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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 02:38 AM   #1072
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

Interview in Brisbane

SF match
S. WILLIAMS/M. Sharapova
6‑2, 7‑6

Q. Take any positives, or really just missed some chances there in the second set?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: A few missed chances. You know, tough being a little, a small break up in that tiebreaker and also missing that forehand just a little bit wide at 6‑, 7‑All. I forget what it was.
Overall, you know, happy that I can compete at this level in my third match back. I really have to take the positives out of this, because I have been struggling for a few months.
To be able to come out on the court and put myself in good positions out there against someone that's been playing amazing tennis is a good sign for me.
It was definitely a good week and a good test.

Q. Serena talked about feeling like she got thrown into the deep end having to play a player of your caliber the first week of the season. Do you feel that way?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think that's why we're all here. I think we want that type of competition in the first week. For me, it was not just that type of competition, but matches, whatever I can get. Didn't matter where it was going, but I figured I've tried coming here for so many years maybe this one would be lucky.
It's great to be able to play these players the first week of the year.

Q. Just talk about the serving in the second set. It's hard it make her as much as you broke her during that set, but you also get broken a lot. Was that first serve percentage on your part, too? Her's was a little bit low. Was it the great returning?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, a little bit. I thought she returned well from the beginning. You know, if the ball is few inches to the right or left of where she likes it, she ends up hitting a really sharp, deep return and you can be in trouble.
That first ball is extremely important and something I hope to work for in the future.

Q. What about is Sven? How is working with him? Is it going well?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it is. I've enjoyed working with him the past couple months. It's been a nice transition. He doesn't say much, but she's very thorough. I enjoy it. I enjoy the partnership of everyone together on the team.

Q. When you're involved in all those intense points ‑ and you had a lot of them during the second set ‑ are all the thoughts of, Oh, I only played a few matches since Wimbledon out your head and you're out there in a match again it and doesn't matter what was happening beforehand?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: What do you mean?

Q. When you're out there playing the super intense points against Serena, are the thoughts of what you had to do to get to Brisbane just gone?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not in the moment. In the moment you're trying to win the next point. Obviously I can look back and say, as I said just now, it's great to be at this level and compete against her and put myself in a good position after not playing for a few months.
But in the moment I'm pulling my teeth out because I missed that shot.

Q. Did you surprise yourself in anyway about your level in that second set tonight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, if I want to have a chance to beat Serena I have to get myself in the match and I have to raise my level. These what champions do. I mean, she's raised her level so much in the last couple of years.
If you want to be right there, you have to do that as well.

Q. After three matches coming back from an injury, it's a pretty rapid rise.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Look, I'm really happy to be here. I said it after my first round. It was a big step for me to be here. I worked hard. I did a lot of things in order to heal my injury and then get back on the court.
It's a tough process for athletes, the grind of getting back, because you're used to competing at a high level. It's not as if I was in retirement. It was tough not seeing my name in the draws and tough seeing everybody playing tournaments and you're just kind of going about trying to find a way to heal an injury and bit sure when that will happen. A lot of question marks.
So when you're back out here, you're really grateful. I certainly am, yeah.

Q. Will you take a lot of confidence out of your performance tonight moving into the Australian Open?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I will. I'm going to take the fact that I played three tough matches here. I wish I could have played another one or maybe two more, because I got a retirement. But overall I am happy.
You know, now I'll just rest a day and get to Melbourne and start training. Grand Slam's just around the corner.

Q. With Sven, you called him on court after three games in the second set. Wondering about the timing of that. You had just broken her. Always curious about when people decide to talk to coaches or not. Why then?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm not really sure either. I don't know what the perfect timing of it is or not. Sometimes it's just to get a bit more balanced and more in your head than anything else.

Q. What did he talk about out there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't remember. I don't know. I have to look at the video.

Q. Shoulder give you any trouble tonight or this week?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. It's been really good. Moving forward the recovery is going to be extremely important for me. Overall I'm happy with the shoulder progress.

