View Full Version : Landsdorp: On Sharapova, Davenport, Austin, Myskina and Sampras (Alexandra too...)

Dec 4th, 2004, 06:04 AM
Inside Tennis:
Landsdorp's ladies, Tales of Bravery Acts of Courage
December 2004
By Bill Simons

Inside Tennis: Myskina wins the French, Sharapova takes Wimbledon and the Year End Championships, while Davenport puts together a 22-match win streak. It was a heck of a summer (year) for Landsdorp's ladies.
Robert Landsdorp: Before, the players were so bad at giving credit where credit is due- like Tracy Austin, like all of them. Now, who in the wold has coached five Grand Slam champions? Tracy gives me the more credit than I can handle. After all these year I’m getting credit. It’s nice. Maria is really thoughtful. She’s unbelievable and has good character. She’s a great girl and it’s nice to have a good relationship, where I’m finally getting credit. Now of days Davenport gives me credit. She’s talked about what a great influence I was and how without me she probably wouldn’t have been anywhere. Nobody has evolved the little ones into GS champions like me. The only one that came to me when she was older was Myskina, she was No. 58. She stunk. A year and a half later, she’s top 10 and she says her boyfriend did it all. And she says, “Yeah Landsdorp helped me with my groundies.” Excuse me, what else have you got?

IT: You’ve coached Sampras, Austin, Sharapova, Myskina, Davenport...
RL: Stephanie Rehe, got to be top 10, Eliot Telscher got to six, Brian Teacher, nine, Kimberly Po, 14.

IT: Does the lack of recognition piss you off?
RL: No, I’m used to it. Nobody has done what I have done, the way I did it. Some radio guy called and said, “You just rent a court? You’re not on some luxurious court at an academy?” But what else do I need> All I need is a basket of balls and a court. I don’t need all the B.S But I’ve always been the worst PR guy. I never talked. Other guys have PR people. So people say, “How come I’ve never heard about you, you've made all these champions.” But I’m feeling good and have a feeling I probably will have one more champion in my life.

RL: Nothing can be done without discipline. then it’s motivation and the psychology of bringing kids along, understanding what the kid needs to become better, recognizing what they’re lacking at a very early age, what it is that they have to do become better. Look at Maria- the only one I knew who had better motivation was Tracy.
IT: Really, more so than Pete?[/b]
RL: Oh yeah. Pete looked like he was going to be a great player, definitely. Lindsay looked like she was going to be good, but never win grand slams but never win grand slams. So you look at what they need. And then, you stick to what is going to make them great. My system makes them great.

IT: Who had the greatest drive and determination of the five?
RL: Probably Tracy. But they all have it. In terms of showing it, it would definitely be Tracy and Maria. They were the most aggressive in wanting to win. You saw it in the slap of their thighs- they just can’t wait to win. Pete was a little lax. Sometimes I thought he was sort of throwing a match. Same with Lindsay.

IT: How would you compare Myskina’s desire with Sharapova’s?
RL: Myskina has come around. She wasn’t the same as Maria when she came to me. She was easily distracted. At Indian Wells, she’s up 6-1, 4-0 over Nathalie Dechy, who then took a bathroom break. Then Myskina fell apart. No way would Maria have fallen apart.
IT: Myskina was once up 5-0 against Henin at the WTA Championships and she blew that, not to mention this year at...
RL: She can go “walkabout,” but if she can overcome that, and also handle pace, she’s quick and has a devastating backhand.

IT: We’ve seen Maria’s forehand, Pete’s running forehand- we’ve seen Lindsay’s backhand. Who’s got the sweetest stroke?
RL: It’s a three, maybe four way tie. Myskina hits a little different than Maria. Maria, Davenport, and Austin drive the ball. Myskina doesn’t quite drive through, but tags the ball so well she generates a lot of pace. Davenport has an unbelievable backhand, which she had at a very early age. Very clean. When she was 12, she could flip the backhand. Maria didn’t rip the backhand. Her father kept telling me, “She missed a lot of backhands” I kept saying, ‘Yuri, don’t worry. She’s going to have a world-class backhand.’ Why? Because then she didn’t know whether she should be right- or- left handed. But since the motion was a little more natural with the right arm, I told him, “You should probably have her play right-handed. But because of the left hand, her backhand is going to be devastating.”

