Wuhan 3rd Round Interview

Q. (Through translation.) We all have seen that you have a great determination before the match, that you want to win the match. However, it seems that you have a little problem in approaching the net and serve. So how do you feel about this match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, there were a lot of, you know, times in the match where I did everything right for the first few balls and then didn’t execute in the points.
I think I always allowed her to get another ball back and to make me play another ball. Then obviously that didn’t help me, because I was making more mistakes at that, putting myself in a good position, coming forward, and then missing those easier balls.
That’s something that I did a lot today, and not serving well. I think she had a really good serving day. But again, I don’t think I did much on my returns, something that’s a strength of mine, and I just didn’t feel like I used that to my advantage today.

Q. Were you surprised by how well seemed to be defending? Was that her strength, she was doing it well, or did you feel you weren’t getting pace or placement on your shots and it allowed her to do that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it was a little bit of combination of both, because from the beginning of the match when I set up the point well and I made those few unforced errors, I know in my mind, if my opponent was doing that, I’d have a little bit more confidence to get another ball back and just to be a bit more patient and maybe end up winning the point somehow.
I think she found that confidence from early on. And she’s also a player that’s played a lot of matches in the last couple of weeks, and I definitely felt that. You know, she was in really good match form.
But, yeah, I think I kind of‑‑ the beginning was really important, and when I had those few little chances, I didn’t take opportunities.

Q. (Through translation.) We can see that during the match you have asked your coach to give some advices, so we wonder what the advices is for you.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It would probably be easier to get a videotape of it, because I don’t remember it word by word. Usually it’s in certain situations when you feel like you need a bit more energy.
It’s not like you’re going to change dramatically what you’re doing, but a few pointers here or there are always helpful.

Q. (Through translation.) From the audience today we can see that actually there is a lot of fans in Wuhan that love your match. We can all see that you have put your best in this match. After the court, many fans even cried because they are reluctant to let you go. So we wonder, is there anything you want to say to fans in Wuhan? Will you come next year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the reception I have received ever since I have come here has been really welcoming, and I haven’t played in China for a couple of years. So it’s certainly nice to be back, because I know I have a big following here. I get a lot of fan mail from China.
But it’s certainly nice to be back playing in front of them, and I hope that ‑‑ unfortunately it didn’t work out the way I wanted to this year, but the tournament is here for the next 15 years so I have another opportunity to come back.

Q. Results aside, just level‑wise, how would you characterize your summer, the hard court season over the last couple of months?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think it’s been a mixture of positives and negatives. You know, I felt like in some matches I found my level and it’s where I want it to be. In others, certainly not at top form, a bit inconsistent. That’s kind of how it’s played out.

Q. Your clay court season has been better than hard court. How did that happen?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I don’t like to compare the two, because obviously, you know, surfaces are all very different. You know, at the end of last year I missed a few months playing on hard courts. But, yeah, overall of course I’m very happy that I was able to improve on clay, because I, for so many years, it was always a weakness of mine physically.
So to come out stronger and have better results than I have on hard, you can never pick and choose. But I was very fortunate to have that great run on the clay and how I improved with those weeks and got a Roland Garros title.
Of course, I would love to ‑‑ I still have a couple of tournaments more to play at the end of the season, and I would like to change these results around.

Q. Do you feel like other players are less intimidated by you as a very high ranked, very top player on hard court right now because they think you have more solid results on clay for the last couple of years, so they are free to play their best and they want to beat you like with more determination?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think players that are maybe not in the top 10 that are facing somebody in the top 5 or top 10, it’s always ‑‑they go into the match with a very different mentality than if they’re, you know, maybe at a different event on a court 18 playing against someone that’s not ranked in the top 10.
I think you have seen, I mean, I have in my career, seen many different cases of that when you go out to play a top player, they are very free, they go for their shots. At the end of the day they know if they lost the match that was a bit expected from them.
So the level that they produce is very high, and that’s always one of the toughest things about being on top is that everyone that goes and plays against you will always ‑‑you have to expect them to play their best tennis no matter if they’re ranked in top 10 or not.

Q. (Through translation.) During the two matches that you have played in Wuhan Open, I stand near the coach side, and I always heard that the coach will say that, Come on, Maria. We wonder whether you have heard these kind of words and did you find encouragement from those words?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, of course you sometimes hear it. Depends if you want to hear it or not (smiling). Depends on the situation.
But, yeah, I have a really encouraging team.

Q. (Through translation.) Now three out of four top seeds haven’t got through the third round. Do you feel there is anything special for you to, it’s hard to get used to in Wuhan like the surface, the court, the venue or the player service or something like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it would be pretty low from player standards to blame player service or anything else for a loss. I think all the players have been very impressed with the facilities and everyone that’s contributed to this tournament.
I felt very welcomed from the drivers to the people taking you out on court. Everyone has been super friendly. Facilities themselves I think speak, you know, they speak for itself, because they’re great. And with the new stadium coming, I thought the surface was great. I really enjoyed it. I’m certainly not blaming the loss on any of those things.