Q. 14 straight losses now to Serena. Does it feel different than a loss to another opponent? So many at this point. Is it numbing to lose to her or still the same as...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I just found 14 ways how not to win. That's the only way you can look at it. I could be in a worse position and never face her, which means I would be losing much earlier in tournaments than I want to be.
So if I'm giving myself opportunities to go into tournaments and fight through matches to get to a position to play against her, I consider myself very lucky to be able to play against her and give myself another chance to try and beat her.

Q. Is it a lesser kind of frustration I guess losing to a top player?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Losing is frustrating for any athlete. We all work extremely hard. Not one of us slacks off. In the moment it's tough to lose.
I think if you have a good perspective on things, like many of you us do, it's a lot easier to take it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
QF match

4‑6, 6‑3, 6‑2

Q. Of all the things to get a work out on the court, she can sure find a line, huh?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she's a really tough opponent. I've had fairly good success against her in the past, but she's had her bit of success. She's won this tournament before, so I knew that she's able to play on this court and she enjoys it.
For me it was a slow start. I wasn't very sharp in the beginning. I'm happy that I pulled through, and I guess at this stage it's a good match for me to get through.

Q. Would you have preferred to play yesterday?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I would've loved it obviously. Defaults are never what you prefer, especially in my situation because I haven't played in a while.
But I can't really control that, so not much I could do.

Q. You looked a lot more comfortable in the last two sets than the first set. Was that just rust? Lack of confidence? Just kind of waiting for the rhythm to come?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, we had a few breaks in the beginning of that first set, and then I had a couple break points to go up a break but didn't convert.
Yeah, I think it's just finding your way through and from the first point just really stepping up, something when you don't do for while there is nothing that really substitutes that type of adrenaline and match play.
So that's why I'm happy that I was able to get through it.

Q. How is your shoulder holding up?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Good. Fairly well.

Q. Any pain during the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I felt really good today.

Q. What did Sven have to say when he came on the court in the first set?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, he said just a few little things. Obviously at that point in the match he's not going to say so much. But he said I wasn't far off, just a few little things.
She was pretty far behind the baseline and I wasn't really taking advantage of that. Things that maybe he's able to see from the sides.

Q. You set up a potential semi with Serena. How important is it to line up against someone like that ahead of the first Grand Slam?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, absolutely. I haven't had a lot of success against her in the past. You know, it's the first tournament of the year. I came here wanting to play as many matches as I could and obviously wanting to play the best.
There is no substitute for getting ready for at Grand Slam tan competing against the best. She's been on a roll the lost couple of years with her level and the way that she's been able to play. I've competed against her a few times last year; didn't work.
You always hope that you can go out and give yourself a chance to do better next time.

Q. I know you are not intimidated by her, but what what's the feeling when you go into matches? Is it exciting? Is it challenging?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's all of it. You're going up against a great champion that's playing great tennis at the moment. You know that you have to raise your level in order to beat her. That's the excitement you feel, is you know have you to step up on the line and expect yourself to raise that level.

Q. It's early in the season for both of you. Do you feel like you have to play better than today to get past her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think with every match I'm going to improve. I didn't come here thinking from the first or second match I'm going to be playing my best tennis of the year. That's why I said it was important for me to get through a match like this because I haven't had those moments where you're down and you have to get yourself back up again and find a way to win.
I'm happy that I improved towards the end of the match. Not really happy with the way I started.

Q. How are you finding the pace of the court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's quite fast, uh‑huh.

Q. Just in terms of your rivalry with Serena, seemed like the French Open was your last match and one of your more competitive matches against her. You feel like you're getting a little closer? You played a lot against her in the last couple years.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, some of the matches were a bit closer than others. It's tough to take away all of if. When you go out on the court in a new time, you can't really rely on everything that happened in the past. You got to start from scratch from the first point.
Of course I know I've tried and I didn't succeed in the last many times that I've played her, but I'm setting up an opportunity to go out there and try to change that, and I'm going to try to do that.

Q. How would you describe your rivalry with Serena?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think I got to win a few times in order to call it rivalry. (Laughter.)

