Maria Sharapova: “It's the most emotional victory for me. The toughest one physically that I've come across” - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova: “It's the most emotional victory for me. The toughest one physically that I've come across”

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TENNIS 2014 ROLAND GARROS – 7th of June. M. Sharapova d. S. Halep 6-4, 6-7, 6-4. An interview with Maria Sharapova

 

Q. Congratulations, Maria.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you.

 

Q. How do you find the keys to change the match in the hard moments for you? You always do that.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: There were a lot of different keys and there were a lot of ups and downs in the match.

Just when I thought I was very close to winning it, I had lost four points in a row. Then the match becomes equal. Then you find yourself in a position where you feel like you’re starting over, which is quite difficult.

I just took a moment to reflect and try to think of the things that I was doing to hurt her and the things that were giving me an advantage in the game.

I knew that she was playing well, and despite all that    despite that it was a very physical match, I still wanted to continue to try to do those things well no matter how frustrating it was to lose that second set.

I came out well. We broke each other a few times. That’s the story.

 

Q. This was the tournament that took you, of the four Grand Slams, the longest to win, and now you have won it twice. Do you have any thoughts of why it’s happened that way?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m with you on that one. I didn’t actually    I didn’t think    if somebody had told me that I’d win    at some stage in my career that I’d have more Roland Garros titles than any other Grand Slam, I’d probably go get drunk (Laughter.) Or tell them to get drunk, one or the other.

Yeah, it’s really amazing. I feel that I worked to get to this position. There’s nothing else. There is no substitute in these titles. You can’t just go out there and just do it without putting in the effort, putting in the work.

You’re not just born being a natural clay court player. Okay, maybe if you’re Nadal. But certainly not me. I didn’t grow up on it; didn’t play on it. I just took it upon myself to make myself better on it.

There is no one else that was going to do that for me. I had to do the work.

 

Q. You have talked a lot about your team the last couple weeks. You had those great moments on the court today. You took a lot of care to build that team. Can you talk a little bit about how they brought you to this moment?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, every single one of my team members have done an incredible job. Some are new; some have been there for a while.

They have just been so encouraging. I have been through a few different teams in my career, many different people, some coaches, physios, trainers. I have said this from I think the offseason I had never been more happy with the way that everyone has worked together.

No matter the situation, no matter how tough it was    (mobile phone interruption).

Nice song. (Laughter.)

We had really tough moments and so many questions. Last year at the end of the year I was traveling around Europe, trying to find a solution to getting my shoulder better. I didn’t have a coach at the time.

When we all got together and little by little started working together I    no, I realized that there was really good energy, and it just felt so different to    not that anyone    it’s like everyone worked together, and this is such a huge piece of the puzzle as a professional athlete. You are the one competing, but the team atmosphere is so important.

You know, the voices that are constantly there for you from is a Sven to even role as a hitting partner, someone who has been with me a couple of years already. My fitness coach has been there for years and has helped me tremendously on the surface.

A new physio that just spends hours and hours trying to work through new ways to get my shoulder stronger and better on the massage table. They work so hard, and I really respect that.

 

Q. You’re the first Russian who wins twice the same slam, men and woman. I’d like to know, what are you more proud of and what do you remember of the other slams? Because of course Wimbledon was the first, but this has been the biggest fight. All the other finals you won in two sets. The is only one you won in three. It’s also 20 wins in a row on clay when you get to the third set.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s the most emotional victory for me. The toughest one physically that I’ve come across in a final, especially a Grand Slam. There is not too many finals that you get past three hours.

With all that said, you know, to look back seven or eight years and to think that I would be in that position, I would come through against an opponent that makes you play and hit and run and hits so many shots and recover in conditions that start from cold to being warm today. So much adversity is thrown at you, and I’m just proud I came through and I adjusted in all different situations and I end up with this (Pointing to trophy.) (Smiling).

 

Q. You declared after the match it was the toughest final of Grand Slam.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uh huh.

 

Q. What did you think about your opponent today?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think you saw the level and the quality of tennis that she’s able to produce and has been playing with throughout this whole tournament and this whole year. She certainly deserved to be at this stage. She pushed me to the limit today.

Yeah, I mean, she’s been extremely consistent. She’s going to be 3 in the world now. I think her results speak for themselves. There is a reason why she was out there today and had a huge chance to win.

