Simon Reed

Annacone can give Fed tactical boost

Simon Reed

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Roger Federer's link-up with Paul Annacone is very interesting to me, and you have to say that Paul's record as a coach speaks for itself.

He is a terrific coach; I've talked to Tim Henman about him and he has nothing but the highest praise. Of course you also have to look at everything he did with Pete Sampras and conclude that that was pretty special too.

I have often thought with Federer that he is not a great match player. He is the greatest tennis player that has ever lived, and the greatest shot-maker ever by some distance, but I don't think there has ever really been a plan B to his game.

Of course, pretty much every time he goes out on the court he doesn't need a plan B but maybe his dip in form over the last couple of years has been the tipping point and he finally now feels that he needs a little help.

There is nothing that anyone, including Paul Annacone, can teach Federer about shot-making but tactically everyone needs a little boost here and there from time to time and I feel that's the one thing Roger really requires at the moment.

So in that regard I think it is a good appointment. Annacone is very astute tactically and can help Federer get a little edge in the big matches.

I'm not saying that Federer is bad tactically, but in the past he has won matches so easily because his talent is so sublime and so overpowering that he hasn't needed to be tactical when push comes to shove.

However, he is now being involved in more and more tight matches and he has to find a new way to try and ensures he wins those contests.

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Looking ahead the US hard court season and I feel it could be a good period for the Americans. Mardy Fish is playing well, even with some slight injury concerns, and I'm a fan of the likes of Sam Querrey and John Isner.

I think the male Americans will have a good time in the next few mouths, but at the very top of things I still think that Rafael Nadal is a near shoe-in for the US Open.

He is in near-unstoppable form at the moment and I was stunned to see Federer made as near favourite for the US Open. The Annacone factor could work in his favour but not that much.

I'm not saying Federer is a past number but if you look at his graph it is not going upwards.

Rafa has also been looking forward to this US Open all season, it is the only Slam he hasn't won, and it is now the one he wants more than any other.

I'm sure he will manage himself brilliantly in the run-up to Flushing Meadows, just like he did pre-Roland Garros, and while he is not unbeatable, he is a close as you can get to being at that level.

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