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March 22, 2012

Maria Sharapova


4‑6, 6‑3, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  You had quite a battle out there.  Talk about how the match proceeded and what got you through.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, she's a pretty tough opponent, especially for a first round, you know, someone that you usually see being a seed in these types of events.
I think she came off an injury a little bit ago, but she's definitely a really difficult player to play against because she makes you hit so many balls.  She's a great‑‑ you know, physically it's always a physical match against her.
In the beginning, you know, I was a bit sluggish; didn't feel like I was moving, you know, my feet very well and she was controlling most of the points.  And also not serving very good in the first set.
So I think trying to be a bit more consistent was pretty much my game plan going into the next two sets.

Q.  Was there any point where you thought really kind of turned it for you, got you where you wanted to go?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I mean, there was that tough game where I got the break in the second.  I was down Love‑40 and then I broke her for 2‑love.  I felt like the momentum switched a little bit, and I gained confidence after that.
She was serving extremely well, and actually, I think her percentage was quite high during the match.  I wasn't getting, you know, too many looks on second serves.

Q.  Is it always a huge relief to get through the first match?  She's really a tough opening match for you.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, she is.  Yeah, like I said, she's usually a seeded player at these type of events.  I think she's been injured for a little bit so her ranking dropped.
But, yeah, it's always a very, very physical match.  You know what to expect from someone like her.  She gets a lot of balls back and makes you hit a lot.  You have to be consistent, but you have to also, you know, play your game and be aggressive in order to win the match against someone like that.

Q.  What do you think Olympic tennis at Wimbledon is going to be like?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Um, surreal.  I think it will be a completely different experience, and I'm not really sure.  I don't know what I will feel when I'm out on the court playing, you know, on grass at Wimbledon and knowing that it's not Wimbledon.
It's just a unique opportunity for all of us, but I'm extremely thrilled that it's at Wimbledon.  It's my favorite place to play tennis at.  I'm not complaining.

Q.  Where does the Olympics rank on your list of priorities this year?

Q.  At the top?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Um, it's just always been a dream of mine since I was young.  So I've always wanted‑‑ even though we represent our country on a daily basis, this is an individual sport.  I don't think you really get that feeling like you're representing your country at the Olympics.
So that's what I'm looking forward towards.

Q.  Would you be available for mixed doubles?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I don't think mixed doubles is in my future.  I think over my career, if you've seen, I've paid more attention to singles or doubles than mixed.
Even though it's the Olympics and obviously you want to give yourself as many chances to get a medal, I'd like to focus on what I do better.  That's certainly singles.

Q.  That's a lot of tennis.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, and it's a long summer, as well.  I mean, I've never been really a part of that.  Even at the Grand Slams, you never see me play three events in one Grand Slam.

Q.  Talking about the conditions, everyone always talks about switching over from the desert in Indian Wells to here.  How was it today?  Humid?  Less humid?  Hard transition?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, it's probably the toughest transition.  The quickest, especially if you make it to the final.  I think I was the only one playing on Thursday out of the four that were in the final.  I felt it a little bit today.
You know, it's also the time change and just the atmosphere and the conditions.  Everything is different, obviously.  The court and the playing conditions, as well.  A bit more windy out there than it was in Palm Springs.

Q.  Have you played under the lights on Centre Court yet at Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  With the roof closed?

Q.  Yeah.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Once.  Yeah, it was last year against Cibulkova.

Q.  They're talking about some of the matches, because of the schedule they'll probably close it and play past 8:00.  What do you think about that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah.  I mean, why not?  I mean, as long as it doesn't go too late obviously.  I mean, the schedule, I don't know who will be doing the scheduling, if it's the same people as Wimbledon.
But the Wimbledon organization usually likes to finish a bit earlier.

Q.  What was it like playing under the roof?  What do you remember about it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  A bit of a different vibe.  Yeah, the sound is completely different.  The atmosphere, you can hear‑‑ you know, you hear the atmosphere much more obviously than when the roof is open.  And the ball and hitting the ball, even when it hits, the grass, as well, it's a different feeling.
I mean, I certainly enjoyed it.  I played a good match, so...

Q.  Can you talk about where you draw the strength from?  Like today Shahar really looked like she was coming on, the crowd is cheering for her, you know, at 4‑3 in the third, and then all of a sudden you just seemed to kind of take it up a notch or something, some fire gets going.  What are you telling yourself in those moments to give yourself that edge?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I say that first of all it shouldn't have gone to 4‑3.  (Laughing.)  It was 4‑0.  So, you know, obviously you had a little‑‑ whether it's concentration, whether she picked up her level.
So it's just a matter of going back to what you think helps you get to those‑‑ to that situation of being up 4‑0, what helped you break her, you know.
But, yeah, it was very up and down, that's for sure.  In these types of matches, it's almost, you know, more satisfying to pull through when you're not quite playing well and your opponent is, you know, you feel like she's hitting winners from all over the court.
I think it's just about being focused and really believing that even not on your best day that you'll be able to finish strong.

Q.  Regarding Wimbledon, I think you won't have to wear white then.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No.  I'm not wearing white.  Yeah, when we were going over all the outfits for this year, it was just so strange to be going from Wimbledon and two weeks later going back to the grass and I'm wearing a red shirt.  That will be quite unique.

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