 

Q. There was a warning in the second set. How conscious were you of how long you were taking to serve? How much is that a reflection how much pressure Simona was putting on you during the game?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think the rules are a bit different at the Grand Slams, and I just feel like I might have to speed it up a bit at these tournaments than other tournaments because the rule is a bit different.

 

Q. I think this tournament was probably one of the toughest women’s tournaments in recent times. Some very, very close fought matches. A few youngsters have come through. Can you talk to us about the state of the women’s game and how good you think it is now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting when the draw comes out. Everyone is in there. It’s a mixture of, you know, older generation, newer generation, and some people that are somewhere in the middle probably, like me.

You know, there is always the favorites. There is always the underdogs. There’s always the young ones that people are looking towards and believe will be the rising stars.

I think this tournament has proven to be that. There were some upsets in the beginning. I know from the beginning of the tournament everyone came in my press conference, and the first thing they said, Well, you’re going to be facing Serena in the quarterfinals. What a tough draw. What bad luck you have. We haven’t even played the first round yet.

So from that tough luck in the draw to being the French Open champion is a very nice feeling. That’s why I say when the draw comes out, nothing is set in stone. We still have to go out there and play our matches.

But I think you’ve seen a lot of different matches. For me, it’s been a very physical tournament, one of the most physical Grand Slams I have ever played.

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EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime Previews Musetti Semi-Final, Aims For ATP Finals Spot

Felix Auger-Aliassime spoke to UbiTennis about his semi-final in Florence with Lorenzo Musetti.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (@AlemTenis - Twitter)

UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta spoke with Felix Auger-Aliassime after his 6-3 6-4 quarter-final victory over Brandon Nakashima in Florence.

 

The Canadian is into the last four at the ATP 250 event in Florence after defeating Brandon Nakashima in a routine straight sets victory in Italy.

Despite being broken in the opening game, Auger-Aliassime remained calm and collected as he secured victory in 90 minutes.

Next for Auger-Aliassime is Lorenzo Musetti who he has lost to twice with one of those meetings happening in Monte-Carlo this year.

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta, Auger-Aliassime spoke about why the match-up has been tough for him in the past and whether their meetings on clay will impact this match.

The world number 13 also spoke about aiming to reach the ATP Finals in Turin and how much it would mean to him be a part of the elite eight at the end of the year.

Scanagatta: Here we are with Felix Auger-Aliassime who won quite easily against Nakashima, Am I wrong if I say quite easily or easier?

Auger-Aliassime: Easier. It’s always relative to your level and the perspective you want to look at it because the score. I got broken first came and come back well, it’s always tough to come back from a break down but I did well to bounce back from the first game and then I played a great set of tennis in the first set, a really good level. Then again starting the second set very good, so then holding serve until the end. So it was a great match and a great performance but I had to play my best tennis in order to win like this.

Scanagatta: Listen, can I give you good news? Tonight you are eighth in the race, 20 points more than Fritz because Fritz 2,885 and you went to 2,905.

Auger-Aliassime: You know they have it on the internet?

Scanagatta: Yes but they had to take away 45, not everybody knows that you have already completed, you are only 20 points ahead, sometimes UbiTennis is better. Apart from that you have to play Musetti and against Musetti you are down 2-1, you won Barcelona, where he had to retire but was up one set and then the other two was always played on clay. Is this better for you? Because today Musetti said I like very much this surface and I have more time and so on.

Auger-Aliassime: Look, he’s been playing very well.

Scanagatta: Have you seen him today?

Auger-Aliassime: I watched a little bit of the match today. Seemed like he was playing very good. He was hitting the ball very well, aggressive and precise. He’s a good player and he’s one of the top young players. You know I lost twice to him so of course it proves the quality that he has not only against me but he beat a lot of good players so I have to be ready for a tough match. I think potentially it can be the toughest match that maybe I have to play this week. So I have to be ready for that.

Scanagatta: He is going to have his best ranking next Monday, he will be 24 and only 23 if he would win the tournament, 24 already for being in the semi-final. What do you remember of those matches when you played him? What you recall?

Auger-Aliassime: Well he has a great touch as we all know, especially on clay he was very precise and a great touch mixing it well, the backhand. We had a close match in Lyon, I don’t remember Lyon very well but I remember the first time and of course this year in Monte-Carlo where he played really good and I wasn’t serving well and being as aggressive as I am today. But he was playing really well, backhand cross and down the line, forehand was very aggressive so he is a good player and a complete player so that’s all I can say.

