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Old Apr 23rd, 2013, 04:57 PM   #556
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

Of course this would happen to Martha

Sharapova Steals the Show with Introduction as Porsche Brand Ambassaador
http://www.tennispanorama.com/archiv...term=%23tennis

(April 22, 2013) STUTTGART – Despite the tournament website mischievously stating otherwise, no singles main draw matches graced the opening day of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Instead, focus laid firmly off-court as certain players endeavored to complete their media obligations early. As usual, it was one player stole the show.

It was 9am when the few journalists awake and present were carted off to an unspecified press conference with the main tournament sponsors, Porsche, in the world-renowned Porsche Museum. Limited details on this mysterious news conference were disclosed, aside from the promise of a mystery revelation, and general interest was low. As the Porsche representatives spoke to the mixed crowd of tennis and car-specialist media, the assembly appeared in danger of falling asleep.

Then, out of nowhere, Maria Sharapova appeared.

It was actually unintentional. The Russian had accidentally stepped out from behind the curtains before she was announced, ruining the moment clumsily as only she could. An usher behind the curtains attempted to pull her back behind the scenes before the photographers overwhelmed her, but she simply shrugged off the hand. Instead, Sharapova laughed off her faux pas before immediately switching into her hair-swishing, posing mode as the sound of shutters instantly filled the room.

Half an hour later, she would engage with the cameras again as she posed behind the wheel of a model Porsche before floating across the room to answer numerous questions with charming aplomb at a round-table press conference with the tennis media. As per usual, agent and business partner Max Eisenbud appeared out of nowhere, swooping by to place a packet of Sugarpova in full view of the cameras. Once finished, she then happily accepted a request for a one-on-one interview – but not before playfully tossing the packet of her candy towards the reporters.

But back to the present. Two minutes after her accidental arrival, Porsche would announce Sharapova as their second ever brand ambassador, first non-motorsport related brand ambassador, first global ambassador and first female brand ambassador. It’s not difficult to understand why.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2013, 05:06 PM   #557
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

^
3 months of waiting are enough for Masha
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Old Apr 23rd, 2013, 06:19 PM   #558
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

That is amazing ..wish there was video
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Old Apr 25th, 2013, 05:46 AM   #559
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

Does anyone have a transcript to the live chat she did on Facebook?
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Old Apr 25th, 2013, 08:23 AM   #560
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Profusion View Post
Does anyone have a transcript to the live chat she did on Facebook?
http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost....&postcount=552
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Maria Sharapova
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WTA Championships 2004
London Olympics silver medallist

32 WTA titles , including 12 Tier I titles
21 weeks #1 player
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Old Apr 25th, 2013, 01:28 PM   #561
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

http://www.tennisnet.com/deutschland...orsche/4821856

Quote:
23.04.2013

Maria Sharapova:
Neue Markenbotschafterin von Porsche


Die Russin hat einen Dreijahresvertrag mit dem Automobilhersteller abgeschlossen.

Maria Sharapova hat einen neuen lukrativen Werbedeal an Land gezogen. Die Russin ist neue Markenbotschafterin von Porsche. Der Automobilhersteller nahm Sharapova für drei Jahre unter Vertrag. Für die Weltranglisten-Zweite ist es bereits der zweite Deal mit einer Luxus-Automarke. 2006 hatte Sharapova einen Dreijahresvertrag mit Land Rover unterschrieben.

„Das ist wirklich ein besonderer Tag für mich. Ich hatte das Privileg, mit den besten Unternehmen der Welt in Verbindung zu stehen, aber die Partnerschaft mit Porsche ist solch eine besondere Ehre für mich“, sagte Sharapova vor Turnierbeginn beim WTA-Premier-Turnier in Stuttgart, wo sie im Vorjahr den Titel und einen Porsche 911 gewann.

