"Jurek is not a machine!" - interview with Kimi Tillikainenem, Jerzy Janowicz's coach and captain of the Finnish Davis Cup team, living in Poland.
Thu, 05/17/2012 - 20:54. | admintennis.
What do you feel when two of your players compete against each other on one hand Jerzy who you
coach on daily basis and Henri Kontinen who is part of Finnish team? What did you feel during the
Davis Cup matches? I believe it’s a hard one?
This was the most uncomfortable situation I have faced in my coaching career. I did resign from
Captain position day before the match so I was not sitting on the court. That was never even an
option. Anyhow, I did sit with Finnish team behind Henri´s bench but I was not cheering for either of
Did you take advantage of Jerzy’s weak points as you know him so well?
Absolutely not. I have not told Henri how he should play against Jerzy or what are the weak points
(or strengths) in Jerzy´s game.
Would it make any difference if Poland had Kubot, Przysiezny or Gawron in their team? If Yes
Who knows. It is true Poland was unlucky this time with injuries but I also think Poland played
some good tennis against Finland. Finnish team had no injuries, we played front of our home ground
and all the Finnish players were in top form. Bad luck for Poland. Now Poland has to forget this
match, look to the future and not to speculate about the past.
What do you think about H. Kontinen? Would he become even better tennis player if not his
Yes, I do believe he would be playing on higher level right now if he would have stayed healthy.
I think he has the game and personal qualities that you need to have to become a top player. Last 3
years he has been able to play less than 18 months because of his injuries, so it is quite normal the
ranking is not on the level where it could be.
What’s Finnish tennis like at the moment? Any new stars about to come up?
I am not really the right person to asnwer that so I don´t want to pretend I know something about
it. I live in Poland and I know much more about Polish players than I know about Finnish players. I
have heard there are some good up coming players in Finland but until they are potential Davis Cup
players I will not take a look at them. Truth is that I just don´t have time to follow Finnish junior
players right now.
Can you tell me what’s your opinion about polish tennis players and what’s Poland like as a
country to produce ones?
For my opinion Polish players overall are very talented, good-athletes and they have hard-working
attitude. Poland has produced already some great tennis players, but without taking credit out from
anyone I believe these individuals has become top athletes mostly because they were naturally such
great talents and athletes.
What’s like to work with Jerzy? What’s your further plans regarding him? What do you need to
change in his game? What’s your short and long term goals with Jerzy? Jerzy has not reached his potential yet but we all develop physically and mentally in our own
way. Some players play their best tennis when they are teenagers and some later. Jerzy is not a
machine that you switch on in the morning and switch off in the evening, but when he feels good, he
is mentally hungry and motivated he can do some serious damage. He is more like a player that you
just never know what kind of day he will have and what kind of match he will play. In one hand this
is the beauty of his personality and the game. I also prefer to coach a player like this anyway, because
you always know he can beat whoever he will play against if the day is right. Of course he needs to
get more solid with his results and learn to win on bad day as well but I think Jerzy will be the player
who is so called ``seasonable`` player. He will have some bad weeks and even some bad months, but
when he will shine then he is the player that nobody wants to play against. We all just have to wait
and see when he is ready for his big success. That day will come though, I guarantee that.
Rest of the year Jerzy will play indoor Challengers and ATP tournaments in Europe. Goals are
mostly about his game style and finding the right mental stage. We don´t really have any ranking
goals. When he finds his right mental stage and understands his game style then his ranking will go
up very fast.
What do you think about Poland as a country? What do you like and dislike in Poland? Do you
have your favorite Polish dish? Is there any dish you can recommend from finish cuisine?
Polls are good, warmhearted and caring people. I love living in Poznan and I see myself living in
Poland the rest of my life. Nevertheless, I do hate the language, I would rather study Chinese. It is
such a complicated language that I often think if Polish people even knows what they are saying. I am
also not a huge fan of Polish either Finnish food. I do miss pastries, liquorice and other sweets from
Finland but there is no such Finnish dish I could recommend or I would like to eat this moment.
What other activities you have been involved in before you started coaching Jerzy?
I started coaching tennis 2004 and until now my career includes coaching various Polish players
(Filip Urban, Robert Godlewski, Jakub Nijaki, Przemyslaw Lesniewski and Krzystof Muzalewski
just to mention some). I also worked 2.5 years as Head of men´s professional squad at Sutton Tennis
Academy, UK and I have had the honor represent my country as Captain of Finnish Davis Cup
Team past 4 years.
What’s the nearest tournament plans for Jerzy and why did you choose those tournaments?
