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January 26, 2012

Maria Sharapova


6‑2, 3‑6, 6‑4

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Your emotions at the end of the match seemed to show that this just meant a fair bit to you, this opportunity.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Absolutely.  It means so much to be back in a Grand Slam final, a stage I have been to before few years ago here.  It's nice to get that far again after losing quite early in the last couple of years.
So, yeah, it means a lot to me.  I played someone that's just had really great results and has beaten me the last couple of times.  I just really wanted it today.
Yeah, I fought to the last point.  You know, she had so many opportunities in that third set, and I just hung on and just really went for it.

Q.  That last win here seems a long time ago.  How different are you from now till then?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Um, yeah, it's a few years ago.  I don't know.  Every year is different.  Just in terms of obviously you grow a little bit older, you know, a lot of things in your life happen.
But at the end of the day, to get back at that stage is special.

Q.  How daunting will be it be for Azarenka going into her first Grand Slam final.  How do you think she will be feeling?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I played Petra in her first Grand Slam final.  She played really high‑quality tennis out there on the grass, and, you know, she went out there and it didn't really affect her.
So, you know, even though Victoria hasn't really been in that stage of a Grand Slam before, she's certainly won big titles and she has the experience.
This is a stage she's wanted to be at for a long time, so I do expect her to play really good tennis.

Q.  What do you think is different today compared to that Wimbledon final?  What do you think you did better?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, in the first set I felt like my pace hurt her a bit.  I was just really aggressive.  I didn't give her a chance to really step in and do what she does really well.
You know, it was really‑‑ it's always, you know, against an opponent where you have kind of similar games where we're both very aggressive players and pretty powerful shots, you know, if she's dictating from the start and I'm always in the defense, and points are usually going to go her way.
I try to take that away from her.  In the second set it was one break and I couldn't get it back.  Obviously she was up a break in the third.  I managed to get it back.  Just hung on.
There were so many games where it was 15‑40, Love‑30 on my serve, and actually on those points hit some pretty big serves, and then, you know, in the last game made some returns, you know; whereas in the whole third set she was serving quite well.
I didn't feel like I had too many good looks on returns.  In the third set, that last game of the third, I really managed to get some returns back.

Q.  That challenge you made at 4‑All in the third ‑ it was Love‑30, would have been Love‑40 ‑ how sure were you of that call, and how much of a turning point do you think that was?  Seemed the momentum totally changed in the end after that.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  You never really know until you challenge and you just see on the screen.  Um, yeah, sometimes you feel like it was in by a mile, and you look at the challenge and just embarrassing that you even asked for the call.  (Smiling).
But I did feel like that one was very close, and it was right on the line.  So, yeah, it's obviously an important point.

Q.  Did that change momentum?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Um, yeah, but it was still‑‑ you know, it's not like I got that point.  It was still Love‑30, so you had to play that point over and still try to win the game from Love‑30.

Q.  You had some trouble with your serve.  You had the 10 double faults and everything.  What was going on there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Um, I did, but I felt like in the important moments I had some really good serves.  And like I said, in the games where I was down Love‑30 and 15‑40, I hit some really good second serves.  I think she wanted to step in and maybe go for it, and I was smart about that.
Yeah, so in the end obviously would like to see that number lower.  But when you're playing, you know, an opponent that has a really good return, sometimes you go for it a little bit more.  If you end up missing some, sometimes it can help you.
Because if you hit pretty slow first serves just to get them in or second serves, your opponent is going to take advantage of that.

Q.  You won a title so early in your career.  Do you get the sense you can appreciate the opportunity a little bit more now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I do.  This is obviously what I train for and why I go out on the court and try to improve for moments like this.
You have them four times a year, and these are the big ones for us, the important ones.  It's really where you kinda have to find a way to win and step up when it really matters.
You know, today was just a good example of that for me.  I felt like I was down and out.  There are times where, you know, I felt like she was just returning too good.  I just kept going for it.

Q.  Has it been frustrating at times to not get back to that Grand Slam title after having that success earlier?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It's the way my career path has gone, and I don't regret anything that has happened.  Obviously it would have been nice not to have a serious injury at 21 years old, but sometimes it's just the way things go.
Good thing is that I found a way to come back.

Q.  Did you ever consider you wouldn't get back to your best?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Um, I mean, as positive as I always try to be, you always question what you're doing, obviously, because sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't.
And especially just with the shoulder I think it was ‑‑ I knew some examples of some people that did not quite recover from surgery and that was a little frightening, but I really had no option.
So it was either give it a go or not do anything about it.  Of course it took a long time and it was a process, but it was just something that was in my steps that I had to go through.
And I did.

Q.  Do you feel better than ever now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I feel happy and excited that I still have a chance to play the sport and play it at this level and be in a Grand Slam final.

Q.  How long did it actually take you to find a serve that you were comfortable with once you came back to the game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, when I came back I had to start with a different motion because, I mean, I wanted to come back so early.  I couldn't quite come back as early as I wanted to.
It came to a point where if you don't want to hurt things, then, you know, maybe you have to make some adjustments.  That was probably a tough adjustment, because even though I changed motions many times in my career, I had to really go to a really different one which was very short and very compact.
I was not used to that because I have long arms and I'm just used to kind of longer things and longer swings.  But I had to do that in the beginning, and that was the toughest thing, yeah.

Q.  Victoria has beaten you in two finals before?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I mean, she's a really, really good player, and like you said, I haven't had great success against her in the last couple of events that we've played against each other.
I'd really like to change that.  Yeah, it will be important to tactically play right.  You know, she makes you hit a lot of balls and she's aggressive, as well.
But, yeah, it's the final, so...

Q.  So is there a really aggressive mindset that you need, too?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah.  If I'm playing well, that's usually kind of how my game is.  If I'm playing defensive or on the defense, then my chances are pretty bad.

Q.  Is it tough to play an opponent that has such a similar game to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Um, today or in general?

Q.  Well, Victoria I think might have a more similar game to you than Petra does.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, but everyone is different, and I guess that's why we play against each other.  I don't think two players are the same.  Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.
But, yeah, I don't think it really matters.

Q.  This is going to be a head‑to‑head battle for No. 1 ranking.  Does that add anything to it, do you think?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Um, having been in the position before, doesn't really to me.  I think personally, for me, it's more about the Grand Slam win than the No. 1 ranking.
That's just always been the goal for me.

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