Michael Joyce on coaching trial with … Genie Bouchard

Experienced coaches don’t stay unemployed for long on the WTA Tour.

As word leaked out in the Daily Mail that Great Britain’s Johanna Konta and her coach of one year, Michael Joyce, had gone their separate ways, tennis.life learned from an extremely reliable source that the 45-year-old American already is on a coaching trial with another player.

And that player is … Canada’s Genie Bouchard.

We’re told that that Joyce has been in Tel Aviv, Israel, where Bouchard went for some treatment on her foot, for the last week or so.

And that they’re headed to Luxembourg to test it out in the WTA Tour stop there next week.

Bouchard remains some 15 spots out of the main draw in Luxembourg. So qualifying looks like the route unless the tournament awards her a wild card into the main draw.

The duo is expected there on Wednesday.

Jo Konta on the coaching search – again

Coaching carousel in 2018

Bouchard’s coaching situation in 2018 has been intermittent and inconsistent, which makes it even more difficult when a player is trying to regain lost form and confidence.

She began the season with veteran American coach Harold Solomon in her camp. But Solomon severed ties just before Bouchard played the qualifying at the Miami Open in March.

Harold Solomon leaves Team Genie Bouchard

In fact, for her first-round qualifying match against American Allie Kiick, Solomon was sitting in the opponent’s camp.

After Charleston in April, the 24-year-old Canadian flew to California and had a training period with legendary American coach Robert Lansdorp.

Genie Bouchard turns to Robert Lansdorp

But Lansdorp, 79, isn’t up to full-time travel. He did go to Europe for the grass season, but that was the bulk of it.

Sinner in the summer

Bouchard then called upon Martin Sinner, the German who had worked with her as a junior, during the short clay-court swing after Wimbledon.

In the meantime, the toll it has taken on Bouchard’s stroke technique – notably the serve – has been fairly evident through a tough stretch of defeats.

Three of those losses – in Vancouver, Hiroshima and Tashkent – came at the hands of 23-year-old Nao Hibino, currently ranked No. 125.

Luxembourg is the final week of the WTA season. So the opportunity to test things out with Joyce is limited.

Bouchard could play one or both of the WTA 125K tournaments in Limoges, France in early November, and in Houston the week after that, if she wants more match play going into the off-season.

Bouchard is currently ranked No. 110, dropping two spots while idle last week.

One consideration, with the announcement that the Australian Open will increase the women’s singles qualifying from 96 to 128 players, is that there will be 16 qualifiers in the main draw. 

Previously, there were 12 from a 96-player draw. So that means four fewer players will gain direct entry at the deadline. For players in the No. 100 – No. 110 range, that’s not a minor thing.

Bigger, better Australian Open kicks off

Longtime former Sharapova coach

Joyce worked with Jessica Pegula and Victoria Azarenka before the season with Konta.

But prior to that, he was the longtime coach of Maria Sharapova.

In that sense, he’s always been on the Bouchard family radar. Pegula and Bouchard also have played doubles together.

That might be past tense, though, as Bouchard no longer acknowledges Sharapova as her childhood idol.

So there’s a certain irony to the timing of this.

As usual in the WTA off-season there is plenty of musical chairs on the coaching side. So Joyce may well find himself very much in demand as players try to get their teams together in preparation for the 2018 offseason, and the 2019 season.

Coaching carousel continues as Ostapenko, Taylor part

PARIS – The first coaching change of the fortnight came when Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit parted ways with coach Glenn Schaap right in the middle of the French Open.

It turns out it wasn’t the only one.

Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 Roland Garros champion who went out in the first round this year, has split with amiable Aussie coach David Taylor.

Tennis.Life is told it’s unrelated to the early exit but is a mutual split. Their agreement ran through the French Open, and they’re parting ways.

Already, Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim has written that Taylor will become Madison Keys’s new coach, although that has yet to be confirmed officially.

It was announced during the French Open that Lindsay Davenport, who has been part of Team Keys on and off for the last several years, has stepped aside as Keys’s main coach.

And earlier in the clay-court season, Keys parted ways with another coach, Dieter Kindlmann.

