Madrid 1st Round Interview

Q. That was a tough match. How do you feel that went?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was a tough match. I played against an opponent that has done fairly well on this surface in her career and has had a couple of titles.
She has quite a big injury last year, so despite that, I know she’s capable of playing really good clay court tennis. I expected that from her. Our last match was pretty tough in Miami as well.
So considering all of that, I was really happy that I got that break back in the first set and was able to win in two sets.

Q. Do you feel it’s difficult to kind of compare? You played indoors, in altitude, and in Roland Garros it’s obviously much slower.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I feel like in the last week I’ve really had to adjust to the different circumstances and the environment a bit. When I got here it was really cold and the ball and the court were really heavy.
A few days have passed and it’s like a whole ‘nother tournament. For me, it’s just been about adjusting when you play indoors for over a week and you get back here and see the sun for the first time. It’s a bit of an adjustment.
The altitude as well. So I think there are a lot of things that come into playing when you’re playing here.

Q. One more thing: Yesterday an interview was released and Sloane Stephens was trash‑talking Serena Williams. I’m sure you don’t care about that. Is there any animosity between the lower players and the top players? Have you ever had any bad experiences in the locker room or wherever?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I mean, I don’t really hide any feelings too much. I think everyone knows this is my job here. When I’m on the courts or when I’m on the court playing, I’m a competitor and I want to beat every single person whether they’re in the locker room or across the net.
So I’m not the one to strike up a conversation about the weather and know that in the next few minutes I have to go and try to win a tennis match. I’m a pretty competitive girl. I say my hellos, but I’m not sending any players flowers as well.
So it was nice to see that she spoke honestly about it. I think people have different perceptions of different athletes. It’s nice that someone spoke up about how they feel.

Q. You’ve been coming to this tournament now for some time. Madrid, as you know, is bidding for the 2020 Olympics and likes to present this as a showcase to give an example of what it can do.

Q. How do you see the tournament today as to when you first knew it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think this is my third or fourth year maybe playing here. It’s definitely one of those tournaments where it’s a little bit more about show and feel rather than like the warmth towards the players I feel like, in a way.
Last year was a really good example of that, not really listening too much to the voice of an athlete and a players’ perspective and doing something that was more for show and more just for the interest around the world, to create a media buzz, I would say.
So from that perspective, I’m an athlete. I think when our voices are heard it makes you feel a little bit more special and unique; when they’re not, it’s a little bit disappointing.
As far as the tournament, it’s one of the biggest tournaments for us, for the men and for the women. It’s a big draw; it’s a lot of matches; it’s tough one to win. I haven’t done very well in this event, so my goal is to do as best as I can.

Q. Do you prefer a Chinese or American for the next opponent?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think McHale won, so I’m playing the American.

Q. Do you know her, McHale?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I’ve played against her a few times. Once, twice maybe. Once last year in Rome. I remember that match.
She plays extremely well. She dropped in the rankings a little bit, because I remember her being seeded at some of these events and now she’s qualifying.
She plays the top players really well. She doesn’t have much to lose going into the match, so I’m sure she’ll be playing really good tennis.