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Mouratoglou: ATP Coaching Trial Ends Tennis Hypocrisy

By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Patrick Mouratoglou congratulates the ATP for pressing pause on coaching charades.

Mouratoglou, who coaches Simona Halep after years of coaching Serena Williams, applauds the ATP's decision to permit "off-court" coaching on a trial basis saying it means "no more hypocrisy" for the sport.

More: ATP To Trial Coaching Starting Next Month

The ATP announced it will permit coaching from designated seats at the stands starting from the week of July 11th, 2022 as part of a test that will span the second half of the season.

The trial includes the US Open and will run through to the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals in Turin in November.

"Congratulations to the ATP for “legalizing” a practice that has been going on at almost every match for decades," Mouratoglou posted on Twitter. "No more hypocrisy."

Mouratoglou was at the center of a coaching controversy in the 2018 US Open final during Serena Williams' straight-sets loss to Naomi Osaka.

The 20th-seeded Serena was called for a game penalty for verbally abusing chair umpire Carlos Ramos after the veteran umpire hit her with two warnings—one for coaching and one for smashing her racquet.

Mouratoglou, who was captured by court-side cameras making a "move forward" gesture with both hands, told ESPN's Pam Shriver he did try to coach Williams, but said that's standard procedure for coaches in major finals. Mouratoglou cited Toni Nadal for constantly coaching from the stands for years.

"I'm honest. I was coaching," Mouratoglou told his ESPN colleague. "I don't think she looked at me, but like 100 percent of the coaches in 100 percent of the matches [coach].

"I was coaching, Sascha [Bajin] was coaching too. Toni Nadal is coaching every single point and he's never gave a single point [penalty]."

Coach Mouratoglou's admission prompted social media condemnation from Hall of Famer and tennis television analyst Todd Woodbridge who called it "disappointing" such a high-profile coach concedes chronically breaking a basic rule.

Critics argue legalizing coaching dumbs down the game, trashes tennis tradition and gives an unfair edge to the stars who earn more money and can afford to pay entire coaching teams whereas young players sometimes simply can't afford the expense of paying a coach to travel around the world.

Proponents assert since coaching from the stands occurs in pro tennis for years, it's a common-sense change to legalize it.

Tennis Now asked Toni Nadal his view on legalizing coaching at a clinic he hosted at the Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre in Mexico prior to the pandemic. Toni Nadal said he supports coaching from the stands but opposes on-court coaching.

The uncle and original coach of Rafa Nadal conceded he frequently coached the king of clay from the support box, but called the practice "normal." Toni Nadal said since you can hear a stadium full of fans commenting during a match why can't a coach talk too?

“For me, I would not like to go on court,” Toni Nadal told Tennis Now following a morning training session in Costa Mujeres, Mexico. “But I liked to talk when I was the coach. Because when you’re in the stadium of the whole crowd the only one who cannot talk is the coach—it’s unbelievable.

“I think for me it was normal [to coach from the box]. In tennis you don’t talk because what can you say? It’s not like football. There’s not too much you can talk about [during a game].”

Pointing to fact coaching from the box doesn't disrupt the flow of a match while potentially inspiring players and engaging fans, Toni Nadal suggests coaching from the box already occurs so often "it's normal" to legalize it.

“For me, it’s normal that you can talk a little," Toni Nadal told Tennis Now. "To say something positive, encouraging—it’s part of competition.

"Sometimes tactics, but not too much. For me, the life has changed so we have to change something [in tennis]. So yes, I would support coaches to be able to talk from the box—not on the court.” 

Photo credit: Simona Halep Instagram