The American has spent the last few weeks basically flying solo, and you can’t argue the very good result in Paris.

Ostapenko’s coaching crew

Ostapenko, who turned 21 Friday, has gone through some personnel over the last year.

The Latvian had Spanish Fed Cup captain Anabel Medina Garrigues in her corner a year ago, and the two combined to capture Ostapenko’s first Grand Slam title in Paris.

It was always presented as a short-term gig. But Medina was there through the season.

Reports were she wanted some sort of guaranteed situation and, when that wasn’t forthcoming, decided to accept the Spanish Fed Cup position instead.

Since then, the 35-year-old has returned to the court in doubles, finally healthy after struggling with a shoulder injury for 2 1/2 years.

As well, last summer, Ostapenko briefly had longtime WTA Tour physical trainer Scott Byrnes working with her.

That didn’t last long. Byrnes began working with Genie Bouchard a few months ago.

Five-month stint

Taylor came on board at the beginning of 2018, although it was only for a certain number of weeks, and he didn’t actually, physically join Team Ostapenko until the Australian Open.

In between coaches, Ostapenko has had hitting partner/coach Andis Juska there.

Ostapenko

And, of course, there is her original coach, mother Jeļena Jakovļeva.

What’s next? No doubt there will be another coach in place during this key part of the season with Wimbledon, the big U.S. hard-court tournaments and the US Open coming up.

Ostapenko will fall out of the top 10 with the early exit in Paris, down to No. 12.

She’s not entered in any grass-court events until the week before Wimbledon, at Eastbourne.

Keys will make her grass-court debut next week in Birmingham.

Genie Bouchard turns to Robert Lansdorp

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.

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 Lansdorp.

Lansdorp an outside-the-box choice

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

Lansdorp, who turns 80 in November, 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. 

Lansdorp 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.

Lansdorp 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 Lansdorp 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. 

Lansdorp 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 Lansdorp way. 

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

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 Lansdorp 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.

First Agassi, now Stepanek out of Team Djokovic

We don’t know – we may never know – what’s going on with Novak Djokovic.

But something is.

After the announcement by mentor Andre Agassi during the Miami Open that his association with the longtime former No. 1 had ended, comes the news Wednesday that new coach Radek Stepanek also is gone.

The announcement came via a statement on Djokovic’s website and social media. It’s cryptic, unusually poorly written, in the third person, and by someone else. And it reveals little.

“After Miami Novak Djokovic and his tennis coach Radek Stepanek decided to end their cooperation.

The private relationship with Stepanek was and will remain great, and Novak has enjoyed working with him and learning from him.

He remains grateful and appreciative of all the support he has received from Radek during the last period.

Novak remains focused and eager to come back stronger and more resilient from long injury break that has affected his confidence and game.

He is continuously and passionately looking for new and different ways to regain winning form.

Djokovic will upon his short holiday with a family start his preparations for the clay season and upcoming tournaments.

The cooperation between Novak and Andre Agassi has also ended.”

When Stepanek was a no-show in Miami, the word was that the Czech was kept at home by a personal matter. It was presumed to be the impending birth of his first child.

It turned out to be significantly more than that.

So through the brief North American “Sunshine Swing”, Djokovic has lost both of the coaches he took on in 2017 with such positive anticipation, after he sacked his entire longtime support team.

Stepanek

A fun, original announcement

The news last November that Djokovic would begin working with Stepanek  was announced, playfully, on Instagram Live.

“Radek is one of my very close friends on the tour. And I was always impressed with his level of determination, passion and love for the sport. The fact that he just recently retired at the age of 37 speaks volumes of his love for the game. He has lot of experience and knowledge, and he has played on a high level for many years. I am excited to join our forces together and cannot wait to compete again having a new team to back me up,” Djokovic said on his website.

“On Andre’s suggestion I pursued Radek. Therefore I am sure the two of them will work well together. The new season is about to start and there is a long way to go back to where I left off. We are aware that I need to go step by step, not hurrying anything. I feel much better now, and I can’t wait to play matches again.”

