It is the beard, the beard of the persistent salt and pepper that makes Patrick Mouratoglou look more like a French existential philosopher than a tennis coach at first, and may always be trimmed to perfect length.
Alternatively, he may be a tennis venture capitalist. Or a tennis resort executive. Or the tennis “master” that Greek star Stephanos Chichipas referred to him. At some moments, Mouratoglou can be all of them, and at least in the way he thinks a professional tennis coach should coach, it can make it difficult for him to become a coach. It may seem strange to the person best known as the person who wrote the book about himself, called the “coach,” but that’s the way he always intended.
For years, Mouratoglou was on the courtside in a Serena Williams match. He has been teaching her since 2012 and was presumed to be her boyfriend for some time. Teaching her from the stand in the 2018 US Open final has made her one of the most notorious meltdowns of Williams’ career. She hasn’t participated in this year’s US Open because she withdrew to recover from a hamstring injury.
But Mouratoglou is everywhere, as in all major tennis tournaments these days.
There he sits away from Tsitsipas’ father and coach Apostros during his early match between Andy Murray and Carlos Alcaraz. After the match, he grabs a microphone for one of the television interviews he does about the state of modern games. From time to time, he camps out on the square of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and signs for fans who know him better than most players. Last Tuesday night, he handed a sports drink to the court at Arthur Ash Stadium, and when Rune fell to Novak Djokovic in four sets, 18-year-old Danish player Holgaren training at the academy. I tried to relieve my crampedness. In the first round.
At the age of 51, Mouratoglou became one of the most famous stars in tennis, even though he was only a mid-career junior player when he was a teenager in France. Corey Gauff, the father and coach of the American rising star Coco Gauff, often wears a baseball cap with the Mouratoglou “M” logo on his brim when watching his daughter play.
He is a rare coach who turned himself into a brand. So he may be better at marketing than coaching. Don’t ask Mouratoglou to summarize your approach to tennis with a simple strategy or formula.
“My philosophy is that I don’t know anything,” he said in an interview a few days before the opening of the US Open. “I learn people and learn players. Many coaches start with their method. There is one method for each player and you have to find it.”
Tennis is in a strange place so far. Most of the careers of its biggest star are resting. Its greatest male player, Novak Djokovic, is worshiped in his own country but has never been universally accepted. Naomi Osaka, who is already a tennis megastar, has played very little this year and announced on Friday night that she will take another break from the game.
It leaves enough space for a coaching person like Mouratoglu to fill.
Tennis does this often and creates a knowledgeable marketer and businessman coach to be far more than a teacher or trainer. Usually with the help of a TV camera that pivots to them when watching star players. Think of Harry Hopman from Australia in the 1970s and Nick Boltery from New Yorkers / Floridians in the 1980s and 1990s.
However, none have reached the level of Mouratoglu.
His empire is the Mouratoglou Academy in southern France, home to 200 student tennis players, many of whom live and attend school, where they train full-time.
He runs a camp each year for an additional 4,000 players, including some adults. Next year, he plans to offer electronic coaching products.
He is also the Chief Organizer of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown. UltimateTennisShowdown is a television tournament with several top players participating and speeding up the match scoring system.
The Mouratoglou Tennis Center is located in the resort of Costa Navalino in Greece and in Jumeirah, Dubai. He is an investor in the tennis media website Tennismajors.com.
He has only 24 hours a day and recently gave up his gig as a commentator on ESPN and Eurosport.
He is the only player, Williams’ full-time coach, but has a variety of training and developments, including Tsitsipas, Gauff, Runes, and several other training and developments, including the third-year-old Australian Alexei Popyrin. A round of the US Open that will help you supervise in degree.
Having a portfolio as long as Mouratoglou’s portfolio draws authority from his position as a coach, and its philosophy relies on spending enough time with each player to personalize his methods and strategies. Seems to be against someone who is. According to Mouratoglou, the approach requires a deep knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of each mental and physical player, as well as their cultural and family backgrounds.
The simplest explanation is that Mouratoglou is no longer really a coach, even if he was a coach in the first place, except for his job at Williams. But she may not be much longer. That is not the role he was trying to play. He was forced to accept it. His vision for his tennis empire did not work in any other way.
As a kid, Mouratoglou dreamed of becoming a top pro, but his parents told him that it was too risky to support the effort. He quit playing tennis at the age of 16 and was educated. At the age of 20, he worked for his father, a major French businessman and owner of a major renewable energy company.
When Mouratoglou was 26, his father told him he was ready to partner. Mouratoglou told his father to quit. He was still passionate about tennis and wanted to start with an academy for young players and build a tennis empire.
He partnered with Australian coach Bob Brett, a disciple of Harry Hopman. Mouratoglou knew very little about coaching and felt that he needed a big name to attract players. Then in 2004 Brett quit. Mouratoglou realized that the same thing could happen if another well-known coach turned out to be his partner. There he learned how to coach and found young prospects who could support his early career, such as venture capitalists sowing seeds for start-ups. ..
His early recruits included Marcos Baghdatis in Cyprus and Anastasia Pavlychenkova in Russia. He began working with Williams in 2012, using his height from her unparalleled success to build a new model for the wider range of roles his empire and tennis coach could play. ..
Mouratoglou now operates like the CEO of a company with a player development department, with each player acting as a separate unit or product. He has 50 coaches working for him at his academy. Each of the top professional players associated with him (the player playing the TV match he always attends) has someone else who acts as a coach. He oversees a team of fitness trainers with whom players work, but most have limited contact with Mouratoglou in the driving range. His academy can serve as a base camp where they can train.
Mouratoglou first saw 17-year-old Gauff at the age of 10. He established a relationship with his father, who brought Coco to the academy. He first found Tsitsipas (now 23) on YouTube when he was 16.
“Patrick is like a director,” Coco Gauff said the other day.
She said Mouratoglou doesn’t have too many voices in her head, as Mouratoglou usually speaks to her through her father if he has certain guidelines. “He also puts the right people on my team and helps me understand who and what I need to succeed,” she added.
Rune, who has been coached by Popyrin and Lars Kristensen since the age of six, said that Mouratoglou’s most important role was to provide them with an ideal environment for training.
It is a mutually beneficial relationship. With access to a prestigious training center with almost all amenities, players are the best to attract other aspiring players paying for the Academy’s range of services and tennis enthusiasts attending Mouratoglou’s camp. Marketing device. The resort’s tennis center.
There is probably no better way for Mouratoglou to make sure everyone knows the connection with these players than to take his customary place in their box during the match. In this week’s junior tournament, there are some players who are tied with Mouratoglou, but all Mouratoglou’s current players in the main draw lost in the early rounds.
He has one sacred rule when he participates in a match. If he starts with one player, he stays to the end, even if another player with whom his company works is playing on another court. He said that leaving along the way could send a bad message.
It’s also another way to let players know if they need something. There is Mouratoglou or someone in his growing empire. Popyrin, who struggled this year and ranked 73rd in the ATP rankings, said Mouratoglou was a positive voice recently trying to remind him that he could be a top player, perhaps like Tsitsipas in 3rd place. , He usually acts like a tennis Buddha with the addition of Mouratoglue. A soundboard that hears much more than he speaks.
“I will vent him,” Popyrin said. “He lets you speak your mind, and when you speak your mind to him, you often get the answer yourself.”