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October 22, 2012

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Maria.

Q.  You are I think the most popular tennis player in Turkey.  What do you think the reason is?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I'm very excited to be back.  Unfortunately last year I was a bit injured and wasn't able to play 100%, so it's nice coming into this event knowing that I'm ready.
I've been here for a little bit getting ready for the tournament.  I've spent about five days getting ready and practicing.  I love this city.  I've been here many times already.  The energy from the crowd last year I thought was spectacular.
I'm really looking forward to experiencing that again.

Q.  Why do you think you're the most popular tennis player in Turkey?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I'm not really aware that I am and there is no statistic on it, so...
I think that's just your personal opinion.

Q.¬† After what happened this time last year to you ‑ you were very unlucky ‑ do you feel being here this time is a bit of a bonus?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Absolutely, yeah.  I feel like after Tokyo everything was a little bit of a bonus.  I was trying to recover last year and probably came back a little bit too soon.  Obviously it's special to make it to the last eight, and I wanted to give it a chance and give it a go.
I had the same type of goal this year at the beginning of the year.  Obviously you've done something in order to achieve this spot in the top eight.
Yeah, it's the last push of the year.  I'm looking forward to it.

Q.  Do you feel after all these years you're still learning about the rehabbing and scheduling issues?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, the scheduling has been pretty similar for me for the last eight years, no matter how the tournaments or the graphic has changed. I've always pretty much had the same schedule.  It hasn't really been a secret for anyone.
You know I'm not going to play more than 20 tournaments a year, that's for sure.  I don't exactly remember when I played 20.
But from experience I've learned that it's important for my body to be healthy and ready to go for the tournament instead of having to play so many smaller tournaments in order to get ready for the big ones.
It's just not really my priority.

Q.¬† How conscious are you of the fact that you can still get to year‑end No. 1 if things go your way this week?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think it also has to do with how some of the other players do.  I don't like to think about what's not in control in my destiny and not in my hands.
It would be a great achievement, no doubt, but I've been No. 1 before.  The more matches I win here the better the chance I have of accomplishing that, I guess.
But it's not the biggest priority this week.

Q.  You and Serena seemed very chatty and giggly during the draw ceremony yesterday.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  You do not want to know what we talked about.

Q.  I do.

Q.¬† Talk about what that relationship is like.¬† Tennis is an isolated sport, but you two do have a lot in common being multi‑slam winners in this sort of lone journey.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  We didn't talk about tennis.  (Laughter.)
Yeah, obviously you're sitting there for 45 minutes and you're listening to a lot of Turkish speeches.¬† At some point you're going to start some conversations in English.¬† It may be a little inappropriate and rude maybe, but we couldn't‑‑ we were just joking about a few things.

Q.  I think sometimes people perhaps underestimate the importance of this event.  They look at the season as a Grand Slam season.  For a player like yourself, how important is it to be here with the seven other best players in the world?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, it's a big accomplishment.  It's such a different format as well.  You know, obviously when you start a tournament usually if you're a seed you're not playing a seeded player.
So many different scenarios go into this type of event.  From the first round on you're playing a pretty tough opponent, so it's unique in that way.
Also the format, knowing that maybe if you have a slow start you can get yourself back into it.  I enjoy it.  I've always liked that.  It's just a great goal set in the beginning of the year.  Every one of the players here obviously have done something great to be in this position.

Q.  You have a big rivalry with Victoria Azarenka.  You beat her on clay, but on hard court she has the upper hand.  Do you think about new strategies for the next matches?  Do you think there is something you should have done different?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, you know, right now we're in opposite groups.  Right now I'm facing different opponents, and I have to focus on the opponents that are in my group.
If it comes to a point where I play her this tournament, there is no doubt I will want to change a few things going into this match.

Q.  Talk about your year overall.  On court and off you've had a lot going on.  Have you been able to put things in perspective yet?  How are you looking at 2012?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬†¬† Definitely not looking at ‑‑ Oh, at 2012?¬† I thought you said 2013.¬† I was going to say I really haven't thought about that yet.
It's certainly been a great year.¬† I mean, thinking back to my off‑season it wasn't the best off‑season I had.¬† I was still sort of recovering from the ankle and I had to skip up a warmup tournament in Australia.
So actually my mood going into this year was like, Oh, okay.  Great.  What do I expect from this?
Getting to the finals of the Australian Open and starting out on that note and going into Roland Garros, a Grand Slam that not many expected me to win in my career, going out there and achieving something that I had dreamed of for a really long time was obviously very special.
Regaining the No. 1 ranking after my injury.  There are a lot of things I can look at and say were really meaningful.
Yeah, I'm not complaining, that's for sure.

Q.  You carried your country's flag for your time in London.  Congratulations for the silver medal.

Q.  Can you share your Olympic experiences with us with top athletes from all around the world?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† It was a surreal week.¬† From the day that the opening ceremony happened to the last match of the tournament, it was such a quick ‑‑ I think I played six matches within six days.¬† Then the ceremony was just a surreal experience.
I didn't stay in the Village because it was quite far from Wimbledon, but I went there extra early that day to have an afternoon experience of what it's like to walk around in this ant Village with only athletes.
It was so unique, because no matter what sport they're in, the fact that you can relate to them and what they do so much, you know, you have so much respect for everyone that you see.  You might not even know what sport they're in.
I was walking around and there are fields and boxers out there doing their things, and even gymnasts stretching.¬† It was so mind blowing to me.¬† They weren't even at their facilities and they were still practicing and so determined in the lead‑up to the Olympics.
The ceremony,  when I got the honor and the message of carrying the flag for my country, I knew that I would be the first female to do that from Russia.  I think it put a little extra pressure on me holding the flag and making sure it was right and really trying to concentrate that it was waving the right direction.
But it was a really, really fun week.

Q.  You just told us that you've been in Istanbul a lot of times.  What are your favorite places to go and what are your favorite things to do in Istanbul?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, there are endless things to do here from the cultural experience.  I went to the Hagia Sophia, the Bazaar a few times.  The first time I went to the bazaar I was so overwhelmed I think everyone could have cheated me on everything that I wanted to buy.  Next time I came there a lot tougher.  I was like, I'm really going to bargain with them.
I mean, what's there not to like?  We were at the ceremony yesterday and the view of the bridge looking on to the Asian part of the city is just one of the best views there is in the world.
So there's just a lot to do.  Unfortunately we're a little bit far from the city while we're playing the tournament, so there's not a lot we can do.

Q.  Last year there were some rumors that the dogs of the city annoyed you so much.  In the second year of your visit...
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I didn't understand your first question.

Q.  Last year there was some rumors that the dogs of the city annoyed you so much.  Is there any problem like this?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I never had a problem in the first place.  Like you said, they were just rumors.

Q.  What determines the player of the year for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  That's a good question.  Obviously results.  I don't know.  I guess results are really important, yeah.

Q.  Is it size of tournament?  Rankings points?  Consistency?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  To be honest, I think it's a combination of everything.  Yeah, definitely is.
You can't just base it on ranking or one big tournament or consistency.  I think all those things have to go into play.

Q.  Obviously you're a candidate for that.  Outside of yourself, who has had the best year, Serena or Victoria?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, definitely winning two major and the Olympics,  for sure.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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