Maria Sharapova calls time on Jimmy Connors
Neil Harman Tennis Correspondent, Cincinnati
Published at 12:01AM, August 16 2013
It seems as if it was not much fun while it lasted. Maria Sharapova’s experiment of bringing Jimmy Connors, winner of eight grand-slam titles, in to coach her is believed to have involved a single defeat and a few practice sessions before the player decided it was not going to work.
It is understood a call was made to the former world No 1 yesterday saying that Sharapova’s loss to Sloane Stephens in the second round of the Western & Southern Open was the first and also last straw.
It had appeared an unlikely liaison, Connors stepping into the WTA Tour to work with a player who had already won all there is to win on an individual basis in the sport. If it is over after one match, it adds another twist to a crazy week in the women’s game.
Connors has been lured to coach only once before, by Andy Roddick, his fellow American, for 18 months between late 2006 and the early part of 2008 before they parted, as Connors found it more and more difficult to do the job on what was essentially a part-time basis. There was barely time with Sharapova to get on to a first-name basis.
It was thought that during her defeat by Stephens, the American, Sharapova might have been keener to impress Connors than to play her natural game. The unforced errors from her racket almost flooded the court and Connors was captured more than once on camera shaking his head.
He beat a hasty retreat from the grounds at the end of the match but it is highly likely that he would have left the Russian in no doubt as to what he felt about her performance.
If the strong rumours circulating the Lindner Tennis Centre here are correct, Sharapova will enter the US Open without anyone in her corner and with a raft of questions to be answered as to why the Connors appointment fell apart so quickly.