(Right there, you can see the quality and tone of what generally comes from Djokovic in his public statements – in harsh contrast to today’s announcement).

A short, terse ending

The end of the brief Agassi-Stepanek era came in three dispassionate sentences.

Stepanek
Mario Ancic, the former top-10 player turned lawyer, also was briefly part of Team Djokovic last season. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

The neutral words reveal little about whose decision it was.

Some variation of the words “by mutual agreement” is nearly always used when players and coaches split. It was used for Djokovic’s two previous coaching announcements over the last 18 months. But the words are conspicuously not used here.

The beginning of the relationship with Agassi, last spring in Paris, also was filled with promise. There was great respect, and even a little awe that the American tennis legend was willing to come on board.

The confirmation that the relationship with Agassi is history came five days after the American’s comments were broadcast on ESPN. And it was limited to a single, brief sentence at the very end.

18 months, four coaching splits

Stepanek

In Dec. 2016, Djokovic split with Boris Becker, who was alongside the Serb during the most prolific period of his career.

“After three very successful years, Boris Becker and I have jointly decided to end our cooperation,” Djokovic said at the time.

Two weeks after last year’s Monte Carlo tournament, in early May 2017, Djokovic divested himself of the entire team that had been with him for years. Coach Marian Vajda (who had been with him since 2006), fitness coach Gebhard (Phil) Gritsch and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic – all gone.

Djokovic called the move “shock therapy”, as he looked for the spark to get back on track through a tough period affected by an ongoing elbow injury.

Again, the words “mutually agreed” were used. And Vajda even supplied a statement for the “we’re still all one big, happy family” announcement on Djokovic’s website.

“I will be on the tour alone for a while with the support of my family and management,” Djokovic said at the time.

Just a couple of weeks later, Agassi was on his way to Paris to join the team.

What’s next

Wednesday’s statement indicates Djokovic will take a short holiday (it appears he’s already on it) and then begin preparing for the clay-court season.

 

Happy Easter weekend everybody! Hope you are enjoying with your loved ones ❤

A post shared by Novak Djokovic (@djokernole) on

As of Wednesday afternoon, Monte Carlo time, Djokovic remains entered in the Monte Carlo Masters, although he doesn’t refer to it specifically. It begins a week from Monday.

He also is entered in doubles with countryman Filip Krajinovic.

Genie Bouchard demo-ing rackets as ’18 begins

As of Sunday, Genie Bouchard’s longtime deal with Babolat is expiring.

So, to start the 2018 season, the 23-year-old Canadian won’t be under contract with a racket manufacturer for the first time … probably since she had braces.

That’s why there have been photos circulating of Bouchard practicing at Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia with a Head racket.

It’s one of the Graphene Touch Radical sticks, one of several models sent to Bouchard by the company.

But she has not, as some have speculated or assumed, made the switch or signed a new deal.

Tennis.Life is told that Bouchard has been experimenting with various Head models, as well as Wilson rackets. Bouchard played with Wilson for many years before making the switch to Babolat.

She also is considering staying with Babolat.

The companies sent some sticks down to Florida for Bouchard to try. So far – at least from what we’ve seen at the Hopman Cup, the Head racket is in the lead.

But Bouchard is likely to head to the Australian Open without a deal. In fact, she may not even have anything finalized until the Tour swings back to the U.S. in March.

Tough time to switch

The timing is not ideal to demo a new stick. Bouchard’s first official tournament starts in just over a week in Hobart, and is followed by the Australian Open.

Harold Solomon is Genie Bouchard’s new coach as 2018 begins. (ATP Tour)

A lot of players try out new models in the off-season (you can usually tell them by the blacked-out frames), but not when they’re starting the season.

Sometimes a player will have an immediate fit with a new frame.

Bouchard’s countryman Denis Shapovalov was one such player; he switched from Wilson to Yonex at Queen’s Club in June. And everyone saw what happened later in the summer.

But others have struggled for an entire season after making a switch.

It’s also not an ideal time to negotiate a new sponsorship, with 2018 budgets already locked up.

