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February 11, 2013

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Another week on the tour where there will be a battle between you, Serena, and Vika for the No. 1 spot.  Is that kind of exciting, make women's tennis exciting, or are we more obsessed with that than you guys?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I think it certainly makes for an exciting storyline, you know, but from a personal perspective, I think, you know, the further you go in the week, the better chance you give yourself to regain that ranking.  So I think that, you know, all of us will be focusing on just one step at a time.
It also, you know, obviously depends on other players' results, so it's tough to really focus on that too much.

Q.  How does it feel being back in Doha?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It feels nice.  It's been a few years.  You know, I missed the Championships here while it was played here, but, you know, I have had really nice results.  It's always good to come back to a court where you've played well and had good results at.
Yeah, it's certainly nice to be back at a place where you felt really comfortable.

Q.  Russia won yesterday.  Is there any chance for you to play the semifinal in April?  It's the week before Stuttgart.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Right.  I'm not ruling anything out.  I haven't spoken to our captain yet and the Federation, but it's certainly something that, you know, I'm sure we will be discussing soon.

Q.  You won this tournament before.  Do you think that holds an advantage here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† I think the memories of that are obviously very nice, but when you come in a different era‑‑ I haven't played here in many years, but there is a reason I felt really comfortable playing here, and I have won the title a couple of times, so it makes me feel good coming back to an arena at which I feel comfortable about playing with.

Q.  Apart from the No. 1 rankings, there is also the Diamond Ball trophy.  We all love diamonds.  How do you feel about adding another silverware to your collection?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  That certainly would be nice.  You know, I don't think I have a trophy with diamonds on it.
I have a few that are gold and silver but not diamonds, so that would be new and very special.

Q.¬† You're quite active in social media.¬† You update your fans quite regularly on the things you do on and off the court.¬† Is this something you look forward to, or do you feel it's part of your job as a world‑class tennis player?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No, I feel like if it was part of my job, I wouldn't be doing something like that.   I don't think I'm maybe as active on it as other people are, because I try not to feel the need to always have it updated or just in order to keep things updated.
When I want to say something or put a picture up on Facebook, I want it to be right, and I don't want to just do it because I have skipped a few days or something like that.
You know, for me it's become kind of like a travel diary, in a way.  I think it's a great way to connect with fans and people that don't get a chance to see your everyday life and what you go through and give them a little bit of insight, you know, and things.  I like to write them, as well.

Q.  So what do you do with all the trophies?  Do you have a special place for them or scattered around or in drawers?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  They're scattered around.  My mom is kind of in charge of organizing.  She's like "the" interior designer in my homes.  And, yeah, honestly if you come to my home, I don't know if you'd actually know that I was a successful tennis player, because like some of the trophies like might even be in the kitchen somewhere.  I think actually one of my awards we use as like a hat hanger.  They're kind of all over the place.
The main ones are on the same shelf with my medal.

Q.  Which is the hat hanger?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I don't know if it's a trophy.  I think it's the ESPY award, because it's like round, nice to put hats on.

Q.  You had a great run in Australia, obviously losing in the end, but with that streak and everything, what did you take away from that?  Since Australia, what have you been doing, and how is your state of mind coming into this tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, you know, I played good tennis.  You know, certainly not in my last match.  I wish I would have done a few things differently, but that's the past.  You know, you can't look back too much.  You look back at it to know maybe in the future to do a little something different in certain situations or maybe with a game plan.
But as far as my preparation for here, you know, last year I went straight to Europe to play Fed Cup, and it was actually quite busy and a lot of traveling.  This year I got to go home and just train for a bit.  That was nice after being in Australia for over a month and to prepare for here.
It's quite a long trip for only one event, but I love being here.  I'm excited for the tournament.  It's a tough field, and I certainly want to raise my level and play well.

Q.  When you last won this tournament it was quite a while ago, but you actually said you thought by now you'd be retired.  We're very glad you're not.  But do you sometimes look back and think how you've reequipped your game on the journey since then and actually pinch yourself to think that you've actually been able to get this far?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, absolutely.  Well, I'm sure I also didn't think I'd have shoulder surgery and be out of the game for a year at 21 years old.
There are a lot of things in life that I don't think anyone can predict, including yourself, especially in a professional sport, you know, and I think that just teaches you not to take anything for granted.
I'm sure when I was a 17‑year‑old girl I thought, you know, eight years, I'd be 25 and I'd be sitting in a media chair. ¬†You know, I might be a bit hesitant to say that I would be in that position just because it is many years, and here I am and I have a completely different outlook on the game and how long I want to play and how much more I feel like I have in me.
So I would say it's a very pleasant surprise.

Q.  Given how you've survived, is it still important to evolve your game and keep doing things with it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Absolutely.  Yeah, it's huge.  I think the game evolves and the game only gets bigger.
It's much more physical, you know.  Fitness is such a huge part of the game right now.  Staying fit and keeping that level and that consistency throughout the whole year, you know, you can't stress enough the importance of that, because so many tournaments, so many weeks, it's the practices in between.
You know, health is the most important thing.  It's the recovery, you know, staying healthy, going from match to match, making sure that your body is ready for the next ones.

Q.  How do you feel about your start of the year?  You blitzed your way through the first matches at the Australian Open and then lost a close one.  Do you feel it's a good start or not?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† I mean, you know, I came to Brisbane and I missed that.¬† I wish I could have played that warmup tournament.¬† But with not having any matches and not playing for two‑and‑a‑half months to going and playing at that level and losing in the semis, you know, I will take it, but I would have certainly loved to do better.

Q.¬† The tour has actually skewed older now than when you were starting.¬† Actually, at 25 you're one of the young folks‑‑
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, thank you.

Q.¬† ‑‑ even though you have been here a long time.¬† How do you see that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† I feel like I'm somewhere in the middle.¬† You know, growing up I never really ‑‑I knew that there were players that had been on the tour for a long time, and I considered myself quite young and new and maybe a bit inexperienced, but I feel like I'm somewhere in the middle where I'm still playing against players that were there when I started and when I was coming up, and yet I'm seeing a whole newer generation that's doing better.¬† Maybe certainly not 16, 17, 18 years old, but a bit later.
It's nice to see, you know, because it's nice to see the game evolving in that way.

Q.  I have seen on Twitter that you're not following any WTA player.  Are there specific reasons for that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Not really.  I think I know so much about tennis in general that my interests are kind of away from the sport.  I'm involved in it so much.  It's such a big part of my life.
So I don't really feel the necessity to, you know ‑‑yeah, if I want to have a conversation with someone, I pretty much have their number, so I don't feel like I need to do it in front of thousands and millions of people.

Q.  2003, I think that's when you won your first tournament, almost a decade since then.  Anything you would have done differently?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Nothing.  It's tough to live life, you know, having any regrets and thinking about what you could have changed or done differently.
I mean, I have been playing this game for such a long time, and I came to the United States at seven years old with my father, having huge dreams.  We turned that somehow into reality, so tough to see any regrets in that path.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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