WTA Finals Round Robin Interview

Q. Congratulations.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you.

Q. You said on the court it was a big deal for and you your facial expression when he won was quite special.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I haven’t completed a match since July, so I think it’s always challenging to come back from not one injury, but a few.
I’ve had a lot of starts and stops, and I was just really thrilled that despite not playing these last few months and not playing my best tennis, I was facing an opponent that obviously deserved a spot in tournament and has had a really great last few months, and I just felt like I was able to take myself to another level physically, which I didn’t exactly expect that I would be able to.
So I think that was the emotion that I felt out of it.

Q. How did the body feel out there? Any fatigue? Tiredness?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I thought it was a very physical match. I think this court requires all the matches to be. I think it’s on the slower side; points are longer. I think it suits her game quite well. The ball stays low and she can take it quite early and change direction.
We had quite a bit of long rallies. There was a lot of running. Right now I feel good. Toes are a little frozen, but other than that I’m fine.

Q. What were you happiest with and what were you thinking, Gee, I’m going to have to improve on that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, look, I’m really happy with the win. I think at the end, as I said, I don’t think that I played my best tennis. There are certainly a lot of things that I could have done better.
But I had determination. I was very determined going into this match. I felt like I was focused and I did everything I could to be ready in the last three weeks.
I think it could have been quite easy for me when I was in Wuhan after that match to just contemplate and say, You know what? I’ve had a few frustrating months. Be really easy just to skip this last one.
But I made my way to Europe to try to get better as fast as I could. Flew back to the United States an, started training, and here I am. I feel like this match, as I look back, I know it’s still a long road to go in this event, but as far as a personal achievement, it’s nice to look back three weeks ago and think I’m glad I did that and got through it and gave myself a chance to play here.

Q. Did you feel any rust out there? If so, what were you feeling the rust?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: First set break points. That’s rust. I think a little bit of hesitation on not getting under the ball as much as I would’ve liked to. I don’t think there was enough rotation on my balls. I think I was hitting a little bit too flat.
I think that comes after having those hand injuries and having to get through that. I felt like I started getting under the ball a little bit better. Yeah, as far as everything else, just falls into place little by little.

Q. Why was it so important for you to go back to Europe and be healthy and be here in Singapore rather than be tempted to shut it down and start again in Australia?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That’s a really good question. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know. I feel like there are a lot of things I could be doing, but I somehow always choose this. I really love it, I guess.
I don’t think I need to say it enough times. Matches like this, I think they take a few years out of your life. God knows what is happening with my hair. I think I lost half of it. It’s like I don’t even want it open this bun up because it’s just a disaster.
But you know what? I’m happy I got through. Yeah, I’m going to feel it tomorrow and I’m going to be a little bit tired, but, hey, that’s the game. I’m proud that I was able to get through.
As I said, there are still many matches to play here.

Q. In the third set when she won a few games in a row and almost came back, what do you attribute that to? More her? You? Did you feel a bit nervous?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think I made three unforced errors at 5‑2. Just felt like my feet were glued on the ground. I wasn’t making the small steps to the ball. I wanted to get a free point, go for a big first serve, a big first ball, and that’s just not‑‑ obviously I had to learn from the whole match that was just not very possible. It was very rare that I was able to win a point in two shots.
With the court and the combination of her game and anticipation that she has, that’s not really easy.

Q. After the second set were you thinking, Okay, we’re going to do three hours again; let’s do it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I know we have pretty long ones. I know a lot of you look forward to them. I do, too. I really do enjoy playing against her. I feel like those are some of the matches that I like to watch on TV, when different styles of games clash against each other. Becomes that bit of a cat and mouse game.
That’s something that my father talked about so much when I was a young girl. Just have to figure out a way to win no matter how similar or different the games are. I think that combination just creates really good matches between each other.
I think the game in the third set, I think it was my first service game to hold to 1‑All, that was a pretty big game. Very physical, a lot of long rallies, and I came through. Even though I hit some doubles, I came through with some aces.
That just gave me like a good, good feeling.

Q. Li Na, what’s the feeling when you meet her and one who return and come back to the courts?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Li Na?

Q. Yeah.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, I hadn’t seen her before the match and hadn’t seen her until I walked to the net. I was so surprised to see her and Steve Simon. I don’t know. I gave her a handshake. That was weird. (Laughter.)
She’s across the net. I should have given her a hug, but it ended up being ar handshake. That was awkward.
But it’s always nice to see her back. The fans, the tournament, everyone that has worked with her and played against her, I think she just has something, a good vibe, a good feeling when she’s around.
I think she makes us all laugh. I think she’s even funnier when she’s not playing. More relaxed. It’s just nice to see her.

Q. There was a lot of variety in your game today. Lots of cool slices and dropshots and stuff like that. Were you enjoying bringing that element to this match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I don’t know. I guess. I don’t know if I enjoy it. I think I enjoy the process of I guess working on it and then delivering it.
Because what’s the point of working on certain things when you’re not using it in the match? I think that’s something I’ve worked on a lot with Sven, moving forward. I feel a lot more comfortable at the net than I did a couple years ago.
That I think helps you from the back of the court as well, just having the feeling that you can move forward and mixing things up.
Yeah, I’ve done that I think quite well this year, I would say, in the limited amount of time I’ve played.

Q. You said you like playing Aga because of the contrast of styles. Any other players on the tour specifically that you enjoy playing a lot?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, one that I always really‑‑ it was really tough for me, but I would say Justine Henin. I know she doesn’t play anymore, but I just always felt likewe had ‑‑ I mean, it was like a personal battle for me, because growing up I always had a hard time. Physically she drove me nuts, and I just had to figure it out.
Yeah, with time I built not my game but my physical strength, and that gave me a lot of confident to kind of hold on. Then I had a really good match against her at the French Open. Even though I lost, that gave me a lot of belief that I was able to not just play against her type of game, but against games that had a lot of variety, that would make you stay out there for over three hours.
So that was a learning process for me. Who else? I don’t know.

Q. On‑court coaching is a much‑debated issue. You certainly seem to benefit from Sven’s wisdom on a couple occasions out there.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I don’t know what‑‑ he was on fire today. He like pulled out a Paulo Coelho quote or something. Stop with the frustration and go with determination. I was like, All right buddy, slow down.
I mean, I usually don’t laugh in those moments, but that was a moment where I was like, Okay, Sven.
No, look, I think I would like it if it didn’t exist and like it when it exists. It’s there. If you have the chance to use it and you feel you need a few words to get you going or keep you focused, nothing is going to change drastically.
I think it’s always nice to get a perspective from the side. I don’t know everything that’s going on out on the court. Half of the things he says he’s usually right. When I exit the court and I fight against it and I look at the stats, he’s right. It’s not good.

Q. Quoting too many self‑help books.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I know. He’s reading way too much.