Mar 14th, 2011, 01:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 2
Indian Wells 2nd Round Interview
Q. Nice start to the tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.
Q. Long, hard-fought match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I haven't played in a long time, and the first set, you know, I felt that a little bit at certain points in the beginning. I was almost a little confused whether I should, you know, be more patient or go for it a little bit more.
As I started playing more, I started getting a better feel for her game and for the way I was playing.
You know, I came back in that first set and did a good job of, you know, being really aggressive towards the end of it.
In the second set, you know, I had my chances to win the match. You know, maybe played a little bit too risky, went for a little bit more. She played really great defensively throughout the whole match and always made me hit another ball.
I stepped it up in the third. So it was a long match and many games, but I think it was a good match for me.
Q. So third set you pretty much felt like you had a good feel for the ball and what you had to do to close it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I started to. After I have been on the court for two hours you get a pretty good feel for what your opponent is doing and her strengths. I thought she played really smart. She had a game plan in mind.
Yeah, probably like five years ago if I played against someone like that I would run myself to the ground, but I wouldn't be so patient.
But you have to -- it's an interesting balance between being patient but also playing your game and being aggressive and trying to finish the points closer to the net.
Q. Do you feel like you worked out some rust? You haven't played for a while. Do you feel like you worked out a lot of rust?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the last few weeks I was just really eager to play. I had a long offseason, played a couple of tournaments, and really in Australia was my last one. It's been a while, and it was unfortunate that I couldn't play the, you know, two or three, you know, starting in Paris.
I was there, but, yeah, got sick and I had to fly home. That took a lot out of me, and, yeah, it's just the way it goes.
But like I said, you have to get the rust out whether it's in a long match or a fast one, yeah.
Q. What's your feeling in this stage of your career? Does it feel like work and a chore in any way, or is there a real joy to it and a freshness still? How would you describe your feelings towards the game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it's pretty tough to go on a tennis court thinking that it's a chore. It's pretty difficult on its own, because you obviously have to work on a lot of things in your game, and, you know, go through other things, you know, off the court.
You know, like I've said, I have a new coach and new racquet. So you're working on those things, and you're trying to build. Every day you go on the court, it's been really -- you know, I like the work ethic that Thomas has brought on the court. It's worked a lot on many different areas of my game, and it's a whole different ball game when you go into a match.
That's what I've lacked for many months now, and I just really hope that I can, you know, play a lot of matches.
Q. I know you developed a lot of patience after the shoulder surgery, because you had to, being out. But when you got sick at Fed Cup and you got back on the plane and you realized you couldn't play Paris, Dubai, or Doha, were you saying, Oh, my God, I can't believe I have to go through this again?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, that was a bummer, but I was -- I just knew it was gonna happen, because when you come into a country and 50% of the people are sick in the city and they're telling you not to use public transport or go anywhere and you're playing in a stadium, you know, with thousands of people, I mean, and you're sitting there for seven hours the next day, I mean, there's a really good chance you're going to get something.
I just got it pretty bad. Yeah, I was out for a couple of weeks.
Q. One of the great things about tennis is we have all these cycles. We always come back here or Paris or London. But earlier this week you went up to Eugene. Can you describe what it's like, what it was like up there to play in front of a fresh crowd?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, so energetic, and it just felt alive. It started from the introductions even. I don't know if you saw any of it, but we were introduced onto the court from walking down stairs. And with the whole inside being dark and only you're walking alone down the stairs during the introduction, you feel like a rock star.
You know, I mean, I told Victoria I felt like the opening act to U2 a little bit playing before Roger and Rafa. I was like the Blackeyed Peas. (Laughing.) It was really fun.
I enjoyed the whole experience, and I have been with Nike for so many years. I feel like I have been really a part of the family from being a young girl when they didn't make clothes in my size and they never had a junior line and I always felt like I had to wear things that were twice as big and rolling up my skirts.
But just being there and seeing Phil and knowing that it was something very important for his son and knowing how involved he is in the whole university in sports. There are not many people so involved.
Q. It began with a waffle iron making shoes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Incredible.
Q. What kind of guy is he?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: He's really laid back. We were flying back, and, you know, Max and I, my agent, and were talking about how incredible. You know, this guy started from something so small and has developed something so incredible. And to be honest, I don't think he knows what a genius he is.
I think that's the best part about it, is he really goes about his life. He was just -- he's really just thankful and happy we were there. He enjoyed it, seemed like. He was laughing and he had his family there, so...
