September 11, 2020
New York, New York, USA
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How much of an advantage is it to have worked so closely with Vika in the past?
WIM FISSETTE: I guess it's for sure an advantage. It's always good to know the opponent really well.
On the other hand, like, preparing matches, I always try to get in the head of the opponent and try to understand the opponent exactly based on videos and based on statistics, of course.
But now in the final, of course, we're going to prepare a game plan. Of course, I know Vika's game pretty well. But I do feel like it's finals of the US Open. It's all about, like, controlling the emotions and trying to play the best tennis at the right moment.
A few key points are going to make the decision tomorrow. That's how I feel. Maybe an ace at the right moment or a double-fault at the wrong moment can decide this match.
I feel it's a very close match with the two players who have been, like, playing the best tennis the past three weeks. Yeah, I'm sure it's going to be a huge battle out there tomorrow.
Q. A similar question. You've worked with a lot of fine players, including Johanna Konta. Could you tell me how Naomi differs from some of the other players you've coached, including Jo?
WIM FISSETTE: Well, first of all you have to call it, like, two different players, more like the rational players, someone like Vika. Let's say of multiple previous players I worked with, Vika was the most rational players. The other players are more, like, intuitive players. For sure, Jo was one of those players.
Naomi is, for sure, a big-time intuition player who really follows her feelings on court. Of course, she goes on the court with, like, a game plan. But let's say that game plan is a little bit more basic than say I would coach Vika going into the match tomorrow.
For me going into the match tomorrow, it's easier to over-coach Naomi than, like, maybe under-coach. I don't know if that's the right explanation. You understand me?
I want to obviously give her three keys that is very important to me, but I will not go into detail into this match with Naomi because I feel also in the past she has shown she has a great intuition. I really trust that.
The intuition is not like now I'm going to play this ball. She understands the game really well. It's not like that you program the computer: okay, you're going to play two balls there, the third one you always need to go there. It's more like on the feeling.
But, yeah, that's a huge difference coaching both players.
Q. Naomi has spoken so much about controlling her emotions and keeping her attitude positive on court. Was that something you always tried to work on with her when you came onboard last year? How much of that emotional part of the game was a priority for you right away?
WIM FISSETTE: Well, I think two things. First of all, her success came pretty quick, right? Suddenly she came from, like, a very promising player to this extremely successful player. Won two slams in a row, was thinking maybe three or four in a row. She was winning almost everything. That's obviously a moment that you're young and you feel like maybe you're invincible, unbeatable. Maybe you take things a little bit for granted.
I think that could be, like, a big mistake because it sets the expectations too high. Especially where we are right now, 2020, there are really a lot of good players. Like, you have to go into your first round, this is the first of seven finals we're going to play. I respect my opponent. I'm confident about my own strengths, but I do respect my opponent and I'm ready for battle.
If you think it's just going to be easy, I'm a great player, I'm going to go to the quarters, the semis, the finals just like this, this is a mindset that can, yeah, add a lot of pressure, will limit your performances.
On the other hand I always feel that a big part of my job and my coaching is to bring the player to the match with the right mindset. Like, that's such an important factor. With which mindset? What are the expectations my player goes on the court?
Of course, like, everyone wants to win matches, but we all know if you focus on winning, then things could go wrong. If you focus more on, like, attitude and just following the game plan, just bring the positive energy out there, that's all those little pieces of the puzzle can, yeah, bring the puzzle together, then the result can be a win.
It's very important, no matter how good you are, you always think about small steps. Winning will be the cause of that.
Q. Over the last five sets that Naomi has played combined she's hit 25 unforced errors. That's an average of five per set. What have you worked on with her for a power player, an intuitive player, to clean up her game? That's been a notable improvement, particularly here in the bubble, Cincinnati and New York.
WIM FISSETTE: My plan to clean up the unforced errors is first footwork. Everything starts with the footwork, yeah. She has been working really hard. We had about 10 weeks in L.A. I was very happy with that. We have Yatuka onboard, great experience as a fitness coach, did a really good job with her. Combination of just, like, improving the footwork, always have like the steady and the strong position behind the ball. That's the base, yeah.
Second, of course, it's also technically little corrections, things that she can focus on even during the match, like more spin, more racquet head speed, so actually more acceleration is often more control. Just to remind her a little of, like, technical things that also helps.
On the other hand, she always has been like this player who wants to build the point. I feel like her unforced errors in the past were not really, like, making bad choices, especially not the last two years, but it was more maybe the footwork was a bit sloppy, and technically she could have done a few things better. I think this is also for us to move forward in the future.
I do feel like there's a lot of margin, again, to improve. We certainly will keep doing that.
Q. You mentioned the difference between Naomi and Vika in terms of being rational and intuitive. How much information do you give to Naomi from data and stats compared to a player like Vika, who I imagine probably might want more?
WIM FISSETTE: That's got to be probably maybe 30% or 40% from what I would give someone like Vika. It's three keys I find. This is exactly what you need to know. I try to give her a little bit of understanding what to expect from the opponent.
I focus especially on Naomi because, as you all know, she's a player with huge weapons. It's very important that she focuses on her game, she doesn't adjust too much. We prefer the opponent to adjust. With those three keys we kind of play exactly her game with little corrections.
But, again, she's a player which I saw before I was working with her, she understands the game well. I've seen her, like, adjust tactics by herself during the matches. I think that's a huge quality. I also saw that yesterday during the match. By example, she changed her return position to go a little bit more back after the second set. She is adjusting really well. She's thinking and she's adjusting. It's a great combination.
Q. Naomi explained that you two have a good chemistry. Can you explain from your side what is the good chemistry? For instance, you said she understands the game well. Do you talk to her calmly or do you sometimes pump her up like a mentor?
WIM FISSETTE: I think it's a bit day by day. It's different every day. We started in December, which was good. I slowly got to know Naomi a little better. Australia was definitely, like, very interesting moment, yeah, to see how she would feel during the matches.
I think starting from there, I had kind of my analysis. Okay, this is where we need to go to, this is what we need to improve. Then obviously we had a huge break where I was also at home. But we stayed in contact very well.
Then the moment I had the opportunity to go to the States, I went to L.A. The whole team was actually staying in Naomi's house, which was really good for bonding, to get to know each other a little bit better off court, on court. It was great to get to know her better as a person. Also I think she got to know myself.
But, yeah, I think, like she says, the chemistry is very good. I think we fit well together. I really enjoy working with her. As you know, she's very ambitious but also still very humble. Like, she's very grateful to the team, very respectful. I really enjoy that. It's like giving and taking. Like, the whole team is really working well together.
Yeah, it's only been maybe in December is going to be one year, but I really enjoy working with her.
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