Richard Krajicek: 'Tennis season can make or break you'
Some of the young players travelled to Spain to prepare for the clay court season. During their training there, they were also given instructions about properly scheduling tournaments.
‘How you plan your season can make or break your career,’ explains mentor Richard Krajicek, who joined them for the trip. The season kicks off in Australia in January and ends with the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November, and Krajicek believes that it is important for the young players to make the right choices. ‘Planning is vital, and they’re very much aware of that. You want to be fit all year round and in good shape for the Grand Slams. Look at the Big Four – Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Murray – for examples of how to get it right.’
No universal solution
Each tennis player’s schedule is different. Andy Murray prefers to play frequently. In 2014 he played 79 matches at 21 tournaments (not including the Davis Cup). Djokovic was in the same range, with 69 matches, but only played at 15 tournaments. Krajicek explains, ‘There’s no universal solution that works for everyone. You need to look at what’s right for the individual. Federer is the best example, not having missed a single Grand Slam since 2000. One of the reasons is that he structures his seasons so well.’
Clay, grass and hard courts
One of the factors complicating the plans is the change in playing surfaces. For example, pros switch to clay in April and keep playing on it until Roland Garros ends. They then immediately switch to grass, in preparation of Wimbledon in late June and early July. They make a brief return to clay courts in July, and the remainder of the year is dominated by hard courts.
Krajicek continues, ‘Only the very best players can make the transition quickly. It’s important that these kids learn to handle this now. That’s why I’ve taken them to Spain: to give them a chance to prepare for the clay court season in the right conditions and without the pressure of tournaments.’