„Maria Sharapova ist eine Ausnahmesportlerin. Sie verbindet sportliche Höchstleistung mit Eleganz und Dynamik. Genau diese Eigenschaften sind in unseren Sportwagen vereint“, sagte Matthias Müller, Vorstandsvorsitzender der Porsche AG, zum Vertrag. Es ist nicht das erste Engagement von Porsche im Damentennis. Der Automobilhersteller unterstützt bereits das deutsche Fed-Cup-Team sowie das Porsche Talent Team, in dem talentierte Spielerinnen gefördert werden. „An diesen Aktivitäten werden wir konsequent festhalten. Und mit Maria Sharapova werden wir unser Engagement im Damentennis jetzt weltweit ausbauen“, sagte Müller.
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Old Apr 29th, 2013, 10:42 PM   #562
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

Not a bad article at Tennis.com
http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2013/...4-and-3/47254/

The Persistents, Parts 4 and 3

Monday, April 29, 2013/by Steve Tignor


Watching the men in Barcelona and the women in Stuttgart on Sunday, I started to wonder: Which is more impressive, that Rafael Nadal won his eighth title at his second clay-court event—Barcelona joins Monte Carlo on the top line of his résumé of destruction—or that Maria Sharapova, who defended her title on red clay in Stuttgart, has improved her game so drastically on her least-favorite surface in the middle of her career? The question stayed in my mind as Nadal and Sharapova completed their championship-winning runs with identical 6-4, 6-3 final-round wins.

The answer, when you take the long view, has to be Nadal. His title records at the spring clay events are already likely to stand for decades, and he doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to being finished. Four months ago, many were wondering if he would ever be the same after his latest round of knee problems, even on dirt—I seem to remember Andy Murray mumbling something about having a shot at the French Open. This past week, despite having to play twice in one day and getting off to slow starts in three different matches, Nadal won Barcelona without dropping a set. On one level, his comeback has been amazing, even for a top player and future Hall-of-Famer; Nadal currently leads the ATP in tournament titles in 2013, with four. On another level, though, a Nadal win on clay is about as routine as any in sports at the moment. To most people, he’s just doing what he was born to do.

That can’t be said for Sharapova. She’ll never approach Rafa’s clay record, or his masterful movement on the surface, but like him she's in the process of doing something rare for an athlete on it. Players can get better with age, but even the best struggle to turn weaknesses into strengths, or to smooth over flaws completely. In the Stuttgart final, Sharapova showed that, at least for the moment, she has pulled it off on clay.

Sharapova has admitted in the past that she didn’t know how to move on the surface, but against Li Na on Sunday Maria won by making sliding gets, and turning those defensive plays into winners a few shots later. “Going from defense to offense,” as the cliché goes, is a key to any clay-courter’s game, but it's not one that has been associated with the long-limbed and less-than-agile Sharapova in the past. It’s one thing to make tactical or technical changes to your game, but it’s another to make physical changes, to make yourself a better defender who can track down more shots. To that end, Sharapova seems to have learned a trick from Novak Djokovic: She saved a quite a few points this week by stretching wide and blocking a hard-hit ball back with her backhand, goalie-style. As you could see at the end of each of her matches, Maria the fashion maven is willing to get her sneakers dirty to get better.

For two players who personify fire and ice in tennis, Sharapova and Nadal have their similarities. They’re both 26. They each won their first majors very early—Sharapova at 17 at Wimbledon in 2004; Nadal at 18 at Roland Garros in 2005. They’ve been persistent enough to complete career Grand Slams and have reached No. 1, but they’ve also had injury troubles that have kept them away from the game. And while they’re both major stars in their own rights, they’ve also labored in the shadows of two older legends, Serena Williams and Roger Federer.

When they were young, Sharapova and Nadal were often compared for their tenacity. It was said that neither of them ever gave away a point. That’s not technically true; I’ve seen both Rafa and Maria throw away a 40-0 point or two over the years. However much they loved to fight as kids, they’ve learned that certain points mean more than others. But the comparison is apt. What sets Nadal and Sharapova apart is their ability, psychologically, to outlast their opponents. Each of them showed that again this past week.

It was obvious in Sharapova's case. It took her three sets to win each of her first three matches, against Lucie Safarova, Ana Ivanovic, and Angelique Kerber, respectively. Maria didn’t look like the superior player in any of those contests. She let leads slip in all three, and good stretches of play were followed by bad. Yet it was hard to imagine her losing any of them. That wasn’t just because she was the higher-ranked player; it was part of the effect that Sharapova has on court. You feel like she can lose because she doesn’t play well, but never because she’ll cave at any stage. Maria never takes a mental vacation, and very rarely lets one bad game turn into two or three. That’s harder to do than it looks. It’s often said that Serena Williams goes out of her way to beat Sharapova as badly as she can to avenge her loss to Maria in the 2004 Wimbledon final. Judging by Serena’s own comments, though, she's extra motivated and vigilant against Sharapova because she knows the Russian won’t go away on her own. (It should also be noted that, as great as Maria’s clay game has been these last two seasons, she lost her only match to Serena on the surface last year, in Madrid. A rematch in the Caja Magica in a couple of weeks would be more than appropriate.)

