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Old Jan 17th, 2012, 04:45 AM   #3624
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 2

R1 Interview:

Q. Do you want to break it down? It's been a while since you played. Talk about how you struck the ball, movement, all that.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. You know, I had a pretty tough first‑round opponent coming into my first event of the year, someone that's beaten me the last time we played at a major.

She can definitely play some really good tennis. I think I was just mentally prepared for that. I was getting ready, I've been practicing here.

Overall, you know, I think I played pretty good and aggressive, and she's someone that likes to have time to create her shots. You know, she has great hands. It was just important to try to take that away from her.

Yeah, I was a little bit sloppy in a couple of the games. Other than that, I thought it was good for a first round.



Q. Did you have fear of the ankle?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.



Q. Or when you went out, did you feel you practiced hard enough?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. You know, I think from the past I could have gone into Brisbane, maybe another event, and said I might not be a hundred percent tennis‑ready, but I want to come into the Grand Slam with a few matches.

That's not really the way my mentality is. I'd rather come in feeling good physically than feeling like I played a lot of matches. It's more important to me than anything.

I've been on the tour for many years, played enough tournaments, I just want to be as ready as I can for the big ones.



Q. It was pretty hot out there. How did it affect you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I've been through many stages of weather here in the last couple of weeks. I came here. First couple days I think it was 40 degrees. Actually had to close the roof for practice, in one of the practices, and then we went into winter weather, then back into the heat. It's quite random.

But, yeah, you know, I like this weather. Obviously I prefer it to be a little bit cooler. This is part of the Australian Open: you just never know what you're going to get. Maybe the next few days it will cool down. But it does get, on the court, pretty warm.



Q. I know she beat you at Wimbledon. You played exhibitions with her. Is that familiarity level, you kind of know what's coming?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. We know each other's games really well. Like you say, we grew up together in the juniors. She's one of the few that I played doubles with actually in my so‑called short‑term doubles career.

Yeah, you know, I know how she can play. I know the quality that she can produce. Some of her best tennis is on clay. I think that's when she likes the ball to be kind of a little bit higher. She likes to get you off the court. She has many weapons when you give her that time.

I think it was just important, you know, not to give her that, what she likes.



Q. Walking on the court, talk about what kind of feeling do you get? Is the excitement still there? You can't wait to start?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, especially this one, I couldn't wait to start. It feels like forever since I've been, you know, playing a match where I feel pretty good physically. It's just nice to go into a match you know that you're going to compete again at such a high level in front of so many people, especially a place where I've won before.

Yeah, I've had enough training. After the off‑season, you're ready to play, ready to go out and play matches.



Q. Back to what you said before, you've been on the tour now a while. Do you feel like you need a lot of matches going into tournaments, or are you experienced enough now and you've obviously hit enough balls in training where you feel you can go out there and it doesn't matter as much?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It sometimes depends. Of course I would have preferred to have played a few matches, there's no doubt. But really, my thought process is maybe a little bit different, as I told you before.

But I have experience, you know, in how to handle going into a Grand Slam maybe with not as many matches. You know, went into Wimbledon not having played an event before; whereas maybe years before I played Birmingham and all that.

I feel like if you can put in the time on the practice court and if you're healthy enough, you have that energy, because sometimes when you go out on the court, you keep practicing, practicing, sometimes the concentration, the level is not as high as when you go out and you compete and play a match.

But if you can have that intensity pretty high and if you feel pretty good, then sometimes it's even better to have that practice week.



Q. I'm guessing you don't know much about your next opponent.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't, not too much. I think my coach will do a little scouting.
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