Vladimir Voltchkov had a brief flirtation with fame back in 2000 when, having previously won the junior title there in 1996 and ranked 237, he qualified for Wimbledon and went all the way to the semi-finals before losing to Pete Sampras. He was the first qualifier to get that far since John McEnroe in 1977. He didn’t really kick on after that, with his only tournament victories coming at the ITF Challenger and Futures level.
His grasscourt expertise, though, encouraged Maria Sharapova to engage him as a hitting partner for her 2011 Wimbledon campaign to work in tandem with her coach, Thomas Hogstedt, and that obviously worked well as she went all the way to the final - her most successful run at a major since she won the Australian Open in 2008 - before losing to Petra Kvitova. Now she has extended his contract.
"At Fed Cup earlier in the year I hit with Voltchkov a few times and I asked him if there was a time during the year we could work together and it worked during the grass season. I like his ball and the way he hits shots and he can actually make me better," she told Tennis.com.
And she doesn’t anticipate any problems similar to those that existed when she
earlier tried using two coaches, Hogstedt with her former long-time coach
"It’s pretty tough to have two cooks in the kitchen," Sharapova said. "He’s (Voltchkov) great ‘cause he’s willing to travel full time. There are also some weeks when Thomas can’t come because he has to be with his family and then I can have Voltchkov for a few weeks. I’m excited about it."
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