By Enrico Maria Riva
ROME - Richard Gasquet had just lost his quarterfinal match to David Ferrer at the Internazionali BNL dâ€™Italia, and Riccardo Piatti, the veteran Italian coach who is working with Gasquet (together with SÃ©bastien Grosjean) is resting in the players lounge. Piatti always follows Gasquet matches from the players box as he used to do with Ivan Ljubicic, Novak Djokovic, Simone Bolelli and the many other players he worked with during the years. Piatti is relaxed, he knows that Gasquet did his best against Ferrer but the Spaniard today was better; when Ferrer passes by to reach the news conference Piatti doesn’t hesitate for a second to call for his attention and congratulate him.
Riccardo Piatti has been a tennis coach for nearly 30 years now and his wide experience and great achievements are well regarded on the ATP Tour. Very few things remain unknown about his tennis theories but what about his approach to coaching a player? Piattiâ€™s idea is that unless you get to know a player in depth you will not be able to understand how to organize the daily routine with him. The first step for the Monte Carlo based coach is to meet the parents. That gives him a precious insight of the environment where the kid was raised and helps him to better understand the dynamics that can lead to positive results.
Piatti looks at you with his fascinating pale blue eyes, that can show patience and calm but that you can easily imagine it turning quickly into a glacial stare. His idea of relationship is based on the truth. He says he never lies to a player to protect his feelings or to hide an inconvenient truth. He doesn’t try to assume the role of a “father” but he keeps his eyes open to check for any sign of discomfort or pain that a player can have from his extra tennis life. He doesn’t control them tightly. He doesn’t prevent them from going out at night or coming back late. They are free to organize their life as they please but they have to put their tennis career at the top of their priorities. That is the first and only rule and must not be broken. Every aspect of the daily routine must revolve around tennis: schedule, timetables, plans must be made thinking that the match and the practicing time are the priority.
His approach to his pupils is different with each one of them. Ljubicic was very self demanding and needed to be strongly confronted and guided where there were differences of opinion. Gasquet is the opposite is a player that needs to be cuddled more than reproached. The boundaries between work and private life must be kept very strict although inevitable, after a long time together, a holiday with the respective families is likely to happen. Piatti’s impact on Gasquet game is admirable. The Frenchman is once again competitive on clay after some difficulties in the past years.
On Friday in Rome Novak Djokovic struggled in the first set against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga but made the most of the Frenchmanâ€™s double fault that gave him the first set 7-5 and ended with an easy 6-1. He will now face Roger Federer who ended Andreas Seppi‘s dream in less than one hour 6-1, 6-2. Rafael Nadal played probably his best clay court match of the year against a solid Tomas Berdych and managed to close the match in straight sets 6-4, 7-5. He will now play Ferrer to whom he has only lost on clay only once in 2004.
On the womenâ€™s side Maria Sharapova ended Venus Williams good run with a strong performance but the news about the Russian is that she didn’t spare critics about Victoria Azarenkaâ€™s retirement. Flavia Pennetta couldn’t please the Italian crowd as she had to retire down 0-4 against Serena Williams due to the same wrist injury that kept her off the tour for the past few weeks. Finally, Li Na reached the semifinal after a convincing performance against Â Dominka Cibulkova that didn’t spoil her extra day of rest.
Photo Credit: TennisWorldItalia.com