Q. That was quite a battle. I’m sure it’s going to take you some time to dissect it. What’s your overwhelming feeling about it at this moment?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I definitely thought I should have taken care of the first set. I had a letdown, being up a break. I was happy with the way I changed things around in the second, stepped in, was a little bit more aggressive inside the baseline.Then the third, kind of felt like it was a similar pattern: set up opportunities, breakpoints, and just did not convert them today.
Q. You spent a lot of time on your own service games today. Was that one thing that held you back in terms of you couldn’t roll through service games, get through them easier, grind out a lot of them?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, the word ‘grind’ on this surface is just part of the game, it’s part of the deal. If you have a quick service game, then consider yourself lucky. I feel like I have to work for every game.Yeah, I absolutely don’t think I served smart today, especially when I was up, going for a few more free points, not getting myself in the rallies, which I thought I was winning most of the time.
Q. Do you think those clutch moments, those opportunities that you missed today, that’s kind of logical, because it’s the thing that could come back the slowest after such a long time out of competition?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: There’s no way to train but be a part of it, like I was today, and the previous tournament. To find myself in those situations, come up with the goods…You know, I could have easily gone out of the match. I got myself in a position to finish, and I didn’t.
Q. Sven came down a few times, said, Don’t go for the lines as much. That’s still kind of your game plan. How do you reconcile those two instincts, I suppose, of what a coach is saying and what you know you should do versus what you’re honed to do?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I definitely fight my opinion during those coaching changeovers (smiling).But, yeah, in certain moments, yeah, when you go up to the game, you’re playing your first point, you have those few words from your coach. You definitely recognize he’s there for a reason. What you see from the sidelines is so different than when you’re playing. It’s just a different viewpoint.When you’re in the moment, you don’t recognize some of the patterns, the things you’re doing. It just kind of comes automatically. Sometimes it’s good because it’s instinct. Sometimes you just have to trust what your team sees. That’s why they’re there. That’s why you hire a team, to help you with everything.Yeah, I mean, I think his advice was just to settle down a little bit, not go for the lines as much on the serve, which I was doing, as I said before. All made sense.
Q. Obviously from the outside there was a bit more attention tonight than normal for a second-round match. Was that a distraction at all? Do you hope the more tournaments, the more matches you play, this outside circus might die down a little bit?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not from my end. As I said, every match at this point is important. I’m just one of the two players that’s out on the court. Everything that surrounds myself, I don’t really know a lot of it. I don’t pay attention to much of it.
I’ve been part of this game for many years. I know what the drill is. I know the excitement. I know there’s always a lot of talk and buzz, matchups, rivalries, news. It’s all part of the game.
But at the end of the day, it’s just two athletes competing against each other, and I’m one of them. That’s how I treat this game.
Q. She hasn’t played at this level in almost three years. Were you a bit surprised at how well she was playing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, absolutely not. We’ve played a few times. She’s always come up with really good matches. Played a three-setter on clay at the French Open. I didn’t expect anything different.
Q. You fight always until the end. In the last game you made some mistakes. What happened with you in the last game? It was one of your longest matches, almost three hours?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, at 4-All, I was up 40-15, I believe. Hit two good first serves, and made two errors. One was a foot wide, and one quite close to the line. Then I had my chances at 15-40 in the next game.
Yeah, so a little bit here, a little bit there, you come out at the losing end of the match.
Q. You said before you’re very happy that you’re back, and every match you’re excited about. How quickly does the big disappointment of losing come back to you? This is just your sixth match. Where is your head at? Is it a huge disappointment? Are you able to look at the positives?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I would be worried about myself if I sat her and said I’m pretty happy with losing a tennis match, no matter who I face, no matter what round it is, whether it’s the first round or final of a Grand Slam.
You know, I’m a big competitor. What you work for for so many hours every single day is to be on the winning end of matches. Today was just not that day.
Of course, I’m disappointed. That’s what’s going to make me a better player. That’s what’s going to win me more tournaments and more Grand Slams.