January 22, 2006
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria, please.
Q. Seemed to be nice and competitive?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely was. I was a little bit sluggish in the beginning. When they close the roof down, the conditions are different. You hear the ball differently. So my rhythm was a little bit off. But I really kept my composure. I felt like even though I got down, you know, those breaks, I still felt like, you know, I was playing pretty well. I felt the ball good. Just making a few little errors. I just adjusted. Yeah, it was good.
Q. You were moving very well tonight, weren't you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I did. I thought she was a great returner and I knew I needed to be ready after my serve, and I was. You know, she hit some balls that, you know, I couldn't really -- couldn't really do too much with. But, you know, just to make my opponent play another ball when she's returning really well is very important.
Q. Your confidence must be pretty high now after coming into the tournament with some doubts.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah, I'm happy. I'm happy that without knowing if I can play here, I'm in the quarterfinals. Yeah, I feel like I'm playing better and better as the matches go on, you know. Who knows what will happen next, when the matches are going to get tougher and tougher. If my level will be able to, I guess, I can step it up a little bit, it will be better. But, yeah, I'm really excited that I can be in the quarters.
Q. You were happy to have the roof closed?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't mind. Roof closed, open, same thing.
Q. Was it difficult to maintain your focus when there was that injury break there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you just have to be focused. I mean, in the past I've had incidents were I just sit down and I just wait for the three minutes and just kind of lose your concentration. It's important, you have to get your mind going because from the first point you've got to be ready. I mean, when you get only, what, about 60 seconds we get a break usually and now you have about four, five minutes, I mean, kind of just sitting there. That's why I just like to move around, hit a few serves or something.
Q. Did you see any indication she was injured? You hit a dropshot on the first shot back. Was that to try her out?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, that was a long point. I just wanted to change it up a little bit. But, I mean, it's hard to concentrate on your opponent. I mean, if you start concentrating on your opponent after she has an injury time-out, I mean, I don't know what's going to happen to your game. I'd rather concentrate on my game, you know.
Q. Do you think the combination of the extreme heat and the timing of this event in the calendar makes this a more physically demanding Grand Slam than the others?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: For sure. Oh, yeah. I mean, today was probably one of the hottest days I've ever experienced in my life. I mean, it was pretty brutal out there. But, you know, I mean, if it's hot for me, it's hot for everyone else. I mean, but days like this, you just have to tough it out. I mean, of course when the roof goes out, it's a lot easier. But when it's 36 degrees out and the roof's open, it's brutal out there.
Q. Do you think the event would be better if it was held a little later in the year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, I think for tennis players it would make our life a lot easier, yeah.
Q. You're talking about your own game. How do you feel you are hitting the ball at this stage of the tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I feel pretty good. I mean, I feel like I'm slowly getting better. I mean, when you come into a Grand Slam, one of the most important tournaments of the year, without having any -- playing any matches, you don't know how you're going to feel and you just hope for the best and you hope that you get better and better as the matches go on. I feel like that's been happening, you know. I feel like I've been improving with every match. Every match has been getting a little bit tougher and different. I've been playing different players. Like I said, in the second week of a Grand Slam, that's when you need to step it up. I'm looking forward to doing that.
Q. Next up is Petrova.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uh-hmm.
Q. Any look-ahead to that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she's a big hitter, big serve. Uhm, played her a few times. Last time was at The Championships. But that wasn't really a match for me. I kind of just -- I was already in the semis, so I just wanted to save my energy. But I played her a lot in the quarters of I think the last Slams so. You know, of course it's going to be tough. Obviously, she must be playing great tennis. But I just need to go out there and, like I said, step it up if I want to be in the semis.
Q. Do you feel that the you are in the condition to win this Grand Slam?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Do I feel like I am in the condition to win a Grand Slam?
Q. To win this Grand Slam.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. What do you think? Do you think so?
Q. I asking you about your --
MARIA SHARAPOVA: -- condition.
Q. Your physical condition.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: What do you think? Yeah (laughing)?
Q. Two days ago you called the trainer in the middle of the match.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, that was for a blister. So that doesn't have to do anything with physical condition. No, I feel like I'm moving -- feel like I'm moving better and better as the week has been going on. I think I can improve a lot, yeah. But I think, like I said in an interview ago, I think when the matches get tougher and when you're pushed more, automatically your -- the level of your game raises. You know, I'm not going to expect myself to play amazing tennis in the first few rounds. I want to save the best for last. But if I slowly improve, then I'm in good hands, and I feel like I am.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.