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By Blair Henley | Monday, September 1, 2014

Maria Sharapova US Open loss

Tennis pros discuss disappointing defeats with the media moments after they occur. Each one handles the scrutiny differently, and, as such, there are several things we can learn from their post-loss pressers.

(Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images)

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- At the most basic level, losing stinks. One day you may be able to look back and realize that a loss, personally or professionally, was a catalyst for necessary change. But in the moment, losing is disappointing and demoralizing. Pro tennis players, while privileged to play a game for a living, must discuss their defeats with a room full of journalists immediately after an on-court failure. We learn from our own losses, but we can also glean a host of insights from the way athletes handle themselves after a disappointment. Here’s what we we’ve learned so far at the 2014 US Open:

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1) Look on the bright side.
Venus Williams, when asked about her performance this summer following her loss to Sara Errani: I'm just really proud of, you know, the effort that I've made. Sometimes you lose a match. At least if I lose a match it's a rough fight from my opponent. They don't get it easy.
Agnieszka Radwanska, when asked about her historically sub-par record at the US Open: Well, it's always a good sign that I don't have much points to defend, so it's always the good side the next year. That's why I think it's maybe a little bit less pressure.
2) Being a favorite means nothing.
CiCi Bellis, when asked what she learned from her US Open experience after her second-round loss to Zarina Diyas: I think ranking really doesn't matter. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day. And so I think definitely ranking has no bearing on the match. Whoever comes out and plays better that day is going to win, for sure.
Simona Halep, when asked to express her disappointment after losing to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in round three: It is, because, you know, on the papers I was the favorite for today to win this match, but every day, every match is another match. So I have to take, like I said, always match-by-match. I know that in tennis is not easy to think that you can win the title. Everyone can beat you.
3) It helps to have a sense of humor.
Maria Sharapova was interrupted by cell phone flash flood warnings when asked to evaluate Wozniacki’s performance: More consistency. Someone has a strength that, you know, sometimes players look to improve their weaknesses. I think her strength has improved incredibly well. I think that's the flood warning. (In response to phones going off.) Darn it. If I was only there a little longer (laughter).
After her loss to Karolina Pliskova, Ana Ivanovic was asked if she would want to play three-out-of-five set matches: No (laughter).
4) Some days are just downright bad.
Madison Keys, when asked to sum up her loss to Aleksandra Krunic: Um, I mean, I just didn't play well when it mattered. I played okay at times. I played better in the second set. But then when it really mattered, I just didn't play well. Was that like a really depressing answer or something (smiling)?
Maria Sharapova, when asked why she couldn’t pull off a comeback in the third set against Wozniacki: Just doesn't always happen, I guess. Didn't happen today. I came back from losing the first set. I found a way. I found something different. Stepped it up and was more aggressive. I just didn't have that in the third set.
5) Don’t criticize your opponent.
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, when asked why she refused to discuss the lack of pace on Sara Errani’s serve: Because I'm a fair competitor. She plays the way she plays and she fights well. You know, she had five winners in the whole match and missed maybe three balls. You know, she runs and she fights hard. That's the way it is. I wish her good luck. Respect.

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6) No excuses.
David Ferrer, when asked about his physical condition on the court during his loss to Gilles Simon: Well, it was tough match today. There is a lot of humidity, very sunny, and it was not easy for me. I was not good with my fitness. Nothing else, no? He was better.
Ernests Gulbis on his five-set loss to Dominic Thiem: I think it would be more clear that I retire against him, save his energy, because he's my friend. But I don't like to retire if I can finish the match, you know. Doesn't matter. The score is that I lost the match, not that I retired, because I lost the match.
7) Losses can be motivating.
Sam Groth, when asked if his second-round loss to Roger Federer added motivation: Yeah. I think my whole year has left me wanting more. [Ashe] is the biggest stadium you can play on and it's a packed house on a Friday night. Like I said, you know, leading up to this match, it's a dream come true to play on a stadium like this, especially where I've come from over the last couple of years.
Nick Kyrios, when asked what his lasting memories have been of his summer: Just obviously the last two Grand Slams have been really, really good for me. I'm going to remember every moment. Gives me so much confidence, so many things that I can work on. I'm really excited to just go home and work on those things.
Maria Sharapova, when asked about her goals for the remainder of the season: It's much easier. I always find more motivation after matches like this, because I always say that if you're not disappointed or if you don't feel that you could improve on something, coming off of a loss you think that everything went well for yourself, then you're never going to get better.
8) There is always something to learn.
Nick Kyrios spoke of his biggest takeaway after losing to Tommy Robredo: Obviously you can get a better serve, forehand, backhand. I think the main thing, just getting stronger, having the ability to keep that level up that I was playing in the first set.
9) Sometimes, there isn’t much to talk about.
Petra Kvitova, when asked to explain specifics of her upset loss at the hands of Aleksandra Krunic: I mean, it's a Grand Slam and everybody just wants to win. I lost, and that's what happened.
10) Compliment your opponent.
Maria Sharapova, when asked about recent improvements in Wozniacki’s game: I think she's better at what she's done really well in her career. I think she's moving extremely well; she's fit. I mean, she's always been fit, but there is a little bit more on her defense shots. It's not just balls up in the air. She's doing a little bit more with them. 


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