Roger Rasheed: coach to the stars
Having coached Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to the semifinals of the 2013 French Open, Australian Tennis Magazine chats with Roger Rasheed about the keys to his success.
“Before we go on the court I had long discussion with Roger (Rasheed) to see how Roger Federer play on the clay. I used to have no coach but I choose to take Roger because I knew this guy was able to give me the passion for the game and his passion for the game. That’s what he brings to me. I was waiting for rewards because I’m practicing hard every day. Today I get the rewards.”
So said Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Tuesday in Paris, after beating the legendary Federer in the quarterfinals of the French Open, in straight sets no less. Tsonga now stands just two wins away from becoming the first French male champion at Roland Garros in 30 years.
One thing about Rasheed’s counsel that you can be sure of: he’s definitely done his homework. Scouting opponents and charting matches, shot-selection patterns highlighted on power points and video footage are all part of the South Australian’s coaching toolbox. He might wear a tennis kit to the office, but Rasheed approaches the job of professional tour coach like a CEO of a multinational company.
“Roger is very hands-on,” says Wally Masur. “Once I remember he presented Lleyton (Hewitt) with a really thick document where he had charted all Lleyton’s matches and worked out all the statistics. He (Rasheed) lives and breathes it. He is very professional and all of his players have had good results. So I think that speaks for itself.”
It is hard to mention Rasheed without talking about the years that he spent with Hewitt. “I will say that as a sportsman Lleyton is gold,” Rasheed says.
“He has only offered the best and given his total commitment to his sport and playing for his country … He was always inspirational to watch and someone that I learnt so much from. He helped in my development as a coach in so many ways.”
Tsonga went knocking on Rasheed’s door last November, with the desire to go from good to great. “I did my time by myself and I was feeling like it was a good experience,” Tsonga says. “Roger is very technical and passionate. And now I need those things around me if I want to do great things. Roger motivates me. Plus, he studies tennis a lot and I trust his advice.”