WTA Finals Round Robin Interview

Q. After two very, very close first two sets, what do you think sort of got away from you in the third?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, just a lot more unforced errors than she did. She was the more consistent one. Just didn’t‑‑ yeah, felt like I had opportunities in the first set; I didn’t commit to finishing it off when I was serving for it, when I was up in the tiebreaker.
You know, turned into a much tougher match than I feel like it should have been. But I feel like I did that, you know. I can only blame myself for that. Physically it was an incredibly tough match.
In the end, I think I just went for a little too much and maybe just didn’t commit enough, didn’t move forward enough, held back a little bit.
So, yeah.

Q. Nine double faults in the first set. Is that just a product of rustiness coming into the first match of a tournament or something else?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, the serve was definitely not helping me. She served much better in the first set than I did.
I think that really changed things around in the tiebreaker.
But, yeah, that’s something that I’ll hopefully improve in the next match.

Q. We are seeing you’re trying a lot of things you’re not using in your game, like dropshot or slice backhand. Was it part of the plan?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I hit one slice and maybe three dropshots over three hours, so I wouldn’t go along and say that’s a lot.
But, yeah, once in a while it’s something I know I can do. I don’t use it as often as I probably should.

Q. Do you think that fitness had anything to do with…
MARIA SHARAPOVA: The lights are brighter than on the court here. I can’t see anyone.

Q. Lots of issues with the lights today. Do you think that fitness had any impact on this third set for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Actually, it’s not like in the end I felt that I couldn’t get to some shots. I still feel like I had 15‑30 on her serve to get a break back.
I had a short ball. Instead of hitting it and moving forward, hit it and, I don’t know, I was like running backwards.
Just those little things that I just don’t feel that I exactly committed to what I thought I needed to do.

Q. Speaking of the lights, how was it out there? She seemed to be having a lot of problems or complaints about them in the second set. From what you could tell, how were they?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel like I’m not the person to speak about it. I feel like the lights have been an issue the whole week leading up to the tournament. Every day it was a different light out on the stadium for practice.
I mean, there were a few issues going into the tournament with the lights.

Q. Just as a follow up on that, is it a glare issue or sight line with the lights?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: First day I practiced, I think it was Monday last week, there was‑‑ it was like dark in the middle of the court and light on the sides, and then the lights went out. That happened for a couple of days.
And then ended up putting enough lights on the center but not enough on the sides. I still feel like there is not enough lights on the sides of the court actually. When you’re running for a forehand you’re actually in a shadow, and then you get back in the court and you’re in the light.
That’s quite different to Istanbul, but maybe that’s just the way it is.
Also today some of the stage lights were on; whereas in the last whole week they weren’t on. I think that’s something Caroline was referring to.

Q. Just generally, how frustrating of a loss is this for you? Is it frustrating? Is it not? We don’t want to assume.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course. As a competitor after a three‑hour match, it’s tough to be the one that loses it.
But I felt like I could have‑‑ not sitting in this chair thinking that there is nothing that I could have done. I really feel that a lot of the reasons why the match turned out that way is because of what I did.
It’s happened the last couple of times I played against her.

Q. You’ve always tended to kind of hit drive volleys instead of smashes. Do you just dislike hitting smashes?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: When I’m moving forward?

Q. Or when a lob comes up or something.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I like hitting swinging volleys. I don’t know if the smash is actually a good shot to hit when you’re running from the baseline in.
But I’ve always done pretty good with my swing volleys.

Q. The first couple sets were an epic battle and the crowd loved it. What are the biggest positives for you moving forward? You’ve got another match.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the positive is that this is a round robin format and I have a chance to go out there and play again and hopefully have a better result.

Q. Long match. Over three hours. How do you feel recovery will be going into at least two more matches here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just did an ice bath so I’m kind of shivering. Yeah, this is the last tournament of the year. Actually physically I’ve had a great year. Felt really good.
My shoulder has held up incredibly well, and that’s just been the biggest key for me. Of course these matches are quite tough considering you have to come out and expect yourself to play a few more.
Yeah, overall I feel good. That’s a plus.

Q. It happens very rarely that you lose two in a row to the same opponent. Are you uncomfortable playing her kind of?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, they’ve always ‑‑ the last two have been extremely tough and they were very long as well.
I feel like I made very similar mistakes in both of them, both of the matches, as I just said.
But, yeah, the chances that you have when you’re serving for a set, I mean, it’s in your hands to finish that off. And then up in the breaker.
When you give those chances back, a player that’s top 10 in the world and has the experience as Caroline does, you’re not just going to run away with the match.

Q. As you say, you lost and you are frustrated. In the round robin format it’s different to lose in two sets or in three sets with two tiebreaks, because you could be always qualified even at the end.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I don’t think like that. I think I just lost, so…
If it helps me in the end, great; but it’s tough to look at that right now.

Q. Is it easier to stomach a loss like this when you know you’re playing two more matches and you can put it right?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You have no choice. You have to. Of course it’s disappointing after such a long match, as I said, to be the one that lost it.
But then if you want to give yourself a chance, you can’t dwell on it for too long. You got to go out there and try to win the last two.

Q. Caroline almost never gets tired still, every single time you play her these days, huh? Two hours, three hours whenever she’s out there. How tough is that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think that’s‑‑ I mean, it’s not a secret. She’s always been one of the most physically challenging players to play against. She gest many balls back and makes you hit an extra ball. I think she’s doing that better. She’s improved her strength in doing that.
There is a little more when she’s on the defense. Not just the ball up in the air, but she has something on it. She gets herself back in position.
So it’s not that she has never done that before and I just came into this match and she did that. It’s just that you have to be, you know, aggressive, but at the same time be patient, look for your opportunities to move forward.
Some of those times that I did, I made a mistake or didn’t commit enough to the shot.