Q. Congratulations. Here is my question: Compared with hundreds of matches you have experienced, is there anything special here about your first match at Wuhan Open?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I always enjoy playing in a new arena and a new atmosphere. You know, it’s always unexpected, because we usually travel to the same tournaments and have already played in stadiums.
So I was very happy to see a full crowd tonight for my first‑round match. I haven’t played in China for a couple of years, so it was really nice to get that warm welcome again.
Q. (Through translation.) How do you evaluate the audience in Wuhan?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think it’s a very big tournament, very international sports event for this region, which is very exciting, but I think it’s also unexpected in many ways. You know, you could tell the excitement in the crowd today, and sometimes they were still talking probably about the point and you could hear their excitement during the point.
So it’s something that’s a bit new I think for us and them as well. But overall I had a great time playing tonight.
Q. What was going through your mind at the end of the first set? Did you think the fight was back on and that you could still win the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, considering I hadn’t played a match in a few weeks, you know, it was normal to feel like I was making a few more mistakes than I wanted to.
Svetlana is a very good player, a former Grand Slam champion. We have had really tough matches in the past against each other. So considering it was a very difficult first‑round opponent, I was very happy with the way I played the second and third set. I wasn’t waiting for her to give me the match. I really stepped up, and that was really important.
Q. Max was like a full‑time bodyguard to Li Na for the last couple of days. Do you feel jealous about it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, absolutely not. I think he actually enjoys coming here and coming to China. I know he’s enjoyed working with Li Na for many years. We have shared him. I think he’s done an exceptional job for her and will continue after, you know, with all the projects that she has going on.
Yeah, I think it will be more time spent on the academy and things like that. I think he’s very excited about it.
Q. (Through translation.) You are very popular in China, and we are very concerned about your relationship with your boyfriend.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Why are you concerned? It’s very nice of you. I greatly appreciate it.
Q. (Through translation.) You know, love is a topic that is very popular around the world.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, really? What is the topic?
Q. (Through translation.) Love and relationship.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Okay. That’s great. Thanks for thinking of me so much (smiling).
Q. You missed the players’ party because of a night session match. What would you wear if you were at the party? What kind of dress?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m kind of happy that I played the match during the players’ party. I’d rather be competing than going to parties. That’s why I’m here.
But I don’t know. I was happy to be in my Nike outfit tonight.
Q. From this week, your competition is now back on track competing for year‑end No. 1. It’s either between you, Serena, and Simona. Is that something you put in your mind other than just competing and trying to win the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: To be honest, I’m very lucky to be in this position, because I missed such a big portion at the end of last year. And in the middle of this year going into the clay season I was close to ‑‑ every tournament I played, if I would have lost, I would have been out of the top 10.
So I kept fighting and kept my position, which was‑‑ you know, I struggled a lot. I played a lot of three‑set matches. There were a lot of emotional victories all the way through the French Open starting in Stuttgart, and I really worked hard to be in this position. So I find myself very lucky that I even have that type of opportunity.
But I don’t really think about it as much as maybe other people do, because I have already been in that position fortunately, but of course it would be very nice to have that again.