Scanagatta: How important is it for you to make the Finals, the ATP Finals in Turin? Which would give you another chance to come back to Italy and eat some pasta…

Auger-Aliassime: Yeah that’s why I want to do it. That’s why it’s important because it’s in Turin and it would be great of course. You know like I said earlier this week, I love to play in Italy and not only it’s in Italy but it’s one of the best tournaments in the year. It would be a privilege to be in that group of eight players. Of course my position now, like everybody on your sheet, we’re fighting hard to make it but the competition is tough so I mean it starts at the start of the year so at the end of the day it’s not like, all the results I had throughout the year some wins, some losses it has an impact now. Of course now I’m still in a good position, so I will try to push through the last tournaments of the year and to qualify will be great.

Scanagatta: OK last question, Why you always wear black, these days I always see you wear black. Does Adidas asking is it because you like to play at night because it’s more elegant or you choose one or the other?

Auger-Aliassime: No I have a collection from New York and I change the collection there. I have black and I have purple and I thought I like the black with colourful shoes so I’m interested in my style, so it needs to work. The collection that I have I have for the rest of the year, I like it that way with colourful shoes and very neutral colours.

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EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime Eyes Improvement In Florence, Opens Up About Friendship With Berrettini

Canada’s top player sheds some light on his current game during an exclusive interview with Ubaldo Scanagatta.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime - (Ben Solomon/Kosmos)

Top seed Felix Auger-Aliassime kicked off his bid for a second Tour title at the UniCredit Firenze Open on Thursday with a roller-coaster win. 

 

The Canadian world No.12 outlasted Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2, in a match that lasted two-and-a-half hours. Auger-Aliassime’s triumph moves him into his 13th Tour-level quarter-final of 2022 and improves his win-loss record to 41-24. 

This season has seen Auger-Aliassime achieve new milestones in his career, including winning his first Tour title at the Rotterdam Open, reaching a ranking-high of No.8 in August and defeating a top three player for the first time (No.3 Alexander Zverev at the ATP Cup). 

Following his latest win in Florence, the 22-year-old spoke exclusively to Ubitennis. Giving a frank assessment of his current form and his chances of winning a second Tour trophy this week in Italy. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: You won what was a very difficult match in three sets. I expected you to win in two, what about you?

Auger-Aliassime: You never know before the match. When the match was underway I won the first set 6-4 and then I was playing great in the second, I had an early break. I was serving good. 

So I didn’t play so bad but he played some good points. I got a bit tight. Then the tiebreak was terrible for me. That was very difficult to accept but after it was good to come back and finish the match in a good way. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: It was quite strange to see you lose two serves in a row (in the second set) and then you were serving a lot towards his backhand sometimes which was a surprise because he plays much better with his backhand than the forehand. Was that a tactical approach?

Auger-Aliassime: It depends. I was serving more to the forehand with my first serve and then I tried to mix it up with my second serve. Sometimes when you’re on the court you have to make a decision and you don’t know how your opponent is going to react. 

I think in the third set, in the games I was directing more towards his forehand side, making him move there and getting some short balls. After that, I was playing better tactically. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: You will next play Nakashima who is a player making great progress on the Tour. This year he has made a lot of improvements. Have you ever played him before?

Auger-Aliassime: I’ve never played him. We have only practiced together but he is a great player who has improved a lot. He’s consistent and very precise. He has a good serve and a good return. He has a complete game for a young player who I think will improve more and become a top player to play against. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Your best ranking was No.8 and you have won one tournament in Rotterdam. Also, you have lost quite a few finals but how do you find this surface in Florence? How do you rate your chances of winning? 

Auger-Aliassime: It’s always a good challenge. Today (Thursday) I played three sets but I know I have to play better in order to win the tournament. I have to take it match-by-match. 

It’s a good challenge because it is where I want to be as a player. I want to be at the top, fighting for this spot (the title). To be at the top of the draw and try to win. It starts at these tournaments, I have to be able to step up to the challenge. 

It’s also a good opportunity for me to try and prove myself, and become a better player. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Matteo Berrettini said that you are his best friend on the Tour. Do you still see him as much as before as he was dating somebody that you may know….? (tennis player Ajla Tomljanovic who is also cousins with Aliassime’s girlfriend Nina Ghaibi). 

Auger-Aliassime: He’s a good guy and I get along well with him. We have played a few doubles in the past years but now it is a bit less as he plays more with his brother. 

