July 13 (Reuters) - World number two Maria Sharapova, a stunning second-round loser at Wimbledon last month, has taken on eight-time grand slam winner Jimmy Connors as her new coach, she said on Saturday.
“I am happy to announce that Jimmy Connors will be my new coach,” the 26-year-old Russian, a four-time major winner, posted on her website (mariasharapova.com).
“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.”
The Russian won the 2008 Australian Open, beating Ana Ivanovic of Serbia in the final in an all-conquering campaign in which she did not lose a set.
Sharapova, who was ousted at Wimbledon in straight sets by Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal, announced the coaching move two days after officially parting ways with Thomas Hogstedt, who had coached her the past three years.
Connors, 60, previously served a 19-month stint as coach for Andy Roddick from 2006 to 2008. Under his guidance, Roddick reached the final of the 2006 U.S. Open and won five ATP titles.
Roddick said in announcing the split that Connors had decided to step down and he praised the Hall of Famer for improving his game.
”Playing up in the court. I had to adjust my game. He’s helped my backhand a ton,“ Roddick said. ”And the fighting spirit. When we got together I was as close to down and out as I’ve been.
“I really credit him for that spark and getting me back into the top five and a slam final.”
Working with Hogstedt, Sharapova won the 2012 French Open for her first grand slam title since 2008, and this year won Indian Wells and Stuttgart and reached three other finals - Miami, Madrid and Roland Garros - losing to world number one Serena Williams in all three.
Former world number one Sharapova, a fierce competitor like her new coach, might be hoping to pick the American’s brain on a strategy to overcome top rival Williams, who has dominated her on the court 13-0 in head-to-head meetings over the past nine years.
The Russian said parting ways with Hogstedt had been a mutual decision.
“Due to personal issues (Hogstedt) was not able to travel in the near future and we both agreed it was the right time to move our separate ways,” Sharapova said. “I am thankful for all of his work and wish him much success in the future.” (Reporting by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by Gene Cherry)