April 2, 2011
V. AZARENKA/M. Sharapova
6 1, 6 4
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Obviously late start, but seemed like you really picked up the game in the second set. Victoria as well stayed tough, didn't she?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's a little bit too late to pick up the pace when you're down a set and 4 0. Yeah, I wish I picked it up earlier obviously. Against a player like her you have to have that level from the beginning or else she's going to go with it and only get better. She'll gain more confidence.
Yeah, she did many things better than I did today. She was the aggressive one. She returned better and did a lot of things better than I did.
Q. You're only a couple years older, and yet it seems like there are some similarities to the point where she might have watched you modelled some stuff on you. Do you sense that you're playing someone similar to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She well, has an aggressive game. She goes for her groundstrokes. Yeah, there are certainly similarities. I don't know if that's because she watched me or that's just the way her game is.
Q. You only managed to hold your serve once today. Was there any particular problem, or just it was an off day?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, it was on off day on many parts of the game. I mean, there were many games when I was up in the game, 30 Love, 40 15, 40 Love, and didn't hold serve. There were many games it was 30 All on her serve and I missed a return on, and that just takes away all the pressure from her. It gives her all the confidence in the world.
Q. At the beginning of this tournament you said about your expectation for the French Open.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That I have expectations? What do you mean?
Q. That you want to do well at Roland Garros.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right.
Q. Can you explain a little bit more?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, you know, it's a really exciting part of the year that's coming up. I love the summer. I love starting on the clay. I feel like I learn a tremendous amount on it, and the game is long and interesting and teaches you a lot.
You know, the French is obviously the Grand Slam that I haven't won, so I would love to compete there and do really well. I mean, that's a goal of mine, no doubt about it.
Yeah, and then little by little get on the grass.
Q. You've gotten so much traction with your service return in some of these matches, yet today your serve wasn't working.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not at all.
Q. How did you feel about that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You nailed it. I didn't have much traction on it. I don't know what that term means. You're talking about the return. But, yeah, I was just making too many errors.
Like you said, I mean, when you have 15 30, 30 All, it's just I mean, you got to go for it, but you got to make your opponent play. Just gives her all the confidence in the world.
Q. Semifinals Indian Wells, final here, back in the top 10. Do you still need that one big win to get your confidence so you can feel like, Okay, I can win slam again, or you feel like you're there already?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Look, no matter if you win or lose, you always want to build your game and be better. That's the way I look at it. I never want to feel satisfied. I don't think that's the right mentality to have.
I'm very, very happy that I've achieved this much in the last three, four weeks. If you saw me, I don't know, ten weeks ago when I came back from Paris after pulling out then, I was in no shape or form to even play a tournament.
So it's really amazing that I even achieved that. Like I said, I came into Indian Wells without a lot of expectations. I was sick for almost three weeks, and I got myself back in it.
You know, yeah, I'm proud of that. Definitely.
Q. Have you made any changes in your equipment, particularly your strings because of your shoulder?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, well, I changed my racquet in November. I started playing with a Head, but not because of the shoulder.
And the string, I've changed my string a lot of times. Also depends on the weather. Sometimes when you go on clay maybe you feel like you need a little more pop. It changes.
Q. Could you repeat what went through your mind when Vika hit those two nets in a row at 3 Love?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Sometimes that's the way it goes. I mean, I could have been up and that could have happened. I was obviously down and that happened, so it doesn't really help.
It's just the situation that you're in. What can you do about it? It's a sport. There's a net.
Q. Can you elaborate just a little bit more on the illness? What was wrong in those couple three weeks before Indian Wells?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just got really sick. I had the flu. It was pretty bad. I got it in Moscow and then I went to Paris with it and then stayed there and then flew home and got an ear infection and all those things.
So it was a normal flu, but not that normal.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, just a long recovery process. I'm just saying I was not in a state like first day I went on the court, my coach knows it was just laughable. I just lost weight and I was so out of it. (Laughing.)
Q. How many practice days did you miss?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Like almost three weeks, two and a half weeks. Like I was saying, I just didn't really have many expectations going into Indian Wells I will.
But I did practice really hard going into these two tournaments once I got my energy back. I played some matches, hit a lot with Tommy Haas actually, so that was really fun.
Yeah, I had some good practices.
Q. At the end of the first set you had a meeting with your coach. What do you and your coach talk about?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, yeah, he told me that I have to be the one that has to be aggressive from the first ball. When she has the opportunities to hit the first ball, that's when she steps in and is at her best and she really dictates play.
Yeah, that's pretty much it.
Q. So much was made of your shrieking early in your career. Did you feel like you met your match today on the court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I don't really think about it when I play.
Q. Were you not aware of what's going on at the other end that way?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. It's about thinking what have to do.
Q. What does it mean to you to be back in the top 10?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it means that I'm winning matches and winning more of them. It's been a long road to get here. It's not over yet, so, yeah, just keep going.
Q. Do you feel like the women's game is wide open with the Williamses gone, Justine quit, Kim's back and forth and Caroline's never won slam. Do you feel like it's there to be had?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You can't think like that. You have to have your own mindset. If you think you have a chance because someone's not playing, that's a weak mentality to have. I'm a competitor. I like playing against the best. I love playing against champions. It's what makes it fun.
I mean, it's what the game is all about.