Bob Brett, who worked with Grand Slam champions such as Johan Kriek, Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic and Marin Cilic in a 46-year coaching career, has been presented with the Tim Gullikson Career Coach Award in the 2020 ATP Awards.
The 66-year-old Australian, who also worked with many national tennis associations, has been unanimously chosen as the second winner of this award, following in the footsteps of compatriot Tony Roche. The recipient exemplifies excellence, leadership, respect, and a true love for the sport of tennis and the art of coaching.
Named after the late Tim Gullikson, the award showcases someone who has inspired generations of young players and fellow coaches to grow the sport of tennis.
Brett taught his players about life, as well as how to hit a forehand, and maintained positive relationships with each of his charges well after their partnerships ended. Renowned for his lengthy counting drills, which restarted when a player made a mistake, he opened an academy, which bears his name, in San Remo, Italy in 2002.
The Melbourne-born coach enjoyed his greatest success as Becker’s full-time coach from November 1987 until February 1991, shortly after the German won the Australian Open and became World No. 1 on 28 January 1991. Becker immediately bought into Brett’s work ethic and readjusted the German’s service grip early on. “We played golf and chess and Boris was inquisitive,” said Brett in 2008. “He was very good at being able to execute what I told him. His understanding of opponents was very good too and I encouraged him to work hard, but also the value of recovery.”
Brett was soon hired by Goran Ivanisevic’s father, Srdjan, in 1991 and fine-tuned the Croatian’s groundstrokes and volleying. In a four-year partnership, which ended at the end of the 1995 season, Ivanisevic won nine titles from 17 tour-level finals, with runner-up finishes at Wimbledon in 1992 (l. to Agassi) and 1994 (l. to Sampras).
Brett then coached Andrei Medvedev to the 1999 Roland Garros final, took Nicolas Kiefer from outside of the Top 50 to World No. 4 and assisted Mario Ancic. In the summer of 2004, Ivanisevic bought a promising 6’3” 15-year-old to San Remo. Brett’s nine-year partnership with Marin Cilic, saw the Croatian develop technically and powerfully en route to the 2005 junior Roland Garros title and World No. 9 as a pro.
The Australian coach also spent up to 20 weeks of the year working in Japan. Until recently, he continued with the camps and the male national junior team. He was a high-performance consultant for Tennis Canada between 2006 and 2008, and Brett played a large part in remodelling training camps and performance programmes as Director of Player Development for the British Lawn Tennis Association in 2014 and 2015. He was also the first principal of the Bob Brett/now Patrick Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in Montreuil, an eastern suburb of Paris from 1996 to 2002.