Madrid Final Interview

Q. Congratulations for your whole week.

Q. How would you evaluate your whole performance during the week compared to today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, obviously tough losing in the final. But overall, I think my preparation so far has been decent winning a title in Stuttgart and getting to the final for the first time in this tournament.
I’ve played quite a bit of the matches already, so I’m really happy with that. One more tune up to go before Roland Garros.
Yeah, everything seems to be going well.

Q. I was wondering, since you have had so many setbacks, I mean with your body and injuries and so on…

Q. Which are those values that you get from your childhood that drive you to continue despite so many setbacks?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I value a lot of things that I get to do in my life and that I have in my life, from the very small, silly, stupid things to some bigger things in life that maybe people, when they have it for a really long time, they stop appreciating it.
I’m very grateful for what I’m able to do and play this sport. As tough as some days are, there is nothing better than going out on the court and competing in front of thousands of people. I really, really love to do it. That’s why I continue to do it despite having achieved many things in my career.
I do other things in my life business‑wise, fashion‑wise, but there is nothing that gives me greater pleasure than being a tennis player and achieving my goals.
In my childhood I was taught to appreciate the small things in life, and I think that’s carried until this day.

Q. Talking about the match with Serena, since 2004 you couldn’t beat her in. The second set it was there. Do you still have faith you can beat her in Paris, Rome?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I started the match really slow today. Against an opponent like her you just can’t give her that because she plays extremely well when she’s confident.
Yes, I had that break in the second set. Wasn’t able to go with it and hold it. But, yeah, starting the match off like that is not going to get me anywhere, so that’s something that I wish I could have changed today.

Q. You started the match very nervous, at least it was my impression. You made many double faults. Can the fact that you could have got to the No. 1 ranking beating Serena have played a role?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think if it was the first time in my career having that opportunity to be No. 1 in the world I think that would have been a factor.
But I just think a lot of things were slow. I wasn’t reacting well, I wasn’t moving well. Yeah, obviously not only the double faults that I made, I also didn’t have a lot of great first serves in.
You know, she was really stepping up. Placement wasn’t there at all. So, yeah, there were a lot of things that I could have changed from the beginning.

Q. Commiserations. Obviously with your record against Serena, how do you prepare mentally going forward so when you meet her again, which is more than likely, that you continue to have the belief that you can eventually beat her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Obviously there is no doubt she’s a strong, confident player. She’s achieved so much in her career, and is by far one the most experienced on the tennis court right now. No doubt about that.
At the end of the day, I’m setting myself up opportunities to go out on the court and face her and play against her. Obviously I wouldn’t be happy if I wouldn’t set up those opportunities, because I do want to go on the court and I do want to face someone that’s No. 1 in the world and is playing tennis the way she does.
So I am happy about the fact of getting late into tournaments, winning tournaments, getting to the finals. If that means having to face Serena in the final, that’s a pretty great challenge out there. I take it, because I’m a very big competitor.

Q. Why did you start slow? Were you nervous? Anything else? Because even when you won the fifth game, you won it with three double faults in that game. It struck me as a case of nerves. Maybe not.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, every situation is different. I didn’t feel particularly nervous about this match, to be honest.
I’ve been in many finals before. I don’t know how many. I’ve played a lot of matches against Serena as well.
So, you know, this was the Madrid final. We’re not talking about the finals of Wimbledon where it’s my first final going into it.
I mean, it was a combination, like I said, giving her opportunities, giving her looks on the serve, second serve. With a player like that you just can’t really do it.

Q. Apart from tennis, we heard that the factory of Sugarpova Sweets is in Murcia, so you’re also helping Spanish economy.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: (Laughter.) I guess not so much. Yeah, the factory is based in Murcia, and I’ve been there a couple of times already. Yeah, it’s a nice big factory in the middle of nowhere actually. (Laughter.)
I was quite surprised that it’s located there. Yeah, it is in Spain, funny enough.

Q. Congratulations. You did very pleasant match. I would like to speak with you about the serve. According to statistic, Serena has 78% of first serve; you have 63%. Do you think that women’s tennis is becoming more powerful with serve like men’s tennis? Like good serve will be decided for the match? Women’s tennis change so much already.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m not really one to look at statistics too much. I do think that percentage of first serves is quite important. I think it’s one of the most important statistics in the tennis match just because you are not giving your opponent too many looks at second serves.
But yet if you have a first serve that’s not very powerful and not very aggressive and you have a higher percentage of first serve, that also doesn’t mean much. Obviously if you’re serving quite big and you’re ready to go for bigger serves, you’re ready for your percentage to drop a little bit. That’s absolutely normal.
But as far as overall in the game, yeah, I do think that it’s much more powerful and bigger.

Q. That was Serena’s 50th singles title of her career today. You’ve been on the tour a long time as well. Is she the best player you’ve played against, would you say, or were there others that were perhaps better?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she’s certainly the strongest; physically the most powerful; the biggest hitter; I think one of the best servers for sure.
As far as placement as well and the power that she has behind her shots, yeah.