Ricardo Sanchez, coach to Nadia Petrova in 2012, helped his charge raise her ranking to No. 12. The two have since parted ways, a "consensual" choice, he says. Also shared between them before the split was the idea of focusing on singles in 2013 and forsaking, to a degree, doubles play. Petrova previously played with Maria Kirilenko; the pair defeated the Williams sisters at the U.S. Open in 2012 before also capturing the WTA's season-ending doubles championship.
In a recent interview with the Spanish-language website Master100.es, Sanchez shared his frank thoughts on not only Petrova's game but also those of former students Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki, and others such as Agnieszka Radwanska. He also dished on the state of the WTA itself and the triumvirate—Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, and Serena Williams—leading the way.
Here are some of the most interesting pieces of that interview, one in which he labels himself one of the women's tour's five best coaches:
About the incident in which he seemed to use degrading language about Samantha Stosur: "What happened with Stosur was an accident. I entered the court because in the first set Nadia wanted to retire. Then when Stosur asked her trainer to go to the bathroom, I went to talk to Nadia ... and [I told her] the words that everyone already knows in a funny plan to motivate her. Right then I noticed the microphone. She finished the match, and I went and apologized to Samantha."
About Petrova's 2013 hopes: "The goals we set were to win a Grand Slam and finish in the Top 5. Now, I do not know if it will be possible. I hope she can get lucky and do it."
On coaching Wozniacki: "It was a big decision, as I am very fond of the father [Piotr Wozniacki]. I decided to go with it and it did not go well. After Monte-Carlo, we decided by mutual agreement to let our professional relationship go at the moment. After the final of Sofia, in which Nadia beat Caroline, her father and I were together. We still have a very good relationship. ... I think Piotr was not even able to leave his daughter on the circuit alone with me, so because of that, the thing did not work out. Certainly, I think that at this time there is no qualified coach to train Wozniacki, as father and daughter have a very special chemistry."
As to what she could have achieved with him: "She certainly would have remained in the top five and a Grand Slam could have been won, as even now she is one of the candidates to win a 'Grande.'"
Pertaining to Wozniacki's struggles: "The thing to recognize is that, at this time, Serena, Azarenka, Sharapova, Radwanska, and Petrova are playing better than Caroline. They have far more resources and Wozniacki, currently, has a more defensive game. So I decided that we needed to improve the slice in order to defend three-quarters of the court with the forehand and go in to volley more. That's what I did with Nadia."
On his critiques of Serena and Venus Williams, Azarenka, and Sharapova: "The only one who is angry with me for these statements was Sharapova. She said that I spoke ill of her, but what I said was that she would be world No. 1 again, and I made her out to be the example of a hardworking tennis player. For me, she has the best technical form on the circuit, but as I said, her forehand has not improved in the past three years. If she had done that, she would be winning more Grand Slams. She won Roland Garros since the picture opened up a lot for her, everybody lost, and she found herself in the final with [Sara] Errani, who is inexperienced in such matches. ... I have a spectacular respect for Sharapova, and I think she and Serena are great for tennis. The day they leave will create a big void on the women's tour."
As to Radwanska's skills: "For me Radwanska is the player who's playing best on the circuit. She is a master with crazy talent. Her problem is that physically she doesn't have the power, and her serve isn't at the same level as her game. ... That's a problem when playing with Serena, Azarenka, and Petrova, who begin to erupt with their shots, and she encounters a lot of trouble, but she's the best tennis player on the circuit."
On the state of Spanish female players: "I see women's tennis in Spain is in a small crisis, but it is that it doesn't have the same support as men's. Of course I would [like to be Spanish Fed Cup captain]. If you leave me to my work three or four years in Spanish women's tennis, I'll build it up. ... In Spanish women's tennis, the goddesses are Arantxa [Sanchez-Vicario] and Conchita [Martinez], and they can bring a lot of experience to the players and the team."
As to whether he'd coach an ATP player: "I wouldn't really care to. The problem there is that on the women's tour I'm at a level of the five best coaches in the world, and I am in demand. Now, if there came about the chance to train a young lad who looks like a good bet, of course I would do it for less money."
About fielding a coaching offer from Fernando Verdasco but opting to work with Jankovic: "Yes, I have spoken with him and his father several times—when I started with Jankovic, before I got together with them and we were about to start working together, but the offer from Jelena was superior, and I decided to go with her. ... I think [Verdasco], well managed, could be number five or six in the world, as he has crazy potential. If he had someone who could focus him and knew how to build him up, Fernando would be up there."
That's Ricardo Sanchez: Never short on words, and on opinions about most everything and everyone in tennis. Thoughts, Spin readers?
—Jonathan Scott (@jonscott9)