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March 24, 2012

Maria Sharapova


M. SHARAPOVA/S. Stephens
6‑4, 6‑2

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Seemed like a match where the scoreline was reflective of how it went, tough start, and then...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: ¬†Yeah, I mean, I got off to a good start.¬† I was up 4‑1 and had opportunities to finish it off pretty good.¬† But, you know, she came back strong and started moving really well.¬† Never faced her before, so, you know, it took a little bit of time to figure out her game.
But I did a good job of hanging in there even when she started playing a lot better.  Yeah, in the second set I played much better than the first.  That was good.

Q.  You said you don't hang around the locker rooms, but how much did you know about her game or her personality?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Not much at all.  Haven't really seen her play.  Um, you know, my coach watched a little bit of a previous match, I think.
So other than that, I really didn't know too much.  Never met her before, so very rare in the game of tennis because usually you face everyone multiple times.
But she's someone that's, you know, coming up and new.  You know, she's becoming good in the world of tennis.
Yeah, when you face these types of opponents they can be quite dangerous because you don't know what to expect from them.

Q.  You're into the fourth round for the eighth time in nine showings.  What is it about this tournament and the conditions that really suits your game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† I just love coming back to the event.¬† I have come here since I was a junior because it was like a four‑hour drive for my family and I.¬† We would just get in the car and go watch the matches and be a spectator.
So, you know, I just hoped that one day I would play on that court.  I have been fortunate to get the opportunity to play on it many times and get in the finals a few times, as well.
Yeah, it just feels so close to home, and so I feel like a lot of friends from Sarasota, Bradenton come up and watch me.
Yeah, I love the weather despite it being hot most of the time.  I grew up in it, so it's comfortable for me.

Q.  Do you think it's harder to face somebody that's new for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† Just the unexpected game and not really‑‑ you know, you can always obviously hear things from other people and you can get a scouting report from a coach or some other person or maybe some other players have faced her before.
But until you actually go and play them and feel the way they hit the ball and their pace and their spins, um, and, you know, their patterns on the court, you never get a feel for how they actually play.
So that's always a new opponent.

Q.  Is your family here with you?  Is your dad living in Florida now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Um, my parents travel so much.  My mom is actually here with me.  Yeah.
But, yeah, my dad usually‑‑ he doesn't come to the tournaments anymore.¬† He's a skier now and climbing up mountains and all that stuff that I don't like to do.¬† (Smiling.)

Q.  Where is he now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  He's in Sochi, in my hometown in Russia.

Q.  Are you one of the spokespeople or representatives for the Winter Olympics in Sochi?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† I was, yeah before we ‑‑ I was helping them get it.¬† So that was pretty surreal, because not many people knew of Sochi when I had come to the States, and when I said where I was from they asked me where is it in relation to Moscow.
So that was the only thing that people kind of asked.  Now people are so aware that the winter Olympics are going to be there, and I think it's pretty surreal because that's where I spent, you know, my childhood in Russia, as well as Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
I always felt it was such a beautiful city with so much to do.  It was just so unexpected that we got it.  I think everyone is just thrilled.

Q.  Are you going, planning on going?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I really hope I can.  That would be amazing, because, I mean, I was on those slopes when I was young just, I don't know, running around and going on the lifts and enjoying the scenery.  An hour drive you can be swimming in the Black Sea.  It's really amazing.

Q.¬† Makarova is a player who can step it up in big‑time way.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  She's tricky.  She's also been playing really good tennis this year and obviously having a good Australian Open.  I beat her in two straight sets in Australia.
But I know she's a tough opponent that's, you know, faced really tough points before and has beaten them.  She can certainly, you know, raise her level and play extremely well.
She's also a lefty.  Not too many lefties in the tour, you know, so the spin comes a little bit differently.
Other than that, I mean, I'm looking forward to it.  I think we'll play a good match out there.

Q.  Have you had a chance to follow the comeback of Kleybanova at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† Well, I just saw her today actually for the first time.¬† You know, we spoke for a few minutes before my match.¬† I just said it's‑‑ all the tennis aside, it's just really good to see her.¬† That's what it all comes down to.
We always forget we're kind of rushing in and out of practice and matches and going about our lives.  When you see someone that's gone through so much and come back to play the game of tennis, it's just you have so much respect for the person.

Q.  Do you have any plans like Federer, Tsonga?  They're going to be in South America in the end of the year.  Do you have any plans out of the regular tournaments?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  To play in South America?

Q.  Yes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† Not as of now.¬† But, yeah‑‑ unless there's exhibitions.¬† But I haven't really been there too much actually in my career.
I hope to definitely.  It's a little far, to be honest.  (Smiling.)
I don't know where it can fit in the schedule, but it would be a good opportunity because I know I have many fans over there.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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