An interview with: MARIA SHARAPOVA
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You had a long time to think about 4‑Love.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I did.
Q. How did you get through all that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I tried not to think about it too much. Yeah, it was good to have that period of time just to get a good night's sleep and come back. It's not always a good feeling to come into a match to knowing that you're down 0‑4. It's like you're going to try to win that set, but if you don't you're down 0‑1. It was a tough position to be in, but I'm just so thrilled to be in the semis here.
Q. The third set was pretty high‑quality stuff, wasn't it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, like there is a reason why she reached the quarterfinals. I mean, I think her level of play really showed today and yesterday why she was in the top 10 and why she's such a high‑quality player. Yeah, there's a lot of good things that she did. I'm happy that I pulled through no matter how tough it was.
Q. She's a little unpredictable as to when she's going to be hitting the lines and when she's not. Just talk about contending with that.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, I guess unpredictable is good in a way ‑ for her. A little bit on the serve, as well. She was going a lot for her second serves. I think she probably had like 30 serves that were 99‑miles‑per‑hour second serves. It's like she worked consistently to get 99 miles an hour. Every time I looked at the clock it was like 99, 99. If I lose this match, I'm going to have nightmares. (Laughter.) No, I mean, I guess she just has that nontraditional game where it's kind of sneaky. You don't know if she's going to come in or if she's gonna hit the ball or be flat or hit the frame. But, yeah, she's worked a lot on it. That's why it's good.
Q. So you haven't lost a three‑set match since Pennetta last year. That's a lot of them to win in a row. Do you feel like going into those three sets, okay, I have done well all year; I think I can pull it out again?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Honestly, every time I've gone to a third set I haven't thought about it, because every single match is different. It's a different situation. Sometimes you can be coming back; sometimes you win the first set and then you have a letdown. It's a great statistic. It shows that I enjoy the battle no matter what the score is. The third set, it's the last set out there, and there's no reason why you shouldn't put everything out there. That's kind of how I treat those situations.
Q. Rain has become such a regular feature here. There has obviously been a lot of talk of putting on a roof. Talk about what yesterday was like, going out and having to come back on again and off, and then finally when they gave you the word you were playing the next day?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: All right yesterday, but a lot today. Maybe you guys didn't see. We were on like four times today.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Right when we were walking literally in the hall of the locker room we went back on because it started drizzling. I mean, I have done like 20 different types of warmups in the gym. I was so sick of it. I was like, Let's just play tennis. (Laughter.) So I was really happy that we got it in without another break. Another break means another warmup. I can't handle it anymore.
Q. Was it kind of like a reboot, though?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's kind of like a gym workout every time. I'm like, this is not what I signed up for here.
Q. Already tired when you get out there.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. No, no, I mean, it's great. You've got to get going, but it's like, Get me out there.
Q. How would you describe you and Victoria as competitors and then your respective styles of play?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think we both play a pretty aggressive game. You know, we're good competitors and we love to win. I mean, who doesn't? But she's had such a solid year this year, kinda her breakthrough in terms of winning the Grand Slam, being so solid, so consistent, being No. 1 in the world for the first time. So a lot of firsts for her, which I think a lot of people expected in the last few years. This is kind of the year where she's come out and, yeah, played really great tennis.
Q. You talked after the match on court about how you wanted to exact your revenge for her victory. Was there any extra motivation there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well it's always tough to lose in that final stage of a Grand Slam. You know, last time we played I think I was in Stuttgart where I beat her, but before that she got me a couple of times. You know, I played a really good match in Germany against her. Obviously I want to take the things I did well there and ‑‑ but that was on clay; this is a different situation. So every match is new. She's been playing great tennis. I'm in the semifinals since '06, I think, so this is a great opportunity for the both of us.
Q. What are the keys when the two of you have been playing and what have been the keys in the rivalry?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Game style?
Q. Yeah. I mean, when you've been successful, what has determined that for you? And by contrast, when she's been successful, what has been the difference?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, she's a great returner, so you have to serve pretty good. Yeah, she's aggressive. If you give her a good first ball she likes to take advantage of that. Yeah, I mean, there's not a lot I'd talk openly about.
Q. Seems like you had the crowd support here in these big matches on Ashe, Petrova and against Bartoli, as well. Azarenka is someone who almost never has the crowd on her side when she's playing. Do you have any idea what makes a crowd ‑‑ what makes certain players more popular to crowds than others?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I think maybe the intensity, the passion they have. I mean, I have lived in the States since I was seven, so this is my base. This is my home. Not New York but Florida and California. So, you know, I have a lot of fans here, a lot of friends that come out and watch. You know, in a way, it feels like a second home for me. I certainly feel that support. This is where I ‑‑ basically after three years of tennis, starting tennis, this is where I developed my game and where I really learned the sport. I have been around for many years, so I feel like the fans have kind of watched me grow here and watched me since the days I was a junior here till now. They followed my career. Yeah, and also, we have a big Russian community in Brooklyn. They come out.
