

Krajicek
Krajicek and Zimaglia in Australia. Zimaglia will return for Wimbledon; Krajicek won’t. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Raonic has been working with noted physical therapist Charlie Weingroff, who is based in New York and isn’t a tennis specialist. On the plus side, the Canadian has gone through six weeks, with a lot of tournament play, and stayed healthy. 

He also appears to have reunited with longtime girlfriend, model Danielle Knudson, after some time apart. She first reappeared in Miami (the paparazzi were dutifully alerted to her presence in fetching beachwear), and was both in Lyon and Paris with Raonic.

The Canadian also seems to have gained back a bit of healthy weight, after a period where he was attempting to get as lean as he could, on a fairly drastic diet, to try to get quicker.

This amount of change within a team is fairly rare for a top player. At 26, Raonic clearly is still searching for the magic formula that will allow him to take that next step.

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