Day 12 - An interview with Maria Sharapova - Thursday, June 7, 2007
Q. It's hard to imagine you could have seen that coming from her. What are your thoughts on that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it definitely was to her level. That was expected, especially how well she's been playing recently and the confidence she's come to this tournament with. She definitely carried that over.
But yeah, I still felt like I gave her the chances, you know, to open up the court. And I felt like she was always the one getting the first hit on the ball, so, that's not really the way I should have played, but...
Q. The serving clearly was not where you want it to be. Can you just comment on that. Was it just a bad day or shoulder issues?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I mean, I -- I would have liked to -- I would have liked it to be a little more effective. I did feel like it was very important, you know, to get a good first serve, and if not, you know, get a good second serve. But she seemed to be jumping a lot at the serves. And I didn't do much with my return either. So giving her the first ball isn't exactly a great game plan.
Q. If we look overall today, do you think that your main problem was mental or tactical, or what do you think went wrong, really, with you and the game today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I started off slow, and I think that once you start slow, and even though -- you know, I still felt like I could have -- I had my chances, and when I did, I just made sloppy errors. You know, I made a few swinging volleys in the net and long, which is usually my favorite shot, and also one of my best shots. And I just -- yeah, I didn't feel like I quite had the rhythm today.
Q. You can say I lost today, but you can say also, I am in semifinal on clay for the first time, and this is your --
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely.
Q. This is your --
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, despite losing today, I think this was a very positive two weeks for me, considering I was out for so long. You know, I still got to learn, and, you know, move forward from this loss.
But, yeah, I'm excited, you know. My favorite time of the year is coming up, the grass and the hard court season. So I'm very looking forward to it. And this has been great preparation, so I guess it can only be a positive.
Q. You said you didn't find your rhythm today. Why not? What do you think was the problem?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just some days you don't. You know, like I said, I think when you give a girl who hits a pretty big ball and deep ball, and who likes to hit off a good strike zone, it's very important to keep her off balance. And I was always the one that let her control the point from the beginning, from the beginning of the point. And like I said, every time I did feel like I had my chances, I was making unforced errors.
And once you start off slow, and I started off slow in the beginning of the first set, and the second set, I mean, the train's already in London. I mean, it's gone.
Q. Do you think she can win the tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely, why not? I mean, you know, if she goes for shots, I mean, I don't know who she'll play, but yeah. I think everyone that's in the final has a chance to win.
Q. How is your shoulder?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's held up pretty good. You know, I must say that that's been a very positive, as well. I mean, it's still not where I want it to be, but that's to be expected. I've played -- this was my sixth match here, and I played three in Istanbul. So considering the amount of matches I've played, I think it's been good progress.
And, you know, now I'll have to take a couple of days off and move on to the grass.
Q. You said the train's already in London. Are you looking forward to being there yourself? How's your motivation and spirit for Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, it's great. It's always great. I love being part of that tournament. I -- you know, I don't know, I can't even say how happy I am when this time of year comes around. I always look forward to it. And I'm always thinking from the beginning of the year, I hope I'm always healthy when Wimbledon comes around, because it's a very special place in my career, in my heart. And I always love going back there.
Q. Having gotten this far with your shoulder in this slam, are you more aware of what you have to do to make sure it's going to be good all the way through Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, I have to, you know, I have to keep it under control. Every day's going to be different. I mean, you're going to have some tough matches. You know, you might need to rest more than you usually do the days in between where you don't have to play.
But I think I've done a good job of monitoring it. And, you know, I've still been able to do a lot of strength on it these last couple of weeks and on my days off and the days that I've been playing, and a lot of treatment. And hopefully, yeah, as the weeks go on, you know, my shoulder will be strong.
Q. What will you do between now and Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm not sure yet. I think I'm going to play Birmingham. I think that's the plan right now. But I'm not 100%.
Q. Difficult time to ask you this, but you came through a lot of hardship in your career. So can you relate to these girls, Jankovic and Ivanovic, coming from Serbia, grew up playing in a converted swimming pool, and they all had to leave their country as well. Does that make you feel any particular affection or respect for them relative to everybody else out there that's come up easier?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think definitely. There is a lot of respect towards -- you know, a lot of you guys in here probably don't see how much work and how much effort every single player, you know, even players that maybe lose in the first round, how much work ethic they have and how much they train and spend time in the gym. I mean, a lot of those things are behind closed doors. And people that come from tough backgrounds and haven't had the most pleasant situations to begin their careers in, but they've been able to find ways on their own. And they definitely -- I mean, it's very inspiring for other young people that don't have the same opportunity.
I mean, I -- you know, I grew up in a normal family, and, you know, all of a sudden, you know, had this dream of being a professional tennis player. And my family and I did everything we could to make that dream happen. And this is -- you know, all these other young girls who were brought up that way and didn't come from having everything in their hands, not coming from wealthy families and having two work for everything, that definitely means a lot.
Q. There's a complete lack of atmosphere at the start. Most people seemed to be still having lunch. Did you notice that and did it affect you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I would have loved to be having lunch then, too. I don't blame them (laughing). I'd rather be having a chocolate croissant than being down 3-0.
Q. So you didn't notice?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I noticed that I was down 3-0, yeah.
Q. Following up one of the previous questions. Many of you come from difficult situations when you were young. I mean, the Serbian girls, you for some reasons, the Williams from where they were born. And do you think this is the reason why you are all up there in the Top 5, and the Top 6, and the Top 10? Or you must suffer, let's say, when you're young in order to become a champion? Or it's a coincidence?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it's one of the reasons. I think it's one of the reasons. I mean, I wouldn't say -- I mean, I personally never really suffered, but I worked very hard, and I didn't have all the things being given to me. You know, not everyone came up to me and said, you know, here's all this money, and here's a car, and here's a house, and here, I'll give you this match.
You know, I think I've definitely had to work for everything that I have today, obviously, with the help and sacrifice of my family and everyone around me. But my -- I think the background is definitely a factor, because you realize that you've worked for everything that you have, and you know how hard it is. And you want to keep going. You know, you strive, you strive for more. Because you know you're capable of it. You know you're capable of being good, you know yourself, how good you can be. And that, you want more of that. If you do come from not having much, and you do become successful, you just want more of that. I mean, I personally do.