Q. We were talking about this before, if you looked at one thing that turned it around for her, was it Australian Open 2005, 8‑6 in the third?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: 2005? Oh, my God, I can't go back that far. (Laughing.)
Q.Semifinals. I think you might have even had match points in that. You beat here in 2004 twice, Wimbledon Championships, and then you were right there with her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right, that was a long time ago.

Q. I know you can remember.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I quite honestly don't.

Q. You don't remember the intensity level?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the intensity level of our matches are always high. I think she goes up and wants to play the best tennis against me. That's certainly no secret because she shows that on the court.
We've had pretty intense matches in our career.

Q. Ever gone back to watch the ones from '04, the wins you had, to see if there is anything you could pick up on from that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't have too much time to look back at '04. I have a lot of things going on in my life, so...

Q. You talked to Clarey about your relationship with Serena off‑court. Talk a little bit about that. You guys are clearly the two most popular women's athletes in the world. You earn a lot, you've won a lot of slam titles, but never really formed a close bond.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, that was one of the reasons why I wanted to do that interview is because there were a lot of questions being asked and a lot of questions thrown in the air.
I thought it was really important to clear the air, and I think I said everything I had to say about it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

R1 match

6‑3, 6‑0

Q. Your first match in several months. Any rust? Seemed like pretty automatic from you pretty quickly.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, nothing is automatic. I hate to say it, but you have to work for everything out there.
I think I was just really determined to get back on the court. It's been a while. I think the whole team was really ready to go out. I knew I was going to play Monday night a little bit ago already, so I got goosebumps when I heard because I was really looking forward to that day even a week ago.
But, you know, it's those days that you work for. It's been four months I believe now. It was a big step for me. It was a big step to come and a big step to play out there tonight.

Q. Did you have to keep your nerves calm in the first set, or once you got out there it was business as usual?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, when you have‑‑ I felt like I had a good off‑season because I wasn't injured like the previous one. You always feel like your expectations are a bit high.
But I personally just to have lower them a little bit given the fact that I haven't played in a while. It's going to take me little bit of time. But these matches are what I came here for.
No matter the opponent or the situation, you know, they're really priceless for me at this point, and extremely important.

Q. Must have been nice that that was the first time you played pain‑free since like, what, early spring or something like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, since like the Madrid days, yeah.

Q. Must be nice to be out there not even worrying about the shoulder.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Really nice. I can't tell you how nice. (Laughter.)

Q. Obviously playing Ashleigh Barty in the second round. Local girl. Do you know much about her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I've seen some of her results last year, particularly in doubles doing extremely well. I was never much of a doubles player, so I consider it pretty amazing what she's been able to do at her age.
But she is another future star and someone that I've seen grow up from the juniors and now onto the tour.
She's already played a few matches, four, I believe, here. For me, it's my second match. I think for both of usit's just really, in different ways, a great opportunity for me to go out there and play another match against a tough opponent, also a tougher crowd as well, which is understandable.
It'll be fun.

Q. Given she's obviously had a couple results now against Francesca last year and Daniela today, is she an opponent to be wary of, someone capable of causing a problem?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think always when you're coming up and making the transition from the juniors to the pros, not many players know about your game. I've only seen a few points here and there. I don't think I've watched a full set or match of hers.
There are a lot of things you don't know about a player until you're facing them: their shot selection, the way they play, their rhythm, those are all things you can't see on TV.
So that will be new and different. It's very rare to play new opponents because we play so many matches during the year.

Q. She said she doesn't remember you winning Wimbledon for the first time. That's when you know she's young and you're not.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, probably.

Q. She said she doesn't watch a lot of tennis, which you didn't either.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I didn't either. If you did a tennis quiz I wouldn't be very good at it either.

Q. Talk about that as a teenager, just sort of more focused on yourself.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think that's the way to do it. You really have to be focused on your job and game and not worry about anyone else's results. You create your own path. There's going to be times where it's difficult and you're going to have some letdowns, but a lot of things are in your hands.
If you put in the work and the effort, and at the end of the day things don't work out, you did everything you could and you don't have regrets. You don't look sideways or forward or backwards. It's really about the present and creating things on your own and with your team.

