rafter: hewitt will be a force, but won't be no. 1

Australian Patrick Rafter, looking good at the Sydney premiere of The Bourne Ultimatum with wife Lara Feltham, has told the wires that Lleyton Hewitt‘s goal to reach the no. 1 ranking is far-fetched, but that the new partnership with coach Tony Roche could see him nesting in the Top Five.

Rafter reasons that Hewitt’s flat strokes don’t match well with the current trend of high, heavy balls (spurned by new racquet technology). Rafter’s solution is incorporating more net play.

[photos via Kenneth in the (212)]

americans in l.a. + coaching updates…

kendrick-countrywide.jpg
(Kendrick — left, middle; Fleishman — right)

An All-American match-up: Z. Fleishman d. R. Kendrick 7-6 (4), 6-3 at the Countrywide Classic. Zack is cleaning up on his home court, and will face Radek Stepanek in the quarters.

Shamil drops a bomb: Russian Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev didn’t invite Maria Sharapova to play in the finals against Italy because she’s been unreliable in the past.

Roche Coach: Hyuk. (Sorry, had to do it.) Lleyton Hewitt announced that he’s hooking up with Australian tennis legend and former Federer coach Tony Roche in time for the U.S. Open. Roche says he wouldn’t have signed on if he didn’t think Hewitt could still win a slam. (via The Age)

Safin smartens up, too: Another former U.S. Open winner, Marat Safin, signs up a new coach, Hernan Gumy. Argentinian David Nalbandian goes with Martin Jaite. (via BBC)

short balls: why are old people so cranky?

(Check out the interview I did with BlogInterviewer.com yesterday about Tennis Served Fresh. Now onto the short balls:)

Emmo sticks to his guns: What’s that, Roy? You think showing personality on the court is tacky? You want us to just focus on the tennis? Sorry, bud. The sport wouldn’t survive in this YouTube world if we granted your wishes. (But I agree: if tennis stars keep making the news like this, I’d get ornery, too.) (The Sun)

Forget it: Frenchman Guy Forget makes a case against sleeveless shirts by taking a swipe at Rafael Nadal: “We don’t need construction worker arms in tennis”. Leave the kid alone! (Sydney Morning Herald)

Let’s celebrate the juniors: If you’d like to read up on the Wimbledon juniors’ draw, Zoo Tennis has something to say.

lleyton talks to the hand

A veteran wants another chance: Lleyton Hewitt (above) hopes to get back into the top of the ATP rankings, and wants his chance at taking down Roger Federer. Meanwhile, people are pushing for him to team up with Aussie coach Tony Roche. (SMH)

A mainstay disappears: The Argus reports that the LTA could scrap Eastbourne.

And so does the traditional service motion: Read up on how Andy Roddick and tennis’ other big servers have transformed how we start points. (New York Sun)

It’s lonely at the top: IHT writes a sweet story on Roger’s and Rafa’s rivalry. They have to stick together, because all they’ve got is each other.

OT: Today’s off-topic reading comes from the Los Angeles Times. Apparently, Lagos is the “New York of Nigeria“.

federer splits with tony roche!

Wow.

To add to the drama that is Roger Federer sans a Roland Garros title, he just split up with Tony Roche, his coach of two and a half years.

Clearly the man is in a slump and wants to do some spring cleaning. Volandri and Canas have found a way into his head (Volandri with one win, and Canas with two), and he still can’t penetrate the Nadal bubble (with 1 loss; two if you count the Battle of the Surfaces). Plus there was that loss to Roddick in Kooyong.

But if you think it’s a bad move to sack your coach two weeks before a Grand Slam, you need not worry for this Swiss: he won three Grand Slam titles after splitting with Peter Lundgren in 2003.

Edit: Josh at Fagistan pointed out that Canas has beaten Federer twice.

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