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January 22, 2016

Maria Sharapova

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


6-1, 6-7, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did that perhaps end up being a little bit more difficult than it needed to be?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I felt like I made it a little bit more difficult than I should have. I definitely had a letup at 2-1, 30-Love. You know, felt like I was hitting the ball well, doing the right things to get in that position, then let up. In a Grand Slam environment against anyone you can't expect to get away with it, and I didn't in the second set.

But overall really happy with how I came out in the third and stepped up, considering it's been, you know, many weeks since I've been in that position. So I was happy with the way I finished.

I think I can take a lot of good things from that.

Q. 600 career wins. Is that a difficult number to get your head around?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not very difficult (smiling). I've faced much more difficult things. But I think it's a proud number. I've played for many years. I don't think about those numbers until I finish the match and someone does mention it. I think it's a good fact that I've been able to win that many matches.

But overall it's not constantly on my mind, how many matches I've won in my career.

Q. You must remember your first win, though. Got to remember that. A little younger.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Was it in Palm Springs?

Q. Yeah, a long time ago.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well (laughter). I'm going to pretend like I'm smarter than that. Was it against Samantha ^ Reeves? I remember that match because I got smoked by Monica after that. It's a great memory.

Q. Do you ever think to yourself, My goodness, I've been doing this for a very long time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, I have. I have been doing it for a long time. That's a fact. But there's nothing else that I'd rather do right now than keep doing that. I think if I think about it like that, like, Oh, I've been around the block, I've been to all these tournaments so many times, that would seem quite heavy, not really motivate me much.

You always have to find new inspirations and new goals, find things that really get you going in the morning.

Q. Through to the second week. Can you just assess the first week, in general? What did you think of it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's Friday. I mean, I don't really categorize each week. I just go by matches. You know, as I assess this match, I thought I did a good job of just doing the right things in the first two matches. And today, even though I definitely let up in some moments in the second set, I thought I had a really good attitude in the third set. That's something I can take away. Although I didn't play many matches, if I keep having that attitude, I'm sure I'll get the chances and opportunities.

Q. Belinda Bencic next. What are your thoughts?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, an impressive player. A newer generation that's already established herself in the past season, beaten a lot of top players. It's a tough fourth round. We haven't played against each other before, but I'm sure we'll be playing many times. It's great that we can start here.

Q. Kind of a tough question. 600 matches. If you could change one or two, which would it be?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't like to change things. I think every match, every situation happens for a reason. It's all part of everyone's life and journey. I never think about changing things.

Q. How do you work to find a balance in your career, listening to people in your team and in your personal life, that influence you or guide you as you go about this journey?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, well (laughter). Yeah, well, gosh, I've had many different people in my life. Ultimately my parents are kind of the two, you know, rocks that have really guided me in so many incredible directions.

You know, my father paved this career for me that I just keep following. You know, he just really opened the door to my dream. I'm just kind of living it. My mother opened up the world to me culturally, educationally. So I got very different things from both of them.

And the people that have come and gone in my life at different times, I've learned a lot. I've had many different teams and coaches that have contributed a lot to my success.

Now I feel like I have a team that, you know, we're all very close to each other, get along. We have a leader, but then everyone else does extremely well to contribute to everything that needs to be done. So, yeah.

Q. You have a lot of off-court pursuits, too. How do you keep that in balance with your tennis, make sure that priorities are in the right place?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think that just comes personally. I don't think anyone needs to tell me what's more important to me. I think everybody sees it and feels it. I don't think I would have the team around me if they didn't see that from me because they know I could be doing so many other things, and they could be, as well.

I don't think it's fair for me to have this team around me that do so much for you on a daily basis to help you win championships and not be committed to what you're doing. I think that would be really wrong from my end.

Q. Do you think it's easy for all players to get that balance right?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think it's easy, no. I think it's something that you work on, that you develop with time. I mean, I think after I won Wimbledon, I had many opportunities, many invitations. I was never very comfortable with it in the beginning. I had to learn what I was comfortable with and what I wanted to be part of or participate in, or the people I wanted to work with, and not.

But it all came from me. You know, it didn't come from anyone else. Even though I got support and guidance and a person that could say no when it wasn't my place to say no, yeah.

Q. Given how long you have been on the tour, how do you keep yourself fresh and inspired every day?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, no, I really love what I do. Although I'd love to sit on the beach and read a book and drink margaritas, after a few days I get bored. I know, especially when I miss a couple of weeks, I'm away with injury, I get back on the court, it's funny, those first few moments where you feel a bit rusty, but the feeling of hitting the ball, even though you're not playing points, when that comes back to me, I'm like, This is what I love to do. There's no better feeling, so...

Q. You run a company where flavors are a big deal. You gave a big shout out to Melbourne coffee. Talk about coffee houses around the world.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I'm a big foody. I love to eat. I love to explore new restaurants. The food culture has always been an interest of mine. That's something whenever I go to a new city I like to kind of experience different foods, find different cafes.

The cafes here and coffee places are really up to par, they're really good.

Q. Talking about the food, did you know Lauren Davis was eating peanut butter during a break?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't. I didn't have time to check (smiling).

Q. Have you ever noticed weird stuff that your opponents were doing during your match before?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I actually rarely look at what my opponents are doing.

Q. When you were young, when you were one of the younger ones on the tour, did you feel young or you had such a journey, did it make you feel like an old soul? Do you only in a way feel your youth from that period in retrospect when you see these young kids coming up and see yourself in them?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think this is the time where you say age is just a number (laughter).

Yeah, well, I mean, I guess you feel young when you're coming up on the tour, you're playing your first Grand Slams, you're playing your first big tournaments. You get through rounds that people don't expect you to, then you end up winning a Grand Slam at a young age, and then you follow it up with another one.

I don't know. I just know that when I was probably 18, 19 years old, I mean, first of all, I never thought that I'd miss a year when I'm 21 and thought that I was at the peak of my career, thought I was playing some of my best tennis, so that was kind of a big hurdle, a big question mark, I never thought that I'd be playing at this age, honestly.

I was born, my mother was very young. I thought I would, I mean, not have kids at 20, but I would have children at this point. When you're younger, that's what I envisioned because that's what my family had. You always look to family traditions. At 28 years old, I'm healthy and look forward to playing for many years.

Age is a relative number. It's something that, of course, at one point you do think, Oh, what will happen after this career? But, yeah, that's not something I think about right now.

Q. How do you decide what to eat?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No laundry questions? You covered that. Thanks for making that the headline on USA Today. Clearly there were no greater topics at that time.

Q. Eating on court, what is that decision process like?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's pretty basic. I have like an energy bar and I have a gel that I take maybe every 20 to 30 minutes on court, then a drink, like a sports drink. Kept it pretty much the same throughout my career.

Q. Bananas?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't do bananas anymore. Why is that funny?

Q. There's a video of Roger Federer reacting to the tiebreak in this match today. He was getting really animated.

Q. Roger Federer.

Q. There's a video of Roger Federer in the gym before your match, reacting to your match, the fact that it went to three sets. I wonder what it's like when you're waiting for matches and the match goes on for longer, what is the overriding feeling? Are you cursing the players?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I'm usually pretty relaxed about it. I don't watch too much right before I go on because I'm usually warming up, or my coach usually tells me the score. Then if it ends up going an extra set... But there's been many times in my career where I've had to start and stop the warmup process. That's the unique thing about tennis, most of the time you never have a set schedule, set time you play. Those adjustments are really important.

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