Marie Bouzkova plots career surge with new coach Conchita MartinezBy Jan 02, 2024
Bob Bryan aims to build brotherhood culture as U.S. Davis Cup captainBy Jan 31, 2024
Dinara Safina: Aryna Sabalenka is showing 'strength of character' with 2024 Australian Open runBy Jan 26, 2024
“This is your time”: Dinara Safina hails teen takeover at 2024 Australian OpenBy Jan 16, 2024
Superwoman Elena Vesnina unveils second comeback, Olympic dream, and final tennis farewellBy Jan 12, 2024
What Novak Djokovic and the PTPA believe they can do to help tennis players (Part 3 of 3)By Dec 20, 2023
Why tennis trading cards could be a big deal: Checking in on the PTPA (Part 2 of 3)By Dec 19, 2023
Checking in on the Professional Tennis Players Association (Part 1 of 3)By Dec 18, 2023
Czeching Out: Barbora Strycova bows out of tennis with epic exit interviewBy Dec 17, 2023
Hot Take: Is Liudmila Samsonova set up for a 2024 breakthrough?By Dec 16, 2023
Marie Bouzkova plots career surge with new coach Conchita Martinez
Bouzkova hired the former Wimbledon champion starting with a productive off-season as she aims to emulate the results Martinez enjoyed with former No. 1 Garbiñe Muguruza.
Published Jan 02, 2024
Marie Bouzkova enjoys a good New Year’s resolution. The world No. 36 made several in advance of 2024 and while most will bear out over the next 12 months—stretch more, multitask less—she got a head start on one in particular.
“I’ve been through a lot of years on tour and gained a lot of experience, so I felt like I was ready to take the next step,” Bouzkova told me over the phone from Auckland, fresh off an ASB Classic victory over Magdalena Fręch.
The 2023 season was hardly over when Bouzkova resolved to find a new coach, one who could help the 25-year-old out of her holding pattern and make good on the talent that took her to a junior US Open victory almost a decade prior.
Agent Enric Molina put forward Conchita Martinez, a former Wimbledon champion looking to get back into coaching after a successful stint with Garbiñe Muguruza ended last spring.
“When she was with Garbiñe, I actually used to practice quite a bit with them, so I knew her from that,” Bouzkova recalled before admitting with a laugh, “When we first started practicing together, I was thinking, ‘Wow, I’m a little bit nervous for her to watch me!’”
Under Martinez, Muguruza won Wimbledon in 2017, reached the Australian Open final in 2020, and returned to the Top 3 in the WTA rankings after winning the season-ending championships in 2021.
She understands I can be solid, but I can definitely improve the more aggressive side of things and taking better advantage of the balls I get. From the beginning, we were talking about how I’m one of the quicker players on tour, and this is something I should be using as much for offense as defense. Marie Bouzkova on new coach Conchita Martinez
Such results are still a dream for the rising Czech star, who peaked at No. 24 in the WTA rankings in 2022—the same year she won her first WTA title and made her first major quarterfinal at Wimbledon.
“A coach like Conchi can help me find better solutions on court than what I’ve been doing. Now that I’ve matured, I wanted to give it a really good try so I can take advantage of all the advice I can get.”
Though her 2023 nearly bottomed out at Roland Garros, where she and doubles partner Sara Sorribes Tormo were accused of instigating the default of opponents Miyu Kato and Aldila Sutjiadi, a strong six months followed in singles. She scored wins over Caroline Garcia and Jessica Pegula and finished runner-up at her final event of the season in Nanchang.
A week in Seville for the Billie Jean King Cup Finals meant Bouzkova and Martinez, who will split traveling duties with Slovenian coach Mike Urbanija, had to make the most of a short off-season.
Ever the optimist, Bouzkova was game for the challenge—even if it truncated her beloved Christmas holiday.
“Overall, it’s been much more intense, and not even in terms of strictly hours spent on court, but more in terms of the way we’re focusing on different things. It’s pretty new to me, because we’re not just doing the standard drills I’ve been doing all my life, but I’m also adding so many new ones. We’re also timing everything because that’s something Conchi likes to do, so we’ll spend a few minutes on one drill then jump right to another.”
Martinez’s goal is to make her happy warrior both stronger and sharper, one who can embrace a more offensive approach without sacrificing the speed and versatility that currently makes her such a tough out.
“I want to raise my level to where I’m creating more opportunities to be aggressive, not necessarily going for it so much more but using the court and coming to net so I’m not just back of the court all the time!”
The first test of those improvements yielded a little of everything for Bouzkova as she blitzed Fręch in the opening set only to employ her more reliable base to outrally the Pole and win a 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 clash that Bouzkova hailed as a “huge battle” in her on-court interview.
“It’s one of the best—if not the best—first-round matches I’ve played in a while,” she told me the next day. “I’m definitely thinking a lot differently than I used to on court, and I’m starting to see the court in a different way. I’m trying to use all of the court and take as much advantage of every ball that comes my way, so even in the first match, I felt a huge difference. I was able to play a more aggressive tennis and get on top of every rally.
“This is the mindset I’m going for, but I’m looking forward to see how things continue to develop.”
Martinez is set to join her in Auckland for her next match against Amanda Anisimova, allowing Bouzkova to work on one of her other resolutions: improving her Spanish.
“The majority of the time, we’re speaking in Spanish but for the rest of the team, we have to speak some English,” she joked. “On the court, Conchi will say two words in Spanish and two in English, and I’m doing the same, so it’s a pretty funny mix!”