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June 5, 2014

Maria Sharapova


M. SHARAPOVA/E. Bouchard
4‑6, 7‑5, 6‑2

THE MODERATOR:  Questions in English, please.

Q.  Second set, down a break, your serve was troubling you.  How do you find the result?  How do you work in those situations?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I'm happy with the result because I'm in the finals.  That's one thing to be happy about.  I don't feel that I played my best tennis today, but to be in the semifinals of a Grand Slam and winning a match where I felt my opponent played extremely well, exceptional tennis and I didn't feel that I was playing my best, I fought, I scrambled, and I found a way to win.
I'm happy and proud about that.

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 came through a lot today; you came through a lot the in past three matches; you have come through a lot in your career.  Just talk about your toughness.  Where do you think it comes from?  Is that something you've worked on?  Is that something you're really proud of?  Could you talk about that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I'm not sure if that's something can you work on, but I think when you're forced to be in those situations when you're either not playing good or you find yourself in a losing position, I just don't want to give up, because I work too hard to just let something go and let a match go.
You put so much effort, you and your team, to get to this position.  If some things are not working out, I don't just want to quit in the middle.  Because when you lose the first set or a few games or you're down a break, that's not the end of the match.
That's the type of philosophy that I play with.

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.  How do you know that she throws herself into her shots?  Were you studying her or did you notice that today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I noticed that today.

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.  Is it a different kind of intensity at all for you when you're playing a player who is a young player still trying to establish herself and maybe has a different sort of hunger than someone who is closer to your generation, especially in this sort of match where it could really transform her career to win it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I still have the hunger, even though I'm in a different generation.  But, yeah, I think she's creating situations and putting herself in positions where she can go into a match like today and play freely and loosely and use this experience to her benefit.
Because, you know, after a match like this, I mean, I don't feel that she has much to lose.  You know, I know she's been in a semifinal before in Australia.  She's been having a great year.  But, you know, she's improved so much and everything is going on the way up right now.
In a way, it's always tougher to play opponents like that because they play quite freely and they really go for their shots.  They have nothing to lose, and you see that in their attitude and their game.

Q.  What do you think the next step is for her to get closer on par?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I'm not a coach.  You know, I'm not an advisor.  I'm a tennis player.  I'm sure she has a lot of people that can help her with that.

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.

Q.  Do you think your movement is actually improving with age?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Maybe (smiling).  I'm wiser and, I don't know, maybe a better mover.

Q.  Yeah?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I don't know.  Maybe.  Does it look like it?

Q.  Yes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Thank you (Laughter).

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