Cincinnati 2nd Round Interview

Q. Can you just talk about the match a little bit and the difference in the second set when the game or match kind of shifted there a bit?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, you know, against Madison, someone who serves really well, it’s always, you know, one, two moments that are really crucial in the match.
In the first set I returned quite well. I started the match off really good. Broke her a few times.
You know, I think she got a bit more consistent on her groundstrokes in the second set, and there’s, you know, some moments in the beginning of that second set where I felt that I could have, you know, taken the lead and broken her in that third game. I didn’t do that, and I think she stepped it up and was able to break me a couple more times.
Yeah, but ultimately I was happy with the beginning of the third set. That was really crucial.

Q. Have you practiced much with her before?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not really, no.

Q. Not really?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.

Q. What did you see in her game that was different that surprised you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, she swings pretty freely. I think she has a very loose arm. For a 19 year old to be serving in the 120s, that’s really impressive. I’m sure, you know, when she develops the consistency in the serve it’s going to be an important factor.
But to have that strength and power to be able to do that is great. You know, I think to definitely improve her second serve, I felt like I could have attacked that quite a bit.
But overall, I’m quite impresses. She’s done very well this year.

Q. Would you consider her one of the more powerful players on the tour already this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely.

Q. You took a bit of a break between the second and third set. You were getting a bit animated towards the end of the second set. Looked like you were frustrated. Was it just to kind of calm down? You came out much more level headed and cooler.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I guess maybe that’s just what dry clothes does to you (laughter). It gets you a bit calmer.
Yeah, it was just, you know, obviously to change. It’s quite humid here.

Q. When you were walking off, the cameras kind of caught you rubbing your right shoulder a little bit as you were exiting court. Is there any issue there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m bound to feel something when the opponent is serving in the 120s. But, no, it feels good.

Q. When you were gathering yourself between points, are you literally talking to yourself?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thinking or talking, something like that. I’m not sure. Depends.

Q. In English or Russian?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It depends. Whatever is easiest and quickest to say. It usually is ‑‑some words are faster to say in Russian or some are faster to say in English.

Q. Today you lost more first return points in the third set as opposed to the second set. Second set you lost. The third set you won.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: What did I win and lose? Sorry.

Q. You lost a lot of return points. In the third set, you actually lost more of them than in the second set. What I want to know is was this another opportunity where you raised your game in the third set or is this a chance where the opponent, you got into their head in the third set?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. As I said, against someone that does have a big weapon on their serves, it’s only a matter of a couple points here and there.
And when you do get your chance of seeing a couple of second serves, of taking advantage on it, putting a little bit more pressure on them, you know, then when she’s down, you know, 1‑3 or 2‑4, it’s a bit easier to swing and get better serves in and it’s a lot easier to play from ‑‑ obviously from behind, but ‑‑ when you feel you have nothing to lose really.
But, yeah, as I said, it’s only just a couple here and there. I took that advantage in the second game of the third set and I was able to, you know, hold my serve for the rest of the third set.

Q. How hard is it playing a player like her first match out this week?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it’s never easy. I think she’s a great player and someone that’s, you know, using all the experience at the moment and yet doing so well and winning her first big title, having really good wins.
These matches, this type of experience is really priceless in her career at 19 years old. So I think it’s almost a feeling of being free and really going for her shots and having that free state of mind, which is really nice to have.
But, yeah, personally for me, I didn’t have a great week last week. No matter who is across the net, it’s never easy going out in the first round because you want to change that result around. You want to change your attitude and your performance and obviously the result.
I was happy to come out today and get the win, because it wasn’t an easy first round.

Q. Were there any flashbacks to the first match last year against Sloane?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not really, actually. I didn’t think about it too much. So that was good.

Q. Do you find as you get older that there are more occasions that you’re having doubts about things, or is that something that’s more prominent when you’re really young or when you’re young you just don’t think and you just play?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, when you’re young every new experience is new and different. It’s just a learning experience really and you don’t ‑‑you can’t really take anything from the past, because maybe you haven’t been in that position before.
As you grow older and you’ve been in different types of situations, whether winning or losing or going through tough moments or great moments or confident rides, you know how that feels like in your mind when you’re on court.
When you’re younger, everything that you take in is very new and fresh. It’s a really good feeling, because ultimately that’s what sets up the future for you.

Q. You have been an up and coming sort of player to watch and played a lot more with the veterans. Do you take kind of a tiny bit of pleasure sort of showing the new players who’s the boss?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not at all. I never really looked at it that way. When I was young and up and coming, you always want to, I guess, put your feet on the ground and show what you’re capable of and prove to yourself that you belong there with the top players, no matter how old they are.
But as you get a little bit older and you’re kind of in that middle generation, I enjoy seeing the younger girls doing well and performing well, because that’s ultimately the players that are going to be in your spot when you’re not playing the sport anymore.
You know, the tennis world will continue with or without you.

Q. Game‑wise, what were you happy with today and what weren’t you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was happy I won the match. (Laughter.)
Yeah, I mean, in these conditions against a fast‑paced opponent like Madison, it’s just a few things here and there that are important and key points that, you know, if you have to your advantage that will make things easier for you.
I wasn’t happy with not taking advantage early in that second set. Just a few unforced errors. But, yeah, doesn’t matter. I’m happy to get through.

Q. How are you feeling about this year in general? I mean, it’s been a very good year for you. Interested in your thoughts on how this year has been compared to other years.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have never been a player to compare year to year, because you always find yourself in a different position facing different opponents, different challenges, different frame of mind.
I’m very happy with what I have been able to achieve this year, because last year it was tough to miss the end of the season, you know, finding yourself in a position where you’re hurt again.
And having gone through that before, it’s just like, Okay, and just finding ways to get back into a healthy state of mind and then a professional state of mind and then a competitive state of mind.
It’s a big process for somebody that goes through an injury. You know, it’s tough to be mentally always, you know, upbeat and positive. So having gone through that and getting a new team around me, there are a lot of changes that happened.
I’m very happy with the way we have worked, and everyone is committed into bringing, you know, me to the top. That was great to see from everyone at the French Open, and hope that I can continue that.

Q. You have had a lot of accomplishments in your career: Been No. 1, won slams. You have never had a two‑slam year. Is that something that would be important to you at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It would be great to have, definitely. Like I say, I only have one more chance this year to do that, you know, winning the French Open.
But, yeah, it’s not something that I have thought of. But I feel like, you know, a lot of people always ask me, like, You’re at this stage of your career and you’ve won Grand Slams and been No. 1. It’s just like a broken record player almost.
I guess this is a position where it’s almost like, Well, you have everything. You can do whatever you want. I always tend to shake my head, because at this position that’s where you, you know, showcase how strong you are and how much you really love it and to show your legacy through the sport.
So that’s why I admire so much what someone like Venus is doing at her age, to continue and fight for what she believes because she’s so good at the sport.
But, yeah, that’s why I do it, because I still feel like I have a lot left in me.

Q. Going forward, would you consider playing Fed Cup again for Russia, or would that depend on where in the world you’re playing at that time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I am. I’m planning on playing next year.

Q. You were off the court fairly quickly. No blowing kisses to the crowd. Any particular reason why?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not really.