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Günter Bresnik (born April 21, 1961) is a Viennese tennis coach.[1]

Early yearsEdit

Born in Austria to two physicians, he did not take up tennis until age 16; he studied medicine for four years at the University of Vienna. As Bresnik recalls, his career as a coach "happened by accident, while studying medicine."[2] He had begun doing coaching sessions while in school, and made contacts with top players. One of them was 19 year old Horst Skoff; in 1987 Skoff asked Bresnik to join him as coach during a five-week South American trip. Bresnik had planned to take off only one semester; he coached Skoff for three years, and, with encouragement from his father, never returned to medical school.[3] He has found this a rewarding career: "When you train elite players, you go to great tournaments, hotels ... You always get great food. If you complained about such a thing, I think you need a psychiatrist. "[4]

Coaching careerEdit

In his coaching career since the mid-1980s, though never a tour level player himself, Bresnik has coached 27 top 100 tennis pros,[5] including Boris Becker (describing Bresnik as a disciplined, hard-working, and humble man and coach),[6]Henri Leconte, Horst Skoff, Patrick McEnroe, Patrick Baur, Ernests Gulbis (calling Bresnik the "best technical coach out there")[7] and Stefan Koubek.[8] Dominic Thiem, a French Open finalist (2018, 2019),[9] has been coached by Gunter Bresnik since age eight, but he has known Bresnik since he was three — after Thiem’s father, Wolfgang, came to work as a coach at Bresnik’s international tennis academy in Vienna in 1997.[10]

Coach Günter Bresnik with Dominic Thiem

From 1992 to 1993 and 1998 to 2004, Bresnik was the captain of the Austrian Davis Cup team.[6] In 1998-99, the Austrian was the director of the Austrian Tennis Association. On 21 October 2016 Bresnik's first book, entitled "The Dominic Thiem Method", was published. In this he portrays both his plotted strategy for Dominic Thiem's career path from the eight-year-old boy to the world-class athlete and his own career as a tennis coach and administrator.[11] Bresnik has been described, also, as authoritarian and demanding; he has been criticized for having long-term protege Thiem ("his creature") play in too many tournaments and ending his seasons "on his kneecaps."[12] In 2016 Thiem played in 27 tournaments; in February 2017, he played in four tournaments: Sofia, Rio de Janeiro, Rotterdam and Acapulco; Bresnik admitted that "the schedule was really ridiculous, it's my fault."[13] He has also been criticized for keeping Thiem out of Davis Cup competition, stating: "He [Thiem] has no obligation to play Davis Cup. I cannot hear this patriotic crap."[14] His typical training day is 12 hours long, 8am to 8pm.[15] Some of Bresnik's training techniques are unusual for tennis, such as putting weights around Thiem's waist, taking him into the woods and have him run back home; "I prefer to train outdoors... In Austria, to climb up the mountains, to go hiking, gives a mental boost to a player to get to the top.[16][17] Bresnik defends Thiem's heavy workload and vigorous fitness training, noting, "you are not going to succeed in this sport if you are soft physically or mentally." He is supported by Thiem who stated that "Günter is the perfect coach for me."[18]

He has been described as "the Giacometti of tennis. He sees a figure in a block of marble, which is only a block of marble for others."[19] He is known for having an eye for technical intricacies and how to correct any weakness.[18] Ion Tiriac called him "the only one to understand tennis.",[19] as well as "the best coach in the world."[18] Bresnik describes himself as a coach who is "very obsessed with the quality of the technique and the strokes."[20] He does not consider himself a motivator for his students, claiming that "the drive must be with the player himself. I cannot do anything with the talk about the coach as a motivator."[21]