Q. The crowd is always for you, which is cool. Today do you think they may have been for you because they were pulling for the one who was struggling coming from behind? If so, how much did that help you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think that's ‑‑ I think fan support when you're down ‑‑ also, you know, it's normal in sport when fans are rooting for the underdog because they want to see a match. They want to see the competition. They want it to be entertaining. That's why they pay the money. So I understand that. I have been a part of that. I mean, I felt the energy. I've felt it switch from one side to another during matches. That's for sure. I have been a part of many incredible matches where it's kind of slow, and then you get going and then it's up and down. You know, people get into it. But I understand that energy that comes of supporting an underdog, someone that's not necessarily the favorite. But they want to see you pull through.
Q. You and Andy grew up together in Florida. When he walked by, did you see him today? Any words exchanged? Andy Roddick.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, we actually didn't grow up in the same part of Florida.
Q. I know. But he wins the Eddie Herr, you win the Eddie Herr.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Was that the same week?
Q. Yeah, it was. The same Sunday. You were 12 and he was 17 or so.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: He didn't say hi to me then. (Laughter.) But neither did I, obviously.
Q. The third set, you know, you got the break early. In such a close match, how frustrating was it for you when you lost the break?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it is. Obviously I was up 30‑15 and I gained, but she played a very aggressive, solid game there. I mean, of course there are things I could have done to get that, and it's always unfortunate to not hold your serve. But then I got another break; made up for it.
Q. Serena Williams obviously plays on the other half of the draw. When you think of her serve, what to you impresses you most or do you think makes her serve as successful as it is?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the consistency and the power and the strength. She finds the corners extremely well, but on a consistent level. It's one thing to, you know, to serve a big serve, but it's another thing to do it consistently match in, match out.
Q. How much of her success do you think depends on the success with the serve?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think a lot. And I think it also builds, you know, a player game because it is that first shot. So if you're feeling confident and if you feel like that's a shot that's working for you, I think all other pieces of the puzzle kind of come together.
Q. Do you think it's pretty natural that the younger players go after the established Grand Slam champions and get a little more motivated? Do you think that was the case with Victoria when she first started playing you back a few years ago and even today? Meaning you're the hunted one more.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Maybe before but not so much now. You know, she's obviously won a Grand Slam already. So, you know, it's almost like other players are also wanting to beat her and she's No. 1 in the world. I mean, absolutely when you see the level of play that, you know, Bartoli played against and you look at her, the other results she had during the year, you think, Well, there is no way she played like that losing to some of the players. It's really the honest truth. It's the reality sometimes. But in a way, that's what makes it so much tougher to be at the top. I mean, it's tough to get there; it's extremely difficult to stay there, because everybody ‑‑ they almost have the feeling of not having much to lose. They're not expected to win, so I think everything is kind of free and they really go for it.
Q. When you first played her, I think it was in Moscow and it was close. I think it was Moscow...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Who are we talking about?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know.
Q. First couple times did you know she was going to be a really good player?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I did. I mean, I think many people expected her to win a Grand Slam earlier than she did. I think her level, I mean, she always had a solid game. I mean, she was always a little mentally fragile. Felt like she would bang her racquet and yell, and you kind of see that on the court. But I think with age and maturing that obviously you learn so much by playing matches. You learn what helps you get motivated, what helps you get going. I mean, I thought she would be at a high level, definitely.
Q. You played Errani in the French Open final. Now she's made another semifinal; doubles No. 1 next week. What do you think she's doing so well?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it just shows you you don't have to be tall and to have a lot of power. (Laughter.) She has so much variety in her game. She's obviously so successful on clay. She won so many titles and got to the finals of the French. Extremely tricky; moves really good around the court; makes you hit so many balls. Yeah, I mean, I was going into the French Open final as, you know, people were saying the favorite, but I was playing a clay‑court specialist in a way, which people never really considered me to be. So it was funny how all of a sudden I was considered the favorite to go in and beat her in a Grand Slam final when she was playing so well on that surface. She's proven that she can play really well on hard. I think she did pretty well in Australia, as well. But consistency, her consistency this year has been incredible.
Q. Back to Serena, am I wrong in thinking that both the Williams love power? They seem to want their opponent to bang it with them. Even when Hingis was younger, when she was playing, she mixed it up a lot with them. I don't think they like that. Is that correct, or what's your thoughts on that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I can't help but laugh at your question. I'm sorry. No, it's a good observation. But I think if you're going into a match in which you feel like you have to play a different game than what you've worked on or what has won you matches before in order to beat that one person, I don't know if it's extremely smart. I mean, I think it's always good to have options in your pocket if things are not going well. Sometimes those don't work. But to prepare for a match and not believe that if your game is power or being aggressive that that's not going to work, then, I mean, it's not a good confidence booster.
Q. I know you wouldn't want to change your game, that's for sure.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.
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