Rome 3rd Round Interview

Q. Nice match today.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you.

Q. A tough one?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes, very.

Q. What was key to the third set in particular? Seemed like your defense was quite effective tonight.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I’d like to just forget that first set. I was just slow and not with it, really, not seeing the ball well, not adjusting, not making any little adjustment steps. And, yeah, a lot of errors.
And I was like, Well, that’s got to change. And I’ve just got to be a little bit more aggressive.
As you said, I played defense quite a while. And I thought my level was extremely well throughout the match. She kept that up for two and a half hours. I was really happy with the way that I finished.

Q. You’re stringing wins and good tournaments together again. Do you start to feel like you’re back in familiar form? Compared to that stretch in February and March.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m taking this one match at a time.
I was really happy at the end of today’s match. I thought there was a lot of good things to take away from it. The competitiveness and against a player that I thought competed and played really well and played some of her best tennis for a long stretch of time.
I think that was a really good compliment, in a sense. I don’t think she’s been producing that type of tennis in the last few months. And to come out today and to play that way – You know, I expect that from a lot of players. And I thought I, you know, I delivered quite well. So that makes me happy.

Q. As you said, it was competitive throughout, over two hours. How are you feeling after that match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Good right now. Tomorrow’s a new day.

Q. In that third set, is it one set where you can really judge the improvements? Because it looked like probably the best set you’ve played this year; on the run, the forehand, everything was really accurate. Do you also feel that maybe this set is the one that clicked the most?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know. I just really wanted to win this match.
Against a really classy player. So, it just felt really good.

Q. Next match coming up tomorrow, either Garbine or Daria Gavrilova. What do you make of both of them? Different players, obviously. But what do you make of them?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Last time I played Muguruza was a few years ago before she became a two-time Grand Slam champion. So, obviously, her level is very different. And she’s been consistently playing really well the last couple of years, and I look forward to the challenge.
And if it’s Gavrilova, it’s also been a while since we played each other. But I kind of know what to expect from her game.

Q. You’ve had success the last couple of weeks against classy players. Do you feel –
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You said it, not me.

Q. No, you introduced that word.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You said plural. Or you added plural.

Q. I’m adding plural.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: So you agree with me.

Q. I’m expanding the definition, yes. But I think we’re on the same page.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Great.

Q. Do you feel like you’re handling the emotions of that situation better –
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just like the type –

Q. – than maybe you did the first couple of times you had those matches?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.
I just like the type of tennis that I’m producing against all of the players. And I think that’s satisfying to me.
At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. And I think I’ve always been a player that’s wanted to speak with my actions. And that’s more important than anything else, particularly in my career and my sport.
And it feels good to be able to produce even better tennis than they are. So …

Q. Have you ever had any issues with the pollen here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven’t. I’ve been very fortunate not to have any issues.
I have many other issues.

Q. Such as?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: But pollen –
Just like, you know, mental and physical (laughing).
But not pollen. Pollen’s not one of them.
Might come with age.
Everyone else on my team is struggling with it. And I’m like, ah. Feels so good.

Q. Do they struggle every year with it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think so, yeah.

Q. A random question. Do you think you’d fair as well in a team sport as you do in an individual sport?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I would want to be a player that someone would choose to put on the team, you know. I’d want to be the type of competitor that you’d want that would fight for the team, that would go out on the court and – no matter if you are playing individual, you know. But as a team, I would want to be chosen because I would leave everything on the court to get a win. So, I hope so.