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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
Michael Joyce.

"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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