Aug 24th, 2013, 03:24 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3
Excerpts from NY Times interview with Jimmy Connors:
Q. Sharapova has achieved a tremendous amount — four Grand Slam victories — and yet appears to have hit a wall with Serena Williams. I guess you wouldn’t have signed on unless you felt that wall was breakable.
A. There comes a point with a lot of top players when they look for someone who can see something that can maybe get them over the hump. I worked with [the former player and coach] Pancho Segura when I was young, then I sought him out again when I had a bit of a career stall in the late ’70s. With somebody who has Maria’s credentials, it’s not major surgery. I guess the challenge is just to find that one little tweak that she grabs onto — that one little extra thing that she’s looking for. Because she’s not missing anything, let’s face it. Coaching her is an opportunity that came along to me when I wasn’t looking to work, really.
Q. How long have you known her?
A. We spent a little time together before she went down to Australia and won in 2008. So we’ve been friends for five, six years. I always enjoyed watching her — I like the way she goes about things. She has that attitude that I like.
Q. What kind of attitude?
A. I like seeing in somebody just what it means to them — what they’re willing to lay out there to try to be the best. Some players have it in practice, but it doesn’t catch. But it catches with Maria. She’s willing to lay it all out there in practice, and she’s not afraid to do that when she plays her matches, too. That’s pretty special to see.
Q. Your partnership ended abruptly after she lost her first match at a U.S. Open tuneup in Cincinnati. What happened?
A. No comment.
Q. Were you surprised?
A. I was just told my services were no longer needed. I wish her all the best, and I’ll always be a fan. Whenever this happens, it’s mutual.
Q. So was this a mutual decision?
A. It’s her decision for sure. She’s the player, not me.
Q. Is this the downside of trying to work with a player who has already accomplished so much?
A. I guess it depends on what you’re looking for. Taking someone from No. 2 to No. 1 — there’s a lot less room.
Q. Do you think what happened reflects the pressure it takes to be No. 1?
A. You’ve just got to do what you think is the best for you, and basically she made that decision. To go out there and grind it out, you’ve got to be good, you have to be healthy, in all ways — mentally, physically and tenniswise. And if there is something that interferes with that, then you have to make a change.
This article updates the print version, which had gone to press before Sharapova pulled out of the tournament.