Q. Do you want to assess the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, she played solid and I was really flat. You know, didn’t take care of the short balls when I had the chance and let her get back in the points, and that’s something I said was going to be important yesterday.
I didn’t execute that and just rushed my shots a lot today, I think. I just didn’t have a spark. You know, there’s not a lot of energy from my side.
Q. Just talk about your serving today. What went wrong?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I didn’t feel like I had enough pace on it, and then I tried to go for a little bit more. I was making more errors and she was just a lot more consistent. She didn’t really go for big serves, but she was just really consistent on it and made me play.
Q. Did her style make you rush, or did you feel like, I have to do certain things to win this match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I mean, I’m playing my best when I’m aggressive. And, you know, when the opponent’s running around the baseline or out wide, you know, my goal is to move forward and take care of the next shots.
When she’s hitting, you know, like a 20-foot lob and I’m not going in and doing anything with it, you know, she’s doing something right in order to make me hit a ball, but I should be able to finish that point.
Q. So do you think you should have come in more, hit the swing volleys?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, absolutely. I stayed at the baseline, didn’t move from there. Yeah, stayed glued.
Q. Why is that, though?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know. Maybe because I haven’t played a tournament in a while and just the back-to-back matches. It’s great that I go and play again next week. You know, I haven’t played that one in many years, so that will be nice.
Q. So the assessment of your game now and the week here? What’s your take-away from this week after a few wins and a tough match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I didn’t have many expectations coming into this week because I didn’t play a lot. I’m happy that I did have a few good wins. Obviously I would have loved to go farther, but like I said, I have another one next week coming up. That will be the goal.
Q. I think the NBA schedule takes the Nets to Orlando, if I’m correct.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Do they? I haven’t checked.
Q. You haven’t checked?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know. Not yet.
Q. Did you have a feeling that depending on you, how the match was going, that Caroline was always there at a certain level, and you kind of had to make points?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think that’s her strength, and that’s what she does best, is stay at a certain level. You know, she grinds the opponents.
Yeah, like I said, you know, I rushed — I rushed many of my shots today. Yeah, I missed maybe by a few inches sometimes, and sometimes maybe I should have been more patient.
Like I said, I was just flat.
Q. I think it’s safe to say that, you know, she could win a slam, you know, win a slam any time soon, but do you think she could dominate the game with her game in the near future? What are your thoughts about that? I know it’s tough to talk about a rival in that way.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, she’s No. 1 in the world, so she should be. There’s no reason why she shouldn’t be. I think when you’re No. 1 in the world, you know, that’s pretty much where you see yourself at is, you know, later stages of Grand Slams and winning them.
Q. You started to pick up your game in the third set against Peng, and then you had some good long rallies today. Do you feel like your game is starting to get closer to where you want it to be?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, absolutely. There are many good things that I felt during the week. Even, you know, I found myself down in parts of the match, and I was able to find ways to, you know, to improve my game and start playing better.
I think in tennis, you know, it’s a lot about raising your level when you have to. So I was pretty happy with that, especially in my last match.
Yeah, you just have to do it for more matches at a time.
Q. Can you talk about the serve? You weren’t hitting your normal service speed, and on the second serve it seems you weren’t hitting the spin. Was your shoulder tight, or you just weren’t feeling the ball that well?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn’t want to go for too many big serves today. Yeah, I didn’t feel it quite that well today.
Q. Do you see her level rising since the Open? Do you see her game improving?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Since I played her?
Q. Yeah, since you played her.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In the US Open?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, after the match I still felt the same, like I didn’t think I did many things better today than I did the other match. But yeah, I mean, listen, she’s No. 1 in the world. There’s a reason why she’s there. Her consistency is her greatest strength.
Yeah, but I still feel like even though it was an easy scoreline, I still feel like I had my chances. There’s no reason why I can’t turn a few of those games around, and then it’s a different ballgame.
Q. When you feel flat, like you said, and I’m sure that’s happened to you at times in the past, what can you do in the match to turn it around?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, you know, sometimes it’s just putting — stringing a few points together. Sometimes it’s pumping yourself up. I don’t know, for the other players maybe it’s breaking a racquet. I don’t know. (Laughter.)
Everyone has different ways. I have never accomplished that before. Um, I don’t think I have the guts. Only when I play left-handed, like, fun games, then I throw my racquet. Feels pretty good, but I just don’t have the guts to do that when I play righty.