New coach, hitting partner for Bouchard

The racket isn’t the only change for Bouchard, as she arrived Down Under.

With her is veteran American coach Harold Solomon, with whom she trained some in Fort Lauderdale during the off-season.

rackets
Robbye Poole, Serena Williams’ longtime hitting partner, is doing the same for Bouchard. If all goes well in Australia, it could well be a season-long gig. (Photo by Steven Domagala Photography)

Also on Team Genie in Perth is Robbye Poole, who was a hitting partner for Serena Williams for many years.

Early photos had the internet speculating about whether Bouchard had reunited with longtime former coach Nick Saviano, which was somewhat understandable.

There’s at least a passing resemblance between the two.

Solomon is a few years older, and a few inches shorter. But there are definitely some similarities. Both Solomon and Saviano are based in Florida. And they have worked with several of the same players.

A former world No. 5, Solomon has Jennifer Capriati and Jim Courier on his resumé. He also worked with Anna Kournikova at the end of her career.

If things go well in Florida, this likely would be Bouchard’s team for the 2018 season. But no longer-term commitments have been made yet.

(Photos by Steven Domagala Photography; used with permission).

Late-season split: Bjorkman and Cilic

It’s the time of the season where nearly all players – even those who played through the Davis Cup final – are getting back to work.

Barely three weeks remain before the start of the 2018 season.

So it’s late in the day for an announcement of the end of another successful coach-player pairing.

But here it is.

Cilic announced on Twitter Friday that he had reached the end of the road with Jonas Bjorkman.

“@BjorkmanTennis and me won’t be working together anymore. We had some great results during 16 months and established an amazing relationship. It was a great pleasure to work with him. Would like to thank him for all his efforts and wish him the best.”

Bjorkman offered the usual lovely words of his own, less than two hours later.

Here’s what Bjorkman wrote on Twitter.

“Thank you for the past 18 months! It has been a great pleasure working and spending time with you both on and off the court during this time. I have such respect for all the hard work you always put in and for being such a gentleman! Wish you all the best for 2018!”

(A little discrepancy there in terms of the length of Bjorkman’s tenure. All moot now.)

Tough end of season for Cilic in London

Bjorkman, a former No. 4 in singles and No. 1 in doubles, worked with Andy Murray for the last part of 2015, as then-coach Amélie Mauresmo went off on maternity leave. 

Bjorkman
Team Cilic at the US Open in September. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

He replaced Goran Ivanisevic as Cilic’s coach after the first part of the 2016 season.

It’s been a feature of some of the recent coaching changes that the coaches themselves have gotten out front of the news.

That was especially true in the case of Bjorkman’s fellow Swede Magnus Norman, who abruptly left Team Wawrinka this fall.

But this time, it was Cilic who announced it first.

Cilic only won one ATP Tour title in 2017 (Istanbul). But he reached a career-best No. 4 in October.

Bjorkman’s last tournament with Cilic was the ATP Tour Finals in London, where Cilic lost all three of his round-robin matches in three sets: to Alexander Zverev, Roger Federer and Jack Sock.

Konta confirms Joyce as new coach

Johanna Konta has confirmed that Michael Joyce will be her new coach.

“Michael is a fantastic coach with a great pedigree and I’m really excited to work with him. 2017 has been amazing but I feel like there is so much more to come,” Konta told the WTA website. “The plan is for Michael to travel with me full time through 2018.”

The 44-year-old American already has been in the U.K. for a week and had already come to terms, although the official announcement came only Wednesday.

The two have begun preparing for Konta’s first tournament of the season in Brisbane, the first week of January.

Konta parted ways with Wim Fissette in October after the best season of her career. Fissette quickly signed on with former No. 1 Angelique Kerber, who parted ways with Torben Beltz. Donna Vekic snapped up Beltz.

Got that straight?

Great opportunity for Joyce

Joyce, who coached Maria Sharapova for many years, left his job working with American Jessica Pegula this year to work with Victoria Azarenka as she returned from maternity leave. 

Given Azarenka’s well-publicized custody issues, which seem a long way from resolved and are keeping her off the court indefinitely, Joyce had to consider his options. 

