September 9, 2005
NEW YORK CITY
Q. What happened? You were able to get it going during the tiebreak when she was serving for the set, you hit those points. What was going on?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I kind of gave it all I had in the tiebreaker. Then the third, just kind of ran out of gas basically.
Q. You've got to believe there's something unfair about a sport that --
THE MODERATOR: Excuse me, sir. Thank you. Next question, please.
Q. You fought so hard to get back in the third set. You played great points to fight off the matchpoints. Talk about after you come out after the bathroom break.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, at that point it's pretty tough because physically I didn't feel like once the points were getting longer, obviously, it was at Kim's advantage. You know, like I said, physically, you know, I still have to get a lot better and, you know, I have to play these three-setters. You know, the points are going to go on and on and on. You know, this is not something that's going to happen overnight. I'm only 18 and this is going to take time. My body is still growing and still adjusting, you know, to my own body. But, you know, I gave it all I had. I fought really well in the second and just kind of went downhill from there.
Q. You must be really disappointed. Winning this tournament would really solidify your position at No. 1. It's a bizarre time in women's tennis. It's been about two years since the reigning World 1 has won a Grand Slam?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Look, I mean, to be No. 1 at 18 is a pretty amazing achievement, so I don't know what's so bitter about that.
Q. Physically, you even fought back in the third set. You were hitting the returns. You were hitting the forehands. Did you not feel right there at the end that you could push through her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I just, you know, when the points started getting longer and longer, I felt that she had the advantage. She was able to execute them well. Yes, I did have opportunities, and going into the net, and she came up with great shots. You know, one or two points, and you never know what could have happened. But, you know, credit to her, you know; she played well when she needed to.
Q. Your dad's taking a little criticism for being so vocal during your matches. He was notably quieter today. Was there a connection between those two things?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I -- no. I don't really pay attention to that, no.
Q. How do you feel that people were on your side?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, I think once I saved those matchpoints, I think obviously they wanted a better match, because after the first set it looked like it wasn't going to be much of a match. So I think the crowd obviously got into it and that's normal. But, yeah, didn't really, uhm...
Q. What happened in that first set?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In the first set? I wasn't hitting my serves. I, you know, broke her, returned great in the first game, then she broke me back. Also, the conditions also were not that easy. I mean, the wind was swirling in that stadium. Against the wind, you know, against such a player that has such powerful and heavy, deep strokes, I mean, it's difficult. I just felt like I was late and couldn't find my rhythm in the first.
Q. What are her greatest strengths?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That she's able to make you hit another ball and, you know, when she gets an opportunity her ball is very heavy and big. I mean, the pace of her shots are very big. Her movement. I mean...
Q. Does it give you a sense of futility that there's an unfairness about a sport in which you could play as well as you played today, and still lose? I think you could have beaten Bill Tilden, Ellsworth Vines, Don Budge, Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzalez and Lew Hoad the way you played today, yet you still lost.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is that a compliment or not? I can't quite understand. I mean, I'm sorry... (laughing).
Q. The biggest.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: (Laughing).
Q. How do you see the matchup in the final? What do you think between Clijsters and Pierce?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Unfortunately, the tournament's over for me, so I don't like to think of that.
Q. You made the point you're still only 18, still very young. When do you think you will be at your peak, when you will be...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: When I feel that I will be, I'll let you know. But it's hard, it's hard to say. I mean, when I was 14, I didn't tell you that I would win Wimbledon at 17 or become No. 1 at 18. So, I mean... You just never know. When the time comes, the time's right, then it will happen. But, you know, takes a lot of work and I'm willing to go back on the practice court and in the gym, whatever I need to do, and work harder to, you know, to win the Grand Slams.
Q. In the first changeover, at the end of the first set, what were you thinking, what did you make up your mind to change going into the second set?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, well, I mean, the first set was really downhill for me. I mean, I don't think there was one positive thing in the first set that I really did. So, you know, I kind of thought, "You just have to change a few things." But I didn't feel that great in the second as well. I kind of felt like I was down and, you know, just was able to keep up, keep up, then kind of -- I don't know how I won that second set, so...
Q. How would you describe the way she covers the court and how many balls she gets to? How would you describe that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Great athleticism. I mean, yeah, she's, you know, she's a great athlete. She moves amazing, amazingly. I mean, that's a big plus in tennis.
Q. Have there been times when you thought points against her are over and they're not?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, that's one of the things I said, she makes you hit an extra ball, yeah.
Q. Are you disappointed? Do you feel like you could have played better and you actually could have won that match, or are you thinking you're still a year or two away conditioning-wise from being able to beat someone like her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, yes and no. I mean, of course it's always disappointing. I mean, I'm not going to lie to you. I'm not here telling you that I feel great losing. But, I mean, there are so many things -- yeah, I think there are so many things that I think I can still improve to become better and to be able to pull these matches out. But, you know, I thought I did everything I could and, you know, just one of those days where you did everything you could, but it didn't really go your way. So, I mean, you know, bad day at the office. What can you say?
Q. Is this for you the most physically demanding of the four majors?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean the French also is pretty physically demanding as well as Australia, and the surface is slower than here.
Q. How long will this one stay with you? Is it gone tomorrow morning?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah, it will be gone soon, yeah.
Q. Will you hang around New York and attend fashion week?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I will, yes.
Q. What shows?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: The Marc Jacobs show Monday night.
Q. Is it tough after a loss like that to come in here and have to dissect it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's normal. I'm pretty used to it. Just kind of, I guess, tell your feelings, get it out of the way (laughing).
Q. What aspects of your game do you think you need to improve to win a match like this?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Like I said, I think it's all about physical. I don't think there's something technique-wise or a stroke in my game that, I mean, that I need to improve tremendously. I mean, yes, I can add power and, uhm, consistency in my shots. But I think, you know, today's match was a great example, it was just physical.
Q. What about strategy, like rushing the net?
THE MODERATOR: Okay, anything else? Thank you.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.