Re: Cincinnati 2013: Hardcourt Glory, Hallelujah! Hardcourt Glory In The Queen City!
Has Maria ever lost 3 out of 4 matches in her career?
She exited 1 or 2 matches faster than I would have guessed, but the result wasn't totally unexpected. You can practice and practice all you want and say all the right things, but when you deal with an injury, a long lay-off, and a coaching change, things are going to be rough when you come back. And even though Sloane was pretty bad to start, she's a capable opponent. The ingredients for a humbling night were there.
Even though Maria looked like she was still using typical Hoggy tactics and there were no signs of a Connors influence, I maintain that this coaching change played a part in her performance. She can downplay it in the press all she wants, talking about how he's there more for emotional support and not so much tactics. But any tennis player will tell you bringing in a new coach is a monumental change and it's a process that will take considerable time. It's not like breaking in a new pair of shoes, no matter how much experience Maria has. There has to be a chemistry and that doesn't happen over night.
Obviously, I'm on record saying the Connors experiment will only hurt Maria in the long run. However, if I'm wrong about that and it ends up with success, I still think it will be a 6-12 month timetable before real championship results surface.
Many will disagree, but, yes, when she hired Connors, I did write off the rest of 2013 because I believe that the coach/player relationship takes several months to gel. Throw in the hip problem and withdrawals and you have Maria really put in a tough spot.
But I'm fine with it. I just want to sit back, take the emotion out of agonizing over whether she wins or loses and go with a more analytical perspective for the rest of the year and try to find little improvements from match to match and tournament to tournament to hang my hat on. See if she can slowly build some momentum and feel good about herself with an eye on 2014. Maria won't be a factor in New York, IMO, but maybe she can contend by the time Istanbul arrives and get some confidence and use that as a stepping stone, the way she did at the end of 2007.
I don't expect Maria to be discouraged by tonight and I think she'll only work harder.