OEIRAS, Portugal - When a WTA legend joins up with one of the WTA's most talented young stars, the sky's the limit - and though it hasn't even been that long since she acquired Martina Hingis as her primary coach, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is already starting to get a bigger piece of that sky.
After a marathon quarterfinal win over countrywoman Elena Vesnina in Oeiras on Thursday, Pavlyuchenkova was asked about how she and Hingis came to their current coaching arrangement.
"After the US Open last September I went to the Mouratoglou Academy in Paris. We were preparing for the Asian tournaments, she liked my game, and we had good chemistry," Pavlyuchenkova said. "She started helping me more, like in Mauritius in the off-season and in Australia this year. She was always giving me advice and coming to my practices, and I always felt like she was Coach No.2.
"My coach stopped with me in Miami so I was alone, and that's how Martina and I started."
And there's no lack of admiration for the five-time Grand Slam champion and former No.1, either.
"She's amazing," Pavlyuchenkova said. "I respect her as a person and as an athlete. She's a legend to a lot of players - a lot of us looked up to her when we were growing up. She's very experienced and sees the game so well. Every time she says something I do it right away - usually it's tough to change something, but she's so energetic and pushing me all the time, so it's really not tough with her.
"It can be hard to listen to coaches or even parents, but I listen to her. She's Martina Hingis."
Hingis is just as impressed. "It's much easier to work with someone like Nastia, who has all the strokes, all the capabilities, and just so much potential," she said. "It's just about improving her game day by day and week by week - strategy, technique and everything. And she's very easy to work with.
"If she keeps improving like she has been doing recently, I think anything is possible out there. We have a few weeks before Roland Garros and she already made the quarterfinals there a few years ago, and I think she definitely has the potential to make it to the semifinals there, if not more."
And what are Pavlyuchenkova's goals? "To win all these tournaments on clay and then to win Roland Garros, and then to become No.1 in the world would be good - I wouldn't mind!" she said. "But really I just want to keep doing as much as I can in every tournament I play, which I've always been doing. I can't play a tournament just to play it - I like to win. I never give up. That's why I play tennis."
Hingis has seen that fight already this week. "I saw her fight until the last point against Vesnina - she could have made it easier for herself, but at least she won the match. That was really good."