Australian Open Final Interview

Q. You played a great match today. Is it easier to get through the disappointment through such a good performance?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Look, it’s always tough getting to a final stage of an event where it’s down to two players and you end up become the one that’s going home with the smaller trophy, there’s no doubt about it. No matter how you played, well or not, whatever the scoreline is, it’s always tough. But it will be all right.

Q. Where do you think you played well tonight and where do you think you fell short in the finish?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, in the finish I definitely thought I could have put a few more serves in in the tiebreaker. Giving her many looks on the second serve. Even though they were good, deep second serves, she was ready. Aggressive. She hit a couple of winners. Then some of the service games where I had 15-30 or 30-All, she came up with really big serves, ones I sometimes couldn’t get my reach at. Those you just have to let go and keep going.

Q. She served so well tonight. How hard is it for you to read that serve and how much do you feel like you’re guessing where she’s going in the box?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, look, that’s one of her biggest strengths is her serve. Maybe it’s something that has saved her in many matches, situations where you cannot get the racquet on the ball. You have to let that go. And if you’re able to get in the point somehow, make it a little bit easy for yourself, there is — I didn’t feel that I had many of those chances to get in the point. When the games on her serve were 30-All, 40-30 or 15-30 a few times, she came up with really great serves.

Q. How do you rate that serve stroke compared to any other shot in the women’s game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it’s definitely much faster. There’s a few, just very limited amount of players that serve in that speed range as she does consistently. She finds the corners extremely well, yeah.

Q. You saved match points earlier in the tournament. You said you were very proud of how you fought that. When you saved those two championship points today, did you have the confidence that you felt things might turn around for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I wasn’t just going to let her hit a winner to win the match. I really wanted to go for it and I wanted to do everything I could to stay in those games and stay in that match. You know, on the last one, couldn’t do much to get that ball.

Q. Technically off the ground how do you feel about how you’re able to hang in the rallies with her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think that’s something that I feel personally I’ve improved in the last year or so where I feel much more solid on the ground and I’m not afraid for it to be a physical match. I think when I did have the opportunities to get in the rally I think I handled it quite well, but there’s not a lot of time in important situations where I could get in the rally.

Q. You talked about not being drawn into the aggressive style of play that she has. How happy were you with executing the plan you went in with?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, as much as I would love to hit a 200 kilometer an hour serve, I just don’t think that’s feasible with my shoulder. There’s a lot of things I’d love to do in this world but I can’t; that’s just the reality of it. But in terms of getting to the point, yeah, there’s definitely a few times where I rushed and made a few errors, but I don’t think as many as in my previous matches against her.

Q. Five slams, what you’ve done on clay court tennis, your record against many players, yet this discrepancy with Venus, this difficulty — Serena, I’m sorry — just talk about that. Is it frustrating you haven’t been able to break through for so long? At a certain place does it bother you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Look, I actually believe that we attract what we’re ready for. Yes, I haven’t won against her many times, but if I’m getting to the stage of competing against someone like Serena, I’m doing something well. I’m setting up a chance to try to beat her and it hasn’t happened. I’m not just going to go home without giving it another chance. That’s just not who I am and not who I was raised to be. I’m a competitor. If I’m getting to the finals of Grand Slams and setting myself up to play a match against Serena, I mean, I know it sounds — maybe you’re telling me I’m wrong — but I’m happy to be in that position. I love the competition. I love playing against the best, and at the moment she is.

Q. Andy Murray told us earlier he’s very proud of his own achievements because of the kind of competition around him. Do you have that sense as well, achieving everything you have achieved?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, look, over the last 10 years her and I have been out of the game. Sometimes she was injured for a period of time; I was out for a year. So, yeah, between all of that, between and around it, we’ve been able to play a lot of great matches against other players. I’m proud to be part of an era where she’s in.

Q. Do you feel like you’re getting closer to getting that win?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: If I keep setting up myself chances, absolutely.

Q. How would you sum up these last two weeks then?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Look, I mean, it’s disappointing now. It’s 45 minutes after the match. It’s always tough to sit and speak in front of the press about a loss. But, look, I’m happy with the way I’ve handled a few of the matches here, how I’ve come back strong, how I’ve set myself up to try to win another major. It’s not easy to get to the final of a Grand Slam. It takes a lot of work. It’s over the course of two weeks. That’s a good achievement. It’s a good start to the year. The year is very young at this point.

Q. You’ve played here till the very end. Is Fed Cup still in your plans? If yes, how many matches would you like to play in Krakow?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes, it’s still in my plans. I’m very much looking forward to the 30-hour flight I’m taking to Krakow tomorrow. A very convenient travel itinerary, too. It’s like minus eight, so that’s even better. Love the climate, love the travel (laughter). I haven’t gone to the match count yet, but all those other things are great. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it (smiling).

Q. Obviously your father played a critical role in your whole tennis life. Do you remember going on his bicycle and going to the academy in the early years? Talk about those times.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yes, I remember that bicycle. I remember that basket that I really liked. He had to throw it away because I needed to sit where the basket was. I thought the bicycle looked much better with the basket on. Yeah, those days were definitely — yeah, I take the time sometimes to think about that, think about where you came from, the hurdles you had to go through. That was definitely one of them. But, yeah, he was a tough cookie. He inspired me very much and kept me motivated. It was really, really great to have him by my side for so many years in my career. Still consider him close, a good friend, and a father at the end of the day.

Q. We see you fight so hard in that match; especially the second set the quality was so high and you work so hard for that.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, look, I like setting up those situations. I like the battle, I do. I mean, it’s frustrating to be the one going home, as I said, with the small trophy. But I do love the battle. I love high-quality tennis. I love being part of it. It’s a lot better than watching it on TV. It’s nice to be in the moment.

Q. In the second set you were hitting with so much depth and you seem to be in control of the rallies against Serena. Do you feel that adding another facet to your game, like a better net game, would help you get over the line against her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think first you have to create the angles and you have to create the deep balls to get the short ball from her. She gets many balls back. She not just gets them back, but she’s a good defensive player as well. A lot of people talk about how aggressive she is. But she’s able to create many angles, many deep shots off of the defense. That’s not always easy to come in on.