Ivanovic hires coach Nigel Sears away from LTA

by: TENNIS.com | June 30, 2011

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Ana Ivanovic has hired Nigel Sears to be her coach. Sears will step down as the head of women’s coaching for the Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). Sears also coached former Top 10 players Amanda Coetzer and Daniela Hantuchova, and is the father of Andy Murray’s longtime girlfriend, Kim. Ivanovic has known Sears for a couple of years. "I couldn’t be happier," Ivanovic said in a statement. "I’ve admired Nigel for some time now, and I can’t wait to start working with him on court. It was important that I waited for the right coach, and we are both excited about the challenges ahead."

Both parties are said to anticipate a long-term relationship. It is likely that Sears signed a long-term contract and is making at least what he was at the LTA, as he has a family. Ivanovic has repeatedly said this year that she wanted a long-term commitment from a coach, after she was unable to secure one from Heinz Gunhardt last year and recently was unable to convince adidas Player Development coach Darren Cahill to spend more time with her.

The former No. 1 has been through a series of personal changes over the past seven months. After Gunhardt declined to become her full-time coach because he wanted to retain his television work and spend time with his family, she hired coach Antonio van Grichen, the former tutor of Victoria Azarenka and Vera Zvonareva, but they parted ways after just two months in February. The 2008 Roland Garros champion also parted ways with her physical trainer and childhood friend, Marija Lojanica, in March. TENNIS.com has also learned that she has parted with her hitting partner, Oliver Morel. She and Sears will collaborate in finding her a new physical trainer, but she will not hire a full time hitting partner, instead employing different people throughout the upcoming U.S. summer hard court season.

Ivanovic is currently on vacation and will begin to work with Sears upon her return in a couple of weeks. She is scheduled to play Stanford, San Diego, Toronto and Cincinnati prior to the U.S. Open. Petra Cetkovska upset the 18-seeded Ivanovic in the third round of Wimbledon.

Outside of adidas coaches Sven Groenfeld and Cahill, Ivanovic has worked with five private coaches since 2006: Zoltan Kuharsky, David Taylor, Craig Kardon, Gunthardt and van Grichen. Sears spent four-and-a-half years at the LTA and was also captain of Great Britain's Fed Cup team. During his tenure, five British women broke into the Top 100, two made the Top 50 and two teens—Laura Robson and Heather Watson—won junior grand slams. The LTA has not only lost Sears, but performance director Steve Martens recently quit. Commercial and communications chief Bruce Philipps is also leaving the organization next month.

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