Q. Do you have to show yourself now, let's say the next couple of months, I'm not going to go beyond the draw or anything like that, that, Yes, I put in the work, have a new racquet, a new coach, I can still produce good results and really good tennis?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I know I can produce good results. I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be out on the court. I wouldn't be practicing. I wouldn't be trying.
But I'm pretty realistic in terms of knowing that I'm not just going to come out of nowhere and all of a sudden, you know, feel like everything is well and I'm winning matches easily. I'm not gonna have any hiccups in the matches and not go through tough opponents.
It's not real, and I know that I'll have to face -- have to lose a few matches in order to get back. The only thing I really want is that consistency, the consistency of being healthy, but also being able to, you know, to play a lot.
You know, I really miss that. I miss competing. You know, I miss matches, yeah.
Q. There is this curious oddity about WTA players and NBA basketball players relating to New Jersey. Have you met the owner of the Nets?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have not, no.
Q. You're engaged right now. How are you balancing tennis with the giddiness of being a girl and being happy and in love?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just like you said, it's a balance. It's an exciting part of my life, because I'm young and my fiancée is still young, and I feel like we have many years ahead of us in our careers. You know, him in basketball probably more than I have in tennis. He kind of scarce me. He just loves the sport so much. He just never wants to stop. He's actually scaring me a bit.
Yeah, it's wonderful to know that we have each other, you know, at the end of the day whether we're traveling. It's tough to be apart, there's no doubt, in so many different ways.
But, yeah, when his season is over he'll support me, and I try to come over there whenever I can and allows. We try to make time. Yeah, we have a lot of years to spend time, quality time together. We're in the same city for more than a week.
Q. If I could ask, I mean, you've seen a lot of hoops by now. How do you compare the athleticism...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I know all about the broadband league pass. If you want the user name, password, I got it all. I have you connected from Hong Kong, from the U.S., anywhere.
Q. But how do you compare the athleticism of basketball, which is incredible, with our sport, which is also incredible? Can you compare it in any way, the two different sports?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's a little different in terms of that tennis is individual and it's a team sport. I feel it a little different when I actually play Fed Cup in a way.
But it's different where if you're not having that feeling, you might be having the best night of your life, but you end up losing and you have really mixed emotions that you're not sure, you know, how to feel. You played well but your team lost. Or the other way around. Your team wins and you didn't have a great game.
But it's an interesting, you know, obviously balance. I have been able to, you know, be emotional about it and learn a lot about it, and it's fun.
Q. How tough is the trade when you heard about it other than...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was so happy.
Q. Because I know it's a very good opportunity for him to play and getting a lot of minutes, but still he was based in LA and now he's in New Jersey.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: To be honest, maybe we have skipped a few days where we could have seen each other, but it's so much more worth it that he's playing and that the whole organization has been great to him.
He loves all the teammates he plays with. Yeah, he's a happy kid. It's nice to see. No matter how they're doing, how they're playing, it seems like they're sticking together and trying to work things out and win games and play as a team.
But yeah, I was really happy because, you know, he also, deep down inside, wanted that as well. He wanted to have the opportunity to play a lot, and yeah.
Mar 15th, 2011, 03:04 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 2
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Maria Sharapova can't help but follow Japan's nuclear crisis as it unfolds 25 years after the 1986 blast in Chernobyl.
The three-time major champion and native of Russia wore a T-shirt noting the anniversary of the explosion to her post-match news conference Monday at the BNP Paribas Open.
"It's crazy and something that you can't even prepare for," Sharapova said about the Japanese crisis. "It happens, and you see the coverage on it and the videos and it's really incredible that something like that can even happen in the world."
A second hydrogen explosion in three days rocked a Japanese nuclear reactor Monday as authorities worked to avert any catastrophic release of radiation in the tsunami zone. The trouble began after last week's quake and tsunami knocked out power, crippling the cooling systems needed to keep nuclear fuel from going into full meltdown even weeks after a reactor shuts down.
International scientists said there are serious dangers but not at the level of the 1986 blast in Chernobyl.
Sharapova's mother, Yelena, was pregnant with her only child when the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine exploded and spewed radioactive clouds over the western Soviet Union and northern Europe.
Sharapova's father, Yuri, and her mother fled the city of Gomel in Belarus -- about 80 miles north of Chernobyl -- shortly before she was born in Nyagan, Siberia. Gomel was one of the areas most affected by radiation.
Sharapova has worked as a United Nations goodwill ambassador to draw attention to the Chernobyl region.
"Even though something like that happened such a long time ago, it still causes many people on a daily basis, especially kids that were born and now are having kids, you find that they have something in their body that's not allowing them to live a normal life from the pollution," she said.
