Melbourne: Maria Sharapova has revealed how avoiding another ticking-off from her father was behind her impressive run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
Maria Sharapova celebrates her win over Eugenie Bouchard yesterday. Inset: Sharapova's father, Yuri. Pics/AFP, Getty Images
Since saving two match points against Alexandra Panova in the second round, Sharapova has lost just 10 games in reaching the Last Four, where she will face Ekaterina Makarova after the pair enjoyed one-sided quarter-final victories yesterday.
Sharapova defeated seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-2 in 78 minutes. "When you're down and out like I was in the second match, it's like I don't want to face that phone call with my father too many times during a tournament," joked Sharapova, whose father Yuri was her first coach and formerly a vocal presence at matches.
"It's like, I better get my stuff together. It was important to change some things around and just to come out with a little bit of a different perspective and play a bit better. I'm happy I was able to do that."
Asked what her father had said following the game, Sharapova said with a smile: "In a nice version, 'This is unacceptable.' He's like, 'It is much easier just having a normal home life. You should try it. I don't know why you're suffering out there for nothing. Make it easier for yourself.'
"He told me that I was working much harder than I had to. If I was maybe a little bit smarter, did a few things maybe a little bit differently, maybe it could have been easier. I actually think he's absolutely right.
Deep down inside, sometimes it's encouraging to hear that because no-one will tell you that. I like to hear that. I like coming off the court and hearing how it is. It's what I appreciate from my team. In my career I've gone through a few different coaches. I like real people and honesty. I appreciate that very much. I don't need people telling me, 'You're great; you'll improve in the next one'.
"If you played a terrible match, you played a terrible match. Go out there and change whatever it takes to turn things around, because you're not going to win the tournament that way."
Bouchard, who reached the semi-finals here last year, paid the price for making 30 unforced errors.
"I felt under pressure the whole time, a bit on my back foot. That's not how I want to play," Bouchard admitted. "I feel like I didn't start well and it kind of all went downhill from there. It's definitely easier when you have a good start to the match."