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January 19, 2012

Maria Sharapova


6‑0, 6‑1

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Do you draw a lot of satisfaction from a match like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  As opposed to what?

Q.  It's not a real test for you.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, in the first five or six games, I think four of those went to deuce.  We went back and forth.  A few of those games she was up 40‑15 and I came back.  Those are tough games because you put yourself in a position where you have to pull through.
Yeah, she has a big game.  I didn't know too much about her, but saw a little bit on video.  When you haven't played someone before, it's more a matter of how you're playing and how you're figuring out about her game from the beginning rather than thinking too much of what is she going to do.

Q.  Can you tell yet where your level is or you need to be pushed and tested more?  Can you feel how you're hitting the ball at this point or not yet?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I mean, I think every match is a test.  Whichever next one comes, I mean, the goal is to get through and keep playing more.  I came in here not playing too many at all.
It's just about taking it one at a time and improving, because it's only going to get tougher from here.  That's the goal.

Q.  How do you feel on court?  How do you feel you're striking the ball?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  For the first couple rounds, not having played competitively for a while, I feel pretty good.

Q.  And that approach is working for you, better to feel fit and strong rather than having a lot of matches under your belt?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I've been on tour for many years.  I've played many matches, many tournaments.  I've never really been a player that just goes to a tournament to add a tournament on her agenda or, you know, go out there just to play.
My goal is to be ready for the important ones, for the big ones.  That's what matters at this stage in my career to me.  I try to prepare as best as I can for them.
I would have loved to have played a tournament before, but things don't always go according to plan.  This is one of those times where I had to come here and train instead.  Thought it was a better scenario.

Q.  With the time change, your schedule, Sasha's schedule, do days go by where you have no contact with him?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No, we do, twice a day, morning and evening.

Q.  You get it done?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, yeah, absolutely.  It actually works out as good as it can.  When I wake up, it's evening time there.  Going to sleep, it's morning time here.  It's as good as it can be.

Q.  After the events of last night, Baghdatis breaking his racquet, how do you feel about breaking your racquet on court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I didn't know he broke a racquet, but I'm not surprised that he broke a racquet.  Personally I haven't broken too many in my career.  Don't recall breaking one during a match.  Have broken a couple at practice.
Um, but must be a good feeling.  I mean, yeah, just let it all go, I guess.

Q.  Serena Williams was afraid of the bugs out on center court.  Just wondering, are you afraid of insects or anything like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I don't know.  Are you?  You look like someone that could be afraid of bugs.

Q.  I am actually a little bit.

Q.  Do you have any phobias like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I mean, I don't like spiders and all that stuff.  But I think they're staying away from center court, so I think I'll be okay.

Q.  It's been pointed out that a fifth of the women's matches in the last several days have opponents winning one or two games.  Today you had a pretty good run.  Serena just bageled her opponent, as well.  What is your comment about the depth of the women's tour at the moment?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, you never know what you're going to get.  Sometimes we come out and we play three‑set matches from the beginning, and then it's a question of, well, you're top 5 in the world.  Why is someone challenging you to three sets from the beginning?
I think it's just an excuse to make another story.  That's really what it all comes down to.  I think personally, you know, my goal is to go into a match and play my game.  If I do it well enough and come out winning 6‑0, 6‑1, then I've done a good job.

Q.  Not stronger or weaker than necessarily any other time in your career?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It's always different.  You know, players come, players go.  You have a newer generation coming up, and also players that when I started are still playing.
I mean, it's always going to change, obviously.  We're not getting any younger.  Yeah, time moves on.

Q.  What keeps you going?  Those next Grand Slam opportunities?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  As far as career‑wise?

Q.  Yes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  This year is a big year for me because I'll be playing in the Olympics, which has been a dream of mine since I was a young girl.  Growing up in Russia, tennis wasn't a big sport back then.  It was all about being an Olympian, especially the winter sports.
Fortunately we've been able to change that a little bit and tennis has become extremely popular back in Russia.
Overall, I was extremely disappointed I missed Beijing.  This year, to have a long grass court season, will be fun.

Q.  Do you have any mixed doubles aspirations?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Um, well, I haven't really given it a thought.  I haven't even thought about the doubles yet.  I think that's something that maybe we'll be discussing when I go to Moscow in a few weeks, see what the plans are, yeah, all of that.

Q.  Who could you see yourself playing with?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think the only doubles partner I had was Max Mirnyi.  I take pride in beating Cara Black and her brother actually at the US Open.  Go doubles!
Yeah, that's my only real experience in mixed doubles.  I actually played with Yevgeny Kafelnikov once, I believe, in an exhibition in HongKong.  That was a disaster.

Q.  Have you talked to Alex, Dmitry, any of those guys?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I haven't discussed any mixed doubles yet.

Q.  They say the world is going to end this year.  What would you like to do or achieve before the world blows up?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Why do you have to ask the most ridiculous questions?

Q.  Sorry, it's just our show.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  What would I like to do?  I mean, is there any proof to this?

Q.  The Mayan calendar predicts it.  There's no real proof.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I don't know.  I really don't know.  It's really pointless right now.

Q.  Did you have a mentor when you came on tour, someone assigned to you?

Q.  Yes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think Mary Joe Fernandez was.  It was part of the program of the tour, but I think we only met a couple of times.  We might have cheated a bit (laughter).

Q.  What do you mean?  How so?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think you have to fill out the form and stuff.  But I've known Mary Joe since I was young, so...
Yeah, we did meet a few times.  It's all very basic, educational things.  It's very important when you're 14, 15, 16, going into that stage of being a professional.
But I think I'd been on the tour for a couple years then.

Q.  Was there anybody that was playing that helped break you into the tour when you came on, an older player?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I mean, I did get a chance to play with Monica Seles a bit.  She was one of my idols growing up.  I just loved her determination on court.  I think when I just started playing professionally in big tournaments, she was kind of ending her career.
And Lindsay Davenport was also someone that was extremely nice when I was growing up.

Q.  Have you talked to them about being on tour or have they talked to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No, nothing really like tennis‑wise.  I think it's more conversational.

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