Tennis

A Budding Friendship, and Rivalry, Between Coaches of Swiatek and Sakkari

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday June 8, 2021

Coaches, friends—and rivals. Tom Hill, coach of Maria Sakkari, and Piotr Sierzputowski, coach of Iga Swiatek, have developed an affinity for one another in recent years.

“Piotr is one of my closest friends on the tour,” Hill said in a press conference today. “He texted me last night at 2:00 a.m., ‘It’s going to be a fun match.’ I was, like, ‘Yeah.’”

Sierzputowski says when he first started coaching on tour, he expected the coaches to be unfriendly with on another. But he has since learned that coaches can be great conversationalists, even if they aren’t sharing competitive secrets.

“When I came here, I’m actually fresh on the tour comparing to other coaches, there had been rumors around that nobody talks with anybody,” he said. “Everybody is tricky, take care of yourself because everybody going to try to make your life harder. It was exactly opposite way.”

Hill continued to say that he’s beyond impressed by Swiatek’s game and he knows Sakkari will have her hands full with the Pole in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

“Iga, she’s a fantastic player, honestly,” he said. “She’s phenomenal. On clay especially where it’s slower, she has time to use her forehand, great shape. Very physical, very fit player. Strategically plays very smart, as well. So it’s definitely going to be a challenge.”

Hill says Sakkari, who is into her first Grand Slam quarterfinal on her 21st appearance at a major, just needs to relax and play with nothing to lose.

“I just believe Maria can play her game, play loose, play free,” he said. “Maria has nothing to lose, and I tell her that every day. She has nothing to lose. Against Kenin in the last match, Kenin was the finalist last year. Had nothing to lose. Iga is defending champion. She has the pressure. She’s the one who is expected to win, expected to make the final, expected to win the tournament.

“I believe Maria can win. I know she can win. Doesn’t mean she is going to win. I just want Maria just to enjoy it, playing on Chatrier, just show what she can really do and we’ll see what happens.”

No matter the result, we can look forward to many more meetings between these two talents, and their coaches, in the future.

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