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March 14, 2010

Maria Sharapova


J. ZHENG/M. Sharapova
6-2, 2-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You're up a break at 3-2 and then you got treated for what on your arm? What happened there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: My elbow. I just felt like I couldn't really extend it all the way. It was a little stuck. So it was going on for a while, but I thought it would be best to call the trainer.
She said -- I actually didn't want to take a timeout then, but she said if I didn't do it then I couldn't do it later. I had to take a three-minute timeout.

Q. Was there a lot of pain there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, this week -- ever since I got here, I'm not sure if it's the balls or maybe the air and the tension is a little bit tighter. I'm not really sure.
But I guess she said that more than average have been complaining about arms, so I don't know.

Q. Is that a new injury or something you've felt in the past many times?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I felt so many things in my career. (laughter.)
No, I felt it before. Actually felt it a little bit at the Open last year, the US Open.

Q. How much did it affect you in those last few games? Did that make a difference at the end?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not in my game, but on my serve I couldn't really -- it was really blocked extending it. So, I mean, I guess it did, yeah.

Q. You returned well...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not when I needed to.

Q. You were having a heck of a time holding. Was that...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, you know, I returned good. You know, I'd have periods of good games, and then the problem is trying to keep them all together and not being so up and down.
Obviously trying to put, you know, things together and, you know, if you break, hold, then great; if you don't, you've got to do the same thing that you did when you broke her and not make stupid errors.
It was just very inconsistent. I mean, that's pretty much the bottom line.

Q. She put a lot of balls in play, no?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She's like a ball machine. She hits a lot of balls back, hits them hard and deep. I mean, I'd say I should have done a much better job on her serve, because her serve is definitely one of her weaker parts of the game, but...

Q. You sound a little down. Are you optimistic about your game right now or worried about it or worried about your arm?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, it's has anyone been, you know, sounding great 30 minutes after they lost a match? You've been in many press conferences before.
So, you know, it's obviously not easy to lose. You know, we're all competitors and we want to win matches. So, yeah, it's disappointing.

Q. Of the top players, who would you say is the most consistent, the steadiest?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Probably Serena.

Q. What is it going to take for you now to get back up on top again since you've been there, you've enjoyed it, and you know what it takes mentally? What's it going to take for you to get back up there again?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, if I knew I'd tell you, and I'd tell myself and do it right now, you know. (laughter.)
It's just the mystery of the unknown. We can only do so much and work as much as we can, and you know, spend as many hours on the court as we can.
You know, it's about -- it's a combination of both physically and mentally just getting stronger and, you know, little steps.

Q. But you do see it as a mystery right now?

Q. I thought you used the word "mystery."
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Mystery of the unknown. No one really knows -- I mean, I can tell you I've felt great coming into tournaments and haven't, you know, really felt great playing "the" tournaments. But that's just the way things go.
Sometimes you come into a tournament not feeling great and you play unbelievable once you're out on the court. Yeah, I think life's a mystery, isn't it? I mean, I think it is.

Q. Obviously Kim and then Justine made comebacks, granted after retirements rather than injuries, and scored huge wins. Tough question, but stepping back, are you a little disappointed that you haven't been able to really break through, and what's your assessment of the situation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You mean break through at a Major?

Q. Yes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, if I was that disappointed I obviously wouldn't keep going. This is an individual sport, and I'm obviously -- I think it tells you a lot about, you know, how the game is and how a lot of mental plays into it.
You know, one of them had a baby and probably didn't know they were going to come back again. You know, comes out and third or fourth tournament comes out and wins a Major. After the Major it's not as easy because you expect yourself to do well all of a sudden. I think it's similar -- goes for Justine, as well.
But as for myself, I mean, I think I'm doing a lot better than other people that have had shoulder surgery in their careers. Some people have never come back.
I don't know. What, I'm 13 in the world or something? That's a lot better than some of the girls I've lost to in the last year.

Q. So you're not feeling a sense of frustration, or am I misinterpreting what you're saying?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's frustrating. It's never easy, or I'm never, you know, happy or laughing about losing. I mean, it's not a laughing matter, if that's what you're asking. It's certainly disappointing.
But, I mean, you've heard me many times say that it is tennis, and we all have a life, as well.

Q. Coming off the chair at 3-2 after the timeout, did you have confidence? You're up a break. At least you were returning well in the set, and then the wheels came off a little bit. Was it competence or...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Her level definitely raised and mine dropped, for sure. I mean, you could see that. That's how it felt.

Q. That's how you felt, that it just went down and she went up, and all of a sudden it's over?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I mean, I certainly felt like she raised her level, but that shouldn't make my level drop, you know.

Q. So look ahead a little bit. Miami is obviously going to be big I would think before you get back on the clay.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, that -- yeah, that is the last one before the clay, and then Charleston.

Q. So what's the approach in the next week going in there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just like it is after every tournament. You know, go back out there and keep working. I mean, there's -- like I said, there's no secret formula to anything.

Q. Do you need to get the arm checked or x-rayed or anything like that, do you think?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven't really -- I haven't spoken to anyone yet, but I'm sure I'll have a checkup on it, yeah.

Q. What was your feeling about your spectacular contract with Nike? Were you happy with that? Can you reflect on that, please?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, I was, but I'm always a lot happier holding tennis trophies than I am about certain numbers, you know. That always makes me feel a lot better, holding trophies, than anything else. More wins you have and the more trophies you hold up, better numbers it will be.
So, you know, that's how I look at it. I'm happy with what I have in my life, and, you know, numbers don't make my life any -- you know, overjoyed or anything. But I'm certainly happy that someone's believed in me even though I was injured for a while, and someone that I've been with from a very young age. That's pretty special.

End of FastScripts

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