Watching Agnieszka Radwanska today in Miami, I thought, for the hundredth time: How can such a talented player bear to have such a terrible second serve? I really enjoy watching Radwanska, but it is obvious that--despite her considerable skills--she is not going to win anything big until she either gets in 90% of her first serves or comes up with a decent second serve.
Radwanska is coached by her father, a man who already has a reputation as one of the more difficult tennis parents on the tour. Obviously, he did something right, or Radwanska would not be such a good player. But what kind of coach allows a top player to continue playing while she holds such a large liability?
I have written many times that I suspect that Marion Bartoli's physical fragility could be related to the fact that she does so much training, even right before a match. Maybe I'm wrong, but would it hurt for her to try someone else's approach? It isn't going to happen: Bartoli, you'll recall, would not play in Fed Cup because her father (who is her coach) was not allowed to accompany her.
Sabine Lisicki is also coached by her father. Lisicki, a real talent, is now a walking (figuratively speaking) injury. Again, how could it hurt to have someone else take over--at least for a while--who could get to the bottom of Lisicki's now common tendency to become injured during matches?
There may be some observers who think that it's time for Caroline Wozniacki to seek a fresh perspective, too. It's hard to argue with a number 2 ranking, or with the inherent toughness Wozniacki displays, but there is also concern that her reliance on defensive play will eventually hamper her success.
This is not to say that it is always a bad thing to be coached by one's parent. Melanie Molitor was a good coach, though she did accept her daughter's lack of desire to train, whereas, perhaps another person would have been tougher on Hingis. Ai Sugiyama was also very successfully coached by her mother. And there is no arguing that Richard Williams and Oracene Price produced two outstanding players. The Williams sisters, however, are in a class of their own. Not only are they outstanding athletes, but they were brought up, from day one, to believe, not that they could win, but that they would win.
Looking at players like Radwanska, Bartoli and Lisicki, though, I have to wonder--would another coach be able to fix what is wrong?