Q. You've obviously changed coaches before. Is it a unique feeling looking over in your corner and seeing somebody for the first time? Is there a different vibe on court.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, to be honest, it's been a very seamless transitions with Sven. We got along from the very beginning. As team, I think we've all worked really well together in the last couple of months.
We're all big clowns at the end of the day and have fun what with we do, but we're very serious and professional. I've seen his face for two months now, so nothing new really.

Q. You won Wimbledon at 17. The rankings and the Grand Slam results say it's much more difficult to make a breakthrough as a teenager than it was for yourself and Hingis. Why do you think that is, and how much more difficult is it for a teenager?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I'm not really sure what that answer is, because now when people say about somebody young, I actually have to ask them, What is young? I don't know if that's 16, 17 or if that's 19 to 21. Now the young is from 19 to 21 pretty much, so she's really, really young.
But I'm not sure. I'm really not sure how that changed or why. I don't really know. I mean, there were still similar players back then. I don't know. I didn't answer your question right.
Sorry, I haven't done press conferences in a really long time.

Q. It's late.

Q. Did you miss doing press at all when you're off?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely not. (Laughter.) I miss being out there. That's the one thing I really missed.

Q. Having played a match here, what did you think about the reception? They've been waiting a long time.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's been three or four years in the making, so when I was walking out on the court I was like, Whew, that took a while. Last year I had a few practices but didn't end up playing.
It's just as exciting for me as it is for the fans that came to watch me play. I've been meaning to play this tournament for a long time. Poor tournament director, Cam, he doesn't believe it until I walk out on the court anymore. (Laughter.)

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Before tournament

Q. You're going to be back on court pretty soon. Talk about the progress of your shoulder and how all that's going, what you're looking forward to.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's been really good. I've had a really healthy off‑season, something quite unusual, because in the last few years I always had a little injury here and there.
So that was nice, because I gave myself time to recover and get better. I started quite early, so I made it into two parts of it. I started slow, took a little bit of a break, and then geared up again with a little bit more intensity.
Here we are.

Q. 100%, or still not sure if you can play a match yet?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I'm feeling really good. I think as a team we structured it really good. I knew from the moment I withdraw from the Open that I was going to give myself the right amount of time that I needed. Whether that was a week, a month, a few months, I didn't know. Nobody really knew.
I've played with an injured shoulder for a while, so it was really important for me to take that time.

Q. So when you went to Colombia, at that point was it pretty strong?

Q. You could hit the serve, the forehand, and not worry about it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Before the exhibition I played maybe one or two practice matches just to make sure I was ready to go out. Colombia was a little bit challenging with the altitude. Couldn't make much of a match out of it unfortunately.
But it was a unique opportunity for me just to be out there again. It's been a few months, so it was nice.

Q. The surface compared to Melbourne, Roger was saying with the humidity it's so much faster.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It is faster, yeah. I felt it's a bit faster from the first day. I don't know if that will be the same in Melbourne, but I think it's a bit faster than last year.

Q. That would suit you fine?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I guess we'll see. I would hope so.

Q. You've pretty much done it all. Had a wonderful career. You've come back from injury. Do you ever get to the point where your hunger is sated a bit, or do you have to keep your motivation levels up? Does it come naturally?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Certainly when you're doing it for so many years of your life there are moments where you felt like need a pick‑me‑up. I didn't play for a few months, and that was the reason for me to get back out there.
I know when I'm healthy how I can play and what I'm capable of doing. I needed to get healthy. So that was the motivation on its own.

Q. You have a brand new team around you. Can you explain why? Do you feel like you need a big change?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I have a few new team members in the team. Obviously new coach, Sven. From the first time we met I really liked what he had to say. He came in as a very experienced person, player. He started from the very beginning of the game, and one of the things I've always liked in a coach is when he coached against me ‑ and he's been there for many years coaching against me ‑ and I like when someone comes in and is honest and truthful and says it like it is.
He's that. He puts it all out on the table. He's a team player. He works with everyone on my team, something I was missing for a little bit of time.
I have a new physio this year, Jerome, who has been great who has also had a lot of experience with the French Federation, Amélie Mauresmo.
Other than that, I think it's the same.

