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Tributes flow for ‘unsung hero’ after losing cancer battle

Australian tennis coaching legend Bob Brett has died after a long cancer battle, aged 67.Brett worked with grand slam champions Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic, Johan Kriek and Marin Cilic, plus Australians Paul McNamee and Peter McNamara, in a career spanning almost five decades.Becker rose to world No. 1 under the Melbourne-born coach’s tutelage between November…

Australian tennis coaching legend Bob Brett has died after a long cancer battle, aged 67.

Brett worked with grand slam champions Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic, Johan Kriek and Marin Cilic, plus Australians Paul McNamee and Peter McNamara, in a career spanning almost five decades.

Becker rose to world No. 1 under the Melbourne-born coach’s tutelage between November 1987 and February 1991.

The ATP honoured Brett with the Tim Gullikson Coaching Career Award only two months ago, unanimously selecting him as its second recipient behind countryman Tony Roche.

McNamee said Brett’s passing left a “big hole” in Australian tennis.

“He’s one of the unsung heroes of Australian tennis, because of the impact he had around the world,” McNamee told the Herald Sun.

“He’s one of our greatest-ever coaches and you’d have to put him up there with Mr (Harry) Hopman, Tony Roche and Darren Cahill.

“He was a salt-of-the-earth Aussie. He always kept the accent, was a true blue guy and was never affected by his success — he was the same guy from beginning to end.”

Serena Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, posted on Twitter he was “extremely saddened” to hear of Brett’s death and described him as “one of the best coaches I’ve met”.

A protégé of the late Harry Hopman, Brett also coached top-10 players Nicolas Kiefer and Mario Ancic, steered Andrei Medvedev to the 1999 French Open final and had a hand in Kei Nishikori’s early development.

Nishikori was one of many Japanese players he oversaw, including a supervisory role with that country’s Davis Cup team, as well as consulting for the British and Canadian tennis associations.

Brett also established the Bob Brett Tennis Academy in San Remo, Italy, which is regarded among the best development programs in the world.

He had two daughters, Caroline and Katarina, while his brother, Arthur Brett, is a four-time Olympic coach in sailing.

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