Maria Sharapova and Tommy Haas have plenty in common. Both relocated from Europe to Florida at a young age to further their tennis careers. Both have overcome serious injury to return to the top of the game. And both enjoyed impressive showings at their adopted hometown event, the Sony Open Tennis, last month.
For the third successive year, Sharapova reached the final in Miami only to run into an inspired opponent. This time is was Serena Williams, who staged a remarkable turnaround to triumph in three sets.
Haas, meanwhile, experienced a familiar scenario, making it all the way to the semifinals - a run that included the upset of the tournament, against Novak Djokovic - before narrowly failing to crack the ATP's toughest nut, David Ferrer.
One of the drawbacks of Haas' recent success, however, may be an end to his time as hitting partner for his Russian neighbor back home Bradenton, Florida. Why? Even the world's leading players have budgets to stick to.
Sharapova on her role in Haas' comeback?
"I'm really happy for him. I have had a kind of behind-the-scenes view of his comeback in the last couple of years. I practiced with him a lot when we were both in Florida and California. We spent like a couple of weeks training in Bradenton in December together. You know, he used to work with my coach."
On the change in Haas' game?
"It's incredible. I saw him a year and a half ago, as I was saying on the court, just, you know, coming back from the knee injury and then the hip. He was just, you know, sluggish. He wasn't confident, he wasn't moving well."
On desire to compete?
"It's just so nice to see someone that's at that point in his career that's been there, played great tennis in his life, been No.2 in the world, and to still want it as much as he does."
On their future as hitting partners?
"It's just really nice to see. He was a pretty good hitting partner for me, as well. Now he might be a little bit expensive. I don't know. I have to ask him about that!"