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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Friday, May 10, 2024
Caroline Garcia has a new ally on her side during this clay-court campaign.

He's delivered bold advice. 

More: Nadal Fights off Bergs in Rome Return 

Ivan Ljubicic, former coach of Roger Federer, has been in Garcia's box alongside her coach, Bertrand Perret, for some of her recent matches.

Former Indian Wells champion Ljubicic was in Garcia's box again in Rome today as she dispatched Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-2, 7-6(5).

Afterward, Garcia told L'Equipe, the former Croatian Davis Cup hero has been a valued adviser.

"I didn't know him too well until Indian Wells," Garcia told L'Equipe. "Over there, it's the first time that he commented a little on my match with Bertrand (Perret) and that he had, for once, an opinion on the same wavelength as where we want to go.

"Compared to his career as a player and coach, it was very interesting. Every time he was at the tournaments and if he was free, he had the doors wide open! Bertrand, like me, wants to learn from outsiders. We don't think we have the magic recipe. Ivan comes quietly, gives some advice and it feels good."

Today, Garcia pumped 11 aces and won 30 of 35 first-serve points advancing to a third-round clash vs. red-hot Miami and Charleston champion Danielle Collins.

Garcia is among the WTA leaders in service games won (77%) this season.

The Frenchwoman's prowess holding serve,  she believes, empowers her to play from an ultra-aggressive return position, often inside the baseline.

That hasn't always paid dividends. Garcia's 23.9% of return games won is among the lowest of any Top 50-ranked player this season. In contrast, Coco Gauff is breaking 50% of the time, world No. 1 Iga Swiatek breaks 46.7% and Wimbledon winner Marketa Vondrousva breaks at a 40% clip this season. 

Still, don't look for Garcia to back up behind the baseline on return anytime soon. Ljubicic's advice: Amp up the aggression.

"In Rouen, he watched all my matches and he wrote to us afterwards," Garcia told L'Equipe of Ljubicic. "The first time he spoke with Bertrand in Indian Wells, he told us: "That's it, I've understood Caroline's game, in fact she's not aggressive enough!" Bertrand fell out of his chair a little and told me: "You have to sit down with Ivan at all costs (smiles)."

Photo credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty