After two misses, French Open bliss for Magnus Norman!
Swede tastes glory at Roland Garros as Stanislas Wawrinka’s coach after missing out as player and then as Robin Soderling’s mentor
Paris: Just when Magnus Norman’s name was beginning to fade away from French Open folklore, he found a way to return to glory. The Swede had reached the final at Roland Garros in 2000, going down to Gustavo Kuerten 2-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 as the Brazilian picked up his third French Open title. Norman had then led the biggest coup on the red dirt, guiding Robin Soderling’s cannon balls at Rafael Nadal. Till Novak Djokovic defeated Nadal in the quarter-final at the French Open this year, Soderling had been the only man to beat Nadal on clay in Paris.
Stanislas Wawrinka poses with the French Open cup with coach Magnus Norman (right) after victory over Novak Djokovic on Sunday. Pic/Getty Images
By Soderling’s own admission, he will no longer be the answer to the most asked tennis question in a pub quiz. What Soderling also was, was a runner-up to Roger Federer at that 2009 French Open.
But Norman’s star rose again in Paris as Stanislas Wawrinka, against all odds, overpowered Djokovic in four sets to take the French Open title. Norman, the lesser known of the celeb coaches who are taking over the game, has been working with Wawrinka since the end of 2013.
And he has already helped tame the wild talent to two Grand Slam titles, including the 2014 Australian Open.
“Finally!” said Norman after tasting success in his third final at the French Open. “I felt like going in to the tournament he had played really well. And I had told him, if he can win one Grand Slam he can win another one,” said Norman of his ward’s victory over Djokovic on Sunday.
“He is still a little inconsistent. That’s why he’s an interesting player to work with because you don’t know what to expect. But it’s my job to keep him focused.”
While Wawrinka has always been known for his shot-making, much like Soderling, he has had trouble utilising those weapons. Severin Luthi, who has worked with Wawrinka for a long time in the capacity of Switzerland’s Davis Cup coach, agreed that Norman had helped the 30-year-old sharpen his focus.
“First of all he is a very nice guy, he tries to help Stan and knows the game well,” Luthi said after the match. “It’s also good for Stan to know that he has a guy in his team who has reached a Grand Slam final. He has the right approach to talk to Stan about the game, and they get along very well. I think it’s a perfect combination for Stan.”
Having outdone his rival super coach Boris Becker this time, the quiet 39-year-old Swede won’t be forgotten quickly.