WTA Finals Round Robin Interview

Q. It looked like a bit of a muted celebration because it was obviously Flavia’s last match. Talk about what was going through your mind in that last point or last game.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, I didn’t actually quite know. I knew that I had qualified before my match, but I didn’t know about how the result of the match would, yeah, change the standings or who would go in.
I knew if she would win she would go through. Other than that, I didn’t know the calculations exactly.
I didn’t know in the last point that if I had won match in two that she was out, so it wasn’t something that I had thought about. But then it was mentioned to me after, yeah, right before I threw the balls up in the air that she was out.
So, yeah, I didn’t know that.

Q. What is your mindset when you know that you’ve already qualified going into the match? Was it just anyway to go out and win and finish 3‑0 or take some of the pressure off?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, every match for me just counts at this point in the season in the last tournament. As I said before, I wanted to try to play a high‑quality three matches, and I didn’t know the results would have gone the way that I have expected.
I’m actually, I think, also a little bit surprised that I’ve been able to win three matches, as physical as some of those matches were. I think knowing that I qualified allowed me to be a little bit more aggressive today. I thought I played quite aggressively in the second set and had a good ratio of winners and unforced errors, was quite solid. Served well.
So all those things helped me. And also not playing a third set against Flavia, as we have done previously, is also a big help for me.

Q. Flavia was saying you were playing great first set, second set. She said maybe it was better for you that you had a couple months off. You feel better. You come here and all of a sudden you’re ready to rock.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, as I said, I came here motivated by the opportunity that I had to be part of the field. I don’t take that for granted. I think when we start the season, before we play our first match, we’re already holding a Road to Singapore sign.
There is no‑‑ I mean, we’re already there. It’s like we’re part of the road without playing the first match. You’re like, Slow down.
But, no, I think it’s a goal of every player when they start the season, and by qualifying earlier in the season it gave me a chance to take care of my body when I had those injuries.
I wanted to do that and come here as healthy as I could. I dedicated myself to this last tournament by doing everything I could in the three weeks before it. I think through that and through those months of starting and stopping, I certainly did my work.
Besides two days in Paris, which were great, I was in the gym and I was training and doing everything around my injury.
So in way, yeah, you’re taking a break, but you’re still working towards staying fit and strong and mentally positive. You still have to work a lot. You don’t just sit around and hope that you feel better one day.

Q. Do you feel like your level has gotten better with each match this week?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it’s tough to say because every opponent is so different. I didn’t feel the match today was as physical as the previous two, but I felt like maybe because I was a bit more of the aggressive player I didn’t want to get into longer rallies with her.
I think we had some in the beginning which didn’t go my way, and I just knew that that wasn’t going to help me if that kept going. So I tried to move forward as much as I can, take the ball out of the air, yeah, use my serves well.

Q. Earlier today we chatted with Chris Evert. You came up. She said even among champions there are some that go to a different level. She said that you, more than any other player now, always appear hungry. She’s never seen you in a match where you didn’t appear hungry. Just your comments on that? She said more than Serena or anyone playing now.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, that’s very kind. Yeah, I think if I went into a match and not had that type of attitude of‑‑ or just being there and just being part of the game and part of the match, it’s not really the way that I’ve played.
I think every chance I’ve had, no matter my results or success previously or what I’ve earned or the opportunities that I’ve had, there is a reason why I still go out on the court. There is something about it that drives me and that makes me want to be better.
Results are never guaranteed. There are only two things guaranteed in life. I think we know what they are. Do you know what they are? You die one day and you have to pay taxes.
Results are never a guarantee, but I think by giving yourself the best chance there is‑‑ and for me it’s just‑‑ I mean, by finding my A Game, I need to win by playing my C or B game.
I know that when I get through those moments my A Game will come. Yeah, that’s just kind of how I’ve seen my career. I’m not someone that will let an opportunity go. I will fight for it until the end. If the result doesn’t come, Hey, you know, I’ll get another chance.

Q. Maria, somebody said this is the sport of the devil, devil tournament.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of the devil?

