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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007, 19:57 GMT 20:57 UK
Britain banking on star coaches
By Piers Newbery

Peter Lundgren
Lundgren has a wider role with the LTA beyond the Davis Cup
If the quality of coaches on the sidelines were matched by the players on court, Great Britain would be dead certs to take care of the Netherlands in the Davis Cup this weekend.

Roger Federer, Marat Safin, Marcelo Rios, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Pete Sampras - all world number ones and all former clients of Britain's illustrious court-side staff.

So eyebrows have been raised at the prospect of Peter Lundgren, Brad Gilbert and Paul Annacone circling the practice court while the likes of Jamie Baker and Richard Bloomfield do their thing.

But the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is banking on those players especially benefiting from exposure to the best coaching money can buy.

As far as the Netherlands tie is concerned, captain John Lloyd has a relatively strong squad to pick from if they are fully fit.

World number 11 Andy Murray is joined by veterans Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, while the emergence of Jamie Murray as a world-class doubles player is a real boost.

Almost of as much interest as the tennis is the prospect of several of the world's best coaches having to work together.

People are looking at what we're doing and are a little bit jealous that the LTA has done this

Peter Lundgren
Gilbert will be in Birmingham both as Andy Murray's coach and as part of his wider role with the LTA, while Annacone works under Paul Hutchins, the head of men's tennis.

Lundgren, formerly the coach to Rios, Federer and Safin, was Lloyd's first appointment as Davis Cup coach.

"John Lloyd, Brad Gilbert, Paul Annacone... that's a pretty solid group," Lundgren told BBC Sport. "But it's not difficult, absolutely not.

"I have to say it's a pleasure to work with Paul, Brad and John. They're all great guys and there's no egos in the group. It's a very comfortable situation."

And with the starting line-up likely to have plenty of big-time experience, the Swede does not exactly overstate his role with the senior players.

"Basically it's just to make them feel good and prepare them as much as you can," Lundgren told BBC Sport. "You can't do much but we can help them a little bit I hope, get used to the surface.

"They're used to coming to a tournament a couple of days before and just play so there's nothing different.

"You can't do miracles three days before a Davis Cup tie but we try to do the best we can for the team."

Roger Federer and Peter Lundgren
Lundgren helped Federer to his first Wimbledon title in 2003
While Britain's immediate fortunes in the Davis Cup will determine the nature of next week's headlines, it is the day-to-day work that someone like Lundgren can do that may prove most significant.

"We are discussing that I'm going to help some of the other players," said Lundgren.

"I'm helping (Alex) Bogdanovic a little bit, so we'll see how much I'm going to do but I'm going to try to help as much as I can.

"I'm not going to do full-time - I cannot do both, it's impossible - but if they want my help I'm here and I will do as much as I can.

"I'm not going to do more than 20 weeks, 25 weeks, but the guys that are coming from underneath - Alex, Josh Goodall - I'm going to try to help them as much as I can."

Alongside the presumably sizeable salaries commanded by the recent high-profile arrivals has come the opening of the LTA's new National Tennis Centre in Roehampton for an estimated 39m.

This spending spree has not gone unnoticed in the tennis world.

"People are looking at what we're doing and are a little bit jealous that the LTA has done this," said Lundgren.

"I think it's a great thing, what they've done, and in a couple of years maybe we'll have a couple of great players.

"It's going to take time. Just because you have names it doesn't mean you get results straight away but I think the LTA is ready to have patience and let us work for a few years and hopefully we'll get the results."

With Andy Murray storming up the rankings and a potentially successful Davis Cup campaign to come, the sceptical voices have been hushed, for the moment, while British tennis has opened its cheque book.

But Wimbledon is looming and with it the annual outcry as Britain's serious hopes rest on one player. So is splashing out on the finest off-court advice the best way to ensure on-court success in the future?

"Of course," said Lundgren. "If you hire bad coaches you're not going to get results, that's for sure. At least this way gives you a better chance."

  • Follow live coverage of GB v Netherlands on the BBC Sport website, Five Live, BBC Two and BBCi from Friday

  • SEE ALSO
    Annacone part of new LTA set-up
    30 Nov 06 |  Tennis


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