Nadal didn’t need as much psychological stamina in Barcelona, but it was still a key to his win over Nicolas Almagro in the final. He came back from a two-break deficit in the first set, but just as impressive, and characteristic, was the way he put the match away in the second. Up 2-1, he fell behind 40-15 on Almagro’s serve. It looked like it was going to be a routine hold, but Nadal refused to give up on the game. He hung around and watched Almagro, who is now 0-10 against Rafa, make a couple of errors, and finally capitalized with a break. What had been a close set two points earlier was suddenly all but over.

Maria and Rafa each won their first top-level tour events of the year at Indian Wells, and they won their first events of the spring clay season on Sunday. You get the feeling those won’t be the last. Right now a little dirt looks good on these two stars. In Nadal’s record on the surface, and in Sharapova’s hard-earned slides across it, they continue to push the limits of what we think is possible in tennis.
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Old Apr 29th, 2013, 10:54 PM   #563
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

Steve Tignor is one of my favourite tennis writers, though he is slightly ridiculous. Man loves his narratives.
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Old Apr 29th, 2013, 11:27 PM   #564
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

Another great, although verbose , article by Steve.
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Old Apr 30th, 2013, 07:01 AM   #565
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

Sharapova’s hitting partner Voltchkov needs surgery

http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2013/.../#.UX9r3rVTApk
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Old May 1st, 2013, 07:28 AM   #566
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

Moscow Times: Q&A: Sharapova's First Business Aims for the Sweet Spot

For her first truly independent venture outside of a tennis court, Maria Sharapova is relying on familiar tools: high heels, her cover-girl lips, and neon green tennis balls.

But she's not starting a designer-shoe or lipstick brand, nor is she opening a tennis school. Instead, the budding entrepreneur and four-time Grand Slam winner has turned these parts of her golden image into shapes for a line of premium, bite-sized chewy candy.

For someone known for her punishing ground strokes on the tennis court and elegant style on the red carpet, candy was not an obvious choice for a first foray into business. But all the pieces came together.

"When I moved to the United States, I was about 7 years old, and I went to a movie theater and found a huge collection of gummy candies," Sharapova said in a phone interview, speaking from Los Angeles on Saturday, a day after her 26th birthday. "I'd never seen anything like it in Russia. I was fascinated by the idea, and the first thing I thought was: 'I can't wait for my friends to see something like this!'"

"When the name Sugarpova came about in a meeting a few years ago, I felt like it was fun and young," she said. "Then I put candy and that together, and that's kind of how it started."

Colorful packages of the sweets, which come in 12 varieties including Flirty (pieces shaped like sets of full, pursed lips), Chic (gummy handbags and high-heeled shoes), and Spooky Sour (sugar-coated spiders) first went on sale in the U.S. last year and have since entered stores in five other countries, including Britain and Japan. Sharapova arrives in Moscow on Monday for an event at the high-end Lotte Plaza shopping mall to mark the start of sales in Russia.

Born in the Siberian town of Nyagan, Sharapova spent her early childhood in Sochi, which she described as "the most beautiful place in the world." She has relatives who still live in Russia and said the local market was on her radar for Sugarpova from the outset.

"I think Russians appreciate quality very much," Sharapova said. "We all know that they like brands and they like names, but at the end of the day, I think they're very good at differentiating what's a good product and what's not a good product."

Sharapova spoke in English with the faintest of Russian accents but with the openness and geniality Americans are known for.

Being a Sochi native and a Russian Olympian - at the 2012 Summer Games in London, she became the first female flag-bearer for the Russian squad and won the silver medal in women's singles - she is particularly excited about the 2014 Winter Games, and not just because she's proud that they'll be in her hometown.

"I remember coming here [to the U.S.] and people would ask me where I'm from, and I'd say, 'I'm from Sochi,'" she said. "No one had a clue in the world where that was, and I would say, 'Oh my gosh, you haven't heard of Sochi?'"

"You have the Black Sea and the mountains, and I was talking about this for so long. When we got the Olympics, that was the first thing I thought of: I'm so happy because I will no longer have to tell people what that city is all about. They'll have a chance to see it soon themselves."

