Sep 6th, 2004, 01:32 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
An interesting article by Nick Bollettieri:
Nick Bollettieri: Father must take step back to let Sharapova bloom
06 September 2004
Maria Sharapova's father, Yuri, has done a fantastic job in helping his daughter make the most of her incredible talents, but after Saturday's defeat to Mary Pierce I believe he could do worse than take a step back to help her move on.
Let's not take anything away from Mary's win, which earned her a fourth-round match against Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Mary put so much pressure on Maria that the 17-year-old double-faulted 14 times and ultimately couldn't handle a barrage of devastating double-handed backhands.
But go back and look at the video of the match again. If you see Maria looking at the coaches' area once, you'll see her doing it 50 times. And the person she was looking for - Yuri.
At the best of times you don't want a player to be looking to their coach during a match. There's nothing a coach can do at that stage. And what you really don't want is a player looking to a coach who's also their father - and all that entails - at that stage. That's a serious combination, and not necessarily one that's the ideal way forward for a 17-year-old who won her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon and is looking for a steady way upwards.
I can draw a comparison between Maria at this time and Mary Pierce in 1995, when I was coaching her at the Australian Open. Mary made the final and after the semi I had to leave to go back to America.
"How can you leave me now, Nick, right before the final?" she asked me. "Because I know now that you don't need me to win it," I told her. She won it without me in the coaches' box, as I knew she could and as players who really want to achieve things should. Good coaching and support systems: fine. Umbilical cords that can just as easily strangle as nurture: no way.
I also remember around the same time when Mary kept on looking at me in the coaches' box during a match. It got to the stage where I had to say: "Mary, you look at me once more and I'm walking out." At vital times, and that includes matches, the player needs to be in control of their own mind and their own game.
Yuri has done a wonderful job for Maria. Now he might ask what he needs to do - or not - to continue doing a wonderful job. Maria has a tough climb ahead of her, one that she has the mental and physical capabilities of completing. But coping with pressures of all kinds is something she will have to get past first.
Coping with an injury is something Tim Henman did well against Michal Tabara. If Tim is healthy, I also see him beating Nicolas Kiefer, who will play a baseline game. Tim's offensive first volleys could be key in what I think will be a four-set win - or a five-set struggle that would favour the German the longer it lasted.