Seeing the Japanese footage has brought it all back for Sharapova even as she tries to raise her ranking after being sidelined by injuries the last few years.
"It opens your eyes, and obviously puts a lot of perspective in your life," she said about Japan.
"It's a country where I have very great memories from. I started playing there when I was very young, and I always loved my experiences there. So to see it going on there to its culture and the people, it's really sad."
anyone has pictures of the conference?
Mar 15th, 2011, 03:05 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 2
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What's the T-shirt?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's the 25th year of Chernobyl.
Q. Seems pretty appropriate the way things happened.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Crazy, right? Can you believe one disaster 25 years ago? Now another? I heard there's a big cloud coming towards the West Coast.
Q. They think it will dissipate...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: So the tournament goes on (Laughter.)
Q. We're here talking about backhands down the line and so forth, but what are your thoughts about the situation over there? It's in an area of obvious great interest to you.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it is. And certainly -- are you talking about Japan?
Q. Yeah, and just the nuclear...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, in terms of what's going on over there, it's crazy and something that, you know, you can't even prepare for. It happens, and you see the coverage on it and the videos, and it's really incredible that something like that can even happen in the world.
It opens your eyes, and obviously puts a lot of perspective in your life. It's a country where I have very great memories from. I started playing there when I was very young, and I always loved my experiences there. So to see it going on there to its culture and the people, it's really sad.
Q. You've been so impacted in your own life by Chernobyl and done a lot of wonderful work around that.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.
Q. Are you a little cautionary about nuclear...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think, you know, in the beginning my job was raising awareness to the world really and basically getting the message across that even though something like that happened such a long time ago, it still causes many people on a daily basis, especially families that were -- you know, kids that were born and now are having kids, you know, you also find that they have something in their body that's not allowing them to live a normal life from the pollution.
I mean, some of the coverage they shot when they were doing the documentary and in the radiation area, because I have never actually been around the area. ESPN covered it. I wanted to get all the coverage and all the videos around it, because it's really unbelievable what you see. This big huge area, no one is -- it's completely deserted. No one is around it.
Everyone has complete completely fled. They took their passports and that's all. That was their only belonging that they really wanted. Yeah.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it really is.
Q. Solid outing today.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Well, it started slow. I started like I didn't have my cup of coffee or something, didn't have my peeps around. So that was disappointing.
I got it together. It was a very different opponent to someone I played in the first round who maybe hit a lot of balls. This is someone who can hit a winner from any part of the court really, and you just have to be ready and try to make her hit another shot.
When she's on, she can be one of the toughest players to play against. You know, she had a lot of errors today. But, yeah, overall it was solid. I had good return games, I returned a lot better, and served a lot better in the second set.
Q. How important is it to you right now to put yourself in a position to win a tournament like this?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course it's important. It's great. It's more important that I'm playing matches and that I'm here and competing.
Q. Can you just talk about the serve? You've changed your stance, is that correct, a bit?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, a little bit.
Q. Why did institute that, and what are you trying to do with that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, just trying to find just a little bit more of a comfortable stance so I can create a little bit of more -- feel the spin just a little bit more from the first serve to the second serve and have a little bit more options.
Q. Do you feel like it helps the kick serve?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I think when I used to stand -- I mean, I've had so many different motions, but most of my motions I used to stand pretty far over, kind of parallel to the baseline.
I don't know if that's the best thing for the shoulder, because you always have to work a little bit more.
So, yeah, I just started staying a little straighter, but I think pretty much it's the same except the stance.
Q. Is that a function of the racquet change or coaching advice?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, nothing with the racquet at all. Just trying to find, you know, the best kind of stance and the motion that can help me, you know, feel the spins a little bit more.
Q. Obviously you're a basketball fan. Can you comment on or talk about the basketball tournament, college basketball tournament? Were you paying any attention? Any thoughts on the Bruins or the Trojans, anything along those line, or are you just a pro fan?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You just spoke a foreign language to me. I can speak NBA; I can't speak anything else. No, actually I'm not following that at all. I'm sorry. I'm not very good with -- it's terrible. I've lived here for so long, but I don't really follow too many college sports.
Maybe if I participated in one and had that whole college experience I think I'd be more involved. I felt it a little bit when we were in Oregon playing in the Nike exhibition, because you had that university crowd that was just incredible.
Q. Go Ducks.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Exactly. I was like getting used to the whole sign thing. (Laughing.) God forbid that I said something that was against their team.
