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#pounditWednesday, January 20, 2021

Maria Sharapova likes work ethic Jimmy Connors is preaching

Maria SharapovaMaria Sharapova seems happy with Jimmy Connors in her first month working with her new coach.

Sharapova announced her hiring of Connors in July, three weeks after she lost to qualifier Michelle Larcher in straight sets in the second round at Wimbledon. She is playing in the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati this week, marking her first tournament under the tutelage of the eight-time major winner. In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Sharapova said some of what Connors can offer is “priceless.”

“His philosophy is there’s no substitute for hard work,” Sharapova said Monday. “He certainly emphasizes that in every single practice.

“At this stage of my career, no one’s going to come in and change something drastically. But his experience and work ethic are priceless. It’s been nice.”

Sharapova worked together with Connors briefly before the 2008 Australian Open, back when Michael Joyce was her coach. She has won four majors and been ranked No. 1 in the world, so she’s not exactly looking to reshape her game. She recognizes that and hopes Connors will make a difference with smaller things.

“Certainly I know what it takes to accomplish something. I’ve been there. It was more about the work ethic that I knew he was going to put in, and the experience. He’s been there, done that.”

The biggest obstacle Sharapova will look to overcome is her struggles against Serena Williams, against whom she has lost 13 straight matches. It’s extremely early in their coach-player relationship, but maybe Connors will be the difference for Sharapova, just like Ivan Lendl has proven to be with Andy Murray.

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