September 29, 2012
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Chinese, please.
Q. How do you try to make comments on the fitness of the Asian players or on Asian tour, that a lot of players don't have very good performance, their performances. What is your comments on the phenomena?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You mean towards the end of the year? For Asian players or everybody?
Q. Each player.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think it's ‑‑this is the end of the year for us, and, you know, it's a pretty long season of 10 months of playing tournaments back to back.
You know, I have a pretty normal schedule. I don't play too many events. I try to focus on the ones I feel are important and work my schedule around that.
I love coming to these two tournaments in Asia, Tokyo and Beijing. They are very big tournaments for us. Then obviously, if I have the opportunity to finish in Istanbul, it's a perfect schedule.
There is no doubt towards the end of the season you are not as fit as you are in the beginning, maybe don't have as much energy because the last Grand Slam of the year was only a couple of weeks ago. You know, you try to give everything for that. And then also we had the addition of the Olympics this year. So it was an incredibly busy summer for everybody.
Q. For yourself, how do you try to handle this phenomena? How are you going to try to keep very good fitness?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I have been on the tour for many years, so I'm quite experienced in knowing how to recover from tournaments and how my body feels and what I need to do in order to prepare.
You know, I took a couple of weeks after the US Open to get ready for this Asian swing and also for the last tournament of the year in Turkey.
But you also need to know that you can go out on the practice court, but maybe you won't be able to be out there for so many hours because it is towards the end of the year. You're a little bit physically not at a high of pace as you were maybe at the start of it.
So it's really important to know how you feel and adjust. I think adjusting is the biggest priority right now.
Q. (In English.) You missed the China Open last year because of the injury. This year you will be playing in this stadium for the first time. Do you ever practice before in the stadium?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I haven't. As you said, I missed last year, so I didn't have a chance to play there at all.
Yeah, I think this year everything, you know, after the US Open is kind of a bit of a bonus for me because last year I sprained my ankle in Tokyo. I pretty much missed the rest of the season, missing this tournament, and not being really fit for Istanbul.
So coming in here this is just‑‑ you know, every match I play, whether I win or lose, I'm really happy to be in the spot to be healthy, to be No. 2 in the world, you know, to have the year that I have had.
But I haven't had the chance to practice or play in the stadium yet.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.
Q. I caught a little bit of your practice this morning, and it looked like you were working a lot on your serve. Does that have anything to do with, I guess, how you served in Tokyo against Stosur?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I think, you know, I was out there for quite a bit this morning. I'm working on a little bit of everything. It's my first practice here, so, you know, you don't want to do too much running, and the first one is really just about getting used to the court and the conditions, and, you know, a little bit of the atmosphere and the tension of the racquet. It's kind of the little things that you work on in the first practice.
So we did a lot of baskets and returns and serves and things like that.
Q. Is regaining the world No. 1 spot a priority for you at the moment?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's tough to say because, you know, I have been in that position a few times in my career. You know, my priorities from maybe when I was 16 years old to now have changed a little bit.
You know, of course getting to the No. 1, you know, and winning the French Open in two weeks' time was an incredible achievement, but I think if I would have won the French Open and not been No. 1, I don't think I would have been very disappointed. It was just great that the two kind of came together for me.
And the way I look at things, the more matches you win, the better opportunity you have towards getting to No. 1. You know, you don't really have to look at other opponents or what the ranking is. You know, if you focus on, you know, your own results and trying to win matches and you do, then, you know, you're going to have a good ranking either way.
Q. Talk a little bit about your first‑round draw. Obviously you have only played her once and you won in straight sets, but anything in particular you're focused on going into that one?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Nothing so much against her. I think it's just, you know, maybe trying to change last week around and coming into this tournament with a fresh new perspective.
You know, she can play really good. I think she was injured a little bit in the summer. You know, it doesn't really matter who it is. I think if I follow through and focus on what I have to do, that's pretty much my priority right now.
Q. Any thoughts on Serena Williams' withdrawal?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's a long year. You're not really surprised to see a few more withdrawals now than with the beginning of the season.
Q. You just created your candy brand. How is it different from playing tennis, and do you have the schedule to bring the brand to China?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's much easier than playing tennis, that's for sure. (Smiling.)
I laugh a lot more. Not as stressful, I guess.
Yeah, you know, I started it a couple of years ago. It started with, well, first with my love of candy in general and food, and then the name Sugarpova came about and I put the two together. I have been part of so many great partnerships and collaborations and collections in my career, but at the end of the day I was always a very small part of that. I really wanted to own something that was 100%, you know, me making all the final decisions, whether it was financial or creative decisions. I really wanted to be in the process the whole way.
I worked on it for the last two years. I feel like it's been my lucky charm in a way, because it was during the time when I've gotten myself back from injury, got back to No. 1, and won the French Open.
We just launched it at the US Open. I hope to bring it to China soon. I actually saw a few fans today that had some of it, so I think they had friends in the U.S. that shipped it over to them. The response has been really incredible.
I'm working on the launch in Australia now before the Australian Open. It's a lot of fun. It's so different to what I do. The greatest thing is seeing how excited people have been over it, you know, when you work on something, to see it come to life.
Q. Do you expect to see more Grand Slam winners from China and from Asia?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think Li Na set an incredible example last year what she was able to accomplish coming from a point where maybe not so many believed it would happen so soon. You know, she is certainly one that set the example for so many young girls and boys in this country and also all of Asia.
You know, someone that maybe didn't necessarily have the height or everyone thought that would win a Grand Slam, it was just really a great accomplishment for China.
Q. A few years ago it seemed like you were talking a little bit about retiring fairly early around the age that you are now. Have your recent successes kind of changed your mind to that course of thinking?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I wouldn't necessarily say it was the successes. I think when I was 17 or 18 years old, if you would say I would be sitting in a press conference chair in seven or eight years, you'd look at seven, eight years, it would be like, Oh, I don't know. Well, with the injury I missed a year; I didn't compete at all.
I'm sitting in this position and thinking I still have so much passion for what I do. I love going out and competing and learning and trying to get better. This career only goes on for so many years. I think, I mean, it would stupid not to take advantage of the fact that you really enjoy doing something and you like waking up in the morning and getting better at it.
You know, I have done it from a very young age, and right now I don't see my life without it. So there is no real reason to even think of retirement.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports