It’s all been quite up in the air, at least officially, with Team Sloane Stephens since the end of the 2018 season.
She hadn’t split with coach Kamau Murray, even if he wasn’t at the WTA Finals in Singapore with her. Everything was fine, was the official word; Murray had a previous commitment at his center in Chicago. But Sylvester Black was with the American in Singapore, where she reached the final.
By early 2019, Stephens and Murray were officially “on an indefinite break”. And Black, who is based in Asia, began the season Down Under with her.
But now, that very successful Stephens-Murray relationship is officially over, because Murray and another former member of Team Stephens who was gone last fall have new gigs.
Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig announced via social media Tuesday that she is making a big change on the coaching side.
Todero out, Murray in
Puig has taken on the biggest elements of the former Team Stephens.
Not only is she now working with Murray, Puig also has added coach Othmane Garma (who also was gone from Team Sloane at the end of 2018). There also is a new physio and a setup at Murray’s XS Tennis Center in Chicago.
New team.. who dis?! So excited to have Kamau Murray in my corner! Also having my new fitness coach CJ, coach OG and hitting partner Austin by my side makes this squad even better! Big things are coming! #NewBeginnings #Squad #Chicago #XSTennis 🎾🔥❄️ pic.twitter.com/rDJYppbHSF
— Monica Puig (@MonicaAce93) January 29, 2019
Puig, who had been working with Juan Todero since 2015, is currently ranked No. 59.
She had a career moment winning the gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. But since then, the 25-year-old has sort of stalled in the rankings.
Murray had been working with Stephens since the fall of 2015 as well. He was in her corner when she won the US Open in 2017 and reached the French Open final last spring.
Stephens back with Saviano?
Stephens had been quite circumspect about her coaching situation before finally announcing the “break” to start the season.
But Tennis.Life has learned that the quick trip to see her former coach, Nick Saviano, in Florida in December was more than just a little refresher while she was in the area for a charity event.
We’re told that Saviano made at least two trips to California during the short off-season to work with Stephens.
And he is expected to also be in her corner for Indian Wells and Miami.
Stephens first worked with Saviano when she was a youngster. He returned to work her in early 2015 as well.
Also 25, Stephens had a few tough losses to start 2019 – notable a loss to Yulia Putintseva, 6-0 in the third set in Sydney, when she appeared to have the match in hand.
She also was defeated 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-3 by unseeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the fourth round at the Australian Open.
Stephens will be defending her title – and 1,000 ranking points – in Miami.
(Feature photo from Monica Puig’s Twitter account).