IT: What about Yuri? Tough, tough, guy. Really motivated.
RL: He’s an easy guy with me. No problems whatsoever. he believes in me. He took her to me because he figured i was going to be the one could make Maria hit the ball like Davenport. he never argues with me, he never says a word. All he does is jump down to pick up balls.

IT: So at Wimbledon, Sharapova went up against Serena, a two-time champ, in the final and the conventional wisdom was that Serena would kick butt. What was your feeling going in?
RL: Honestly, I thought Maria had a chance. I told her, you hit the ball hard and you crank it into Serena’s forehand and might break down. That’s exactly what happened. With somebody like Maria, you’ve got to instill a couple of things in her and then let her play on instinct. She’d never hit a lob, but on two crucial points she hit two unbelievable lobs. Did anybody tell her, hey, when Serena comes up to the net, hit a lob? No. It was instinct. She overpowered Serena’s forehand, which is one of the best. Serena got a little shell-shocked and couldn’t believe that this chick was actually beating her.

IT: Talk to me about Alexandra Stevenson, who you’ve worked with and who just had shoulder surgery. I know you heart goes out to her.
RL: She’s really nice. You can’t compete when you’re in pain. Obviously your confidence dives. She just hasn’t won any matches. She can be more consistent. She moves better than Lindsay, and Lindsay does just fine. If there’s any advice I can give, it’s make sure your kid understands consistency first. Once you have consistency, go with placement, and then finally go with power. Maria had consistency all the way. She could hit consistently to one spot. She wouldn’t make an error. That comes from repetition. There’s nothing like muscle memory. if you hit a couple thousand balls in the same spot, the same way, it becomes so natural that you never fear that you’re not going to do it.

IT: Everyone says that Robert is the ‘guru of groundies’. True?
RL: I’m just known for that Tracy had unbelievable groundies and the biggest suck serve you can imagine. It was worse than Myskina’s. Then, right away, people say, “He knows ground strokes but his players don't know how to hit a serve”. Sharapova hits a pretty good serve. Lindsay’s not bad. Pete has hit same serve since he was 11- never changed it.
IT: Did you teach Pete his serve?
RL: He came to me when he was nine and hit it so well, I wasn’t going to change it. But I cannot get anyone else to hit it like that. It’s funny, kids come and say, “I’m hitting the serve like Pete Sampras.” They think it looks like Sampras because of the way they’re standing, but the arm doesn’t do the same.
IT: So you teach the serve but don’t get the...
RL: ...the recognition for it. But I still say that groundstrokes have to be very good, if not the best.

IT: To wrap up, the one thing that you’d like the world to know about Robert Landsdorp?
RL: I’m really a nice guy.

IT: And the player who was the most appreciative?
RL: Sharapova. There better be a Mercedes in my driveway because my neighbor said, “How come your players never give you anything?” I never received anything from one single player I’ve coached. Not even a $500 gift. They’re all multimillionaires but I’ve never received one thing. And Im telling you, if Maria doesn’t put a Mercedes convertible in my driveway, I’m going to shoot myself.

Dec 4th, 2004, 06:13 AM
Is that a real interview? Doesn't sound real. Lots of bad grammar too.

Dec 4th, 2004, 06:20 AM
Is that a real interview? Doesn't sound real. Lots of bad grammar too.
Yes this is real. I had to re-type it from the magazine so I appologize if there are lots of errors. The magazine is 'Inside Tennis' and it's the December / November Issue. Serena Williams is on the cover and I have to say it's one of the best pictures I've ever seen of her. She's in a two peice green bikini and the photographer did an amazing job. The interview is on page 18 in the magazine. To be honest I wasn't familiar with this publication, but I picked it up for free at the park where I play tennis at (El Derado Park in Long Beach, CA). There's another equally interesting article featuring Richard Williams- maybe I'll put that up one day...

FYI- I would NEVER post a fake article, (on purpose) I'm not that kind of poster!

Dec 4th, 2004, 06:51 AM
Is that a real interview? Doesn't sound real. Lots of bad grammar too.Yea, I thought that right away when I scanned the article..."kicked her butt, this chick,pissed off...." It's obvious Maria is Robert's jewel, but I didn't realize it was to this degree. If I don't recall Robert was saying about this time a year ago that Myskina would never be a top 5 player...:rolleyes:

Dec 4th, 2004, 07:25 AM

Dec 4th, 2004, 08:10 AM

Dec 4th, 2004, 02:30 PM
While I think Robert Landsdorp is due his credit, it's off-putting how he is almost demanding it.

