Madrid Quarter-Final Interview

Q. 2‑1 down in the third set, break down, and you’re calling for your coach. Momentum totally switched again.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I hadn’t called him until that point. Yeah, I actually played a sloppy game at 1‑All. It was a game that I should have won. And also having a break point at 1‑0.
So I thought that was a good time for him to come on court. Sometimes they see a few different things on the outside.
Yeah, I think I became a little bit more aggressive. I was so far back for a long period of time after winning the first set. I definitely thought that was an improvement, something I started doing better in the third.
And opening up the court a little bit more and then moving forward. I was staying too far back and letting her get in the rallies, which she’s really good at.

Q. Caroline talked about the net calls in the first set. Do you have any comments on that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don’t. I don’t know honestly. I think one of them might have been a net call. I don’t know about the other two or three she was referring to. I’ve seen this from Caroline a few times.
In Singapore it was about the lighting. This time it’s about the‑‑ there was something about the Open as well. I think she enjoys playing with the crowd and with the umpire a little bit. Takes a little bit of time for her.

Q. Back to on‑court coaching, do you just use it because you can? Because at the end of the day at a slam it’s just you and your opponent. What are your thoughts?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it’s a system that when it came out I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. It’s also like the challenge system. I know there were people that weren’t fans of the challenge system when it came out.
But if you’re in a situation where you think the ball is in and they called it out and you have the system, you’re going to use the system. You want to use something to your benefit if it’s the appropriate time. I guess that’s what the players want to do with the coaching situation.
But you can’t rely on that, because in the ones that are important and the ones that count, that system doesn’t exist.

Q. People have talked a lot about Wozniacki’s resurgence over the last two years. They have said this is a brand new, more aggressive Wozniacki. Do you agree with that, or do you think it’s just the same old Wozniacki who puts the ball in the court, makes you play longer rallies, and tries to grind you down?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think she’s not a power player. I think she’s a very consistent player. There is a difference between being consistent with something on your ball, a heavier ball, than being consistent with just bringing the ball back with a ball that has nothing on it which you can attack.
I think she’s improved her consistency tremendously. I think she got in really good shape at the end of last year. I thing that helped her tremendously. She was able to turn many defense situations into offense as well.
She started getting a lot more depth on her shots, which he think has really helped her. You know, she’s been there, she’s done that. She’s won many titles. And even though she’s not a Grand Slam champion, she’s been to the finals a couple times so she knows how to play the game.
It’s not about learning how to play this game. It’s just becoming a better version of yourself and improving the things that you’re good at.

Q. Yesterday the last match of the day on center court started at 1:12 a.m. What do you think about those late starts? Do you think there should be a rule to prevent that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it’s a tough schedule here. Madrid has always been a tournament with a very difficult schedule. If you look at the women’s side, you know, the first two matches, first 11:00 or second, so you know you’ve got a really early start or you’re playing a really late match.
I think the schedule for the women is not very forgiving at this tournament, and you kind of know that’s to be expected at this event.

Q. There is nothing to do? Have top players an influence on that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I guess we haven’t been able to.

Q. On a slightly lighter note, what do you think makes a good definitive fist pump: the quiet steely determination or full‑on adrenaline spin your arms around?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: (Laughter.) I think I have a few different versions.

Q. I see you steely determined most of the time.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I give a good fist pump when I really feel like I deserve one. Usually it’s pretty understated, I would say.
But I don’t know, it’s such as emotional game. So many crazy things that go into your mind in a match. Sometimes you don’t know half the things that you’re doing. You see yourself doing it and you’re like, Oh, my goodness.
So I don’t know. I guess the emotions always take the better part of you.

Q. Looking back to last year when you played Caroline, lost in three sets. How would you assess your performance today compared to your two performances last year? Do anything differently?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think this was an important match for me, and also an important match to see where my level was and how I can withstand that physicality of a match against her.
You know she’s going to make you work for it and not just give it to you. That’s what happened in the previous two matches that I lost.
I wanted to have a good presence out there, no matter what, no matter how I finished the match. I had a good start, but my level obviously dropped and I became much more inconsistent and passive. I was too far behind the baseline.
So I think that a little bit of a switch and just a little bit more aggressive and going a little bit for my shots, moving forward. It was more of a mental change as well. Just looking for the next shot and creating a few extra steps in my footwork.
Physically I felt good. I thought that was a really good sign, as I played a three‑set match and it is my third match in a row.
Yeah, I thought it was a good tennis and I did quite well.

Q. How do you disconnect between your matches since you win until your next match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s a pretty short turnaround. Now just get some food and go back to the hotel and get some treatment and then try to find a place that serves an earlier dinner than the usual dinner places around here and get to bed.
I’ve been first or second match every day, so it’s been a pretty early morning.

Q. You have seen training very early this morning, 9:30 I think. How important for you is to get a good result here in Madrid for the season?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think it’s obviously a tournament I want to do well t. I feel like it’s almost the beginning of my clay court preparation towards the French Open.
These last couple of matches have been tough and I’ve gotten through, which I feel is good for me. I want to go as far as I can. Every match I can play on clay before the Grand Slam rolls around is really important.
I would love to defend my title here, that’s for sure.

Q. What were you telling Caroline at the end of the match at the net? You seemed to be chatting.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I accidentally hit a serve that was like three feet to the right and right in her body accidentally in the warmup.
That was not good target practice, so I apologized for that.

Q. Can we get back to the game? After that first set, that amazing first set, you lose the second set.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uh‑huh.

Q. What goes on in your mind when you lose the second set? You think, Okay I got to go with the third set again with this player?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think you have to erase that memory of the second set very quickly and start from scratch. I knew I was doing a few good things in the first set.
I had the right shot selection, I was moving forward, and I felt like I just took a step back and gave her more time to be able to dictate in the points in the second set.
So, you know, even though I lost that break, I felt like I was feeling better and I was feeling like I started to be the more aggressive player, which was really important.