Cincinnati 2nd Round Interview

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

Q. Much back and forth in the beginning of the match before she pulled away on the scoreboard. How do you feel about your performance today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I thought it was up and down. Yeah, I hung on quite well in the first few games, even though I was down Love-30 a few times, 15-40 actually. Served quite well to stay in those.
But, yeah, I thought that there was a few too many errors, few too many errors off the first ball. Not giving myself too many looks into the rallies. When I did, even though I had a couple of those opportunities, didn’t quite go my way.
I thought she served quite consistent. Yeah, I feel overall it feels like she’s quite confident out there.

Q. How big was that third game of the second set, just a long one, 10 minutes, you had challenges to get that break back?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I did, and again, I don’t think I — I had a few good returns. Just didn’t do enough inside the rally. Especially that first ball coming off of the return and the serve.
Wasn’t seeing the ball as well as I would have liked. I’m not sure if it’s – I’ve played the last couple matches in the evening and the day felt maybe a little bit different as far as the ball bounce. Yeah, didn’t adjust as well as I should have.

Q. You mentioned how tricky her game is the other day. Is it particularly tricky when you haven’t had many matches against a slice and stuff?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It always is. I think when you do have more matches maybe I would hope that I would figure things out a little quicker. You always have to adjust with every opponent you play.
That’s what makes this game so tough is one day you’re playing someone that’s extremely aggressive, another day you’re playing someone that has a great backhand slice. She’s using her forehand quite well, as well. I think that’s what’s really gotten her to the top. She’s a little bit more consistent on that side. And serve, as you saw in those bigger points, really found the lines. Yeah, didn’t let up.

Q. I’m curious what your coaching situation has been through this year and what you’re going to be doing different going forward.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not sure. Yeah, it’s still a work in progress. But Riccardo will be with me in New York.

Q. How did you link up with him?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just crashed his summer camp in Elba. I didn’t know Elba existed until I knew he was there. Yeah.

Q. Do you have any special preparations you want to make?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I still have to continue to look to play a few more practice matches. You know, I feel there is a lot of things I want to improve. Yeah, it’s endless.

Q. Would you consider playing in the Bronx tournament? It’s different this year. It’s available to people if they want it.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don’t think so.

Q. Would the practice matches be against someone on tour or someone in your camp, would you say?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Sure, yeah. A little bit of everything.

Q. What do you take out of the two matches here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just coming off of them, feeling quite good body-wise. I mean, I think it’s really easy to take that for granted because it’s a sport, as I said before, so result-oriented.
You know, I have sat in this chair a few times where I haven’t finished the match or I feel like I have a long road ahead of me in terms of recovery with the body, so, yeah, that’s a positive.
But there’s definitely the repetition, just the feeling of being in a match. It’s very different.

Q. What motivates you at this point to keep going out there and hurting yourself like you did day after day? You get injured, go back, you go through that whole process? It’s just got to be grueling. I look at that and go, Man, you’ve got to be special.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you. I wish, for every single press conference I have done for the past couple of years, I wish I had a repeat voiceover about this answer I give, but I still love very much what I do.
I think beneath everything is I believe in what I do and I believe in my ability. You have to love it. I have been doing it for way too long to not love it, to continue to have that motivation behind what I do and the work, and, you know, all the work that goes on before you get to the court or after you get off the court.

Q. I read your book. It seems like four lifetimes you have been out here doing what you’re doing, even though here you are… Amazing.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It feels like 20 (smiling). Thank you. That’s very nice.

Q. What did you think the first time you heard that kind of question?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: And I have been hearing it for a long time. I think ever since another generation has come up and then you’re kind of the older generation or considered to be, and so, yeah. Not from you guys but usually from someone that doesn’t attend all the press conferences every tournament.
But, no, I love it. Maybe one day I’ll put together a video of all the times someone asked me that question and the answers that I give, but I think it’s very similar.

Q. You said you’re not sure about your coaching situation. Are you looking for something?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, actually, I’m not. You know, I came off of Wimbledon just wanting to simplify things, and I think that’s what I really liked and the approach that Riccardo had, as well, in the couple of weeks I spent with him. Just wasn’t anything like I have never heard before or something completely new.
I think all of us who have played tennis for many years, and as a coach you have seen a lot of things, maybe someone can tell you the same thing but in the way they say it maybe with their knowledge and how wise they are and through their experience just gets to you a little bit differently.
I loved the few weeks that I spent. I felt really proud of the effort I put into it with my team and I, and. Yeah, I didn’t come out, as I said in – where were we – in Canada, I came out of it like not wanting to go out tomorrow and win, like, a tournament. I was, like, content with what I did. I think that’s maybe different than how I felt before.

Q. Russian women have won a lot of Grand Slams recently and final appearances. It’s been a little slower for the guys. Medvedev…
MARIA SHARAPOVA: When you say recently, how recent?

Q. More recently than guys.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m, like, are there a few Russians I don’t know about? There is always a few that you never know about.

Q. Have you had any interaction with Khachanov and Medvedev now that they have been showing success?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s exciting. I think there is definitely a hole in that part of our sport in terms of the men after Marat and Kafelnikov, so it’s nice seeing the youngsters doing really well.

Q. Do you plan to write any more books?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, that was a long process. Not yet, no.

Q. As you said, you have been around for a long time, and you have been part of many different kind of tours, so to speak. When do you think the tour in general and the top 10 specifically was the strongest?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s so hard to tell. I mean, I think on – I don’t know. Maybe I’ll have a different answer when I finish my career, but I think there is definitely more surprises now.
Maybe when I was younger there was a little bit more consistency in terms of the top 5 and the top 10 in Grand Slam champions.
I guess I was a part of an era where you had Kim Clijsters and Justine and Serena and Venus and Myskina, as well, in the mix. I’m missing many. They were, like, consistently there top 10, like, for many, many years. Mauresmo.
That was – I don’t know. That was quite tough. Now I feel like there is a little bit more chance, you know. There is not as much consistency as a few years before.

Q. Piatti works with a lot of young players. Have you been training with any of them? I know Sinner’s here.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven’t trained with any of them, but we were in Elba together with Jannik. It’s like dorm kids training.

Q. Were you living in a dorm there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, it felt like it. It wasn’t. It was a hotel, but… No, it was actually great for the few weeks.
Yeah, no, some were there on vacation. But, yeah, no, it was — I saw him practice a few times. I’m, like, following all his players. It’s fun. I feel like part of a group.