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Old Jul 20th, 2011, 11:50 AM   #2903
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 2

ďOn The CallĒ with Maria Sharapova
July 19, 2011 By Tennis Panorama News

The USTA held a first of a series of conference calls with players who will take part in the Olympus US Open Series tournaments. On Tuesday, Maria Sharapova spoke to the media about her participation in the US Open Series. She will begin her US Open Series schedule by playing the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California. Here are a few excerpts from the conference call in which she discusses her game, her schedule and potentially playing Serena Williams in the early rounds of the US Open.

Q. Youíre No. 5 in the world as we speak right now. First time youíve been in the top 10 since I guess 2008 you finished at No. 9. To what do you owe your success this year?

Maria Shrapova: I feel like itís been a really great progression. I feel like Iíve been really improving with every tournament that Iíve played. Little by little, Iíve taken the small steps and improved little things in my game. Made a few changes in my team. I changed racquets at the end of last year.

So I think there was a few things. But those little sacrifices that you kind of make, you never quite know when the results will kick in. I feel like little by little Iím getting those.

Q. Your serve, do you still consider it an iffy area, or are you confident in where it is now?

MS: I certain see that itís something that I can definitely improve in terms being more consistent with it, and getting it a little faster and stronger as well.

Itís definitely something that I can still improve. You know, that gives me a lot confidence, because Iíve been able to win a lot of matches this year where maybe a few of those I felt like I didnít serve my best.

But I was able to return and play really well, so that gives me a tremendous amount of confidence that I can get it even better.

Q. When we were at Wimbledon, you seemed to leave there with a positive feeling about how your game has progressed and that you were able to get back to the form of being a finalist and potential winner at a Grand Slam tournament. Talk about a few weeks away, are you still seeing it as a positive? Any disappointments? Where do you put that now?

MS: I mean, to be honest, itís still nice to come home with a nice plate, so I was glad I didnít come home afterWimbledonempty handed. To have that moment where youíre walking out in the final stage of Wimbledon, even though you didnít leave with the big trophy, you know, gives me a great and tremendous amount of confidence that Iíve been doing something right in the last few months and Iíve been getting better.

I think I always like to let the game talk instead of saying, Okay, Iím feeling better. Everything is going well. Iím pretty realistic about my results. I always feel like the more matches you win, the ranking is always going to take care of itself.

So to find myself in that stage of the tournament, it means that I did a few things right to get there. Definitely proud, because I hadnít been at that stage in many years inWimbledon.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the run‑up to the US Open? I think a lot players feel with the summer heat and humidity in theU.S.and everything, it probably makes or breaks and you and really helps you get into gear.

MS: Yeah, itís a tough series. Like you said, itís summertime. It can get hot, especially inCincinnati. Cincinnati is probably one of the warmest, sometimes even warmer than the Australian Open, so I have to be extra prepared.

I grew up in the Florida heat since I was seven years old, and the humidity and the sun, Iíve gotten used to that over my career. So when it gets above 100 or something, it doesnít matter how well you prepared. Itís going to affect you at some point.

Itís really good how you handle it, how you come through, and how tough you are.

Q. Now, youíve come back from injury a couple years ago, and Serena (Williams) is now making her attempt at a comeback. What do you see in her game right now? If you were to give her any advice about how to play this summer, what would you say?

MS: Yeah, I donít think Iím the one to give advice to her. (Laughter.) Sheís an incredible champion and sheís been through injuries before and has gotten herself back. Been a few more injuries than I have in my career, so I think she has it already figured out.

Q. Talking about Serena reminded me, if she comes into the Open unseeded, is that fair for the other players? If you drew her in the first round, how tough would that be?

MS: Yeah, I guess I went through that. I got some tough draws in the beginning of not being seeded and ranked very high. Itís just something you have to go through. Itís almost the luck of the draw as well.

Q. Is it unfair to the seeded player, for example, that if youíre seed fourth or fifth and she unseeded and you got her in the first roundÖ

MS: Yeah.

Q. It would be tough for you, wouldnít it?

MS: Yeah, but Iíve always had a philosophy: If you canít beat them in the first round, why do you think you can beat them later on.

Q. Ideally though, you wouldnít want to see her name across from yours in the first round, would you?

MS: To be honest, I love playing against her. Weíve had very, very tough matches against each other. You know, I donít have a great record against her, and I would love to change that. There is no doubt I would love to play her this summer at some point.

Maria Sharapova is one of more than 200 of tennisí top players that will compete during the 2011 Olympus US Open Series, the six-week North American summer tennis season in its eighth year that links 10 ATP World Tour and WTA summer tournaments to the US Open.

Players will compete during the Series for $40 million in prize money. Additionally, through the Olympus US Open Series Bonus Challenge, the USTA will offer up to an additional $2.6 million in bonus prize money at the US Open to the top three menís and top three womenís singles finishers in the Olympus US Open Series.

Last year, Caroline Wozniacki and Andy Murray won the Olympus US Open Series.

Throughout the summer, the Series will feature nearly 200 live television hours on ESPN2, Tennis Channel and CBS Sports, highlighted by back-to-back menís and womenís finals on Sundays on ESPN2 and select finals on CBS Sports.


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