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Why did you choose candy for your first business?
A: Over the course of many years, I've been really fortunate to work with and be a part of many collaborations, whether it's creating a collection for Nike or working with Cole Haan on shoes and bags or working on marketing ideas with TAG Heuer. So I've played a very small part in brands' overall performance.

But I realized that I wanted to own something where, in the end, I was the one making the decisions that came with a little pressure, or, not a little, but a lot! And I really wanted to own something that was financially mine as well.

It took over two years to work on and create, which is maybe a little bit longer than other brands, but I wanted to make sure that everything was done right in terms of what our products stood for.

Q: I've heard that you have a sweet tooth. What kinds of sugary treats are your favorite?
A: As a professional athlete, I've always had to find the right time for sweets. But those were the little rewards I would give myself. When I was younger, at the end of a practice, I would always ask my parents to buy me a little something sweet, like a lollipop back in Russia.

Q: Are you able to harness your grit and determination from the tennis court in the business world?
A: There are very different kinds of businesses, and the one similarity between the candy company and tennis is the competitiveness. I want this to be the best gummy brand in the world. When I thought about the idea, I did a lot of Internet research on candies, and I asked my friends: "What's your favorite gummy candy?" They would never mention a brand name. They would only name, for instance, the shape, like "Oh, that round one" or "bears" or "little worms." I thought that was really interesting, because not one person told me a specific brand of candy, and I felt like there was a huge opportunity there.

Q: What advice would you give to someone wanting to do business in Russia?
A: We first launched Sugarpova in the States, but Russia was a big target of mine. I think Russians appreciate quality very much. We all know that they like brands and they like names, but at the end of the day, I think they're very good at differentiating what's a good product and what's not a good product. Maybe they'll buy it once when it's not a good product, but they realize it, and they're not going to be repeat customers.

So it was important that we didn't go out and try to push our candy into the country. It was the market from Russia that came to us and wanted our product because of how they saw it. We launched in the States and Australia, and then Russia asked for it.

Q: What advice would you give to young Russians interested in starting a business?
A: For me, it was important to create a story that was mine about my brand and what I wanted it to stand for, the qualities it represented. I think that's really important, because when you have an idea and you bring it into the world, you get many people's opinions on it, and it can represent different things in their eyes. But I think you have to carry your vision no matter what, through the good and the bad, especially when you're young and coming up.

I'm successful in what I do as a tennis player, but am I a candy connoisseur? Absolutely not. I had to learn through the process of creating the brand. I had to gain knowledge and experience to get myself to the position where I am now, where stores around the world want to carry my candy.

I had no idea that it would do so well in the beginning; I thought it would take a lot more time. But I think we were really helped by the fact that I knew what this brand represented: I wanted it to be a premium candy brand, from the quality of the products to the packaging and the way it's represented. It was special, and I wouldn't let anyone tell me otherwise.

Q: Being a prominent Russian and playing for the national team, do you feel pressure to help improve Russia's image abroad?
A: I've never really felt pressure, because I was born there and I'm very proud of where I come from. I still have a lot of family there, and I represent my country on a daily basis. I love so many different aspects of Russia, from the culture to the strength of the people and how they get through difficult situations; I think that's a really unique quality.

I'm surrounded by foreign people and Americans because I'm based in the U.S., because of my tennis. But when I'm home and I'm around my parents and when I speak to my grandparents, I still feel like Russia plays a very big part in my life and in my heart. And do I feel a responsibility to play for my country? Absolutely, even though I left at a very young age.

Q: Do you have any ideas for how the U.S. and Russia could improve ties?
A: I think that's so beyond what I do. I'm such a small part of that, and honestly, whatever I say doesn't matter at the end of the day for the millions of people who live in both countries.

Q: So I'm guessing that means you're not interested in getting into politics like your compatriot Marat Safin has in Russia?
A: Yeah, I stay out of that, too! I don't see that in my future. I'm much more in the creative design area than I am in politics.

Q: Who are your role models?
A: That's a tough one. I never really grew up having many role models, in or out of sport. When a little girl comes up to me and says, "I want to be just like you," I think, "Oh, that's great, but I think you should want to be better than me!" I admire people's strengths, and I admire people's actions that I believe are good or right, but I don't think one person is good at everything.

Q: Can you describe a challenge or problem you've faced in your life and how you solved it?
A: In my tennis career, my biggest challenge was a shoulder injury I went through when I was 21 years old. It is quite rare for a tennis player to have that type of injury and to have that surgery on the shoulder when you're that young. I was out of the game for nine months. That was a big challenge, because I had already won a few Grand Slams, and I could've quit the sport.

