Canas, a former Federer nemesis, retires to coach

KEY BISCAYNE About 30 minutes before top-ranked Roger Federer began practicing on stadium court late Saturday afternoon in preparation for this week's Sony Ericsson Open, his former tormentor was toiling on the practice courts in his new role as coach.

No, it wasn't the pesky David Nalbandian or Rafael Nadal, who was busy losing in the semifinals at Indian Wells.

Rather, it was Guillermo Canas, the tenacious Argentine, who stunned Federer in back-to-back Masters tournaments at Indian Wells and the Sony Ericsson Open in March 2007. First, he snapped Federer's personal-best 41 match-winning streak and then a week later edged him in a third-set tiebreaker at the Sony before eventually losing to Novak Djokovic in the final.

"There were many highlights, but beating Roger two weeks in a row was amazing,'' smiled a still-chiseled Canas after a practice session with one of his disciples, 100th-ranked Wayne Odesnik of Fort Lauderdale.

"I was great for me and then in 2008 I was in the top [15] again and one year after that I'm coaching, and will make my retirement official this week.''

Federer, who came to Miami a week before his first match to get acclimated to the conditions after a third-round loss to Marcos Baghdatis at Indian Wells, did beat Canas the next two times to even their series 3-3.

"He was always a grinder and always gave his best on the court, so you always knew you were in for a tough match,'' Federer said after a hitting session with 351st-ranked Filip Krajinovic.

"It was a bit different losing to the same player back-to-back. It hadn't happened to me in years.''

Canas, 32, was ranked eighth in 2005 when he was suspended by the ATP for 18 months for taking a banned diuretic. He was later exonerated. That layoff combined with four wrist surgeries derailed a promising career that saw him win seven titles.

He also reached the quarterfinals of the French Open three times.

"Yes [I was wronged], but it's good to put in the past and enjoy what happens after,'' said Canas, who last September started the Canas Tennis Academy at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park.

"My life is different, but I'm happy in the role I'm doing right now.''

That role involves teaching promising juniors as well as young pros such as Odesnik and Paul Capdeville.

"He's so mentally tough it rubs off on his pupils,'' said Odesnik, who's over a sprained ankle sustained in a first-round win in Delray last month. "He's made tennis interesting for me again.''

And life safer for Federer.

Date: 22.03.2010, Source: Sun Sentinel


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