Jobs with top-10 players aren’t that easy to come by – despite the increasing turnover from year to year. So the opportunity was a no-brainer.

(Nearly) all-female team

Konta’s team is now complete. She also has strength and conditioning coach Gill Myburgh, physio Milly Mirkovic (longtime physio for the LTA) and mental coach Elena Sosa on her payroll.

It has probably been underpublicized that Konta’s entire team – with the exception of Joyce – is female.

Can you think of any player – female or male – for whom that’s the case? It would be great if it became a trend.

Konta hasn’t played since early October in Beijing. A left foot injury kept her off the court, and kept her from likely qualification at the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore.

She hasn’t won a match since the third round of the Premier 5 event in Cincinnati in mid-August, and has more than 1,000 ranking points to defend in the first month: a semifinal in Shenzhen, a title in Sydney and a quarter-final at the Australian Open.

New coach for Ryan Harrison

Ryan Harrison is the latest American to come out from under the USTA umbrella and go his own way on the coaching side.

The 25-year-old from Texas, currently ranked No. 47 and  winner of the French Open doubles title this year with friend Michael Venus, announced the change Tuesday.

Harrison has hired the indefatigable Michael Russell as his coach for 2018.

Davide Sanguinetti and Peter Lucassen (who works with the USTA out of California and, more specifically, with up-and-comer Ernesto Escobedo) had been listed as his coaches.

“His reputation on and off the court are flawless and I look forward to getting to work,” Harrison said of Russell on Twitter. “Also would like to thank the USTA for their support.”

Russell, 39, wrapped up a long playing career at the 2015 US Open. He reached a career-high singles ranking of No. 60 in 2007.

What stood out with Russell during his career was his off-the-charts work ethic. It wasn’t unusual to see him on the practice courts at tournaments for extended periods daily, with two and sometimes three different players.

Harrison and Russell share Texas roots.

Russell works out of the Houston Racquet Club, where he was named director of the Houston High Performance Tennis Program back in May.

Harrison lives in Austin.

Harrison’s countryman Jack Sock, also 25, made a similar change this past summer.

He had worked with the USTA’s Troy Hahn for three years. But after longtime USTA head of men’s tennis Jay Berger stepped down from that role in June, Sock picked him up a month later. 

Djokovic announces coach on Insta live

It was, without a doubt, one of the more original ways to announce a new coach.

A whole lot more entertaining than a dry press release or a quick Tweet.

Former No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is getting ready to return to action in a month after a long absence due to an elbow injury, decided to try out the latest thing, Instagram Live.

He looked pretty excited about the new toy. And he looked in great spirits overall. And why not. He looks to be preparing for a return after so many months during which he didn’t even hit a tennis ball.

As Djokovic toured his gym, he decided to try out the feature that allows you to call up anyone who is watching the live stream.

The first connection, with a woman in Argentina, had technical issues.

The second caught another Argentine Djokovic fan at school. And she just couldn’t even believe it.

And then – the kicker.

Djokovic “noticed” his friend Radek Stepanek was among those making comments. So he called him up.

ND: “What are you up to?  What’s your next step?”

RS: “I’m enjoying the time that I don’t need to wake up in the morning, go to practice. Don’t have to discipline any more. Just looking around what comes next.

ND: “Really!”

RS: “So you have something for me, or what?”

ND: “I’m actually looking for another coach. I don’t know what you have in mind. But if you have nothing better to do, maybe we can give it a shot. What do you say?”

RS: “Why not? Let’s give it a shot.

ND: “This is amazing.  You didn’t even hear anything I had to offer but you accepted.

RS: “What do you offer?”

ND: “I can offer some real, real special things. Green juice every Wednesday – every first Wednesday of the month. I can offer you some acai balls on overseas fights – only one way, not return. It’s too expensive. And thats all, for the beginning.”

RS: “I think your offer was pretty generous to start with, so if I get some extra coconut on the acai balls, than I’m in.”

