27th march 2007

Interview with Maria after losing to Serena Williams.

Q. Where is the famous Sharapova serve gone to?

MARIA : Yeah, I don't know. You know, I guess it's a little bit of everything. I guess when you feel that you need to hold serve against someone like her and someone that's serving so well, I think that puts a little bit of extra pressure on your serve because you know that you have to hold your serve.

Because once she gets up in the set or in the match she seems to steamroll. I think I pushed a little bit too much on it. I was just trying to go for it a little bit more because she was attacking most -- stepping into the court and also not just the serves but the shots that I hit.

Q. Your second is coming in not at the same speed as it usually does. Are you being a little too careful with it?

MARIA: I wouldn't say careful, maybe a little bit tentative, yeah.


Q. Did it feel a little bit like Melbourne?
MARIA: Yeah, against her you need to be the first person that strikes a good ball, and whoever gets the advantage in the first half of the point is going to win the point.

I didn't -- like for my return she was -- she served the corners really well, and also on the second serve didn't give me a lot of balls to work with. I didn't feel like I had a chance to really step in and hit my shots. She was controlling most of the points.


Q. How do you break out of this situation?
MARIA : I think it's one of those things where you just have to -- you obviously go out on the practice court and you work on it. You know, it'll take time, but I'm sure I'll get there.


Q. Do you think it's a technical problem or when that ball gets up are you just thinking -- not that confident?
MARIA : Maybe a little bit of both. You know, but I'm not going to look at it as a confidence thing or not. I have to look at what I have to do to make it better, and how am I going to improve it so it gets bigger and it gets better so it can help me win more tournaments.


Q. Serena was saying yesterday one of the reasons when you play each other it's intense is you're kind of similar in personality. That you're perfectionists to a tee, that you both hate to lose so much. Do you see that? Do you think that you both are similar in a way and that's why your matches are the way they are emotionally?
MARIA: Yeah, I mean, I'm definitely a fighter and so is she. I definitely don't like to lose, and I'm sure she doesn't, either. But I think all the athletes don't like to lose. I think it's just that we show it more emotionally on the court than other people do.


Q. There aren't a lot of players where you're not controlling most of the points. Is she hitting with that much more power, or is she stepping in and taking the ball that much earlier than a lot of players? What's your explanation for that?
MARIA : I think if I was watching it from high above I'd get a better idea. But I did feel like I was late on most of the shots, yeah. She's a strong, powerful girl, yeah. You expect her to hit a big ball.


Q. WTA has a rule now that you can call the coach in after the set. If I'm correct I don't believe you called your father for any consultation. Do you think at the end of the first set you could have used his coaching advice?
MARIA : I did. Eric came out on the court today.


Q. Today it's probably not, but is it good for the game to have Serena back?
MARIA: Oh, yeah, definitely. You know, she's achieved a lot in her career, and I think when she gets on the court everyone expects great things from her because of what she's achieved and the champion that she is. So definitely, yeah.


Q. Does it sort of raise the bar for everybody else do you think when she plays?
MARIA: Well, I think you've got to be ready to -- I guess in any single tournament, whoever is playing, you've got to be ready in order -- if you want to be the champion of the tournament, you've got to be ready to play against the best players. You've got to expect the best from your opponents.

With that mindset obviously you've got to go out there and still do it, but that's -- I don't really -- when I see a draw I don't think of this person as this is a really great player and I'm going to try to do everything I can to sort of work my way in the match and sort of beat that player.

I try to think of the things I need to do in order to win myself rather than think about the other players or how they're playing.


Q. What do you need to do to regain your No. 1 status? And what do you think about suspensions, because that's been a whole other conversation Larry Scott has been talking about.
MARIA: The first question is how will I get No. 1? Just by winning matches. It's a lot easier said than done, but like everything else you've just got to work on it. You know, I'm definitely going to be out on the practice court and I'm going to keep working hard.

And on the suspensions, yeah, this is definitely something that we've been discussing with players and with Larry. It's something that is very concerning at the moment, and there are a lot of buts and ifs, so we're definitely in the talks.


Q. Do you think suspension is too harsh for a player that doesn't have a legitimate reason to miss a tournament?
MARIA : With the way it is set right now, yes, I do.


Q. What would be your solution?
MARIA : I think right now that's kind of within ourselves, within the players and everything. Everyone has their own little ideas. I don't want to bring that out into the open yet.


Q. Are you surprised that she can come out so match tough when she plays so few tournaments? I mean, she hasn't played competitively in six weeks.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I mean, if it was a first match I'd be a little bit surprised, but this is her third. So no, not really.


Q. Her serve, I mean, her overall first and second serve, is it considered the best in the game?
MARIA: Probably the most consistent at a big pace. Yeah, definitely.


Q. Just a little off beat question. From the time you started tennis to now, what was your best day in tennis?
MARIA : Winning Wimbledon (nodding).


Q. Just because it was the first one?

MARIA : Just because it was a dream come true (smiling).


Q. Your opinion about on-court coaching?
MARIA : My opinion? I don't really have an opinion. I think if it adds a new dimension to the game or to the fans then it's good. And if people don't really care about it then I guess it's not good. But to me it doesn't really make a huge difference.