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May 31, 2018

Maria Sharapova

Paris, France


7-5, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Obviously the first set was very tough, and a lot of back and forth especially in her service games, which turned out to be quite long. Where do you feel you made the biggest improvement from the first to the second set?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I guess I kept the lead throughout the second set, unlike in the first. And I guess, you know, in terms of there were definitely ups and downs and maybe that's a result of not knowing each other's games very well and playing on a little bit of a different court that I felt maybe played a little bit differently than Suzanne Lenglen.

And that's somewhat expected in terms of, you know, every event that you play at that's a clay event. You just kind of feel a different rhythm on a different court. It took a little bit of time for me to adjust to that, more so today than maybe other days.

But overall, I mean, in the moments when I needed to come through, I did. Yeah.

Q. About that court, do you like it, Court No. 1? Because I think they're going to take it out. Don't you think it suits your game hitting, or you prefer more meters around the court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I quite like that court. I like the intimate atmosphere of the court. I mean, sometimes you have a lot of room on the court and visually from a perception point of view it makes you back up a little bit, just visually, but I think I still did that today even though it is more intimate, which I shouldn't have done.

But I do love the court. I have always enjoyed playing there. It's been a few years since I have been on it. I like it. I like the feeling on it.

Q. What's your feeling before returning on the center court for the next round? You have great emotion on the Philippe Chatrier?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Do you know the schedule?

Q. Could be very possible to be on center court.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. Yesterday I got the schedule at 7:30 p.m., so if you know the schedule today for Saturday, please let me know (smiling).

Q. Because it's Pliskova and it's possible to be on center court. If you are on center court, what will be your emotions or...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, there is also Sharapova. So...

Well, I would love to be there again, of course. And, yeah, I think from a draw perspective, it's an anticipated seeding match of, you know, if those two seeds kind of went through, it's a match that maybe people anticipated. And it's been a while since I played Pliskova. It will be our first meeting on clay.

As you said, it's been a few years since I have been back on the court; so if I do have a chance to play on it I will welcome it with open arms, and if it's another court then it will be great.

Q. Regarding the women's draw this year here at Roland Garros, do you feel like it's a very open draw and there are a number of players that have a shot at the title? Or, I mean, how is your perspective from the inside? From the outside, that's how it feels.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I guess so. You know, it's tough to judge a draw, and you could always say it's bottom-heavy or top-half-heavy. But at the end of the day, that's not really, like when it's all said and done, and the names are on the trophies, nobody is looking back in history and thinking whose chances were better than others. It's not what really matter.

I think that's more of a job of a media point of view than it is from a players' point of view, because we still have to take care of business no matter who we face.

Q. In your 10, 12 months back, do you see any significant difference in the game and the way it's being played? Do you think it's faster? Do you think players are taking more chances now? Especially in your match today against Vekic, it appeared like that.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think maybe you see it from the younger generation. You know, there is no holding back. I think I have spoken about the evolvement of the game throughout my last 12 months I have been back on the tour.

From the perspective of coming in a tournament and just thinking that you might get a few rounds in to warm up is no longer the case. I think that speaks for itself in terms of the quality of players.

I don't think -- I mean, evidently there is not as much consistency in the top 10 as there has been maybe years ago. That's no secret, either.

But again, it's tough to focus on all the surrounding things. You know, you ask me about the draw, you ask me about other players. You know, my goal is very single-handedly to kind of take care of my own side and my own business. And as much as I would love to explore, you know, what's going on with the other players or how they're playing, yeah, of course they are aggressive. They have to be. They have to take chances against players that have been on the tour for many years.

I have experience behind my back, and I think it's a match that she's looked forward to for many years, and she's going to come out and play great tennis. And I expect that.

Q. Specifically with Pliskova, what do you expect in that matchup? She's led the tour in aces for many years in a row now. What do you think will be the keys to having a chance of winning that one?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, obviously creating looks on second balls after the return and after the serve, you know, getting in position, there is a lot of hard hitting. I don't expect, you know, extremely long rallies against an opponent like that. But sometimes it's not what it takes to win a match, and I think you have to kind of take care of your service games, and I have to serve better than I have been and take care of the return.

But that side of the game, I feel, has improved in the last few months and I like the challenge of coming up against a really good server.

Q. If you compare the form you're in to Stuttgart, Madrid, Rome, are you satisfied going into that third round, the road you have been doing? Do you feel you have everything under control right now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I never use the words "under control," I think, no matter how well or not well I have played.

You know, I don't think there is ever, like, a perfect way to go into a match. I think you always have to feel that you're improving and there are things that you're working on, because that will always make you better. There are a lot of things I feel I could have done better since the last two matches and I hope I will have to. I will have to produce that type of level against someone like Pliskova.

Q. During the match, you changed racquet. You could play with a left hand?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I grew up, like, naturally left-handed, so I do a lot of things with my left hand, and I played tennis with my left hand for some time, so I sometimes do it on the run. So it's called the desperate shot (smiling).

Q. Some people say that to go to play tennis is to go to the office. Office, working, working. I'd like to know if you still have fun, how much fun, more fun than five years ago or less fun? Do you enjoy more, just an obsession to win or you go and whatever happens happens?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't think it's like any other office, and that's very clear. But there is definitely a lot of routines to it, and it's not an office because it's a very untraditional schedule, and there is no -- you don't have, you know, normal holidays like in a normal office job. There are a lot of sacrifices.

You don't have a lot of things that you can schedule or plan. That's maybe the toughest thing as you grow older and you've been around the block a few times, and, you know, that aspect of wanting a little bit more consistency and being there for, like, people in your life, that sometimes you just can't be there because of your profession, because you have Grand Slams that you won't be able to skip.

But it's a very special career, and I think when -- you know, there is a lot of repetition, but there is also a lot of amazing moments, walking through tunnels of Grand Slams and the camera is in front of you, there is a reason they're there, the anticipation.

I love those feelings. I love finding a way to win. I don't think there is really anything that sitting in an office can really, like, replicate, and it's in the moment, which is very different.

Q. The French Open's named after Roland Garros. Do you know much about the man?

Q. Do you know who he was?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I read up on it, like, many, many years ago, but I'm not -- maybe you could tell me more.

Q. He was a fighter pilot.

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