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March 26, 2011

Maria Sharapova


6-2, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How did it feel out there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It felt good, pretty straightforward. You know, it was a little tricky with the conditions. You know, she's someone that can fire the ball really well and hits pretty solid from both sides.
She's someone that's beaten top players before, has had a lot of success, so I knew that she would come out, you know, swinging pretty hard and deep. So I just wanted to, you know, be aggressive from the beginning.
I thought I did a really good job with that throughout the whole match.

Q. Are you looking forward to playing Sam Stosur next?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I am. She's a top 5 player, and she's been so consistent, so tough to beat. I really look forward to that. We haven't played each other in a while. Obviously she has a great serve, good all-around game, good mover.
Yeah, just, you know, look forward to taking my chances on that one.

Q. What is it about your game that troubles her? I don't think she's had a win over you so far.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, I think you have to put -- I mean, personally I have to put the previous encounters behind, take a few things that worked well for me and try to use them again, but also know that we did play a while ago.
It's always a new match. That's why they put the nets up for us to play. That's why we go out there and have to play again. Yeah, no matter what the record is, I look forward to it.

Q. You have had a bit of an up and down comeback since the shoulder surgery. Are you starting to feel like now things are really coming together and you're progressing and improving?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, my goal has been just to be able to play consistently and being healthy consistently and playing matches. That always really helps, because, you know, you automatically know what to do and feel in certain situations as a match. You don't think twice. Things come a little bit more natural to you.
That's something that when you're, you know, away from the game and then you're coming back, it just takes a really long while. Not only am I happy to be back, but I'm really happy to be, little by little, feeling better. With each match, with each different opponent, I feel like I'm coming through. No matter how many losses or wins are ahead of me, I just -- my goal right now is to improve and get better.

Q. Do you feel like you've found the right serve now that's working with the shoulder and everything? Or are you still working?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I have changed my stance a little bit. Maybe a month ago, few weeks ago.
Yeah, so I'm still -- you know, I mean, I have changed my serve so many times throughout my career. I think every Grand Slam I've won I have had a different motion. That's never been an issue.
Like you said, it's always finding something that's going to help the shoulder out and not have too much stress on it, especially going from the first serve to the second serve and all the different spins. I think it's always a work in progress and something that I'm still trying to perfect.

Q. You recently changed racquet from Prince to Head.

Q. Did the shoulder issue contribute to that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, absolutely not. I actually tried the Head frames end of October/November, and had a few different brands, few different frames. I picked that one out, and it was actually one of the new racquets and new technology that Head was working on.
It wasn't a racquet on the market. I hit a couple of balls with it, and I think some players have a feeling when they've played a really long time that they know something works for them. I loved the feel of it. I loved how it helped me when I was on the run.
Yeah, there are so many things I really liked about it. Then we worked a little bit with the weight, so...

Q. The Williams sisters are not playing this year. Do you see that as an advantage maybe for the other women players?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, it would be great to see them in the draw. They're great champions. They've had a lot of success at this tournament.
Yeah, I think the tour misses them, and I think it's great for our sport to have them back as soon as possible.

Q. Anything different about life for you now that you're engaged? Are you starting to plan the wedding? Is that kind of fun?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, in the beginning I was really, really excited, and all my friends were giving me like wedding magazines and wedding books. That was like the number one gift for Christmas for me.
But I was quite overwhelmed with it, and then I just put them down and said, Okay, I have plenty of time. We're still very young. The only thing that really changes, you just know that when you come home or when you're done with your travels you have somebody to come home to. It's always really comforting and nice.
Yeah, but we're quite young. We have a lot of time.

Q. No immediate plans? Do you know when you're going to get married?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, we don't know yet.

Q. Are you in New York with him or New Jersey with him?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I'm mostly in Florida.

Q. Oh, mostly in Florida?

Q. So you guys don't see each other that much?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, we do a lot of traveling, so, yeah, we spend a lot of time on the planes.

Q. You changed coaches recently. How is that working out for you? What are you benefitting from that you didn't have before?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, it's brought a lot of fresh new things for me. You know, I worked with Michael for many, many years. I mean, we had so many achievements together. It was, you know, really, really fun and we're still the best of friends.
You know, but bringing in Thomas has just brought fresher perspectives and a lot of enthusiasm into the practice. He's a really professional coach and has a lot of experience behind his back. Yeah, just, you know, goes about his business, you know, just trying to make me a better player.

Q. Do you think like goals, do you say, Gee, I want to want another Grand Slam title? I want to do this or that, play the Olympics since you didn't have a chance last time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the Olympics has always been a big goal of mine, and that was a real big disappointment, as that was the year where I had my surgery. So that was certainly something I'm looking forward to and have been for many years.
Growing up in Russia, you know, the Olympics was a huge thing for our country and culture. You know, when I was growing up, tennis was not the really big sport on the map.
It was more the gymnastics you saw at the Olympics, the hockey. So to be an Olympian in our country, that means so much. I would love to be part of that parade and be part of the Russian team.
I absolutely would look forward to winning another Grand Slam. And if I can win one, it would mean so much more than the others I have won, especially given what I've gone through.

Q. You're only 23. You've won three Grand Slams. You've here for so long they probably think you're a lot older than what you are.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Maybe, but you have a lot of young girls on the tour so it makes you look older. It's a cycle. But everyone is always going to go and grow older. That's the way it is, yeah.

Q. I'm just curious, you've grown up really here, you've been here since you were...

Q. Do you consider yourself more American? Russian? Obviously you don't have an American passport.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I'm torn both directions, because when I'm at home and I'm around my family, everything is in Russian, you know. We always cook Russian food. I talk to my grandparents all the time. You know, we read and watch Russian movies and things. It's different.
Then I go outside and most of my friends are American. You know, some are from different countries, but then I go back to Russia and it feels so amazing, you know, when you're in a hotel or even at home and just calling and talking and speaking Russian, seeing the signs in Russian. I feel like that's where I always was.
So it's great going back, but obviously I've gotten accustomed to life here because I have lived here for so many years.

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