Q. Because today Radwanska was down 5‑1 in the tiebreak. So two points and she was out of the tournament. Then you are down 3‑1, two break point for Flavia and she’s out of the tournament. She needs one set. What is your reaction? Everything can happen, especially in a tournament like this? Second year in a row that Radwanska makes the semifinal winning only one match. Don’t you think it’s almost unbelievable or what were you expecting?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s the format. That’s the way the format runs. That’s the way it is. I think last year I also had only won one match and there was some chance that I could have gone through.
But, I mean, I don’t want to rely on those small chances. That’s not my goal. If you have a bigger chance you’ll probably get through. But it’s just the way that this tournament is. It’s not like you lose a round and you’re out of here.

Q. Flavia just said that she is in a way happy that she lost to you. Few weeks ago her last match could have been losing to Kichenok. To lose to Maria Sharapova is much, much better. What is your comment on that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you. I wasn’t sure who you just mentioned.

Q. No. 414 in the world. Ukrainian that beat Flavia in Tianjin?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Okay. I thought she played in Moscow last week.

Q. Because she needed points.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, okay. Look, I don’t know if it’s‑‑ I think it was obviously‑‑ she deserved to be part of this tournament, especially with a Grand Slam victory.
I think it’s crazy to think she still had to travel around the world trying to gain those points to be here. She definitely deserved a spot to be here.
Yeah, during the match it’s not something that you think about. I’m sure she had many emotions running through her mind because it is her last match, but we’re athletes and competitors. We’ve done this for so many years.
We put our business in front of us when we’re playing against each other, and when the last point is played is when you think about‑‑ as I mentioned, I actually didn’t know if she might have had a chance to come through after match point.
I didn’t know the what standings were.

Q. (No microphone.)
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I knew that I was in, but I didn’t know how the set calculations were. I didn’t know if she won one set she was through or had to win the match. I’m clueless about those things.

Q. Will you watch tomorrow’s matches to do any homework for your semifinal, or just prepare normally? Also, how does your injury layoff change the way you end your season?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, if I’m in my hotel and the tennis is on. I also have a subscription to TennisTV. I don’t know how that happened. Well, I do know how that happened, but I no longer need it. Thankfully.
But I do watch tennis. I know I always say that’s the last thing I want to be doing, but when I’m at a tournament I do enjoy watching. When the matches are on TV I do enjoy watching who is playing, no matter if I’m playing against them or not.
It’s part of the spirit, the tournament. You start your day with tennis. Everything is surrounded by tennis. I don’t shy away from watching my opponents. So, yeah, I might.
And the second question was? Sorry, short‑term memory.

Q. How the layoff affected the end of the your season.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I still have some matches to play. I’m still playing Fed Cup in a couple of weeks as well.
I think that that layoff gave me a chance to look through my schedule and understand that I had a chance and an opportunity to be part of an event that I’ve never played before, such as the Fed Cup final.
So that changed a little bit, because I think if I had a full season I would really have to reconsider playing.
Yeah. But other than that, it hasn’t changed too much.

Q. I’m sure you’ve talked about this, but Muguruza tomorrow. Is she very good? Is it hard to tell? I know she’s fairly young.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is she very good? She’s 3 in the hunt world, so I think she’s…

Q. But she hasn’t won slam yet.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think she’s very good.

Q. But how good?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she’s a player that everyone has seen and has thought that would do really well. I think her game has developed really well in this past season.
She’s a Grand Slam finalist at Wimbledon. That says a lot already. She’s had a great last few weeks. She seems to be playing great tennis here. She’s on the ‑‑ well, she’s not on the rise, she is…

Q. Wouldn’t you say it’s different a little bit to win the slams than reaching the final?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, of course. But is she 21? 20?

Q. 22.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.

Q. You won it when you were 17.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Her path has been going up, and I mean, I don’t think she’s plateaued in any way. I think she has an incredible amount of potential to grow.
We haven’t played in a long time. I think last time was in Canada. We played a few three‑setters. I know how difficult it is to play against her. She has a powerful game.
Yeah, I’m excited about the opportunity of playing against her again.