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June 28, 2012

Maria Sharapova


M. SHARAPOVA/T. Pironkova
7‑6, 6‑7, 6‑0

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  A not particularly convincing start in your early‑round matches.  Is that because you're adjusting to the grass or is it something else?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  My first match was okay (laughter).  Second one we should talk about, but the first one...
Well, a lot of things went on in the last one.  Obviously felt like two matches in a way.  You know, yesterday she came out firing, started so well, and had so many opportunities to win that set.  I really hung on.  I was just extremely tough.
Finally got the momentum.  I knew we would be stopping.  Everybody knew at some point we wouldn't finish the match.  That was difficult, because I felt I had the advantage.
Today I wanted to start off really well because I knew I was up a break.  Didn't go according to plan.  Really served sloppy.
In the third I changed it around.

Q.  Looking at the draw, you knew it would be difficult because she did so well here last year.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I think if she played on grass 365 days a year she'd be top 5 probably.  Unfortunately, doesn't work that way.  She has the perfect game for it.  She always does really well against top players.  She really rises for the occasion.
But, yeah, I haven't seen too many of her other matches, but every time I play against her and every time I see her face a tough opponent, especially here, she plays extremely well.  You saw some of that yesterday definitely.

Q.  How do you turn it on and off so fast going from the second set breaker, which clearly wasn't your best tennis.  What were you thinking when you were down?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, well, I started with no motor whatsoever.  I was just on pause, everything.  I felt like my feet, I mean, so many things, just making errors.  The return, I mean, she hit a 95 miles per hour ace in the body, I think.  I didn't think that was possible (laughter).
So there were just a lot of things I felt I could have done better.  I felt like I put myself in a position to be up and I didn't take advantage of it.
I mean, look, it kind of starts from scratch.  It's always a difficult situation because, you know, I really felt like I turned things around yesterday.
But she's someone that just comes out and just fires, and things go well, they go well; if not, the bad day.

Q.  You have a pretty impressive record in third sets.  Do you think it's an advantage to be starting first going into that set?  And if so, why?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Did I serve first today?  No, I don't.  Then maybe not (smiling).
Yeah, I think I started with a break.  Yeah, I don't know.  I actually don't know.  I mean, it depends.  Of course, it's nice to be up in those games.  But I always think the first games are always really important in terms of, you know, when you're in that situation, those are really key moments in the third set.

Q.  What did you specifically change in the third set?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Specifically?  Nothing specific.  We were playing with the same balls.  I played with the same racquet.  I think it was just, I mean, tell myselfto ‑‑ well, I mean, I started doing things a little bit better.
Like I said, I felt like everything was a little bit slow.  I wasn't moving up to the ball.  She hit a few short balls.  I made errors.  I let her play.  I didn't feel like there was enough pace on my ball.  I guess those things that I usually do.

Q.  I'm from Sweden and curious about your journey together with Thomas Hogstedt.  Could you describe that a little bit, please?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Let's not make it sound so dramatic.  It's not like curing cancer here (laughter).
Well, yeah, I've said it many times.  He's been a really great addition to my team.  Certainly not an easy change for me, because I had the same people on my team for many, many years.
But, you know, he brought a whole new perspective to my career in a way, a lot of energy in my practices which ultimately gets you to the match with that same sort of feel and desire.
He came in believing in me, that he could see me back at No.1 in the world, which was a plus now.  He coached against me, as well.
So, yeah, I mean, many good things I could say about him.

Q.  Unlike the women's side of things where there have been so many champions in the Grand Slams the last several years, on the men's side it's been three guys winning 28 of the last 29.  What sense of appreciation do you have for what Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer have done?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Tremendous amount.  You know, you ask the question of when are you going to see something like this again.  You know, we're pretty fortunate to be part of a generation in which you see such incredible rivalries between the three, and also putting Murray in the mix, someone who is out to be 'em and get his first Grand Slam.
It's special to watch.  The tennis they've produced against each other has been so nice.  Obviously it was Roger and Rafa against each other.  And then the way you kind of saw Novak come in, especially last year, and just dominate I think mentally was just so impressive how he could go from one event to another.  That was the thing that was really amazing.
Of course you're bound to have a few letdowns, but he was just so mentally strong.

Q.  There's been a report recently about adopting a system to measure the noise when players hit the ball.  Is there something you can do to your technique to reduce the noise that you make?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Uhm, certainly not now, not since I've been doing it since I was four years old.  It's definitely tough and impossible to do when you've played this sport for over 20 years.
But it's something, I mean, I certainly spoke to Stacy about it.  We've had numerous conversations.  It's the first person actually that's sat down with many people and coaches and sports psychologists and analysts and really reviewed what could be done.
I'm really happy with the system that she put forth.  Going to the juniors, going to the academies that are producing the young players, and putting a system in place, I think it's extremely smart.

Q.  You played a shot yesterday with your left hand.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I'm actually naturally a lefty.  I played left‑handed for a year in my junior year, and then I played two hands on both sides.
I actually kick and throw left‑handed all the time.  There are many things, yeah, that I like to do left handed.
But I do things both.

Q.  Gilles Simon has made a comment about the equal pay issue.  Wondering what your feelings are on those comments.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I mean, look, we women have fought so long to get equal prize money.  It was a big challenge and nobody really supported us.  It's been a few years since we've gotten that.  We're all really proud of it, and we continue to build the sport and make it bigger.
No matter what anyone says, or the criticisms that we get, despite everything else, I mean, I'm sure there are a few more people that watch my matches than his, so...

Q.  You're an American‑based, Russian coached by a Swede.  Do you know anything about cricket?

Q.  One of the world's best cricketers has declared a crush on you.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Don't know too much about that sport.  I'm not very athletic and don't watch too much.  Sorry.

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