London, 14 June 2014
Maria may be in London but she is watching the World Cup in Brazil very closely!
World Cup thoughts
“It doesn’t matter where I am,” she says, “People always ask me what is happening in both the football and the tennis so I have to keep track!
“I am watching Queen’s where there have been some unusual results and, last night, I saw the opening ceremony of the World Cup from Sao Paulo.
“I have also seen a few of the documentaries on television over here and have to say that there has been a lot of exaggeration about Brazil.
“It is true that there have been many demonstrations with senseless destruction and violence but to portray Brazil through the eyes of people living in the favelas skews Brazilian society and gives a distorted view of our culture.
“We do have social problems, no question, but then what country doesn’t? The World Cup in Brazil is the most expensive ever and there is sympathy for the feeling that the money could be better spent on housing, hospitals and schools than on stadiums that may never be used again.
“But, of course, we love football as a nations so, hopefully the World Cup will help to offset this point of view and the bad publicity. I really hope that it all goes off without dramas outside the stadiums.”
So what did Maria think about the first day of the World Cup?
“Well, Brazil won, which is a good thing!” she laughed. “There was some trouble after the match but nothing like what could have happened had the team lost!
“The opening ceremony was a bit disappointing, I must admit. I think they could have done so much more, especially when you think what people do for Carnaval every year.
“The organisers should have involved the escola de sambas and got more of a Brazilian flavour, but I watched with others from over here [England], and they thought it was very good so it is just a matter of opinion.”
Grass court season starts
And what about Queen’s?
“Well, I would never have predicted that Feliciano Lopez would be playing Grigor Dimitrov in the final, that’s for sure.
“Andy Murray’s 19 match winning streak on grass came to an abrupt end when he lost to Radek Stepanek in the second round, which was a big shock, but then Stepanek played a beautiful grass court game and made it through to the semis where he ran out of steam against Lopez.
“Dimitrov scored a great win over the top seed Stan Wawrinka in the semis, while Lopez saw off Tomas Berdych, all against the form book.
“The Spaniard hasn’t had such a good season until now but he is playing brilliantly now on the grass.
“Speaking of Spaniards, Rafa [Nadal] suffered from his successful run at the French where he won his record ninth trophy on clay – he truly is the king of clay – but he lost to the flashy German, Dustin Brown in Halle.
“I saw that match on TV and Brown just couldn’t miss! It was an extraordinary performance that left Rafa a bit stunned in just over an hour.
“I think having to transition so fast from grass to clay has been a problem for a long time but fortunately, as from next year, there will be an extra grass court week to help the players make the switch.
“Roger [Federer] has reached the final in Halle but he had more time to acclimatise himself after losing pretty early in Paris.
“It will be interesting to see what happens in the finals tomorrow.”
Mauresmo takes on Murray
Finally, for now, what does Maria think about Murray appointing Amelie Mauresmo as his head coach?
“I thought it was an interesting choice,” she said. “I don’t suppose he needs anyone to teach him to hit forehands or backhands anymore but in many ways Amelie is rather similar to Andy in that they both have fragile match personalities and perhaps she can help him to keep his focus.
“At times he can’t close out his matches, the Stepanek one being a classic example of one where he should have won, and he then gets himself into trouble.
“Perhaps Amelie can help him to gain the confidence to be a bit more aggressive and to dominate his matches more.
“The fact that she is woman doesn’t factor for me. It is about being the right person to help him defend his Wimbledon title and only Andy can judge that!”
There’s a lot to keep an eye on over the coming weeks.