Beijing Final Interview

Q. What is your overall take on that match, and then talk specifically about the third set. Seems you raised your level across the board.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, bit of an up‑and‑down match, I’d say. Maybe not the best out of the tournament.
But, yeah, it’s not easy playing against Petra. You don’t always quite get a good rhythm. She goes for a lot of shots, you know, very deep. She’s a very good, confident player.
Coming into this match, I know she’s been on a roll in the last couple of weeks. That’s never easy. It’s probably the toughest opponent you can face in a final, that’s had that success. Yet you just want to focus on kind of your side, what you do best.
After exchanging breaks in the first set, I was happy. I felt like I stepped it up. I started returning quite well, reading her serve a little bit. She became the more aggressive player in the second set. I think I took a few too many steps back and let her be that way, let her play that way.
Yeah, I was kind of happy that I was able to lift my game again in the third and come out with a win.

Q. Compared to last year at this time when you were out with the shoulder injury, how does it feel to be having such a good year, winning the French Open, fourth title, second in the ranking?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s so rewarding, honestly. At this time of year, I was somewhere in Europe getting treatment for my shoulder, just trying to find different medical perspectives and advice on how to treat it and how to get it better, obviously not knowing I wasn’t going to play for the rest of the year. I missed the US Open already, was going to miss the Championships. It was mentally a tough time because I was just in the middle of Europe trying to find a solution, yet everyone was still playing.
It’s definitely great to be a year later in a situation where this is my fourth title of the year, you know, a Grand Slam this year. A lot to put in perspective. You look back and think about how you kind of struggled, but you kept going.
I also formed a new team. There were a lot of question marks up in the air. These moments are rewarding and I’m glad I can start it off with the same people who started the year off with me.

Q. Your previous two matches you came out very aggressive, especially compared to this match where you came out a little flat. Any reason you think it was harder to get momentum in the beginning of this match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was a sloppy couple of games for me in the beginning. It’s always tough to tell. I think I’ve done a really good job in this tournament of having good starts. I think that’s really helped me.
But, again, I was able to get the break back by doing a few things a little bit differently, then win that set 6‑4. So, yeah, I don’t think that was a huge key of the match, to be honest.

Q. Considering what you achieved in the big tournaments this year, one Grand Slam, two mandatory premiere titles, also number one in the Race for the Championship, do you think you are the most consistent player this year on the tour?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t like to compare myself to others. I only want to follow my own road. It’s kind of in my hands. I lose and win matches with myself. Of course you have people in your team around you, but at the end of the day it’s you out there.
I’ve never been one to compare. I think everyone has their own road. I’m very grateful that I’ve had that success. It’s also nice to have my first hard court title this year on a big stage. I didn’t feel like I had a very easy draw at this tournament. I played six tough matches and I came through with some really positive scorelines.
I’d say based on this week that it was a really great win for me.

Q. How did you feel? How was your endurance at the end of the match? It went pretty long. At times Kvitova looked like she was faltering a little bit. How did you feel?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it’s a long week. But she played many matches last week. I played two more matches than her this week because she had a bye and a walkover. In terms of the last 10 days, I was the player that played more matches within that timeframe.
I didn’t actually feel so bad physically. Six matches is quite a lot in nine days. But overall it was nice to get straight‑set wins. So that was really helpful. Hasn’t really been the case for me most of the season. So that certainly helps when you’re out there physically in a final because you know it’s the last match and you have to give everything that you have.

Q. Year‑end No.1 is now on the table for you. Would you consider changing your schedule at all, playing other tournaments, or are you just going to head into the Finals?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my career, add a few tournaments to my schedule to gain points, in order to find a certain ranking. Never in the juniors, never in the pros. It’s never really how I’ve seen my career.
Most important is to be healthy. I’ve played two tournaments. Didn’t have a great first week. I turned it around here. There’s absolutely no reason to fly to Asia to play four matches, then fly back to Asia, so…

Q. What is the plan for the next 10 days? You’ll be staying in China or travel back to the States?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m going to be staying in Asia.

Q. Where?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not in China, but in Asia (smiling).

Q. You are now ranked second on the Road to Singapore. The score between you and Serena is less than 500 points. You have a good chance of winning your first year‑end ranking No.1 at Singapore. What do you think about it? Do you have a good chance?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I just kind of answered that question.
I’ve been fortunate enough and very lucky to be No.1 in the world before in my career. I’m very happy to be in the situation today, knowing that I have the opportunity to do that again, to try to get the No.1 spot.
Of course, it’s an incredible achievement if I could do it, considering where I started the year. But in the meantime I know I’ve had a great year and I’m going to go into the last tournament that I have just wanting to elevate my performance, use this week as a great steppingstone in the right direction, and finish it off well.

Q. Throughout this year, after coming back from the shoulder injury, was there ever a moment where you were more concerned about the shoulder than not?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I try to be a little smarter during the time last year where I hurt my shoulder, which was during the clay. Fortunately we had really good weather, it was very warm, and I never really had issues with the balls being heavy or the conditions heavy, even though I played really long matches. I think I handled that quite well, and my shoulder held up.
I also have a new physio this year, which has been a really great addition to my team, has been very influential in my shoulder work. Every single day working on it hour, hour and a half, two hours on the table, whatever it takes in the gym strengthening it. Really the boring times. It’s kind of mandatory work in order to keep your body healthy.
After a long year and so many matches, I’m very happy with the way that I feel physically.

Q. You’ve been to Singapore many times and there are a lot of fans in Singapore waiting for you. This is actually the first time Singapore holds the Finals. I’m sure there will be a lot of fans cheering for you. What is your impression of Singapore? Do you have any plans to meet up with the fans in Singapore? Are you going to sell the Sugarpova in Singapore?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I actually have not been to Singapore many times. I’ve only been to Singapore once and it was for an exhibition, it was in and out. I didn’t really have a chance to see the city or experience much of the culture or the people.
But I hope that this will be a bit different. I will be there for much longer than my previous time. I hope I’ll be able to do a little bit of sight‑seeing. But mainly I want to compete. I want to go out there and finish the year off really well. That’s my main priority. I’m sure I’ll have time to be a tourist when my career is finished.

Q. Last week when you were in Wuhan you didn’t get a good result. How did you in such a short time adjust your form and win a title here in China? In the last several matches you have done really well. How did you do that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was not the result I wanted last week. Certainly a disappointing result for me. I thought I was ready for the tournament. I wanted to compete. I just didn’t end up with a positive result.
Within the timeframe of only of a couple of days until my first round here, I just had to settle down a bit. You know, sometimes it just takes a few little things to change something around. Maybe some of those results ultimately get you to this position.
I’ve always learned a lot from tough matches. Sometimes losing the matches I feel like I learn a lot more than winning a match easy because you really have to focus on what you did wrong and how you’re going to change it.
I think I’m proud that I was able to just take a couple days and get on the practice court, do the work that I could, and change the result here.