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June 26, 2010

Maria Sharapova


M. SHARAPOVA/B. Zahlavova
7-5, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Was that a really useful workout or harder than you would have liked?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She was a really, really tough opponent, especially on grass. Uhm, you know, a lot of the balls she hit just stayed really low. In the beginning I had a little bit of trouble with that and I was making a few more errors than I should have.
But then, you know, I picked myself up, which is good. But it was good to have that, kind of be down a break, have to fight back. She served very well, as well. So it was a good match.

Q. Do you think facing Serena Williams has come too early for you in the draw?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely not. I love playing against her. I love playing against, you know -- she's the defending champion. You know, she's great on this surface. She's won numerous Grand Slams. Uhm, you know, if there's a challenge ahead of you, it's definitely playing against her, and I enjoy that.

Q. Obviously we remember you playing here most of all, you probably remember most of all, beating her in 2004. Can you tell us a bit about how you think back to that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think that was our last meeting on grass. It's tough to take anything away from that match as it was many years ago. You know, this will be a new day. I don't really think about, you know, yesterday or the day before. Whoever I play when I go out there, it's a new match. You have to take it as a new day.

Q. You must still have some happy memories of it.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: There are always wonderful memories. But when you step out on the court, it's new. You've got to start from scratch. The score is 0-0.

Q. How different are you as a person and as a player now to the 17-year-old girl then?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I mean, I think at that age when you're just playing a few tournaments, not many people know about you or your game. I've been around the tour for many years now. So I think Serena and I know each other's game pretty well now. Even though we haven't played in a while, I mean, we play the same tournaments. I'm sure we see each other's matches, yeah.
But it's been many years.

Q. Do you have to do anything different against her or is it all going to be on execution?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Execution's a big part. Also just staying aggressive. You know, she's a really big hitter. She is a big server. You've got to really take your chances when you have them.
Even if you don't have many, you got to really, really take advantage of what you get, stick to what you do best, as well.

Q. Some of your matches, getting a quick start seems to have played a big factor. I remember Wimbledon 2004, you came out smoking. Is that going to be a factor, do you think?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, we'll see after the match. I don't know. I mean, I wish I could tell you. But I don't know.

Q. What is your most memorable match against her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think we've played a few times. But that was definitely, uhm, the one here was definitely memorable because it was the second time I played against her. The first time I was, uhm, kind of blew me off the court in Miami. I was so overwhelmed by her power, you know, how strong she hit the ball. So, you know, to change that a few months later, I was just really proud of myself.
It was great that I played her before. I think that really helped me.

Q. She still hits the ball as hard as she did then. You obviously must feel that you hit it a lot harder now that you can match her for that pace and power.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I mean, tennis is obviously not just about power. I think on grass it's a big key to the game. But I don't think that's everything in tennis.

Q. You've been coming in to net not a lot, but certainly more than 2004. Do you feel you're comfortable up there? Is it like 50% comfortable?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it helps my groundies. You know, when I'm looking to be aggressive and looking to come in, I mean, it's just common sense there's going to be something more on the ball than if you hit it and just stay back and wait for your opponent to miss.
So when I'm aggressive and I'm moving in and I'm taking, you know, balls out of the area, you know, I'm not a player that's going to come to the net and start hitting three, four, five volleys in a row. I'm looking to come in and finish the point off there.

Q. How much of the match is going to be a mental battle rather than a physical battle with Serena?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I don't know. I don't know. I mean, uhm, mental, physical... Every match is a little bit of that.

Q. This could go deep into the third set. If it does, does that favor either one of you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think it should be discussed because we don't really know if it's going to or not.

Q. Since you came back from your shoulder injury, do you feel you're now all the way back? Do you think you are now the player that you were, or is there still some way to go before you reach the peak you were at?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I think there's still some improvements to be done and things to get better. I mean, to be honest, I look back, and it's tough to compare yourself, uhm, to what you were a few years ago. It's a different time in my career.

Q. Could you talk about a big rivalry match like this and how it compares to a standard or regular match? When you know you're going up against a big rival, do you like it? Do you find yourself more engaged? Does it change your preparation in any way?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, you know, I'd call it a rivalry when I win a few more against her (laughter). I mean, I've lost the last few.
But I absolutely enjoy it. You know, we certainly had a good, you know, rivalry building up. We haven't played for a while, and I was out of the game for a bit. I mean, we never really clashed. You know, that's what I thrive on. I love going on the court and playing someone that's, you know, obviously the favorite to win the match.

Q. I know you reached the semis of Roland Garros last year. But is this the best you've felt form-wise at a slam?

Q. Quarters, sorry.

Q. I know you reached quarters there. But is this the best you felt at a slam form-wise since the shoulder surgery?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. You know, like I said, I've been really happy in the last few weeks I've been able to play matches and come through some tough ones against good opponents that really challenged me and stay healthy. That's really been the key. That's certainly really important going forward.
You know, it's great to be back in the second week of a slam, yeah.

Q. What is the main difference between playing Serena versus Venus?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, both are really powerful. Both move really well. I don't really know the difference.

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