But I wanted it back. I wanted those great moments of winning a Grand Slam final. I wanted to experience that again. That really kept me going and made me realize what was important to me.
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Old May 1st, 2013, 10:26 AM   #567
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

Pete Bodo about Masha on clay

Doing the Dirty Work

To borrow a familiar phrase, Maria Sharapova made her money the old-fashioned way last week in Stuttgart: She earned it. While she only needed to win four matches to secure the Premier-level title (as the top seed, Sharapova received one of the four byes), she had to fight tooth-and-claw through the three that preceded the final.

Sharapova is now a perfect 8-0 over the past two years in Stuttgart; her victims include Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka (back when she was No. 1), former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, former U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur, and former French Open champion Li Na.

That’s a Rival Slam, and it’s a fitting comment on how far Sharapova has come as a clay-court player—even if the indoor environment in Stuttgart gives an advantage to a precise game like hers.

Is this the same Sharapova who won Wimbledon at age 17 in 2004, but lost in her first two Italian Opens to Silvia Farina Elia and Patty Schnyder? The same player who had been to the semifinals of the French Open just twice in nine tries before she won the tournament last year? The answer to this clearly is “yes”—and “no.”

One of the more intriguing stories churned out by the WTA over the past few years is how Sharapova has morphed into perhaps the best clay-court player afoot, a transformation even more intriguing when you examine it in light of her record at Wimbledon.

In the past five years, Sharapova survived the fourth round at Wimbledon just once, in 2011, when she lost the final to Kvitova. So right now, the evidence fairly shouts that Sharapova is a better player on clay than on the grass she professes to love. As an aside, I’d add that Sharapova’s best chance—by far—of earning a much-needed win over Serena Williams at a major has for some years now been in Paris. Don’t for a moment think that hasn’t occurred to Sharapova, if not Williams.

A number of elements probably are at work in this radical makeover, starting with one that may not be so obvious. Sharapova was obliged to undergo shoulder surgery and miss ten months ending in May 2009. She has four major titles, but the only one she’s won since that lengthy hiatus was the French Open, in 2012.

I get the feeling that Sharapova consciously or unwittingly hit the “reset” button on her career during all that time off. She certainly returned to tennis with (quite naturally) greater maturity, an undiminished work ethic, a measure of doubt and anxiety that must have enhanced her determination, and perhaps even a new appreciation for chance to play professional tennis. All this suggests that she’s learned a thing or two about patience—and is there a greater virtue when it comes to doing the dirty work than getting good on clay?

Maturity is a complex issue and has many facets—not all of which are necessarily good. Tennis history is littered with players who just couldn’t sustain their youthful mastery as adult pros, either physically/technically (Donald Young) or mentally and emotionally (Andrea Jaeger or even Jennifer Capriati).

When it comes to her game, Sharapova has crossed the threshold to adulthood beautifully. But her body is different; she’s filled out and has greater strength, and that’s bound to have an effect. The Sharapova who won Wimbledon was a stick figure with excellent power, reach, and youthful flexibility. It might have been easier for her to win on grass back than it is now, now that she’s a 6’2” adult who’s wider at the hips and whose “official” weight in the WTA media guide is 130 lbs. (no comment).

This leads to that subtle conversation about the difference between fast and slow courts in tennis, and how surface speed works for or against different kinds of players. The discussion has changed somewhat in recent years, owing to the increasing paucity of surfaces that can be called anywhere even near “fast.” And one of the more significant changes on that front was the eradication of some of the properties of traditional (pre-millennial) grass courts.

Sharapova won her title at Wimbledon at a time when the courts were already “slower”—really, though, it was less about the speed of the ball off the surface than the height of the bounce. But the ball still comes off the turf quickly, and players are still subject to bad bounces (most of them undetectable to the spectator on hand, or at home). And that demands adjustments that not all players can make.

One of the big misapprehensions about Wimbledon is that it was always inordinately tilted toward “attacking” or, way back, “serve-and-volley” players. But that isn’t really true. What the tournament favored all along, and still does, is the mobile, flexible, quick athlete.

I don’t think anyone would suggest that Sharapova, whose mobility has always been mediocre, is quicker these days. Forcing her to hit while she’s rushed, or on the move, is still a good play against her. But the clay helps her in that regard. She’s one of the players who really benefits from the extra time a clay court gives to prepare and execute—even against an effective counter-puncher like Agnieszka Radwanska (Sharapova is 2-0 against the Polish baseliner on clay). At her best, when she can rip the ball into the corners or at extreme angles, Sharapova is afforded the time to take offensive and fully exploit her ability put the ball away on the red surface.