We also practice together and train in Monaco.

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Were you surprised that Matteo lost in Florence? He was complaining a bit about the slow surface. 

Auger-Aliassime: We practiced together (in Florence earlier this week), and it was a good set – 7-6 like every time we play. He won it, I had a set point but I lost. Of course, I was surprised, I think he had opportunities in the second set. So it’s tough. I saw him at breakfast, it is tough to lose when you’re at home. Everybody has come to see you. 

I know how he feels. I played in Montreal this year, had a tough loss and it is never easy to go out like this. But there are still a few tournaments this year and hopefully, he can bounce back. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Finally, what is your general impression about playing in Italy?

Auger-Aliassime: I used to come here when I was under 12. I remember going to Trieste, they had this tournament in Porto San Giorgio. I also played here many times in Challengers. It’s a country that loves tennis. As a player, you come here and on the first day of practice, everybody is there (to watch you). In the city, people say hello and wish you good luck, so it’s really lovely when you’re playing in Rome. Hopefully, if I play in Turn (at the ATP Finals) it will be the same or maybe even better. 

It is really nice that they (the ATP) were able to organize a tournament here (in Florence) and I love everything about it. I felt good from the moment I came, the city is great and the people have given me amazing support. 

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EXCLUSIVE: Mackenzie McDonald Reveals Minor Italian Connection After Reaching Florence Quarter-Finals

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis, Mackenzie McDonald reveals his love for Italian culture.

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Mackenzie McDonald (@thenet_m - Twitter)

Mackenzie McDonald revealed his love for Italian culture in an exclusive interview after beating Francesca Passaro 6-4 7-5 to reach the Florence quarter-finals.

 

The American beat the Italian wildcard in straight sets to seal his place in the Florence quarter-finals where he will face another Italian in the form of third seed Lorenzo Musetti.

McDonald has suffered a number of injuries but has returned to the tour in fine fashion and is now a consistent top 100 player.

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta, McDonald revealed what it’s like to face an Italian player in Italy and why he loves the European country so much.

Scanagatta: First of all Congratulations, secondly tell us something about this match and you had to play an Italian and do you remember other matches played against Italians in Italy where you had all the crowd against you?

McDonald: I haven’t played in Italy a lot. Besides Challengers, I think this is my first ATP, well besides Rome, playing an Italian in Italy is definitely a tough feat and the crowd’s all for him, it was pretty difficult to deal with that but I think the next match too against maybe Musetti? It will be even crazier so we’ll see what happens.

Scanagatta: But the linesman and everything was fine, you didn’t have any problem with the umpiring and nothing else? Because 20-30 years ago, it was much more difficult to beat an Italian in Italy and what happened in Rome? Who did you play with? Do you remember?

McDonald: I think I lost to Sousa, the Portuguese player.

Scanagatta: How do you find this court and can you tell me if you saw anything of Florence, I mean is it the first time for you in your life? Do you have any impression about the city?

McDonald: Yeah, I mean I went out the other night, the first night I got in, which was nice went to downtown and walked along the river, across the bridge to the church and the cathedral in the middle. So I got to see the main basic things in Florence, there’s definitely more things I want to see. My sister actually spent a lot of time in Italy, it’s one of her favourite countries, she actually named her son Rome. So there’s definitely more I want to see and I’m going to Naples next week too so I’m enjoying the food and I’m going to be in Italy for at least another week so it will be fun.

Scanagatta: What about the next round? Say something about the two players you may have to play?

McDonald: I haven’t played either one. So not too sure what to expect I mean their both very good players, both in form. I mean everyone wants to do well here in the quarters, so it will be a tough match for sure. I think I’m just going to enjoy this one today and then I’ll focus on that one maybe later tonight or tomorrow but definitely will be a challenge tomorrow.

Scanagatta: There were five Americans here in this tournament, you were one of the five, quite a lot for a tournament in Italy. What do you expect about United States playing Italy in Davis Cup even if maybe you will not be in the team but Fritz and Tiafoe are playing very very well, how do you explain the comeback of the American Tennis after few years which were so-so?

McDonald: I think we got a lot of depth right now. We have a lot of guys in the top 200, just like you guys, and a lot of guys in the top 100. All different types of players too, we’re all competing and pushing each other at the top too. We’ve got Fritz who is top ten now, one of my best friends. We have a lot of talent so I think we have a good chance against Italy, it will be an exciting match for sure.

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