Australian Open Semi-Final Interview

Q. Did Li play too well today or you weren’t aggressive enough?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think it’s a combination of both. I think she played a really great match. She was certainly much more aggressive than I was, dictating the play. I was always on the defense. When I had my opportunities and breakpoints in games that went to deuce, I don’t think any of them really went my way today.

Q. Do you see the potential of her winning in the final?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, there’s no reason why she can’t win.

Q. People may look to your previous matches and think you didn’t have enough of a test early on. Do you buy into that at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I can’t think of it that way. I certainly can’t use that as an excuse. When I go into any match, I’m trying to win with the best scoreline I can. That’s my goal.
Like I mentioned before, and I said again, if I’m tested, I have to pull through it. Then, yes, that’s great. If I win with a good scoreline, move on to the next one, try to do the same thing.
Today, as I said, I felt like I had my fair share of opportunities. It’s not like they weren’t there. I just couldn’t take them today.

Q. Did you feel a little bit flat today, not feeling up for it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes, I think it’s just a combination of the way she was playing. Like I was saying, she was aggressive, taking the first ball and doing something with it. When I was trying to, I was making too many unforced errors.

Q. You’ve played her a lot. Was that as well as you’ve seen her play?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she’s playing really confident tennis. I thought she played really well, probably the best she’s played against me.

Q. You two are very familiar to each other. For this game, do you think her tactics were familiar to you, her serve, her forehand? Is it still familiar to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, you know, in tennis sometimes it’s not about what’s familiar or not. Sometimes you have to take the opportunities that come your way and make it a battle. When your opponent is always up and ahead, it’s always a little bit mentally easier for them to keep that going.
If I would have taken those chances and clawed my way back and made it a bit tougher for her, I’m sure she would have thought a little bit more. But I certainly didn’t make her think about anything.

Q. How disappointing is this for you? Obviously you wanted to win the whole thing.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No doubt about that, but it’s tennis. You lose a match and you go on to the next one. I’ve been in this position before. I’ve come through it. I’m tough. I’m not afraid to go out and keep working, work as hard as I can to be quicker, better, improve in these situations, and when I have another chance, take it.

Q. Was the heat a factor today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Doesn’t matter. It was what it was. I grew up for years in Florida. I still train there. I’m used to pretty warm conditions.

Q. She came out and took a quick lead in the first set. Did you think about making adjustments?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She always had a little bit of the edge. From the beginning, she was up a break. That’s why I said I don’t think I gave her much to think about because she was always playing ahead, and that’s tough because you have an opponent that’s playing well and aggressive and confident tennis.
And, yeah, just one of those days.

Q. With Serena out, do you sort of see this as a missed opportunity?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely not. I think champions want to face the best. That’s what makes the sport exciting and fun. You always want to be facing the best in the sport.
If somebody’s afraid to go out and face that challenge, then it’s not really a good quality, you know. I love going out and competing against the best in the world. You know, today was Li Na. Saturday I’m not playing, so it doesn’t really matter who lost the other day or not.

Q. The field was a bit more open. Did you see that?

Q. Where do you see Li Na’s level of play right now? A solid top five or potential No. 1?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Mathematics, I was never really good at it.
The way she played today, she played great tennis. I don’t know what she’s ranked now, but she’s in the finals of a Grand Slam.
I’ve said it before. Of course, we pay attention to rankings and all. The more matches we win, the better opportunity we have to be closer to 1.

Q. Did you expect yourself to play better today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes, certainly.

Q. What is your next tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That’s a good question. I think it’s Doha or maybe Dubai. I think Doha. I don’t know. I’m so clueless (smiling).