And finally, Sharapova has really shown tremendous discipline in having the guts to really go for her shots, something clay doesn’t invite you to do. Sure, it can be a cop-out to take a big cut and hope for a winner, but that’s not Sharapova. She builds a game plan around fearless ball striking, and half her energy seems to be spent resisting the pressure that constantly tempts a player to play it safe, to take a little off, instead of putting a little more on.

To win that internal battle is a feat in and of itself, but it’s not the first—nor is it likely to be the last—battle that this Spartan competitor Sharapova will find a way to win.

http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2013/.../#.UYDspUrhfTp
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Maria Sharapova
Career Grand Slam Winner
Wimbledon 2004 ~ US Open 2006 ~ Australian Open 2008 ~ French Open 2012 and 2014

WTA Championships 2004
London Olympics silver medallist

32 WTA titles , including 12 Tier I titles
21 weeks #1 player
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Old May 1st, 2013, 11:59 AM   #568
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

What's wrong with Bodo recently? I swear I've seen several articles where he is fairly nice about Maria.
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Old May 1st, 2013, 01:49 PM   #569
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

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Originally Posted by AnnieIWillKnow View Post
What's wrong with Bodo recently? I swear I've seen several articles where he is fairly nice about Maria.
It's probably because there hasn't been much else going on in women's tennis lately. Azarenka has been hurt and out for a while, Li Na was out, Sloane Stephens has gone into a big slump since her breakthrough, Petra is back to struggling......

Generally, there hasn't been any player outside of Serena and Maria that has stepped up and become a story of late. So Bodo has no choice but to write a good story about Maria. I'm sure it's secretly killing him inside that he is forced to be positive about her.
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Old May 1st, 2013, 03:08 PM   #570
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

Maximizing 'Brand Sharapova': The man behind Maria's millions




(CNN) -- She towers above him, but she can't do without him -- so much so they even email each other up to 75 times a day.

From the time they met 15 years ago, Maria Sharapova has been able to count on a man who has masterminded her rise to becoming the world's highest-paid female athlete.

"He knows everything that's going on. He knows where I'm going to be tomorrow, he knows where I am now," she told CNN's Open Court show.

"He" is Max Eisenbud, who first met the Russian when she was a 12-year-old tennis hopeful working with renowned coach Nick Bollettieri in Florida.

Then Eisenbud had a low-paying job liaising with young players' parents at the Bradenton academy that IMG bought off Bollettieri, but now he's Vice President of Tennis at the world's leading sports agency -- having made a fortune not only for Sharapova but also China's most bankable tennis star, Li Na, the No. 2 earner on Forbes' 2012 female athlete list.

"As an agent you just get lucky sometimes, and I'm just a really lucky guy," said the 41-year-old agent.

"I just really try not to mess it up!"

Deal maker

His lucky day came on July 3, 2004 when the 17-year-old Sharapova stunned Serena Williams -- and the tennis world -- in the Wimbledon final to win her first grand slam title.

With her model looks and youthful charm, blue-chip sponsors fell over themselves to get a piece of the action. Forbes magazine reported that Sharapova earned almost $28 million in the year up until June 2012 -- $22 million of that was from endorsements.

They might make something of an odd duo, with the glamorous Sharapova standing at 6 foot 2 inches and Eisenbud, a short, balding man from New Jersey, but as a business partnership they have the perfect synergy.

"We've just been very open and honest and real, and he's someone who says it like it is," said Sharapova, who like Eisenbud was born in April -- but 15 years apart.

"I think that's one of the greatest things that I appreciate in people, and he's done that from the very beginning. He understood the dynamic of me being the athlete, of working for me.

"Agents have much bigger jobs than just everyday life -- booking planes, looking into your agenda -- of course he's trying to make you money and make you big deals, but at the end of the day, he does everything for me.

"He has this old-fashioned calendar and just looks at every date. He knows my schedule, exactly when I'm flying to this tournament, when I'll be back, when we can fit this in.

"He knows my training hours so there are some things that I prioritize over others, and there are certainly some shoots creatively that I would like to do and he's like, 'We just don't have time for it', so I have to ax that out, but we usually agree on many things."

