Maria Sharapova: “I'm very proud, because I worked hard to get myself injury free”
TENNIS 2014 ROLAND GARROS – 5th of June 2014. M. Sharapova d. E. Bouchard 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. An interview with Maria Sharapova
Q. The last three matches you played here were all like thriller matches high tensions, critical moments, comebacks. Can we say that in a way this was maybe even better to build yourself confidence maybe even more so than winning easier matches?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I would love to win those matches in two sets, but I always feel like I put in the work to be ready to play whatever it takes. If it takes three hours to win the match in three sets, I will be ready for that.
If I have a match that’s easier and a more convincing win, then I will take that, as well.
But I will do whatever it takes. If I don’t start good, if I lose the first set, I’m going to be there until the end.
Q. What did you feel was the difference between the first set and the two sets that you won? Did you make any adjustments after the first set that you think made a difference?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think there were a few key moments in the match. I think getting that break back in the first was important, but then giving it right back to her was sloppy on my part and not what I had wanted to. I think I started to do things much better and returned better, being more aggressive, and then after I lost that game obviously she didn’t feel the pressure anymore.
So it was a very tight second set. I had my chances. Had some match points. I was happy that I was able to break her and win that set. It was a great game for me.
And in the third I thought I was the aggressive one. I stepped up and I was doing things that I had wanted to do, which was I feel maybe I should have done earlier.
Q. You played her twice about this time last year. Obviously we all know she’s a better player. In what ways did you sense she’s an improved player now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think she’s a bit more aggressive than maybe before. Her technique is a little different. I think she throws a lot of weight into her shots and creates a lot of power by doing that.
You know, she’s definitely improved since I played her here last year, but, you know, it’s tough to evaluate right now after only being away from the court for an hour just battling it out and trying to find my rhythm and my game.
Q. You found your serve back in the third set. What happened at that point in the match? Was it just a timing issue?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I had some trouble with my rhythm. Yeah, actually in some moments it let me down, but in some moments it backed me up.
So, yeah, it will be definitely something I work on tomorrow and improve for the next match.
Q. You’re a great fighter. I would like to know that if you think to be a slow starter is something you’re not used to or that you’re becoming this now, or if is just a coincidence? Or you think that you have tension because maybe you’re thinking you’re the favorite of the tournament? I don’t know. There is any reason, in your opinion, that for three times in a row, more or less…
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely in these last matches I have lost the first set, but I have lost them in different ways. I feel that today, you know, once I got the break up I should have been the one that was playing more aggressive tennis and she should have been the one that was a bit more under pressure.
I happened to play a sloppy game and she served it out well. That’s the end of the set right there. Every situation is different.
You know, at the end of the day, it’s not how you finish a first set. It’s how you finish the last set.
Q. You have used a lot of energy and probably adrenaline to get to this point, so I want to sort of check in to see where your energy is and how you’re feeling physically. Where does this rank in terms of the Grand Slam finals you’ve reached in terms of difficulty?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel I have played a lot of tough matches in this clay season, and I think that’s benefited and helped me because I have been pushed in different situations.
I know in some matches I have started out really strong where I have been, you know, sloppy in the beginning and I have had to come back. Some have gone really deep in the third set.
With that in mind and knowing that I’ve got through most of them and winning two titles gives me a lot of confidence. Energy wise, that’s what I have worked for, physically is to be in these types of situations where I can finish a match like this.
I played three matches, two before this, and in the end of today’s third set, I still feel like I can play another one.
That’s something I didn’t have a few years ago, and I have improved. Obviously there is one more to go.
Q. Where does this rank as far as the difficulty of getting to another Grand Slam final in terms of your career?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think after not playing for five or six months, when you start winning a couple of titles and you get to the finals of a Grand Slam, it’s easy to forget that you were away from the game and that you’re battling an injury.
It’s nice to sort of think back at that time and think where you came from and you got yourself back in this position.
I’m very proud, because I worked hard to get myself injury free, and I had to work through some tough losses in the beginning of the season that I didn’t want to accept. I worked through them, I worked hard, and I’m in this position giving myself a chance.
As a tennis player, that’s what I’m personally proud of more than anything.