Daily Bagel: Jimmy Connors' influence on Maria Sharapova
The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.
• Video: Roger Federer begins his title defense at the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday night. Here's a look back at his 6-0, 7-6 (7) win over Novak Djokovic in last year's final.
• Maria Sharapova talks about her new coaching relationship with Jimmy Connors.
"His philosophy is there's no substitute for hard work," Sharapova, the 2011 Western & Southern Open champion and No. 3 seed this year, 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."
At 26, with a career Grand Slam and more than $26 million in prize money on her resume, Sharapova wasn't looking for someone to reinvent the wheel. She was more interested in situational help and motivation, she said, and flashed back to spending a few weeks working with Connors five years ago, when she was coached by Michael Joyce.
"He had a lot of great things to say," Sharapova said. "A lot of it was from his experience and his knowledge. ... I enjoyed the time and the work."
• From The Tennis Space: What if men played best-of-three sets at Grand Slam tournaments?
• Here's a short clip of Federer's practice session on Monday. Note the racket. Is that his old 90-square-inch head? Follow SI_BTBaseline on Instagram for more photos and videos from around the grounds.
• How Rafael Nadal broke down Milos Raonic's serve in the Montreal final.
The real issue for Raonic was not how hard he could hit his serve but what he was going to do with the ball when it came back. Nadal’s masterly performance reminded everyone that the top of the food chain in world tennis at the moment is dominated by the best returners in the world – not the biggest servers.
Raonic may have one of the biggest flamethrowers in the game, but the reality is that more than half his first serves came back in play as did around 70 per cent of his second serves. Three quarters (64/86) of all points for the match needed further attention from the back of the court.
The majority of points in tennis are not like shooting an arrow, where it’s a quick one-way ride to a final destination. They are far more like throwing a boomerang as you need to expect the ball to come back and plan to be in the right position to receive it.
• The New York Times looks back at Brad Gilbert's seminal book, Winning Ugly.
As a coach and a player, Gilbert has always firmly believed that tennis is largely a mental game. Throughout his career, his defining strength was his ability to find ways to let even the most naturally talented players in the world beat themselves.• Non-tennis: This has always confounded me: Why don't movie theaters offer reserved seating?
He infuriated John McEnroe, who denigrated Gilbert as a ‘pusher’ in his autobiography and once famously ranted, “Gilbert, you don’t deserve to be on the same court with me. You are the worst,” during a three set defeat at Madison Square Garden in 1986.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective, Nick Bollettieri recalled.
“His game was so ugly I had to wear three pairs of Oakleys sunglasses to watch him play otherwise I’d get bloodshot eyes,” Bollettieri said of Gilbert, laughing. “But he knew how to win.”