That didn’t last long.
Following a loss to Sloane Stephens at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Maria Sharapova split with her coach, former men’s tennis star Jimmy Connors. The Tuesday defeat had been Sharapova and Connors’ first, and only, match as player and coach.
According to Max Eisenbud, Sharapova’s longtime IMG agent, the relationship was not jelling in the few weeks they worked together following Wimbledon.
“It’s not the right fit at this time in her career,” he said.
Eisenbud said Sharapova would go it alone at the U.S. Open in New York and play without a coach.
The Times of London was the first to report the news.
Sharapova hired Connors in mid-July after she parted with longtime coach Thomas Hogstedt following a second-round loss at Wimbledon. She and the eight-time Grand Slam champion worked together for one month.
The world No. 3 hired Connors despite his lack of coaching experience. His only other stint at the professional level was a 19-month partnership with Andy Roddick that ended in 2008.
Though the Sharapova-Connors pairing had skeptics from the outset, there was the belief that the brash coach could help Sharapova with the mental aspect of her game. On the court, Sharapova is one of the toughest fighters on either tour. But a nine-year losing streak to Serena Williams has hindered her career and will undoubtedly affect her legacy. Connors’ successful battles with top rivals like Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe could have made him a good instructor on how to solve Serena.
Sharapova took off from tournament play this summer to work with Connors. Cincinnati was the debut of their partnership, with the big stage set for later this month at the U.S. Open. It looked fruitful — for the first few minutes, at least. Sharapova took the first set against Stephens 6-2, then dropped the next set in a tiebreak and fell 6-3 in the third.
Connors was gone soon after. He tweeted on Thursday that he was back home in California andrelaxing with a “vodka on the rocks.”
To some, the immediate question is why Sharapova fired Connors so soon. To others, it’s why she ever hired him in the first place.
source: USA today