Maria Sharapova Has Hired A New Coach, And It’s Jimmy Connors! [Poll]
by Staff | July 13th, 2013, 10:08 am
  • 25 Comments

Maria Sharapova has a new coach and his name is tennis Hall of Famer Jimmy Connors. Just a few days after Swede Tomas Hogstedt split with the Russian because of his own personal reasons, Sharapova announced the partnership this morning on her website:

“I am happy to announce that Jimmy Connors will be my new coach,” Sharapova wrote. “I have known Jimmy for many years and we briefly worked together in 2008 just before the Australian Open. I am really excited about our new partnership and looking forward to the upcoming tournaments.”

Sharapova and Hogstedt had been working together since the start of the 2011 season.

“After almost 3 years of working together, Thomas Hogstedt and I decided to part ways,” she wrote on Thursday. “Due to personal issues, he was not able to travel in the near future and we both agreed it was the right time to move our separate ways. I am very thankful for all his work, and wish him much success in the future.”

Connors previously coached Andy Roddick in 2008 with mixed results. The 60-year-old 8-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t been back in the coaching circle since, but his name was in the news earlier this year after he released a controversial book.

Sharapova is playing well and ranked No. 2, but Jimmy’s real task will be stemming the tide of 13 straight losses to rival Serena Williams. In his first role as a women’s coach, Connors will also have to deal with Maria’s father and her off-court demands and romances, like her current one with boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov.

So will Connors help Maria?


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25 Comments for Maria Sharapova Has Hired A New Coach, And It’s Jimmy Connors! [Poll]

REMCOM Says:

A puzzling choice for a coach. Connors was known for his unrelenting drive and hunger, his snarling on-court focus. Sharapova has this in spades already. Much more, she needs to learn to vary her game, change pace, put in a drop shot, rush the net… have a Plan B when her usual smack-down tactic doesn’t work. Choosing Connors tell me she isn’t even aware of the problem.


SG1 Says:

I don’t really even think Maria’s issue is variety in her game. Most of the women (and men for that matter) don’t have a lot of mixture in their game plan. Lisicki didn’t beat Serena with variety. Lisiki powered her off the court with her shots and frustrated Serena with her movement.

I believe that Maria’s problem with Serena is that Serena is the better athlete. Actually, she’s a much better athlete. Nothing a coach can do to change that. Connors couldn’t help Roddick beat Federer because Federer was and obviously still is, the better athletic talent.


mem Says:

all those things (athleticism, variety,etc.) are relevant, but I think maria’s biggest problem is simply a lack of confidence against serena. she may outplay serena for a set or maybe a set and a half but when it boils down to pulling it off, she just doesn’t believe that she can do it. similar to roger’s mentality against rafa and roddick’s mentality against roger! that stems from being beaten over and over and over again, year after year by the same player. with each beating it becomes more difficult to believe that you can reverse the situation. regardless of who she hires as a coach, unless she changes her mentality against serena or a miracle happens, or unless serena is totally off that particular day, i don’t see anything differnet that connors will be able do. after all, coaches don’t play the matches. lest we forget, maria made it even harder for herself when she made those derogatory comments about serena and her alleged relationship with a married man. do you think serena will ever forget that? maria should know better to put wood on a fire that she wants to put out. interestingly enough, we will see what happens!


SG1 Says:

Maria’s a pretty confident player. Serena is just better. Just like Fed was better than Roddick, Martina was better than Chris and Jimmy was better than Vitas.


James Says:

The big difference I’ve seen between Maria and Serena is their serve. Maria’s a good baseline player but her serves not on par with Serena, Lisicki, Azarenka. Her serves don’t have to be as menacing as Serena’s or Lisicki’s but need more consistency. Every time I see her play, she makes more DFs than her opponents. She’s also not been as confident against Serena as she usually is against any other female player. But I think she did really try to beat Serena in their last match, RG final. Serena just proved to be too good for her that day.
I’m positive that if Maria improves her serve, she can push and even beat Serena.


Kimberly Says:

Azarenka serve not better than Sharapova IMO. The serves in the womens game I like are Serena, Venus, Lisicki and Stosur.


mem Says:

SG1

you’re missing the point! it’s not that maria isn’t a confident player in general, but my perspective is that at this stage of their rivalry she doesn’t possess the confidence needed to beat serena, which is evident by the results. needless to say, sharapova is a great competitor, but before you can turn the tables on serena she will need to work on her belief system. that’s not to say that she can’t reverse the situation. it’s just that with each beatdown it becomes more difficult to do. she has to fight her way to one win over serena and i feel that if she could somehow manage one win, it may very well change the complexion of their rivalry going forward.


James Says:

Maybe not (I don’t watch women’s women tennis that much except slam semi finals and finals) but I don’t see Azarenka struggling with her serve and gifting easy points with DFs. That’s where IMO Maria needs to improve big time.


Steve 27 Says:

Shara… Connors! Sounds apocalyptic.


mem Says:

so much of a match is played out between the ears of players. skill-wise, sharapova has what it takes to beat serena occasionally. we know that serena is the better athlete and has the better serve of the two. sharapova’s serve is certainly not as consistent as serena, but when working, it serves the purpose. i just don’t think that it is the tangibles that is preventing sharapova from prevailing, at least some of the times. when a player is confident, everything seems to work better. that’s my opinion!