Right now we are in Rennes, France. He is playing a Challenger tournament here. We thought
this was the good tournament to start the indoor season.
Can you explain Jerzy’s poor performance at the U.S Open?
Each Grand Slam includes around 250 best players in the World and every one of them knows
how to play this sport. It is not necessary poor performance to lose in qualifying. Jerzy did have some
problems with his foot for 7 days before the match and it could have effect his form a little but all
credits for opponent. The opponent played well and deserved the win this time.
What’s missing in J. Nieminen’s game so he can win against Djokovic, Nadal, Federer?
Those players above are one of the best sportsmen ever born. They don´t really have any
weaknesses and pretty much all of their strokes are weapons. Jarkko has played on top level for over
decade, he has great results and he has beaten many top players including Djokovic. Jarkko has the
heart of the lion and he is one of the biggest fighters in tennis but to win a Grand Slam he would need
to improve little things all around his game. It is not just one stroke (even though his serve is letting
him down sometimes) but it is more like improving those little things.
Have you got any suggestions for Polish tennis coaches, which they can accommodate when they
train youngsters? Do you think there is something missing, or what can be done better?
I think it is important for coaches to focus a lot on technique with young players and get rid
of bad habits at early age. These are the things that are difficult to change when player gets older.
For my opinion coaches sometimes follow results too much when coaching young players instead of
seeing the big picture and the future. If you work on right things and even if it would take time, be
patience - everyone will receive the present one day in the future.
Who’s your role model when it comes to tennis coaching?
I do not have any role models. I do not like copying anyone either. I want to improve my coaching
skills, learn from my coaching mistakes and have new fresh ideas but I do not want to follow some
other coach´s way. I want to coach the way what kind of person I am and I believe in my way of
coaching. It is more important to understand, analyze and feel the player than rather idolize some
other coach. Practice should be based on what player needs or should work on. Every trill and
exercise on court/fitness should serve the player and the coach (and the player) should know why it
is necessary to do those. You shouldn´t do trills/exercises (without understanding them) just because
you have seen some other coach to do those. But again, this is just my coaching view.
How long do you think N. Djokovic will stay world’s no one? What makes him extraordinary?
Well, it´s hard to say how long Novak will keep on going like this. It can be few more years or
maybe his good run has come to an end already. If you just look at the history of tennis there has
always been somebody dominating. My guess is that Andy Murray will be the next World´s no 1
after Novak. Maybe even already next year.
Dolgopolov, Roanic, Young, Tomic or maybe Janowicz, who do you think will have a chance to
join world’s top rankings?
I don´t know what is considered as World´s top rankings. I believe all those other players except
Jerzy are there already and I truly believe Jerzy will join them when he is ready to do so. How far all
these players can climb up on the ranking list, only time will show.
Who’s your favorite player and why?
Jarkko Nieminen. He is the greatest guy you will ever meet. He has kept his feet on the ground
through his whole career no matter of his tennis results. I respect him a lot.
What do you think about tennis coaching around the world, which one you think is the best -
Czech, American, French, or Spanish?
All of the countries above have produced great players and they surely have good coaching
knowledge, but you can´t compare the countries. I think the player who is looking to practice abroad
should first think how she/he wants to play tennis and then pick the country where she/he thinks they
have the best knowledge of coaching her/his way of playing tennis.
Agnieszka Radwanska – what’s your opinion about her game? Do you think she’s got a chance to
reach top 5?
I think she is more like a smart player rather than powerful player which is nice add to current
powerful women´s tennis. She kind of reminds me of Hingis. I do believe she has the potential to
become World no 1.
What are your thoughts about this year’s U S Open, where you surprised about the results?
Every Grand Slam has some surprises and normally in every Grand Slam we see somebody
Do you think there are too many tournaments in the season, leaving players being too exhausted?
Yes, I do. Many players say it should be their decision how many tournaments they want to play but
it is not entirely true. This system serves the players who play more and it is wrong for my opinion.
I think ATP/ITF should look more after their players, change the system and also from their behalf
try to keep players healthy by not letting them play too many tournaments. I would change it the
way that you count only the best 14 tournaments instead of current 18 tournaments and you can play
maximum 28 tournaments per calendar year. This way the level of tennis would get better as well
because players would have better preparation for the tournaments and they would be healthier. For
doubles it could stay as it is now because with current no-add and 3rd set match tie-break system,
doubles is not as physical as it was few years ago.http://www.love4tennis.pl/en/content/jurek-not-machine-interview-kimi-tillikainenem-jerzy-janowiczs-coach-and-captain-finnish