But, yeah, no, they're so into it. I think that's great to have so many people enjoy sport in a country, and it's really big here.
Q. Care to give us your NBA predictions then?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I'm not a predictor, not publicly.
Q. You have had a lot of ups and downs and really good wins and some disappointments. Is it more strategic things you've had to learn over the years or more stroke changes? Could you tell me a little bit about what you have had to focus on over these last two or three years?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, not so much technical. I mean, I haven't changed my strokes dramatically. I haven't done, you know, too much. I had to change my serve a little bit when I came back after not playing for a while in the beginning, having a little bit of a shorter motion.
Yeah, I think it's a process. You learn. When you're out for a while, you get back into it. I always feel like every day that you miss practice you almost get worse a little bit, because you feel like everyone's practicing, everyone's getting better, and you're not out there trying to get better.
So when I went on the court, you know, you learn that you just try to work as fast as possible to get on the court. And when you're actually playing matches, you learn a lot by being in those situations.
Also a lot of it is, you know, mentally getting used to the situations and almost being like on autopilot, where when you're playing so many tournaments, playing a lot of matches, a lot of things come naturally to you. You know, those feelings, and, you know, not worrying about having to hit certain shots or it just comes kind of fluid.
It's a tough thing to explain, but it's one of those things that just come automatically. When you're not competing, when you're practicing or not even practicing, you lose that touch and that feel. So it takes a while. You know, losing early certainly doesn't help because you find yourself obviously back on the practice court and practicing, and then you go into a match. That's why I always say how important it is to play a lot of matches.
Q. Just to follow up on the Nike thing, they made a lot of special designs, Hepburn, red rhinestone. If you had to pick one that is still your favorite outfit, which would that be?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That I've worn?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've had a few favorites. But probably the night dress at the US Open.
Q. The black one?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. The lady that designed it was a good friend of mine, and that was the first dress that she had actually helped design in terms of within Nike and out of like a contest of a few people. So it was kind of interesting how it all worked out. You know, she helped design it and then I wore it and then I ended up winning in it. So, yeah, that was special.
Q. If I could just ask, it was mentioned about the racquet change. Sometimes it can be a pretty dicey thing. You haven't had that many tournaments, I don't think.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not too many.
Q. Could you talk about the change, how that's affected your game or your stroke?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. It hasn't affected too much. But when I had a lot of time to think about what maybe I needed help in and what areas of my game, I really felt like a racquet could help me.
I tried a few different frames in I think it was in November. And, yeah, Head was experimenting with a few racquets at that time and they were coming out with a new collection. When I picked it up, I loved it. One of the things I really liked about it was when I was maybe on the stretch I didn't feel like I had to work as hard as maybe before that. It really helped me on the run and on the defense.
But it also, when I felt like I had a good ball to hit it, I didn't feel like it was flying on me a little bit, which sometimes -- because sometimes I like to be aggressive, and sometimes you feel that with little changes it can hinder that and the balls fly a little bit more with a more powerful racquet.
So I had that really good balance of really helping me on the defense and adding a little bit more power, but also being really stable when I had a good ball to hit.
Q. Dinara said after she got back from the Australian Open she called her mom told her she was going to retire because she was so frustrated with just trying to come back from the back injury and all that goes into that. Can you just talk about your own experiences of, you know, being down at that level and then just trying to scrape through it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. You know, as athletes, we have many ups and downs in our careers. We have moments where we either come back from injury or we have had tough losses where we feel like our game isn't there, and we've had some changes in our careers, whether it's coaches, whether it's other things. Obviously everyone goes through different things.
I mean, our sport is not always -- you're never always on a high level. You have to go through these patches of being frustrated and down and losing matches and going through injuries and injuries that, you know, sometimes force you to be out of the game for a while.
You just have to be really -- you know, thankfully she has a great team around her, you know. You can say she's really lucky that she can call up her mom and ask her for her voice. I think that's really important, because my parents have always been there for me. Have always encouraged me to -- they've always said to be true to who I am.
At the end of the day, when I was out for a long period of time, when you have so many questions going around whether, you know, whether it's something that -- it's obviously a long process to get back. Is it something that you want? Is it something that's worth it, all the hard work and the days and the mornings?
And you know what? It is, because you do it from such a young age and you compete for so long that it's such a bore when you don't do it anymore. It really is.
As much as we hate the grind of every day getting up in the morning and practicing for hours on end, I mean, there are a few that might love it, but I wouldn't say that, you know, it's a true, true passion of mine.
I love playing matches and points more than anything, but, yeah, it's tough. But I think every athlete goes through it.
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