The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Damien’s Spin: Changes coming to Wimbledon

May 8, 2019

The wonderful thing about Wimbledon is the combination of grand tradition and an event that keeps resolutely marching forward.

To that end, tournament CEO Richard Lewis announced a few changes last month, including the likelihood of a serve clock for the 2020 tournament.

“Not a rule change, just a visible device on court to manage the rule,” he said.Lewis also announced a 12 per cent increase in prize money. The men’s and women’s champions had been bumped to $3.05 million each, a 4.4% increase. Overall, the total purse is now $49.5 million.

Finally, the new retractable roof on Court One is set to debut in July, giving the historic tournament two covered courts. The days of rainy fortnights in London threatening to scuttle the competition are, happily, over. We’ll miss the scrambling to get matches in, but not the gloomy concerns of not being able to finish the tournament on time. Just three years ago, organizers had to play matches on the normally inactive Middle Sunday because of terrible weather.

Coaching changes

It wouldn’t be tennis if there wasn’t mid-season coaching news.

Kristina Mladenovic has formed a new partnership with Sascha Bajin, 2018 WTA coach of the year, after Bajin split with world No. 1 Naomi Osaka earlier this year.

Photo: WTA

Mladenovic has fallen from a career high of No. 10 in singles to No. 64 in the world. She hadn’t had a full-time coach for three years.

“I’m flattered that from all the offers he had, from better players on paper than me at the moment, he believes in me and he chose me,” she said.

Bajin has coached Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and most recently Osaka. He had offers from both ATP and WTA players.

“I had a couple of options, but I thought (Mladenovic) was the one I could help the most,” he said. “I don’t want to sound like I’m cocky or something, but I don’t start working with players unless I truly believe they can beat anybody they play.”

Bajin said the inconsistent Mladenovic backhand will be the No. 1 priority, as well as beefing up her serve.

Karolina Pliskova, meanwhile, has joined forces with 1994 Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez. Pliskova had been working occasionally with Martinez since the 2018 U.S. Open, and now the relationship will be full-time.

Rennae Stubbs, who had also been working with Pliskova, is now out.

Finally, Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, ranked No. 33 in the world, is now being coached by Vlado Platenik.

Fed Cup Injuries

Playing for Queen and country takes its toll.

Katie Boulter, who nailed down Britain’s thrilling Fed Cup world group playoff tie against Kazakhstan by beating Zarina Diyas, has now pulled out of the French Open with a back injury and may not be healed in time to play Wimbledon.

Simona Halep was also injured while playing for Romania the same weekend, but she returned for the Madrid Open.

Feature Photo: Mauricio Paiz