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September 4, 2010
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
M. SHARAPOVA/B. Capra
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Last year you had this type of matchup with a young upstart; you lost. This year you pretty much dominated. What was the difference today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, you know, this was a new day. And what happened last year, you know, I didn't really want to go into the match thinking about it.
You know, obviously I had lost the match and made way too many unforced errors. On a day like today, I just wanted to make sure I was consistent and did the right thing, and, you know, maybe didn't go for the lines as much and just played smart tennis.
Q. You're probably going to play the No. 1 seed on Monday.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uh-huh.
Q. Is it a disadvantage to come off of the 6-0, 6-0 win going into that match and not being that tournament-tested in your last match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, every match is different. You don't worry about a match that's, you know, two rounds away when you're going into, you know, a particular match like today.
You go out and just try to win the match, and you worry about the next one when it's over. Whether it's a tough one or whether it's an easy one, you've still got to win it no matter what the score ends up being.
Q. How would you describe the biggest difference between your style of play and Wozniacki's?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, you know, she can run all day and get a lot of balls back and make you hit tons of balls. She changes the pace really well, and gets her opponents offbalance. She does many things well, you know. That's why she's at the top of the game.
Q. Is there ever any point in a match like that where you feel any mercy for the person on the other side? How do you deal with that when you see that you're just completely dominating this teenage girl on center court and all that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, to be honest, going into that type of situation, you know, even before the match not knowing who you're playing against, not knowing her game, knowing that the conditions are tough, it actually equalizes many things before the match, because none of you are able to really play your game, you know. You have to be a little bit more careful than you usually are.
But I mean, I don't really -- I don't think about the score. I just think about winning the next point.
Q. She obviously was quite overwhelmed by your game and the conditions and everything. But despite all that, were you able to see potential in her? Could you comment at all on what she might do well if she continues to work hard? A bit about her game.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, it's obviously really unfortunate that, you know, she had to come out first time on Ashe and be in those types of conditions.
I mean, I've -- obviously I've been in those types of conditions and actually lost a few matches in those types of conditions during the day, and, you know, some tough ones.
You know, overall it's obviously really tough to tell. But, you know, she tried to be consistent, and, you know, she -- I think she actually, you know, did really well on her serve and maybe not gone for big serves and tried to get that in. That was really smart.
But, you know, overall I think I had a little bit too much firepower in the beginning, and that kind of really maybe caught her offguard, and she was late for a few balls.
And then towards the end of the match, I think she started going for a little bit more and making a few more errors.
Q. You're 12 out of 14 since Wimbledon. Have you been on this type of hot streak before? If so, what's the difference now than when, say, when you're struggling? How do you see the court differently?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I think a lot of it is match play. You know, looking back at the start of the trip in Europe, I started the trip in Madrid where I was coming off the elbow injury. I wasn't playing much tennis, not even practicing much. I kind of had to go there and play, and I knew I wasn't ready.
So the step that I made from there to the last match at Wimbledon, you know, where I had my chances, I knew that I was playing better. You know, physically I was feeling good and I was feeling confident. You know, I used the opportunity of the two weeks that I had off before Stanford to really work, and, you know, work hard on a few things.
You know, I had some -- a lot of -- not a lot, but I played two tournaments, and, you know, did quite well; could have done better.
You know, here we are. I think the more matches you play, the better you feel, and the different types of opponents.
Q. What do you think you do better than Caroline Wozniacki?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I don't know. I think we have different types of games. I haven't played her in a while, so I'm not sure. I really don't know. I don't know how to answer that question.
Q. Can it help you in any way that you have already won the US Open?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I mean, she was the finalist here last year, so she's accustomed to the court and the atmosphere. She obviously, you know, knows how to play good tennis on the court.
You know, it will be interesting.
Q. You're regarded as one of the toughest mentally out there on court, if not "the" toughest. Do you believe that in yourself? Also, how has the surgery and injuries since then, how have they really affected your confidence and perhaps showing you a little bit of vulnerability that you didn't have before?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I mean, I do feel that, you know, especially in certain situations that I feel -- I don't know if the word "tougher" is the right word, but, you know, it's something that's, you know, won me many matches in my career.
Growing up I was never the biggest, the strongest girl on tour. You know, even though I have big shots, there are many girls that are more powerful that were quicker.
But in certain situations -- you know, coming into juniors, I was playing girls that were much older than I am. You'd be in a position where it's 6-all in the third, and I'd have to battle it out. You know, I found a way to stay calm, and, you know, be tough inside of me.
It wasn't really about, you know, seeing an error from the other side, and, you know, saying, come on or pumping the fist. It was more of a feeling you had inside of staying calm. That's kind of the toughness that I felt.