Kimberly Says:

I personally don’t see this as a good match. They both have too huge egocentric personalities. I think Sharapova needs someone a little more subtle. But it will give the commentators and papers a lot of happiness.


Kimberly Says:

James, actually IMO Sharapova has a better first serve than Vika. She tends to get the yips though. Not really a service motion issue, more a mental one.


steve-o Says:

Sharapova’s problem is very simple: Serena hits with about twice as much power as she does, and defends almost as well as Nadal. Even if Sharapova attempts six or seven winners in a row, Serena stays alive and then either Sharapova shanks the ball on the eighth attempt, or she hits it short and Serena has a chance to thwomp a winner. And Sharapova’s defense is not good enough to survive even one winner from Serena’s racket.

It’s true what they say: Serena is the equivalent of a man playing the women’s game, and consequently it will be hard for Sharapova to beat her.

Only an all-court player like Henin could consistently beat Serena, and she’s long gone from the game. Every so often a player can overwhelm Serena with first-strike tennis on a fast surface, or catch her on a bad day. But no baseliner is going to be able to consistently defeat Serena. Especially a flat hitter like Sharapova with so little margin on her strokes, and relatively poor movement.


Kimberly Says:

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
pretty good summary


Thomas Says:

Serena is a horrible match up for Sharapova. She has all of Sharapova’s strengths(big serve, big groundstrokes etc) plus better movement. When two players have a similar style of play, but one does it a little better than the other, the matches are usually one sided.(as this serena-sharapova matchup shows) It’s very similar to the Sampras-becker matchup.


Margot Says:

Lol Steve 21- tend to agree :)
Agree with SG1 about Maria’s movement compare to Serena’s as well, and don’t quite see how Connors can help in that area either.
However, Serena is a lot older than Maria so inevitably the gap will close.


SG1 Says:

mem,

I think the mental aspect of the game is over played a little too much. There’s no substitute for being fundamentally sound. Not only is Serena more athletic, but she also has better stroke fundamentals (particularly with her serve).

I agree that Maria has the shots to beat anyone. The problem isn’t her shots. It’s her inability to out manoeuvre Serena. Serena can take Maria’s best shots and turn the point around. The reverse just isn’t true.


grendel Says:

I agree with SG1 that you can overplay the mental aspect. Serena is a better player than Sharapova period, and I think SG1 and others get it right. Still, there is a mental aspect, and I’d like to consider that from the Serena angle (mem has looked at it from the other side).

If Serena and Sharapova are both playing at their best, then Serena will win. But nobody plays at their best all the time. My suspicion is that Serena nearly always does play at least close to her best when playing Sharapova. The reasons seem to me to be twofold. One, she has genuine respect for Sharapova’s ability and understands that the Russian does have the capacity to defeat her if she drops her guard. The last 3 matches, for example have all been tight in patches. Sharapova was threatening, but always contained.

The second reason partly accounts for the first. Serena just doesn’t like Sharapova, and she’s absolutely damned if she’s going to be beaten by her. Who can say exactly why? I daresay the beautiful 17 year old prancing around at Wimbledon having just defeated her for the title was pretty hard to bear. I can still recall that very tight smile Serena sported. Just wait, it seemed to say. And then Sharapova being such an acclaimed celebrity I suspect gets under her nose. Sharapova is just better at that side of things than Williams. Serena, who rather fancies herself off the court, won’t like that.

In some ways Azarenka is a bigger tennis threat to Serena than is Sharapova. But one doesn’t sense any hostility there.

One colossal ego tends to recognize the presence of another. Serena has every incentive to keep thrashing Sharapova.


Tennis x hippy chic Says:

Serena has never forgiven Maria for beating her at Wimbledon all those years ago,and has made her pay for it ever since,against almost every other player she can overpower,although she lacks self belief against Serena,even though Azarenka might also lose to Serena at least she doesnt feel intimidated by her the way Maria does,it will be interesting to see what Jim can come up with to try and turn this rivalry around in Marias favorite,but for some reason and i know it sounds mean,i have never warmed to Sharapova on a tennis court,and i enjoy it especially when Serena or Azarenka kick her ass.


grendel Says:

Tennis x hippy chic
” i enjoy it especially when Serena or Azarenka kick her ass”.

Me too. That is, one takes as much pleasure in the loss (if not more) as pleasure in the win. Sobering thought.


Tennis x hippy chic Says:

Thanks Grendel glad im not alone in my thinking.


Colin Says:

If you two feel any guilt about enjoying a Serena defeat, just call to mind that obscene outburst at the US Open, after which she ought never to have been allowed on a tennis court again.


RZ Says:

I’m concerned that Shriekapova will become even more obnoxious under Connors than she has been in the past.


grendel Says:

My point (implicitly) was general, Colin. As with Serena/Sharp, so with etc.


Tennis x hippy chic Says:

Grendel/Colin mine too

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