Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Dossier: British game must build on success - Tennis - Sport - The Independent

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Dossier: British game must build on success

One of the world's greatest tennis coaches, Nick has guided many players to the top including Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova

Coaching Report: Home challenge at Wimbledon: The Verdict

On reflection, Andy Murray being summarily dismissed from the All England Club by Rafael Nadal on Wednesday is not a bad metaphor for the state of British tennis. And I don't mean humiliated, broken, hopeless and without a chance of making it to the top grade.

There are plenty of positives. Both Andy and your nation's tennis are works in progress. But the right steps must continue to be taken to reap benefits in the years ahead. And neither Murray nor your country's game will be ready to truly bloom for a while yet.

First to Andy, whom I applauded in this column for his belief he could win. It's the only attitude to have. Otherwise you might as well go and flip burgers. I also thought, and wrote, that the Spanish bull would win. But, by golly, I didn't expect him to deliver quite such a battering.

Murray made his mistakes out there and wasn't in the same class as he'd been against Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. But on a day like Wednesday with Nadal in that kind of form, you can only conclude one thing: too good, too frickin' good.

So there shouldn't be a single true fan of British tennis who isn't proud of what Murray achieved in the tournament as a whole. It was not an easy day for him against Nadal. Frankly, I think he looked a bit tired and a bit nervous. He needed the best tennis of his life and didn't have it. But it was still a first Slam quarter-final. And he can look forward with renewed hope that he can still be a challenger.

What do I mean by "challenger"? That he can, over the course of his career, become a top player capable of beating the very best. Right now I'd have to say I think the No 1 and No 2 slots in the world are tied up, and the field are chasing around for No 3 and No 4 and lower. But Murray can and should be in that chase. And he's a work in progress not just physically (still filling out, still getting bigger) but of course in terms of his game, too.

On Wednesday evening, Andy's serving let him down a bit. Your serve really needs to be eliciting at least 50 per cent defensive returns which you can then attack but it was not, and that was only partly through Rafa's astounding ability.

Andy also needed to put more tricks in the mixer, and vary his play a bit more. Maybe Nadal would have chewed him up and spat him out even if he could have added the odd serve-volley point. And he can't be trying to counter-punch against a guy like Nadal when a more aggressive approach early in a point has better odds of paying dividends.

Reviewing the tape, he came in on the backhand side with slices too many times. He should just have ripped a few of those babies instead. Once in a while a missile coming back at Rafa might have unsettled him. Also Murray's drop shot wasn't really there, and when it was, it was at inappropriate times.

But there are more positives than negatives over the whole tournament for Andy Murray. And some signs of progress for a British tennis scene that still needs more. Laura Robson is a good news story for you. Laura won the prestigious Eddie Herr junior event – which is staged at my academy – at the back end of last year. But let's be realistic about her and any 14-year-old. Back off and let her develop. Don't weigh her down with expectations which are too great. And at the same time, the LTA should be pouring more resources into the junior game than into any other sector.

Rampant Rafa is just too hot

Any hard-headed assessment of the bottom-half men's semi-final has to conclude that Rainer Schüttler has two chances of winning against Rafael Nadal. Those two chances are slim and none, and slim was seen leaving town last night in an extortionately overpriced black London cab.

Take nothing away from Schüttler, but the battling German is 32 years old and has played a lot of tiring tennis to get into the last four. Rafa, on the other hand, is young, rampant and brutally brilliant, capable of smashing virtually anyone in the world to a pulp right now.

Schüttler likes playing from the baseline but even if he had the best day of his tennis life, I cannot see him having the stamina to stay with Rafa, let alone the weapons to down the hottest of favourites in this one-off.

For more picks, and a full record of what happens to my predictions, visit:

Today's Big Match Roger Federer v Marat Safin



26 AGE 28


Oberwil RESIDENCE Monaco

1998 TURNED PRO 1997

Right-handed PLAYS Right-handed

6ft 1in HEIGHT 6ft 4in

88kg WEIGHT 88kg


No 1 SEEDING Unseeded


£21m PRIZE MONEY £6.7m


Winner (2003-07) WIMBLEDON BEST SF (2008)

HEAD-TO-HEAD: 10 previous meetings. Federer leads 8-2.

ODDS: Federer 1-10, Safin 10-1.

Bollettieri predicts: Federer.

Marat Safin's biggest weapon right now is his confidence. He has absolutely nothing to lose against the world No 1 and frankly the Russian bear has been playing like he's had nothing to lose all tournament. There's been a freedom of expression in his play that's seemed intangibly touched by destiny. But look out! It's buffers time. Marat's only hope is to have a massive serving day, return brilliantly, move well and keep his cool. He can do all that, and should enter the arena believing he will win. But I don't think it's going to be enough against another man driven by his own destiny on what is effectively his own back lawn. Roger is serving exceptionally well, mixing it up and placing it. He's not hesitant about going in to the net. More than anyone else on Tour he's capable of changing the pace of a match to suit himself. Marat will have to be in attack-dog mode – ready to pounce on any little chance – while simultaneously staying calm. I take him to make a match of it, but Federer to reach the final.

Win a week at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy

You have only two chances left to enter my easy competition to win a week's stay at my Florida academy. Travel to America and train in the footsteps of Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova and other top players. Just email to tell me who is going to win today's big match. I am looking for a scoreline, and a short forecast of how your pick will win. Each day, I'll select a daily winner, with the overall winner drawn from all those at the end.

Thanks for your many entries so far, and I truly appreciate all your comments on the column! Wednesday's winner for Murray-Nadal was Gary Mardell. Yesterday's for Serena-Zheng was Curtis Stewart. Both will go into the hat for the prize.

The competition is open to all ages: your trip will be tailored to your requirements, junior or adult. I'll cover tuition, accommodation and meals. You buy the air ticket. Read about the trip of last year's winner, Rachel O'Reilly, on this newspaper's website. To enter today, email me at

Nick's tips to improve your game

No 10: Volley on the move

Most people practise volleys by standing near the net and having someone hit balls to them from the baseline. That's about as useful for a match situation as a car in a swimming pool. When was the last time you were in a match and you hit a volley from a stationary position? Wouldn't that be nice.

Instead, practise in a drill where your movement, balance, footwork and overheads will all be improved. Player A plays a short ball to B, who hits it back down the middle and moves in. A returns, B volleys. A then lobs, to set up an overhead for B. A uses this ball as the approach to move in, while B moves back. The roles are switched. Start slow. Repeat as long as the ball stays in play.

Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
Kenny G
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week