On October 12, 2013, Roger Federer announced that he had ended his partnership with Paul Annacone who had been his coach for 3 and a half years. The split was amicable, with Federer citing that the decision to end his coaching partnership was mutual. They had achieved their primary objectives of winning a Grand Slam and returning to World No. 1, and they felt that this was the right path for both of them in their respective careers. The official statement can be found on Roger’s official site here.
After the split, Annacone was high in his praise for Federer, saying that there was ‘plenty of greatness’ still left in him. In an interview with USA Today, this was what Annacone had to say on what lay ahead for Federer –
Greatness doesn’t stop. It doesn’t just go away. He’s not all of a sudden now not that good anymore. The problem is that the expectations and the bar are so high. Whenever you start to doubt people like this, you kind of set yourself up to get your own foot stuck in your mouth. They’re atypical. They’re phenoms. As much as Roger still loves to play, the exuberance he still shows in every practice, his desire to continue to enjoy the game — I can’t imagine anything other than success coming his way. For me, it’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.
The last two lines cemented what I had always maintained about Federer – it was always a matter of implementing his current strategy consistently, rather than inventing a new style of play. He doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, he just has to fine-tune the one he has right now. He has been at such a high level for such a long time that people are bound to have unrealistic expectations – it is natural. The fact that his ex-coach feels that he’s still got it is a very optimistic sign for us Federer fans.
To answer the question in the title – no, I do not think that Federer needs a new coach. He is too mature and has too much experience playing the game to not know what to do. Alternatively, it can be said that if he doesn’t know what to do, there are very few others who are equipped to tell him what to do. Federer has a very small amount of points to defend in 2014 – a string of good performances will see him rising in the rankings, and with that will come confidence. A confident Federer is a very dangerous opponent, as he can make outrageous shots with immaculate consistency. A coach cannot instill consistency in a player – it is up to the player to practice as hard as he can to get the consistency back. Moreover, I do not see anyone who is an obvious candidate for the post, and there haven’t been any rumours as to who it would be.
We will have to wait and see – the decision is, after all, Federer’s; he alone knows what is best. But if you ask me, no coach is going to influence him greatly.