Genie Bouchard turns to Robert Landsdorp

Genie Bouchard probably should be on her way to South America.

The struggling Canadian, who lost to Sara Errani in the first round of the Volvo Car Open Monday in Charleston, S.C., is entered in a lower-level event in Colombia next week.

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There a transition to be made from the American Har-Tru to the red clay. And there also is the matter of adjusting to the 8,600 feet of altitude in Bogotá. Those extreme conditions make the ball fly and require adjustments in everything from string tension to strategy.

The weather – cool, humid, rainy – also will be a big change from Charleston.

Instead, according to irreproachable sources, the 24-year-old has flown to the Los Angeles area, and is practicing on hard courts.

Bouchard is in California consulting with Robert Landsdorp.

Landsdorp an outside-the-box choice

Landsdorp is the coach responsible for developing the textbook hard, flat groundstrokes of players like Maria Sharapova, Tracy Austin and Lindsay Davenport. 

Landsdorp, who turns 80 in August, has not worked with a pro player in recent years. He stays put in the South Bay Peninsula area outside Los Angeles, and works mostly with very young players. 

Landsdorp worked with Sharapova for many years, building the groundstroke base that allowed her to win multiple Grand Slam titles.

His reputation was built years ago on his ability to feed balls perfectly and repetitively, enabling his players to groove their groundstrokes to perfection and build their confidence that way.

To that, he added an aura of intimidation his former players still speak about. Although they all say it made them tougher, better.

Landsdorp doesn’t believe in topspin. He believes in hard, flat strokes that clear the net by a few feet at most, leaving little margin. He also believes that playing tournaments is hell on a players’ technique.

He tells the story here about being the first coach to travel on the Tour with a player, with Austin back in the 1970s, and being vigilant every day to ensure her technique didn’t falter. 

The Landsdorp way

In short, he may be a coach you send a player to see to built a solid base for their groundies, as his track record proves. But he’s not necessarily the coach you would want to see for just a few days in the middle of the season. Because there isn’t much he can do.

Landsdorp had all of the top players he developed from a very young age. So he built their shots from the ground up; he didn’t take mature strokes and rebuild them the Landsdorp way. He would want to tear Bouchard’s house of strokes down and build it back up properly. 

Landsdorp at the 2014 US Open, where he was watching Canadian junior Katherine Sebov. Sebov traveled regularly to California  to have her training overseen by Landsdorp. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

That’s not something you can or would do in the middle of the competitive season, anyway. And it’s something nearly impossible to do at Bouchard’s age, in mid-career.  

And even at his age, Landsdorp’s crusty mien isn’t exactly an antidote to a player whose confidence is at rock-bottom.

So it’s a fascinating development in the ongoing Bouchard coaching saga.

New agent imminent

Bouchard may have another reason to be in the L.A. area.

That’s where the headquarters of Creative Artists Agency is located. We’re told, CAA (which represents her countryman, Milos Raonic) will be the next agency to work with the Canadian.

Former agent John Tobias of TLA (also Los-Angeles based) took his leave a month ago.

It’s unknown whether Landsdorp is a candidate to become Bouchard’s new coach, or she merely traveled across the U.S. for a few days to get a little advice.

But that’s where she is, just a few days before the South American clay-court event, with a long flight and another time change ahead of her before she tries to get back on the winning track.

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