Q. You talk about keeping your motivation, but talk about the changes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, in tennis time goes really fast. Seems like I was sitting at this table just a year ago. Different circumstances, thankfully. But really have to make the right decisions. You have to realize that the decisions you make, you have to make them selfishly in this business to be better, to know what's right for you, because time goes really fast.
You don't want to lose your opportunities. I'm happy with the structure I have now. I've spent a good few months with everyone on the team. Obviously in the beginning it's going to be a challenge because I haven't played many matches. I want to bring the work I've done in the off‑season, try to bring that onto the court as soon as I can.
Will that happen this week? I don't know. Will that happen next week? I know that if I have the effort I had in the off‑season I'll be at a level I want to be. Of course, you have higher expectations because you know what you're capable of what you've achieved newer career. You've got to try to minimize that just because of the fact that you haven't been out there for a long time.

Q. You're a Grand Slam champion. You know how to play tennis. When you make a change like this, is it fine tuning? Remodeling?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It is, yeah. It's just a few things. Having a lot of experience, you kind of know‑‑ you know, what you needed as maybe a 17 or 18 year old is different to what you need as a 26 year old.
With time you realize what's the best direction for you in everything: In coaching, in life, in perspective, and things. I think we all grow in different areas and learn a lot about ourselves and our games.
I certainly know what I feel I need at this point in my career. I think that the new team can really help me with that.

Q. Do you need someone more laid back like Sven and Hogstedt, or do you think it could have worked with Jimmy had it not been for the shoulder injury in that frustrating part of the summer?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Ultimately it's not always someone that's going to come in and change something drastically. I always thought a different person can come in and give you similar words to what the previous person says, but for some reason it just clicks differently in your mind and you go out and execute differently than before.
You have to realize that when that stalls, you kind of have to get that going again, get the engine going if you just stop and feel like you're at a standstill.
I got everything I could out of Thomas. He came in at the very right time in my career. He got me going and got me motivated.
But I'm excited at the things that Sven can bring to the table as well.

Q. Will you tweak your schedule?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've never really had a full schedule in my career. I think I've been smart about the tournaments I've chosen to play because of my body, and the shoulder specifically.
I don't think it'll be any different than previous years. Hopefully it will be because I'll play here. That's the biggest difference. (Laughter.)

Q. You talked about this a little bit with Chris Clarey a few weeks ago. You and Grigor are traveling together to tournaments. Is it more comfortable being with a tennis person? Do you talk about tennis or do your things and leave it on the court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course we share a lot of the same things just because we have an elephant in the room that's called tennis.
But there are so many other things to life that are besides tennis, and there are a lot more things to discuss than forehands and backhands and strings and racquets, which we share similar ideas and things of.
Yeah, that's been really nice.

Q. Are you in a mentor role?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: A mentor role?

Q. I mean on court.

Q. For him.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: He's not going to like that question.

Q. It's the answer that's important. You've been on the tour a lot longer.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Maybe I've been on the tour for longer, but he's played this sport for a very long time, since he was a little kid. He knows what to do probably better than I do.

Q. Speaking of little kids, coming from Russia and your dad not having much, your memories of those days drive you along throughout your career?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think part of how you grow up and the experiences you had in your childhood certainly develop maybe your mentality and the way you think and the way you observe life and the position where you are today.
I'll always know where I came from and where I started and how I came to this position. It's a very fortunate story. Maybe some people that do the same things don't get the same results.
It's always tough to see, and I consider myself very lucky that I am in this position today. That's why I don't take anything for granted, especially since I had shoulder surgery.
I appreciate everything that I get. Sometimes it's extremely difficult to look at it that way, but you have to in order to keep going.

Q. Any issues for the players going into 2014?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven't spoken to them about that. (Laughter.)

Q. Just about the tour as a whole, any issues?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've been out of it for a while, so I guess I'll get the scoop here maybe. It's my first real press conference in a really long time, so...

Q. Are you planning to did any sightseeing in Brisbane?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, last year I didn't play and I went and saw the koalas. This year I hopefully will play and I won't see the koalas. That's my goal.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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