Australian Open 4th Round Interview

Maria lost to Ashleigh Barty (AUS) (15) 6-4 1-6 4-6

Q. Can you talk about the match and the challenge of playing a player, different style, third set very dramatic?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, a different style, but a really tough style to play against. I thought she played a really great match, and I still had my chances which I didn’t take. I definitely had a letdown for many games straight, gave her that confidence, and she’s a confidence player, as well. And she’ll take it. She’s not going to back down. And she did.

Q. What did you make of the kind of crowd’s reaction to you? They kind of booed you when you came back after the toilet break and cheered for the time violation. Did you think they were a bit unfair to you? Did it affect you at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: What do you want me to say to that question?

Q. I don’t know. Just the truth, I guess.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think that’s a silly question to ask.

Q. Did it affect you, though?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: (No response.)

Q. Was your shoulder of any concern?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have spoken about my shoulder openly in the last few weeks, months, years. It’s definitely been an issue for the majority of last year and going into this year, as well. But it’s something that, as I said after my first match, it’s a pain-management type of thing. I’m still working through it.

Q. Ten double faults. Seemed to be having trouble with your ball toss. Any particular reason for that today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: The ball toss in the beginning was on the side of the sun. That lasted for a few change of ends.

Q. Talking about a letdown in the second and start of the third, what do you attribute it to you? Physical letdown or focus issue?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think a little bit of focus. You know, 30-all in the first game, first game second set, just didn’t take care of business. Yeah, I think I took a few steps back. I let her control the points a little bit. Got into longer rallies, which I think off the backhand she had a great slice out there today. That stayed quite low in the conditions. And I didn’t do enough with that ball. I usually like that ball.

Q. You took meldonium legally for 10 years to deal with your health problems. Now that it’s banned and you can no longer take it, is that a struggle physically to deal with it, the demand of a Grand Slam fortnight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is there another question?

Q. On Ash Barty, did you know much about her game going in today or were you kind of learning how she plays while you were out there against her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I have played against her probably in Rome, six, seven months ago. Different player playing against her in Australia than it is, you know, in Rome first round. Yeah, I think she’s much more, felt like she was much more comfortable on the hard courts and she’s also had a great few weeks. She’s playing like it, as well, yeah.

Q. At the start of the match, history was with you 6-0 against Australian opponents so far. You always won. How much confidence does it bring into the game at the start of the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Honestly I didn’t know that stat before the match, and it’s not something that I focus on too much, because every match is a different circumstance and a different opportunity for both of us.

Q. Earlier this week you spoke about doing stuff off the court and maybe past your tennis career. What you do today reflects in your future off the court stuff. Can you compare a victory on the court to a victory off the court and also defeat on the court to something that you maybe lose off the court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think there is a lot of comparisons. I think it’s a little bit of a philosophical question at this point so close to ending the match.
Yeah, there is definitely, you know, I had a great match a couple of days ago, and I could have lost that one and I didn’t. I pulled through, and I had opportunities today to win and my opponent did. She won the last point, and she was the better player. That’s the way – you know, it’s sport. There is only one winner at the end of each event.
There is great moments, high moments, and the rest of us, there is usually a moment of disappointment. If we didn’t feel that disappointment, we wouldn’t be – it’s tough to encourage yourself to keep going, to find a way to a winning way next time if you’re just, you know, happy about your performance even when you lose.

Q. I’m sure you’re not happy, having lost, but how do you feel about your tennis overall, start of the year, new year beginning, and you have put in a lot of work in the off-season? How do you look at your game at this point?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I thought I did a few things well this week. There is a lot of improvements to do. I still, as I said, still have to take care of the shoulder. You know, I need to serve better. That comes obviously, stems from the shoulder. That’s an important aspect of this year. I’ll be looking to do everything in order to keep it healthy.

Q. Off-beat question. How conscious are you as a player always being on the camera in various areas?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think we have known that, because that’s been the way that – we have had a lot of cameras here for the last couple of years, warmup areas. They’re not in the locker room, not that I know of (smiling). Safe there.

Q. Does it bother you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not really.

Q. Tough loss for you. But how far do you see Ash going in this tournament? Do you think she’s ready to win a slam?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think everyone has a chance, and everyone has an opportunity, whether you take it. I thought she played some brilliant tennis in parts of the match, and you have to deliver that for three more, so, you know, I think time will tell.

Q. How much belief do you have that you can actually win another Grand Slam in your career? Or is there a concern that perhaps the next generation, which includes Barty, could be overlapping or superseding the previous generation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it would be tough for me to be doing all the work and putting in all the effort if I didn’t really believe that. I think I’d be kidding myself.

Q. What does your schedule look like for the next few weeks? Get the shoulder checked?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I’m planning on playing St. Petersburg and probably nothing after that until Indian Wells.