Coco Gauff & Naomi Osaka In The Midst Of Latest Coaching Carousel

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We’re just a few days into December, and the WTA’s coaching carousel is fast becoming a talking point for the short offseason.

Despite having a rigorous playing schedule with 11 months of intense competition, tennis, remarkably, has a barely-existent offseason, and professional tennis players are known to have one of the shortest periods of respite.

For them, this is a moment of self-evaluation, vacationing, visiting dear friends they missed the entire year while globetrotting, and perhaps most importantly, making coaching appointments or adjusting the coaching setup ahead of the new season.

The last of that statement has happened rapidly, with three WTA stars ringing the changes already for people they call their confidants. Perhaps the most surprising coaching change is that of China’s newest star, Qinwen Zheng, who appointed the soft-spoken former ATP player Pere Riba.

Riba Splits With Gauff For Undisclosed Reasons

Pere Riba – a Spaniard from Barcelona – shot to fame while working as Coco Gauff’s full-time coach in the second half of the 2023 season. He was instrumental in steering the young American to a maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open with additional counseling from Brad Gilbert.

Testamenting to Riba’s credentials as a world-class coach, he was jointly nominated for the 2023 WTA Coach of the Year with Gilbert. But Riba has since stepped down as Gauff’s coach for undisclosed personal reasons. It was a shocking move, and tennis fans can’t quite comprehend it now that he has accepted a new job offer. But their relationship ended on good terms.

Zheng Rehires Riba After Fruitful First Stint

Was Riba’s position in Gauff’s entourage being overshadowed by the presence of Gilbert? That’s what tennis purists are speculating, and maybe the Spaniard might clear his chest about this matter in 2024. Nevertheless, Gauff’s loss is Zheng’s gain.

The 21-year-old Chinese player has blossomed in 2023, attaining a Top 20 year-end ranking. It has to be noted that this is a reunion. Zheng and Riba worked together for two years until this year’s French Open when they decided to go their separate ways.

While Gauff and Gilbert took almost all the plaudits during the US swing, Riba’s qualities are conspicuous with the work he did coaching Qinwen Zheng during her breakthrough 2022 campaign in which the Chinese youngster was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year.

Osaka Poaches Fisette From Zheng

Zheng and Riba have unfinished business as a team, but the World No. 15’s decision to appoint the Spaniard was primarily driven by losing her previous coach, Wim Fisette. The famed Belgian coach was initially brought in to replace Riba as Zheng aimed to continue her excellent rise on tour.

But Naomi Osaka has spun the wheel and bagged Wim Fisette from Zheng’s grasp as she prepares to rejoin the WTA tour in 2024. Fisette’s motives to leave Zheng were money-driven, according to the Chinese No. 1, who accused him of “breaking the contract.”

It is also worth noting that Osaka and Fisette had worked together in the past before she went on a maternity break. Under the Beglian’s tutelage, Osaka won two of her four major titles.

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