While Sharapova is comfortable on the red carpet and at celebrity parties, her manager is happier making deals.

"He's constantly looking at his BlackBerry ... if you need to get his attention, you should probably send him an email. That's the way I see our relationship," she said.

"He's very good at some things; others he's just absolutely hopeless at, like if you go to an event and you're on the red carpet, he has no idea what's going on.

"He's like 'Hey' and he's talking to all these people and you're like, 'OK, where am I going? Am I doing interviews? Or a step and repeat? What's going on?'

"That's not his forte. His thing is getting on the phone, getting deals done, getting the schedule together. All those business decisions, so there are things that I know I need to bring in other people for."

Super agent

Eisenbud sees his role as a juggler of commitments.

"I think I'm more of a facilitator, an organizer. I know when to bring things to her because she's in the middle of a tournament, and when she needs to stay focused some more, so it's not distracting her tennis," he says.

"I think that's kind of my skill. We do probably anywhere between 30 and 75 emails a day between us, so sometimes we don't even need to talk on the phone. She just sets the vision and I'm just able to try to do my best to try and follow her vision."

From clothing and cosmetics to her latest foray -- a self-funded candy line -- Sharapova has a strong business strategy.

"If I didn't want to play tennis again, I'd have enough money to live for the rest of my life but I do respect the money that I've made because I didn't grow up having a lot of money," said Sharapova, whose parents fled their native Belarus soon after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, just before she was born.

Her father accompanied her to the United States in 1994, taking low-paying jobs before she enrolled at the $35,000-a-year IMG academy on a scholarship, aged nine.

"My family never had it, so I'm always very respectful for every single dollar that I make to this day. I really came from nothing," she said.

"I was living a normal, average, everyday life back in Russia and we had a dream and I had a talent and we moved to the U.S.

"Of course I'm so lucky and fortunate to have and earn great money but at the end of the day, we did earn it with my parents and their hard work and their sacrifices and all the hours on the court."

Eisenbud may work with other players -- he has a group of young hopefuls as well as Li -- but he says Sharapova will always be his focus.

He's been there from her early highs, to the lowest of the lows when it seemed a shoulder injury would end her career back in 2008.

"I've been with her so long, to see her smiling on the court, there's nothing better," he said, with Sharapova this year winning the Indian Wells title in March and last Sunday beating Li in the Stuttgart final to retain her title.

"It's pretty hard for me. I know too much information that other people don't. I know what's on the line, where we are with different things and what wins would mean, so I get a little nervous."

With Li also earning big deals, Eisenbud is akin to football's "super agents" such as Jorge Mendes, who works with Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho.

"Rather than competing against one another, Sharapova and Na actually provide Eisenbud's business with much greater global coverage," British sports business expert Simon Chadwick told CNN.

"There is a degree of overlap in that they are both global tennis stars, whom the general public are aware of. This poses issues of clarity, focus and targeting for Eisenbud.

"However, as brands, they are significantly different propositions, which means that they are likely to appeal to different groups of people in different countries around the world."

Life after tennis

It was last year's French Open success that really crowned Sharapova's comeback, having been written off after a long struggle to rebuild her career following that shoulder operation.

"That was emotional, I definitely had a lot of tears," Eisenbud recalled.

"I was with her when she had the shoulder surgery, I was there when she woke up, I saw her first rehabs, I saw all the tough times, I heard all the journalists writing her off, Pam Shriver saying she'll never win a grand slam again, all the people just 'never never never.'

"If I'm seeing it I'm sure she's seeing it, so when she was able to win that -- get on her knees and win that French Open -- that was just a lot of, 'I told you so' and 'don't count me out.'

"Here's a great champion that had all the money in the world, all the glory, all the titles, but she wanted to come back and win, and it just says a lot about her."

But the injury did turn Sharapova's thoughts to life after tennis, and the resulting launch last year of her "Sugarpova" candy was her first independent business project.

"There's a lot of downtime on the tour and she uses it a lot," Eisenbud said. "She's involved in everything she does, she's not a silent owner -- she runs and drives everything that she's doing and I just try to implement it while she's on the court.

"Everything we've been doing now for the last couple of years has been thinking about life after tennis. We didn't want her career to end and then all of a sudden start thinking about it.

"I think Sugarpova will be a huge business for her after tennis. She'll be getting into a lot of different things -- cosmetics, fragrance, clothing -- so I think it's just the beginning right now for her."

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/01/sp...cnni_headlines
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