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Old Jan 28th, 2012, 10:50 AM   #3679
Crux Squall
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 2

V. AZARENKA/M. Sharapova



6‑3, 6‑0



Q. She's pretty tough once she can get on top of you. Seemed like you started okay, and then when she got the momentum was hard to push her away.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, she did everything better than I did today. You know, I had a good first couple of games, and that was about it. Then she was the one that was taking the first ball and hitting it deep and aggressive. I was always the one running around like a rabbit, you know, trying to play catchup all the time.

Yeah, I mean, she was, you know, a step quicker. Her shot was, you know, bigger. First shot was bigger. Just not a good combination, I guess.



Q. You made more unforced errors than you usually make. Did you feel okay? Was everything okay in your warmup? Did you have an okay day?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was just one of those days where maybe I just, you know, I think maybe because I felt like I wasn't being aggressive enough and I knew that I have to be and I knew that I had to change that.

There was no way I was gonna win the match if I was gonna let her dictate and be the one that's aggressive and, you know, go for the lines and change down the lines like she likes to do.

But, yeah, I think maybe I just kind of overdid it.



Q. Looked like in the beginning that she was going to be struggling to handle the situation. She sort of got back into it. Did you feel that she was nervous and then sort of found her composure?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the first couple of games, only two out of so many games, and, you know, you know the match is not over until it's over.

No matter what the first two games, I mean, I had a lot of matches in my career where I had terrible starts. Sometimes those just don't really matter until you see what happens in the end.

So, yeah, I mean, she definitely ‑‑ there's a reason why she was ‑‑ you know, it wasn't just that she was making mistakes. I mean, there is a reason why she was making those mistakes in the beginning.

And from my side, I think I just kind of, I don't know, the switch went off.



Q. Were you surprised by how composed she was at the end of the match, given that it was her first Grand Slam final?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was her Grand Slam final, but she certainly has been in big tournaments. She's won big events before.

It's not that she's coming in here as an unexperienced player. She's beaten a lot of top players in her career, and it hasn't happened that she hasn't been in a Grand Slam final and hasn't won that.

But I certainly knew that she had the experience. She beat me in Miami last year. It's a pretty big event for us. She was in the finals of the Championships. She does have that experience.



Q. Does experience on your side make the disappointment easy to cope with?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, well, it's tough either way. Obviously to get to the final is a good achievement, but to end up being the one that loses is always tough, no matter what sport you're in.

But I'm proud of the fact that I made it this far. It's been a few years since I've been, you know, in the finals of the Australian Open.

It's a good start to the year, I guess, for me. I have a lot to look forward to this year.



Q. Do you think nerves were an issue for tonight at all?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I actually wasn't nervous. I was just making errors. (Smiling.)



Q. You have won plenty of matches when you haven't been at your top level. So the difference tonight being what going into the second set maybe?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's tough to not play on a high level when your opponent is playing on a high level. It's just obviously not ‑‑ I mean, the ratio there is not very good.

So, I mean, she's a top player. She's had a fantastic tournament. She won the event before this, so she's playing with a lot of confidence, as well.

Yeah, I think that really showed.



Q. Losses must be one thing, but Grand Slam losses must really hurt. How do you deal with it? Do you go home and close the curtains and get your boxing gloves out? How long does it take to get the pain away?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's frustrating, but I have a pretty good head on my shoulders in terms of having a good perspective on sport and life.

And as hard as it is, you know, and as much as you want to be the champion, you know, there's only one. That's why the feeling is so special when you do achieve that. That's why the work is so hard and extreme. That's why the pleasure that you get and the excitement is what you work for, because you know how special it is.

I don't regret the work that I put in at all. Getting to the stage is great for me, I mean, especially not having played matches for three months. I honestly didn't know what to expect health‑wise and game‑wise. You just don't know.

So to be at this stage is good for me. That's why I'm, you know, looking forward to the rest of the year.



Q. Do you think your best tennis is still ahead of you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I believe it is. Absolutely. I believe that there's still a lot of work that I can do to improve. That's why I'm still playing.

I think if an athlete wakes up, no matter what sport they're in, and thinks they can't be better or they can't improve or they're not gonna have good days ahead of them, it's pretty tough to put in the work.



Q. It's the fifth different Grand Slam winner in a row now. Does it make it an exciting time to be on the women's tour at the moment?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it does. She's someone that's really been the one that's been working towards that goal, as well, and someone that, you know, everyone has had a lot of expectations on. Everyone expected her to win a Grand Slam.

So, yeah, she certainly deserves that spot.



Q. You have played her since I think the first time maybe in 2007, so looks like even since 2009 not just her strokes but her movement has improved a lot. Is that one of the keys there, where she can dig out a lot of balls where maybe she didn't a couple years ago?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel like she's always been a good athlete. She's always moved pretty good around the court. But I feel like she's much more consistent, you know. That's what it felt like today.

She certainly got a lot more balls back, but she also makes you play. She created ‑‑ you know, she created offense from defense today, which is, you know, which is important and something that I think she's improved, definitely.



Q. Six women could have been No. 1 at the end of this tournament. We have a new Grand Slam champion. The 2012 season ahead for the WTA, what are your thoughts?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: A lot to look forward to. We also have the Olympics this year. Personally it's something I've been look looking forward towards for a long time, and that's a big goal of mine. To have a long grass season will be really fun.

But in terms of what the tour has to offer, I hope that we have a lot of great tennis, and personally, I hope I do, too.



Q. A lot of talk this week is about this grunting debate. Is it a bit frustrating that going on away from the game?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely not. I have heard it before and I will hear it again. I'm in the finals. You know, I'm happy that I was in the finals.

If somebody ‑‑ if you want to talk about anything else or write about anything else, that's obviously your choice and not mine.

But, hey, we do our press conferences, we answer your questions, and we get on with our lives.



Q. What do you think about the thought that it should be banned? What do you say about people who say grunting should be banned? What's your view?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think everyone has an opinion, and I think you do too ‑‑ and everyone in this room does.

As I said, it's something I have done since I was a young girl, and I've continued to do. Everyone who follows my career knows I haven't done a thing about it.

So, yeah.



Q. You have had a lopsided loss in a Grand Slam final before here and then came back the next year and won the title. Do you turn this into a positive in any way? Does it become motivation or bulletin board material for you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's a positive, because, like I said, I didn't know what to expect from myself coming into this event. I didn't know at what level I'd play. I didn't play for so many months and I had a pretty tough injury.

I mean, it's pretty unusual to come into the first tournament of the year having it be a Grand Slam. I'm certainly happy with the level that I produced in the six matches.

Today I faced someone that, you know, came out who was too good and my level was not there. I was not competitive enough against her today.

So, yeah, everything is still a work in progress, you know, whether I won today or not. It's still a moving train.



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