In an interview with wtatennis.com, the coach who has worked with Maria Sharapova and Lindsay Davenport talks about his hopes for the former Wimbledon finalist.
Mark Hodgkinson
July 5, 2018

LONDON, Great Britain - Eugenie Bouchard's past is of no interest to her new coach Robert Lansdorp. He doesn't "care" that she played in a Wimbledon final four years ago, and how this summer her triple-digit ranking meant she had to come through qualifying to make it to the main draw. All Lansdorp is bothered about is Bouchard's present and her future, and how he can upgrade her tennis. 

"I don't want to dwell on the past," Lansdorp said in an interview with wtatennis.com at the Aorangi Park practice courts, as the 80-year-old prepared the Canadian, now ranked No.188 in the world, for Thursday's second-round match against Australia's Ashleigh Barty. 

Since they started working together around three months ago, they haven't once spoken about Bouchard's career highlight, when she finished as the runner-up to Petra Kvitova on the Wimbledon grass. "I never go there [to the 2014 final]. I never even talk about that final with Genie, never bring that up in conversation, because I don't care. I don't look back - and I also don't say to her, 'What happened?' I would rather take her the way she is, improve what she has, and make that better," said Lansdorp, who has previously worked with Maria Sharapova, Tracy Austin, Lindsay Davenport and Pete Sampras. 

Lansdorp has told Bouchard, 24, how much he believes in her game. "I think that's why she liked me when she came to me about three months ago. She liked that I could see things in her that I could improve on. I know what to do to get her to hit the ball better and more consistently. She hadn't been able to do that before," explained Lansdorp.

"I was excited about it because I figured, 'Hey, I can really help this girl.' And that's the only reason I'm here. I don't do the traveling just for the glory. I feel that I can help her to get better. If I can't, then I'll stop this, and if she gets to be No.1, I'll stop this. Then my job will be done."  

As Bouchard has said of her "old-school" coach: "He believes in me. I love having him around." 

Robert Lansdorp training with Maria Sharapova in 2003 (Getty)
Robert Lansdorp training with Maria Sharapova in 2003 (Getty)

"Everything is between the ears," is Lansdorp's perspective on the sport. "I say to Genie, 'Listen, if you do this, if you do that, your game will get better and better and better.'" 

The Indonesia-born coach has a wealth of experience behind him driving this philosophy. "After 50 years of developing players, I can tell you if you can develop their strokes to the point that they become automatic, it gets in their head," he explained. "They're mentally tough, but once they feel as though they can play on instinct they can just hit the ball - and mentally it becomes better. I'm very much into players hitting ball after ball after ball until they've hit thousands of balls. You want them to have that muscle memory so when the ball comes, they just hit. I think that will help her mentally." 

To appreciate how much Lansdorp is invested in Bouchard's progress, it is important to note that this is his first visit to Wimbledon in 20 years. "It's Wimbledon, it's a bit of a zoo, and it's always difficult at tournaments to make progress because you can't really do that much. It's about keeping it the way it is. The only reason I came was to keep her fine-tuned. You can't really put new stuff into her game, and that's the only thing that's really frustrating," he said. 

"We started working together about three months ago, but she got injured. She went to Europe and served too hard on the clay just practising and pulled an ab. So she was out for two months. She played Birmingham last month, which was her first [completed] tournament in about two months. Every match she plays is better," Lansdorp said with satisfaction.

Reflecting on Bouchard's 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 victory over British wildcard Gabriella Taylor in the first round at SW19, Lansdorp was also pleased with what he had seen. "On Tuesday, she played really well, then she went south someplace - and then she came back and pulled it out," he recalled. 

"That was a very good sign - because before, she wouldn't have done that."