Like I said, it's certainly won me many matches.
Q. In your career, what moment are you most proud of in terms of mental toughness and coming through? Where do you think you have shown your toughness the most, including coming back?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I mean, obviously coming back was one of the toughest things for me, I mean, off the court. Because I had so many expectations and so many others had expectations of me being able to come back at a certain period of time, and I was never ready.
I would go on the court, we'd set a date of when I can start hitting the ball and hitting a few serves, and I'd hit forehands and backhands and I was fine. I tried to hit a serve, and I couldn't. I was still in a lot of pain. That was even after the rehab and after surgery.
Coming back from that and setting another timetable for yourself and doing it over and over again until, you know, I slowly found myself working myself up to hitting 10 to 15 serves, 20 serves, and being able to do that without pain and really being patient, and, you know, going back to Phoenix over and over again for months on end, I mean, that, I think that took a lot.
You know, because I think I could easily at this stage in my career just say, you know, I have won Grand Slams; I have been there and done that. But I never felt like I had enough. I always felt like I could be a better tennis player.
Even if at that point I couldn't go out and hit a serve, I just physically just couldn't. Um, but starting from when I was young, I think winning Wimbledon at 17, the reason I'm looking back and being proud of that is because I was so fearless, you know, throughout the whole tournament. I mean, I was happy to be in the semifinals, I was down and out against Davenport. I was already booking my plane ticket when the rain delay hit.
And then pulling that out, going into the final, you know, against someone that has so much experience and was so much physically stronger than I was at that point, so much more experienced, went out there and really just didn't really care about the situation; I just played tennis.
So I guess that, yeah.
Q. You said your type of game was different from Wozniacki's. What do you think the key of the match against Wozniacki will be?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I mean, I still have to play my game, you know. I still have to be aggressive. You know, she's the type of opponent that's gonna make you hit a lot of balls and is gonna make you hit that extra ball.
I think I have to be aggressively patient. Obviously the serve and return on a quick court is really important, as well.
Q. It wasn't that long ago, but do you think it's tougher even now for a 17 year old to break in, to win a Grand Slam on the tour? Have things gotten progressively tougher for everybody?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think you see a lot more depth - I really do - than there was, you know, years ago.
You definitely -- I think there were a lot of complaints a few years ago that the first few rounds were quite easily won 6-0, 6-1, and, you know, we were talking about equal prize money and all that.
Now, you know, from the first round on you're seeing three setters from the top seeds; you're seeing tough matches. I think that just shows you how deep the field is.
Q. Does it surprise you that there's only one American left in the tournament, the bracket?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I mean, to be honest, I get asked this question every single Grand Slam. We're in Australia, you get asked about the Australians.
Q. So it doesn't surprise you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. You really have to worry about your own results, to be honest. But to see, you know, younger players doing well, and, you know, someone that's 18 years old getting into the third round and having an upset in the round before is great to see.
Hopefully that will only keep getting better and improving.
Q. Not knowing how much tennis you watch in your spare time, how much have you actually see of Caroline and her game in recent months?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In recent months?
Q. Or recent years.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I saw a little bit of the first round that she played here. I was getting treatment during that and I got to watch it.
Q. Other tournaments?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not really, to be honest. No.
Q. You spoke the other day about having a funny feeling when somebody says they look up to you because you're so young.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.
Q. How did that play out today in your interaction with Capra?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, to be honest, when you're on the court your goal is to win the match. I wasn't thinking that I'm playing someone that's younger than me, that, you know, is the first time playing there.
If you start thinking about all those things, I mean, the last thing you're gonna do is win the match.
So it was just really important just to stay focused on the game more than anything else.
Q. And your conversation with her at the end of the match, what was that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I said the conditions are really tough, and it's -- you know, like I said here. It's quite unfortunate that her first experience, you know, on Ashe had to be in those tough conditions. I mean, it's not easy for anyone.
Q. Who do you think will win this tournament? Yourself or somebody else?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's a funny question. Going into a tournament, if you think that anyone else is gonna win but you, you've got some serious problems. You shouldn't enter it.
Q. Can you just compare where you are now to 2006, both physically and mentally?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I mean, it's tough to compare, you know -- obviously there's been different stages of my career winning, you know, the three Grand Slams. But I felt like going into that US Open -- you know, before I won Wimbledon I had gotten to a few semifinals of other Grand Slams.
For some reason, before this one I just -- you know, I really felt physically and mentally ready to, you know, to push through. You know, I was quite excited to beat AmÃ©lie in the semis, and then obviously win against Justine.
But, you know, different stage of my life, obviously. I've been through, you know, one other Grand Slam, was out for a year. It's quite difficult to compare, you know.
End of FastScripts