Dec 4th, 2004, 02:39 PM
he sounds a little arrogant to me.

the cat
Dec 4th, 2004, 03:24 PM
Excellent interview. Thanks. It was good to get Robert Lansdorp open up in this interview. And the fact that none of his players ever gave him a present for his help is a disgrace. :mad: Tennis players can be so cheap. :( But it must have been so sweet when Masha thanked Robert publicly during her Wimbledon speech. She remembered to thank Lansdorp and Nick Bollettieri for all their help and that was nice.

Dec 4th, 2004, 03:39 PM
He is from Holland....so am I! But I assume he has never gone back to Holland after his fame of creating champions... He got to have a HUGE house some where....

Dec 4th, 2004, 03:41 PM
Doesn't he get, uhhh, PAID for his coaching help? Why should he get anything else from his players besides credit?

Dec 4th, 2004, 03:44 PM
If he is doing it for the credit only then I guess he doesn't really love helping to develop a player's game just for the game's sake, he just wants the credit. Not to mention the money he's getting paid.

Dec 4th, 2004, 03:48 PM
This is a man who sits in the stands and wears his own name on his shirt. The arrogant funk steaming from him is unbeliveable. As if he didn't get paid for his work. Hes a millionaire as well but i don't see him gifting others with Mercedes, it would be different if he picked up some little kid helped them improve and didn't expect money in return. Yeah brunof Myskina worked with him for what 3 months? And he said she'd never be top 5 and now all of a sudden hes the one who made her into champion. :rolleyes:

I hope Maria doesn't waste a Mercedes on him, a charity would benefit more than one person, people who can't afford luxuries.

Dec 4th, 2004, 04:21 PM
i could have sworn i remembered Lindsay thanking him.

he seems quite bitter.

maybe this is why they say that those who can't, teach.

he seems envious of his students' success. but they in turn do all seem a tad ungrateful IMO.

Dec 4th, 2004, 04:30 PM
Wait, he coached Alex S too...
what a success story that is
i don't really believe too much in this coaching stuff, if the player has what it takes, he/she will be able to reach the top of the game eventually
if anything, the coach just serves as a catalyst

Dec 4th, 2004, 04:45 PM
RL's lack of recognition probably has less to do with a lack of a Public PR person (as he claims) and more to do with a lack of social skills.

Judging only from the interview (which gives one quite a glimpse) and from his silly comment last year on Myskina's future at the top, I wouldn't be surprised if he pissed off a number of his pupils with his attitude and opinions. I guess he has a "brutal honesty, say-what-I-think" mode of teaching, which is fine. But he needs to realise that young players rarely find that supporting, and usually won't take it for too long from anyone who isn't an actual parent. Hence the tendency these great winners have to see their time with him as professional, technical, ("He helped me improve my strokes") rather than nurturing ("He made me a champion").

Dec 4th, 2004, 05:18 PM
I think Lansdorp likes to have the image of a tough, grumpy coach.
I laughed when he gave his opinion of Maria and Anastasia before they met in San Diego.
He said Maria has a better forehand, better backhand, and much better serve.
Why play the match?:lol:

Dec 4th, 2004, 08:30 PM
:eek: wow he is really full of himself. It was a fun read though - thanks for posting it.

the cat
Dec 4th, 2004, 09:13 PM
I also want to read a new interview with Nick Bollettieri. I think I remember him saying years ago that none of his pupils ever made donations to his academy. Maybe tennis players are cheap. It's possible.

Dec 4th, 2004, 09:40 PM
Why does he call Lindsay 'Davenport'? Very impersonal.

He sounds... arrogant, self righteous and coarse.

Dec 4th, 2004, 11:07 PM
yeah...odd, he coached Lindsay for so many years...thought they´d be more close.

Dec 4th, 2004, 11:27 PM
God, he's worse than Bollitierri! He gets "credit" by being employed by a player and getting that fat check each week. :rolleyes:

Dec 5th, 2004, 12:24 AM
yeah...odd, he coached Lindsay for so many years...thought they´d be more close.

i think you are thinking of Robert Van't Hof.

