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June 27, 2011

Maria Sharapova


6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Maria Sharapova. Questions, please.

Q. It was almost a game of two phases.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Yeah, it was really tough because I think both of us served quite well to hold in the first eight games. Yeah, I thought it was a high level of tennis.
You know, I was really ready for her to play well today because she has a great game for the grass courts. She stays really low and hits the ball hard and flat and fast. So you really have to be ready for each shot.
You know, just try to take care of what I had to do today.

Q. Were you surprised at the second set, comparatively easy, get out of the heat?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I still had many chances in those first few games. She just served well, served a few aces, and I couldn't break her.
Yeah, I thought I returned much better in the second set. That's what got me more breaks.

Q. Where do you place your form and fitness now? What level are you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, you know, I'm doing well. It's only going to get tougher from here. We're in the quarterfinal stage of the tournament. Yeah, just hope that I raise my level even more.

Q. Given the fact that Thomas worked with our national team in China for a few years, do you think you might have some advantage in terms of preparation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I played against many Chinese players before I started working with Thomas. I have a lot of experience playing against them. I know their games quite well. I've been on the tour for many years. I don't think it has anything to do with it.

Q. Was something being said to you in her box? Was someone heckling? The tall man, you looked right at him after the match.

Q. You had talked about the advantage of Sasha being a pro athlete. Is it really manifest on match days, that he knows you need to be so focused, almost be a different person than you are on off days? Maybe someone who isn't in sports wouldn't appreciate the personality change that happens?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it certainly helps that he understands, you know, what I have to go through in preparation and everything. It's quite different than when you don't have a match day, of course.
But, yeah, this is not the first tournament he's at. I mean, he's been at a few tournaments already. But, yeah, it's great to have that understanding.

Q. Could you just talk about movement. It looks like now or the last few months you're moving about as well as you ever had. You're getting to balls that you didn't used to and doing something with it.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, yeah. I feel like my movement has definitely improved this year. But I think that's because I played a lot of matches. That helps you.
I think a lot of it is also reaction, you know, getting ready for the next shot after you hit a ball instead of thinking it's over, being prepared to hit another one, another one.
Yeah, just always ready to hit more balls until it doesn't come back hopefully and it goes in.

Q. Is there something happening with your right leg?

Q. Have you got any superstitions before a match? Do you put one trainer on before the other one, anything like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think our routine is just so similar before a match that you could probably call it a superstition. I mean, we usually like to warm up the same time before a match, eat the same thing just because it's consistent. If it's worked for you in the past, why change it, things like that.
But as far as certain superstitions, no.

Q. When Vladimir got to the semis here a decade or so ago, he watched Gladiator before every match. He hasn't got you watching the same film?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. The Russian press asked me that a few days ago. I've never seen it. He hasn't asked me about it. I haven't either.
But now that you mention it for the second time, I might have to ask him about it (smiling). I prefer watching something like Bridesmaids instead.

Q. With the embolism that Serena had, there's talk of she's just lucky to be alive.

Q. I know you've spoken to your family about Chernobyl, getting out of there. Do you ever reflect on that that you were lucky to emerge from there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course. I think in life it's so important to have a good perspective on things. Uhm, I know I always say this, but at the end of the day we're athletes that hit a tennis ball for a living. We're entertainers.
We're so fortunate. You know, we really are. We're fortunate that we're in a sport that, despite so many economic challenges, we're able to make great prize money. Our prize money hasn't went down in the last few years; it's rising.
I think that says a lot about where our sport is at the moment. And we're just really happy to be a part of it. I mean, I'm very happy and proud to be where I'm from. I know that my family and I have been through many challenges.
I'm sure that it's not just me; I'm sure everyone in the draw has faced tough days in their lives, from their childhood to maybe yesterday or whenever.
But I think we're very lucky. Yeah, we're lucky to be playing this.

Q. All this by hitting a yellow ball?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just say that things could be a lot worse. I was part of a culture where I didn't feel like if I tried something and I failed that that would be something bad, you know.
If you don't try something, and if you don't go for it, it's almost like you never gave yourself an opportunity and almost without even doing anything failed.

Q. You talked about your team being stable, Sasha here, your movement. Is this the best you've felt at this stage of the tournament since like 2006, would you say?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, uhm, I'm in the quarters here for the first time since 2006, so I think that's definitely a step forward.
But I think I want to be even better. Absolutely, I want to keep improving. I still feel like I can.

Q. Is anything less than a title here a satisfying result for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I don't know. I mean, I just take it one match at a time. The beauty of tennis is there's only one winner. If one of those isn't disappointed that loses, I mean, they're probably lying in your face. That's 'cause it's sport, so...

Q. What do you feel you need to focus on to improve for the next match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, well, I don't know who I'm going to face. I think Caroline was up a set. She's someone that's No. 1 in the world, so there is no doubt you have to step up for that. She's playing the best tennis of her career. She's young and hungry to get a Grand Slam.
Yeah, it's gonna be a tough one.

Q. Can you describe a little bit more what the challenge is when you play her. You haven't played yet on grass, but you have a pretty even head-to-head so far, and she's taken a couple against you on hard courts recently.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was good for me to get a win against her on clay, I think a surface she likes very much. I played a great match against her in Rome.
But it's a new match on grass. Like you said, it's a different surface. We've never played on it before against each other.
Uhm, it will be a new day and we'll see. I hope that I'll take what I did in Rome and bring it here.

Q. How would you describe the difference, obviously it's a pronounced one, in your styles and in your games?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I'm not sure. I don't really evaluate her game. I think she's the steadiest player on tour, one of the fittest. She moves really well, gets a lot of balls back. It's important to be aggressive and play on your own terms.

Q. You played a lot of steady players and have beaten them before. Is she just more steady? Does she run faster? Is she deceptively good in certain areas? What makes her a No. 1-type player without overwhelming weapons?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I think there's a lot of things that she does well. I mean, uhm, you know, the fact that she is one of the fittest players, you don't just get to that point by being a fit player, you work hard at it. I'm sure she's put a lot of work into that.
Yeah, I mean, patience is quite important against a player like that because you have to know -- you know, you don't want to go for too much and then get into her own game. I think it's also important to focus on what you do best.

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