SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova’s voracious appetite for victory makes it difficult for her look on the bright side of any defeat but the Russian was trying to remain positive after her WTA Finals semi-final loss to Petra Kvitova on Saturday.
“I was able to play quite physical matches and get through them. I think that was something that I wasn’t sure of coming into this week because I hadn’t played a lot,” the Russian told reporters after another injury-interrupted campaign.
Struck down by leg and arm ailments, the world number four arrived in Singapore without a match under her belt since July. Despite her lack of activity, some observers believed Sharapova was still the woman to beat.
That belief came from Serena Williams’s decision to skip this year’s tournament to recover from her own ailments and when Sharapova breezed through the round-robin phase with a perfect 3-0 record, it was difficult to see anyone beating her.
Kvitova, however, is a formidable opponent for any player and the Czech double Wimbledon champion reeled off six second-set games to stun Sharapova 6-3 7-6(3) and leave the Russian with just next month’s Fed Cup final to look forward to.
“I didn’t have expectations coming into this week. Of course it’s always tough to sit after a match and say you’re happy, especially after you lose it,” the 28-year-old told reporters.
“But it would be quite unprofessional of me to not take a lot of positives out of this week. I think there’s a lot to look forward to in the off-season and next year, as well as a couple of the matches in two weeks,” she said of the showdown against the Czech Republic in Prague on Nov. 14-15.
Sharapova admitted to being a little rusty from her layoff and that could have led to her inability to close out a second set that she led 5-1 at one stage.
“I felt like I took my foot off the gas, started the second set aggressive in the court forcing her to go for a little much, and then felt like I backed up a little bit,” Sharapova added.
“I gave her more time, more angles, and she took advantage.”
Sharapova and Kvitova are set to renew their competitive rivalry in Prague and the Russian would like nothing more than to gain quick revenge for Saturday’s loss in her first-ever Fed Cup final appearance.
“I am looking forward to it but it’s something I’ve never been a part of before so I don’t really know what to expect,” she said.
“I was really proud of how the team came through in Germany, because I knew they were the underdogs going into that match and I couldn’t play, so that was disappointing.
“So I’m really glad that I have another chance to compete and be part of the team.”
Editing by Clare Fallon