Matt Cronin interview for Tennis Channel
Maria, do you still like the traveling, the grind of the tour?
Yeah I always find something to do and I’m not bored. When I have a break. I’m home for two weeks and then I feel I want to practice, to travel, to compete. I miss the rhythm of this life. I didn’t reach my goal yet, so I just want to keep doing it.
Do you reset your goals every year, or does it stay the same? It’s probably like a lot of players have: win a Grand Slam and reach No. 1, right?
If I can do that it would be huge, but the first goal would be to reach the top 10. I feel I’m close and my game has improved a lot. I move better, my forehand is better, so I just have to be consistent every tournament, and not like Nadia was today, up and down. I want to make the semifinals of a Grand Slam because I reached a quarterfinal once and then go from there. But when you are in the semis, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s about health, luck and the moment. You are more motivated and you are playing well, so you can play unbelievable tennis.
Are you happy with your season so far?
I’m happy with my game and my shots. I’ve improved a lot. Sometimes even if I lose, I know I played very good and it keeps me positive.
If you hear people say « Maria can’t reach the top 10 because she’s too small and not powerful enough and she can’t match up with the big girls and big strokes », what do you think?
I’m small, but I’m clever. Maybe it’s better to be taller so you can serve better and win easy games. but my return is good, so I’m not really struggling. I can make it even with their serves and my returns.
Do you see a lot of other clever players on tour?
It’s hard to say, the bigger the girl is. the harder she hits the ball and she doesn’t think about whether she has to use a slice. Some girls can’t slice or play volleys, so they just hit the ball. I’m a little different.Of the young players, I think Christina McHale, you can see she is thinking and she knows what to do. She’s not big as well. I understood quite early that I’m not big girl and what kind of game I had, that I couldn’t hit a big ball every time and don’t have a lot of power. I’m fast, I can play counterattack and hit the ball on the rise and I try to change the rhythm. That’s my game.
Do you like being famous?
It’s not important, it’s my personal results that are more important. To be famous is also hard because you get tired of it, so I’m not looking to be very famous.
Do you get bothered, or does it depend on the day?
It depends on the day. Sometimes nobody will know me and then I’ll be in a super market or on the plane and they start coming. Sometimes too many. So I never know. Sometimes I think I should be recognized and I’m not, and other times I don’t think anyone will know me, and then they do.
Have you ever woken up and said, « I’ve been playing tennis since age 7, maybe this isn’t for me, maybe I should have chosen another career »?
No, it’s the sport for me. I can’t see myself in drawing, or singing (I’m really bad), maybe a dancer, but who knows who a good dancer is? But my parents chose the right thing for me. When I was really young. my mom and dad didn’t just give me the racket and say I have to play, they gave me different things and saw some things I’m better at than others. They saw I wanted to play. Every day I’d wake up and I’d say « Mama, Papa, I want to go to training », and they’d say, you have the day off, and I’d say to my dad, « Maybe I can go play with you? » They saw I was really enjoying it, and I never had a day when I’ve woken up and said to myself, « I don’t want to go » – never.
Full interview on TennisChannel.com