Chile celebrated Dominic Thiem’s thrilling triumph at the US Open on Sunday. The coronation of an Austrian tennis player converted into a Chilean thanks to his coach. His victory was that of Nicolás Massú (national hero, immovable from the saints) and, by contagion, that of all his fellow citizens. It was an obviously patriotic cry, but who knows to what extent it was also sewn on science. Are there sporting reasons to award Massú ownership of the crown? Well, some do not see it crazy.
In other words, if it were not for the peasantry, Massú would not have earned a headline. That’s for sure. Tennis coaches are not used to surname successes, as it usually happens in soccer. For obvious reasons, it is difficult to associate in individual modalities the influence that trainers have in team sports, where they are also recognized as the undisputed leadership. And here the coach it is rather an employee of the ward. No, the name of his coach was never seen hanging on a Federer win (in fact, most do not know right now or what his name is). But hey, there are also technicians who were legend and whose mere presence raise murmurs. Agassi was looked at more last year than his disciple Dimitrov.
The point is that “Massú is fifty percent of Thiem”, Hans Gildemeister says. And the player himself, questioned about the importance of his coach (a question that most Grand Slam winners do not usually have to answer), goes on and on: “It changed my mind.”
Statistics show that Dominic was already there in February 2019 (25 years old, 11 titles behind him and number eight in the world ranking), when Nico knocked on his door, but also that he is much higher 19 months later (he now has 17 crowns, including a Master 1,000 and a Grand Slam, and is in third place on the ladder). There is jump. In the head, in the way of playing and in the results.
Is it enough to have been a good player to train? Clearly not. But neither does Massú himself know give too many clues as to why they are influencing. “I’m just doing my job,” he said only in March, when he pushed the Austrian to victory at Indian Wells. “We train intensely, with a lot of quality, with a lot of conscience, giving one hundred percent every day,” he added. A sergeant? Neither. Although brave, the Chilean is not a military leader. Rather, run away from confrontation. Thiem does not follow him out of obligation, but convinced.
The specialists list the qualities of Massú to grant him some responsibility in the growth of the Austrian, but they do not agree either. Dedication, spending all day thinking about tennis, obsession with small details, energy … And faith, especially faith. Attributes to the air, abstract concepts, which do not explain by themselves anything that is happening. Yes, Thiem would not stop at the end looking at Nico, seeking advice or encouragement. And the Chilean did not stop intervening. And the Austrian rose from two sets against in the duel against Zverev. But why? By his own head or by Massú’s? Because of his talent or because of the instructions?
Was Larry Stefanski, the mythical coach of Marcelo Ríos and John Mc Enroe, who most dared to specify what the Chilean in office seemed to him. Although to destroy it. “What they have is a nice friendship. I would not call Massú a coach. But Thiem needs someone nice to accompany him on the circuit. The Tour has become that. Dominic is a very talented guy. Massu is leading a very good horse, so to speak, but to be a coach it is not enough to be cheerleader”. Her lapidary forecast of not so long ago, May of last year, now resounds with the hot conquest of the US Open.
And the fact is that cheerleader He stayed with the former Chilean tennis player, due to the thickness of the name. And in reviewing it, Today we can deduce that either if it is enough to be a constant cheerleader for your player, a pure motivator; or actually Massú is much more than that. With an impact on morale, but also on the game. In technique and in tactics. What was the first; the egg or the chicken? The player or the coach?
It is too early to know if Chile overstepped the brakes by putting Massú almost at the same height as the first Grand Slam winner of the new generation (those born after the 90s), but not to ensure that tennis is really before a specialist. Logic tips the balance towards the player, but his coach is not just anyone. While waiting for the details and reasons to be specified, New York issued a sentence: Massú is a coach. They are going to call him a teacher.