Dec 5th, 2004, 02:42 AM
Actually Lansdorp doesn't sign contracts with his players, he isn't employed, and isn't a millionaire (yet).

He's always worked flat rate, charging every player the same fee by the hour, which is approx $120 an hour, and he works on a public court.

This is why he feels let down by a lot of his players, who've gone on to make millions and not given him a bonus, or even come back and said "Thankyou". Maria has at least given him some publicity and thanks - even if not the mercedes he keeps hinting so heavily he'd like!

Dec 5th, 2004, 02:48 AM
I also want to read a new interview with Nick Bollettieri. I think I remember him saying years ago that none of his pupils ever made donations to his academy. Maybe tennis players are cheap. It's possible.

Unlike Lansdorp, Bollettieri doesn't need donations. He charges big fees ($ 10s of thousands a year) for all the kids at his academy. He also sold up to IMG for a very large sum, and now "manages" the academy for them.

But I agree, Tennis Players do seem cheap in this respect.

Dec 5th, 2004, 02:53 AM
he needs to get over himself. it's his own fault for being to lazy/stupid/whatever to run his business properly. he can't complain about not being rich and at the same time preach about how he doesn't want to do PR etc.

and if he simply wants to rely on people being good natured enough to give him what he wants then he really is stupid.

Dec 5th, 2004, 09:36 PM
(here's the rest of the interview... I left a couple of questions out when I posted- I was tired of typing)

IT: So many of the great champions of recent years either are first-generation Americans- like Agassi, Sampras, or Chang- or they come from Eastern Europe- like Lendl, Navratilova, Hingis, Seles. Now there's the Russian wave. Do Americans still have that inner drive, even ferocity, to reach the very top?
RL: I don't think that's it. To me, a kid's a kid. When a kid loves to play at a young age, that has to be nurtured a little bit better in this country. It has to come from the parents. If the parents are behind the kid, then you have a chance. I have a couple of kids now that are very, very good. When they came to me, I had a feeling that they felt like I could make them a champion. That helps me to get them more motivated. But maybe the USTA should help. You should look for kids in the U.S. I asked [USTA High Performance cheif] Eliot Teltscher a long time ago, "Why don't you find all the top kids in the state, young ones- let me develop them?" Nothing came of it. You've got to start them very young, when they're six, seven, eight. Once they're 12, it's more difficult. Once they're 14, 15, it's far more difficult, and once they're 17, 18 it's almost a done deal. If a girl hasn't won any major tournaments by the age of 16, 17, she's not going to be No.1

IT: You can see talent fairly young?
RL: I can see how they hit the ball. Another thing that's important is how valuable a point is to them. Do they miss easy? Do they make unforced errors?
IT: Sharapova fights for every point.
RL: Not only that, but when she was 12 she knew the court. She didn't have discipline, hitting the same ball over and over, but she knew where to put the ball. The same with Austin. They knew how to play, they just had to be developed.

IT: You're famous for feeding kids thousands of balls.
RL: It's the repetition. It's the ability to make them hit balls that they don't think they can hit. It's the work ethic. Since I have a great work ethic, you get the same ethic out of them. It's a process of several years, molding the person. Of course with somebody like Maria, Tracy or Pete, they have a championship quality within. But you hve to give them the tools and the condfidence that all their qualities will work. By having Maria hit her forehand over and over again, she's able to handle it because she's seen hundreds of thousands of balls come to her at 100 miles per hour. I can hit them out of a basket a foot inside the line, a foot from the baseline, 100 miles per hour. I can hit them outside of a basket a foot inside the line, a foot from the baseline, 100 miles an hour, over and over. Then I can change the pace all of the sudden. It's just constant work and making sure that the drive is clean and through the ball.

IT: An average Landsdorp workout is an hour and a half, two hours?
RL: An hour. Maria does two hours, an hour and a half. It's rough. I work hard and they work hard.

IT: What coaching job are you most proud of?
RL: The answer is weird. It doesnt make any difference, because I never looked and said, "Okay, now I'm going to make this one a champion." I just developed them. The first time Pete won [the Open], I was unbeliavably impressed by the way he played, the way he hit his backhand. I said, "Holy moly."
IT: You weren't the one who changed it from a two-hander?
RL: I probably wouldn't have done it, because he had a very good two-hander. Tarrango had a terrible two-hander, and when we tried to change it to a one-hander, the one-hander was far worse than the two-hander! Pete came to me when he was 16, because he was only slicing it. He couldn't hit his backhand.