Yeah, there are different ways, but sometimes it just never really comes to you. You don’t feel it.
Q. Why didn’t you want to go for too many big serves today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just a little bit part of the game plan. And I played a really long match yesterday and I didn’t think it was smart. Yeah.
Q. How confident are you in your serve right now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m getting there. I’m, you know, working a little bit on the stance. I changed that a little bit, you know, since the last tournament I played, so it’s been a few weeks.
Yeah, I think little by little, you know, it feel — eventually feel more confident. Especially going from the first serve to the second serve and working on a few more spins, that’s, I think, been the toughest challenge since my surgeries, is feeling, you know, the kick and then the slice.
Yeah, that came a little more naturally to me before.
Q. One of criticisms of Caroline’s game is she can’t hit a forehand for a winner. Is it a heavier ball than it looks from the outside?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think it really matters if you don’t miss. I mean, then why do you need to hit winners?
No, she does have a heavy ball both off her — I think she has a little bit more spin off the forehand, and she flattens out a backhand a little bit more. But, you know, she get in position for it, so she’s never usually late. That says a lot about her footwork, I guess.
Q. Is she the most consistent player who still has power that you’ve ever faced, if you know what I mean? In terms of someone who is not just a puffball, but who is just so hard to hit through, a backboard, sort of that incredible defensive skills?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I had the pleasure of playing Hingis a few times, and, I mean, sometimes that was just — that was difficult. (Laughter.)
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it wasn’t. No, I mean, playing against Hingis, it’s kind of like a cat and mouse game out there. You know, you know you’re not going to completely overpower her, and you just have to find, you know, little ways to, yeah, kind of outthink, like the mouse has to outthink the cat.
I don’t know. I have always felt that against her. She has that great hand/eye coordination, and won here actually in Palm Springs — or we had a three setter in the semis, I believe, and that was a really fun match.
Q. Kim, if I could follow up, the other day said that Serena was the best of all time. Is that something you would concur, best player of all time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Serena?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think she has so many strengths and she’s accomplished so much and she’s won so many Grand Slams, I don’t see a reason why not. She’s an incredible champion. You know, I always say she’s — I don’t know how many Grand Slams she’s won. How many is it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, so she’s 10 better than I am.
Q. You put her over Steffi, though, with 22? That’s a lot more.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: The thing is, that’s a tough question, because I never — I didn’t watch that much tennis on TV growing up, so I didn’t really watch too much of Steffi and Navratilova.
I mean, maybe I see matches now from the past, but I never really followed it so much. I’m more of a modern — I just know the modern tennis.
Q. As someone who has spent a lot of time living in the States, are you surprised no Americans have come through in the top level since the arrival of the Williams sisters?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, you get this question asked a lot in different countries, and I think there is no quick fix to producing talent, and also producing the talent to become champions. I think it’s a lot of work, and I think money certainly helps, but I don’t think it’s sometimes enough.
I think just because you have the talent, just because you have money, doesn’t mean in one night you’re going to wake up in the morning and think the country is going to produce Grand Slam champions.
It takes years to build, and people involvement and many different — help from different sides, whether it’s a coach, whether — it’s just different things. It’s a process. You know, I don’t think it’s something fast.
But whether I’m surprised, I haven’t really thought about it.
Q. Was hunger the key to the success of the Russian players, would you say?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Hunger?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think to be honest, we don’t have that many choices. We didn’t have — I always say, it’s incredible that, you know, in this country you go to school and you have so many sports to choose from. I have so many family friends that have, you know, kids growing up, and they’re sometimes confused. They don’t know if they should be playing football or La Crosse.
It’s great in a way because you learn different sports. It’s great for, you know, your social skills. But at the end of the day, when you see yourself getting older and older, if you want to commit yourself to a sport, it has to be one way or another. You can’t be, you know, one weekend playing tennis, one weekend playing football, another — it’s just overwhelming.
I don’t think you can really build on that. It takes a lot of work. And in Russia, I mean, from the years that I started playing there, your commitment was only to drive an hour to the courts to get as many, you know, as many minutes on that court available.
Other than that, there’s nothing in my mind except going home, and, you know, making sure I finish my schoolwork, you know, or else my mom was not very happy.
So that’s about it, yeah.