New York - Maria Sharapova said she remains confident in her ability to compete with the best despite Monday's crushing defeat by old foe Serena Williams in the first round of the US Open.
Five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova was ruthlessly dumped out in just 59 minutes on Arthur Ashe as Williams beat the Russian for the 19th time in a row to improve her record in the rivalry to 20-2.
"Bottom line is I believe in my ability," said Sharapova, who has slipped to 87th in the world rankings after another season marred by injury.
"You can write me off. There are many people that can write me off, especially after going down 6-1, 6-1 in the first round of the US Open. As long as it's not the person that's inside of you, you'll be OK."
The 32-year-old had missed more than four months in the wake of right shoulder surgery when she returned for the grass court season this year. She was then forced out of Wimbledon by a left forearm injury.
The 2006 US Open winner last won a Slam at the 2014 French Open and served a one-year ban following a failed test at the 2016 Australian Open.
Sharapova upset Simona Halep in the first round here two years ago but could not revive that magic in the showcase opening-night match in the year's final Grand Slam tournament.
"I don't think of it as setback or traction. I have to keep going. There's no other way. There's no easy road about it," she said.
"That's the stage that you play for. That's where I played as a teenager. That's where I fortunately get to play like tonight. I mean, you work hard, we all do, in order to get to that stage, because that's where the finals are. That's where you want to be."- 'Easy to be discouraged' -
For Sharapova, who suffered early exits this month in Toronto and Cincinnati, it was her first opening-round loss in 13 appearances in New York.
She has won just one title, the 2017 Tianjin Open, in the past four years and admitted it had been a "long journey" just to reach the hardcourt season.
"It's not an easy road. It has never been. But I went through a shoulder procedure about four months ago. To find myself playing at a night match at the US Open with people excited about the matchup, it's a pretty big deal," said Sharapova.
"I'm fortunate to be a part of that. It's easy to be discouraged after a match like this. But if I'm personally discouraged, I wake up tomorrow, I don't feel like I want to go out, train, be better, that's more discouraging than the result."
"Just getting the routines back and being back in the draws is ... it's tough to talk about after a defeat, but it's a long road," she continued.
"It's facing an opponent that's at her stature is extremely difficult in the first round of a Slam, coming in with the fact that I haven't played that much. But those are the situations that I have to keep putting myself in and coming out of them."
US Open results on Monday (x denotes seeding):
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-4, 6-1, 6-4
Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) bt Sam Querrey (USA) 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/3), 7-5
Denis Kudla (USA) bt Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1
Dusan Lajovic (SRB x27) bt Steve Darcis (BEL) 7-5, 6-3, 6-3
Stan Wawrinka (SUI x23) bt Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) bt Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 6-1, 6-4
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) bt Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-2, 6-1, 7-5
Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) bt Zachary Svajda (USA) 3-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2
Reilly Opelka (USA) bt Fabio Fognini (ITA x11) 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3
Dominik Koepfer (GER) bt Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-4, 7-6 (7/2), 5-7, 7-5
Jenson Brooksby (USA) bt Tomas Berdych (CZE) 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO x17) bt Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) bt Taylor Fritz (USA x26) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) bt Marcos Giron (USA) 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
Hugo Dellien (BOL) bt Kwon Soon-woo (KOR) 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 2-3 retired
Daniil Medvedev (RUS x5) bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
Roger Federer (SUI x3) bt Sumit Nagal (IND) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4
Damir Dzumhur (BIH) bt Elliot Benchetrit (FRA) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-0
Dan Evans (GBR) bt Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
Lucas Pouille (FRA x25) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) bt Guido Pella (ARG x19) 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) bt Jiri Vesely (CZE) 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4
Gregoire Barrere (FRA) bt Cameron Norrie (GBR) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/2)
David Goffin (BEL x15) bt Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0
Borna Coric (CRO x12) bt Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, 6-0
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) bt Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-1, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-3
Pablo Cuevas (URU) bt Jack Sock (USA) 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (7/5)
Kamil Majchrzak (POL) bt Nicolas Jarry (CHI) 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (8/6), 1-6, 6-4
Cristian Garin (CHI x31) bt Christopher Eubanks (USA) 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3
Alex de Minaur (AUS) bt Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 7-5
Bradley Klahn (USA) bt Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
Kei Nishikori (JPN x7) bt Marco Trungelliti (ARG) 6-1, 4-1 retired
Elina Svitolina (UKR x5) bt Whitney Osuigwe (USA) 6-1, 7-5
Venus Williams (USA) bt Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-1, 6-0
Rebecca Peterson (SWE) bt Monica Puig (PUR) 6-3, 6-3
Dayana Yastremska (UKR x32) bt Monica Niculescu (ROM) 6-4, 1-6, 6-2
Sofia Kenin (USA x20) bt Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 7-6 (7/4), 6-3
Laura Siegemund (GER) bt Magdalena Frech (POL) 5-7, 6-3, 6-4
Zhu Lin (CHN) bt Wang Xinyu (CHN) 6-3, 6-4
Madison Keys (USA x10) bt Misaki Doi (JPN) 7-5, 6-0
Johanna Konta (GBR x16) bt Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 6-1, 4-6, 6-2
Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) bt Priscilla Hon (AUS) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) bt Samantha Stosur (AUS) 6-1, 6-3
Zhang Shuai (CHN x33) bt Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 6-2, 6-1
Karolina Muchova (CZE) bt Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-4, 6-4
Ons Jabeur (TUN) bt Caroline Garcia (FRA x27) 7-6 (10/8), 6-2
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) bt Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-1, 4-6, 6-0
Mariam Bolkvadze (GEO) bt Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
Karolina Pliskova (CZE x3) bt Tereza Martincova (CZE) 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/3)
Karolina Muchova (CZE) bt Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-4, 6-4
Serena Williams (USA x8) bt Maria Sharapova (RUS) 6-1, 6-1
Caty McNally (USA) bt Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 6-4, 6-1
Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE x29) bt Jana Cepelova (SVK) 6-4, 5-7, 6-3
Petra Martic (CRO x22) bt Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 6-4, 4-6, 6-1
Ana Bogdan (ROM) bt Harriet Dart (GBR) 6-3, 6-1
Iga Swiatek (POL) bt Ivana Jorovic (SRB) 6-0, 6-1
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT x12) bt Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 6-3, 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) bt Angelique Kerber (GER x14) 7-5, 0-6, 6-4
Fiona Ferro (FRA) bt Daria Gavrilova (AUS) 6-3, 6-4
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) bt Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) 6-4, 6-4
Wang Qiang (CHN x18) bt Caroline Dolehide (USA) 6-4, 6-4
Maria Sakkari (GRE x30) bt Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-1, 6-0
Peng Shuai (CHN) bt Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 6-2, 7-6 (7/5)
Lauren Davis (USA) bt Johanna Larsson (SWE) 7-5, 6-2
Ashleigh Barty (AUS x2) bt Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 1-6, 6-3, 6-2