ND: “Give me a second please … coconut …

“I would love to give you a straight answer now. I have my manager here …

“So my answer is yes, but I have another question. It’s already 30th November. We have to be on the court literally tomorrow. So I don’t know how we’re going to make this happen.

RS: “I’m ready to go.”

And then, Djokovic opens the door to an office – and there’s his new coach.

It really was a fun way to get the fans involved in the announcement.

“Radek is one of my very close friends on the tour and I was always impressed with his level of determination, passion and love for the sport. The fact that he just recently retired at the age of 37 speaks volumes of his love for the game. He has lot of experience and knowledge, and he has played on a high level for many years. I am excited to join our forces together and cannot wait to compete again having a new team to back me up,” Djokovic said on his website.

“On Andre’s suggestion I pursued Radek, therefore I am sure the two of them will work well together. The new season is about to start and there is a long way to go back to where I left off. We are aware that I need to go step by step, not hurrying anything. I feel much better now, and I can’t wait to play matches again.”

Stepanek – Agassi a tag team

The moment veteran Stepanek announced his retirement – and even before that – the speculation began that he might begin working with Djokovic.

Insta
Djokovic and Stepanek (along with former coach Boris Becker) have a good time on the practice court at Wimbledon in 2014.

The two are friends. They have practiced together often, and have remained pals despite the Serb’s overwhelming 13-1 record against the Czech.

They have squared off on a lot of major occasions – at all the Grand Slams except the French Open, and in the Davis Cup final.

InstaAnd Djokovic has been looking for a day-to-day coach to supplement the weeks he’ll have mentor Andre Agassi by his side.

Stepanek obviously knows all of Djokovic’s opponents, and has played them all.

The all-court game and canny court sense that allowed him to squeeze the most out of a long career contains a treasure trove of possible options Djokovic can add to his own game.

What Djokovic already has in his game has been more than enough to dominate men’s tennis for extended periods over the last few years.

Still, everyone out there is looking to get better – or get left behind.

And the company will be entertaining. He also will have a coach who can hit with him on the practice court – an added bonus.

The most positive thing is that Djokovic is out hitting balls and training. Only a month remains before he heads to Abu Dhabi for the six-player exhibition that will mark his first official time on the court since Wimbledon last July.

After that, a quick hop over to Doha for his first ATP Tour event. And then, the Australian Open.

Donna Vekic hires former Kerber coach

Tennis is hardly the only sport that subscribes to the “proven commodity” theory. 

But the old theory has proven true once again.

If you coach one top player who produces results, you’re often not going to have too much trouble getting another good gig when that one inevitably ends.

And so, less than two weeks after Torben Beltz parted ways with former No. 1 Angelique Kerber, Croatia’s Donna Vekic announced Wednesday that she would be working with the German for the 2018 season.

“The next season is nearly upon us and I can’t wait to start working with Torben Beltz as my new coach. 2017 was one my best years so far on the tour as I broke the Top 50 and I won my second WTA title, I am eager to do even better with Torben. It’s a great opportunity to learn from one of the best coaches and I look forward to this new collaboration,” Vekic said in a statement from her management on her Facebook page.

Kerber already is working with Wim Fissette, who parted ways with Johanna Konta after a hugely successful 2017. Fissette was let go by Simona Halep after she also had a great season in 2014.

“I am very excited to work with Donna, she has a lot of potential and I am sure we can achieve good results together,” was the statement from Beltz.

Coaching musical chairs

Fissette worked with Victoria Azarenka from February 2015 to the end of July 2016.

And she, too, must embark on a coaching search after her collaboration with Michael Joyce officially ended last week.

Joyce signed on with the Belarussian, leaving a lucrative and secure gig with American Jessica Pegula, with the idea he could help the more accomplished Azarenka get back to the top of the game.

The former Grand Slam champion and No. 1 took time away to have son Leo. She returned during the grass-court season this year.

But Azarenka’s well-documented custody issues have kept her off the court since Wimbledon. And with no firm return date as the case continues to wind its way through the courts, Joyce had to make a call.

He is reportedly close to an agreement to coach … Konta. 

The holdup – as so often is the case, especially with the women – so far has been the financials.