IT: Any similarity between Yuri and Mr. Sampras?
RL: Mr. Sampras was never around, so it's hard to tell. Mr. Sampras would come to the lessons in the beginning, but there was not the involvement that Maria has with Yuri. They have a geat relationship. He sometimes sounds a little harsh when he talks to her, and he's very defensive when you say anything about Maria. You definitely don't want to get on his bad side, or say something about Maria- like what Nick [Bolettieri] said at Indian Wells, that this other girl [Bulgarian Sesil Karatantcheva] was going to be No.1. Then it's a done deal. It's over. Don't look me up anymore, nice working with ya. But Yuri calls me all the time. I give him advice, when he asks me. It's a great relationship. I trust him because he's not the kind of guy who will screw you over.

IT: What about Federer? Will he have a Sampras-like career?
RL: I'll tell you what happened with Sampras. He came to me after he just became No. 1 and said, "It's so tough being No. 1," because Becker had just recently been No. 1 for just six months, Courier was No. 1 for six months. I said, "Listen, man, what's tough is when somebody has a family and the guy gets laid off- that's tough. What you do that's not tough at all. You play two hours then you make million. So don't ever come back to me and tell me that life is tough." But what was great about Pete was once he became No. 1, he always felt like he was going to win. When Federer plays, I'm always worried that he's going to disappoint. I would always put my money on Pete.

IT: Ever have a player disapoint you?
RL: She was not really disappointment, but I thought Rehe was going to just set the world on fire.

Dec 5th, 2004, 11:15 PM
He is pretty desperate for credit... Sounds pretty insecure to me.

Dec 5th, 2004, 11:30 PM
(here's the rest of the interview... I left a couple of questions out when I posted- I was tired of typing)

IT: Ever have a player disapoint you?
RL: She was not really disappointment, but I thought Rehe was going to just set the world on fire.

Do you know who Rehe is, Stefwhit?

Dec 6th, 2004, 12:11 AM
^ Stephanie Rehe, I'm guessing.

Dave B
Dec 6th, 2004, 12:23 AM
IT: To wrap up, the one thing that you’d like the world to know about Robert Landsdorp?
RL: I’m really a nice guy.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Dec 6th, 2004, 02:24 AM
Well, robert.....after this year, you seem to be the ONLY person who has any doubts about Roger.

Dec 7th, 2004, 12:53 AM
How long did he coach Myskina for?

the cat
Dec 7th, 2004, 01:13 AM
Is Lansdorp saying that Yuri Sharapov doesn't talk to Nick Bollettieri anymore? That's what I got from his insinuating that Yuri was not happy Nick said Sesil Karatancheva will be #1 someday at Indian Wells. I never even thought Nick saying that would upset Yuri but maybe it did. Maria Sharapova has trained at Bollettieri's lived in Bradenton since 1994 and still trains there part time. Maybe Bollettieri meant that Karatencheva will be #1 after Sharapova has been #1 for a couple of years. ;) Sesil won't be able to play full time until 2007 so she won't be fighting Maria for #1 anytime soon even if she is a top talent. Masha will be fighting for #1 starting in 2005. Sesil won't be able to contend for #1 until 2008 at the earliest in my opinion. There really was no need for Yuri Sharapov to get offended by Bollettieri's praise of Karatancheva as Landorp intimated.

Dec 7th, 2004, 01:18 AM
wow, Yuri is quite the egomaniac :rolleyes:

the cat
Dec 7th, 2004, 01:23 AM
I think Lansdorp has a bit of an ego too, TC. ;)

Dec 7th, 2004, 08:41 AM
If he is doing it for the credit only then I guess he doesn't really love helping to develop a player's game just for the game's sake, he just wants the credit. Not to mention the money he's getting paid.
I have to agree I found him to be kind of arrogant in the interview also. To me a tennis guru would be humble and not concerned about what the players give back to him.

But who knows it could have been tongue-in-cheek too. Often articles, unless the writer is smart enough to add the expressions of their subjects, do not really show how the person actually was in the interview.

Dec 7th, 2004, 02:41 PM
he sounds a little arrogant to me.