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March 21, 2008

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Didn't seem like you out there, Maria. She played well, but you looked a little slow, late to the ball, all that.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's pretty much right. You can keep talking. I'm sure it will be correct.

Q. She did a good job dictating with her forehand, she served pretty well. But with you, you never seemed to get any rhythm.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was just playing with a much slower pace than I normally play with. You know, I wasn't -- I wasn't going for my shots as I normally do, and as usual, I wasn't seeing the ball that good. I wasn't taking the short balls and doing anything with them, kind of giving her the opportunity to get back in the points.
There were a couple important points that could have changed the match, and she ended up winning them. I think from that she gained confidence and kind of steamrolled after that in the third set.

Q. Do you have any idea why you weren't doing those things?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm human. You know, I'm allowed to make a few mistakes in my life and in my career. You know, that kind of was the story today.

Q. Is it fair to say you're just a little bit worn out from Australia to now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely, yeah. Definitely. I'm playing a lot of tennis, been flying a lot. It's all been work since I took a week off after the Champs. It's pretty much been nonstop from the season to all the tournaments I've been playing, and Fed Cup as well.
It takes a toll on your body and your mind as well. You feel like you have to go out on the court and, you know, spend a lot of emotion and energy out there, and sometimes you just don't have it for every match.

Q. Is there any obvious opportunity for you to take a break?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely. I plan my schedule, so, yeah, if I feel like I need to, yeah, absolutely. I think I just have to be clever about the decision -- I mean, this year is so young and I still have so many big tournaments ahead of me and so many goals that I want to achieve this year, so, you know, I obviously have to be smart about how I'm going to -- what my schedule is going to be like from today.
Just kind of, you know, analyze it with my team a little bit and, you know, and set my priorities to where they should be.

Q. Have you got any idea when that might be at this stage, or when you might take your next break?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. Maybe next week. I don't know. (laughter.)

Q. Did you think going into the third set, you know, maybe it will come, maybe it will get a little more fiery, the balls will land in, maybe I can kind of fake my way through it? Or did you think, Ah, it's not going to be my day anyway?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: There are a lot of maybes. Not a lot of yeses.
Ummm, like I said, if I could have got my hands on a few of those tougher points and kind of gave her something to think about, then maybe it could have gone my way somehow, but just didn't.

Q. When she's in a good way, she is not the kind of player you want to be playing on a day when you're not at your best, huh?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, she's a very tough, tough player. She's not No. 2 or 3 in the world for nothing, you know. Absolutely not. I give her a lot of respect for her consistency for what she's able to do on the court and how strong she is and how many balls she gets back.
You know, she showed a lot of that today and, you know, this court definitely suits her, her game and her serve as well, because the ball kind of jumps up. And even though I'm 6'2" - wish I was like 6'5" on these courts - it would be a little bit easier. But it still kind of jumps up away from you, and especially today she used that to her advantage.

Q. So what do you do during the next week? Do you put the racquet down and just relax before Miami or...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. (laughter.) I'm going to play it by ear. You know, my body is kind of hurting a little bit. Like I said, I just -- I just want to -- I just want to be smart about the decisions I make, and that's going to be, I don't know, made after a good night's rest, and have a little sitdown conversation.
You know, just see. I mean, you know, at this point of the year I can't really be putting any pressure to myself and saying, You got to go out there and play next week. If I'm not going to be ready, I'm not going to be ready. No one's forcing me to go out there and play.
It just has to be smart decisions just because this year is so young and because I've already played so much. As a 21 year old, I, you know, I've got to kind of stand up and make some mature decisions that will help me throughout my career, you know.

Q. It's sort of unfair in a way, too, that Justine, Serena and Venus get to take this off, right?

Q. Justine, Serena, and Venus don't play here, but Miami is a mandatory. So if you take off Miami and they're playing, is it a big deal for the tour or not?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I actually don't know. You can ask them. I'm sure that there's a pretty big fine, but the body's more important than a fine.

Q. And mentally you're talking about being mentally fatigued. I imagine that's considerable, too.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's not so much mentally as just getting yourself prepared with every single match you play. I mean, to be honest, I haven't taken more than three days off since I started training for Australia. You know, even when you're taking the time off, you know, in the back of your mind you're already -- you know, you are very careful about what you're doing.
In your mind you're already thinking about your train and go your goals and you never really have time to just kind of chill out. You know, that's why it's hard when you have a season so long to kind be ready each and every tournament and feel like it's a big priority. I mean, you're trying, but it's a bit unrealistic.

Q. Has it been kind of catching up with you, or did you just feel it today? In other words, did you feel it in your last match or did you just feel it today? Kind of today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, actually when I got to Doha I wasn't feeling good for about a week. I wasn't, you know, I wasn't sure that's because of the jet lag from all the way from LA to Doha or what it was.
Then I eventually got sick. But I was, you know, I was able to play through. I mean, obviously I was playing, you know, with confidence and I was playing good tennis, and that helped me get through that tournament.
And then, you know, in the back of your mind you know that you have, you know, at that point even before Doha you're supposed to play Dubai and have to play in Indian Wells and Miami, so you're already kind of thinking towards that and you're working towards that.
But as you go on, things change and physically you start feeling it, and, you know, in your mind as well, so...

Q. What do you think Svetlana's chances are of going all the way here the way she's playing now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't like to evaluate next matches, because I don't know if it sounds greedy or selfish, but when I'm out of the tournament, it's sort of done for me. I don't really like to think about what's going to happen next rounds, that's why it's good when you win. You don't have to answer that question right? Or any of the others you guys ask.

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