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January 2, 2014

Maria Sharapova


4‑6, 6‑3, 6‑2

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Of all the things to get a work out on the court, she can sure find a line, huh?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, she's a really tough opponent.  I've had fairly good success against her in the past, but she's had her bit of success.  She's won this tournament before, so I knew that she's able to play on this court and she enjoys it.
For me it was a slow start.  I wasn't very sharp in the beginning.  I'm happy that I pulled through, and I guess at this stage it's a good match for me to get through.

Q.  Would you have preferred to play yesterday?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I would've loved it obviously.  Defaults are never what you prefer, especially in my situation because I haven't played in a while.
But I can't really control that, so not much I could do.

Q.  You looked a lot more comfortable in the last two sets than the first set.  Was that just rust?  Lack of confidence?  Just kind of waiting for the rhythm to come?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, we had a few breaks in the beginning of that first set, and then I had a couple break points to go up a break but didn't convert.
Yeah, I think it's just finding your way through and from the first point just really stepping up, something when you don't do for while there is nothing that really substitutes that type of adrenaline and match play.
So that's why I'm happy that I was able to get through it.

Q.  How is your shoulder holding up?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Good.  Fairly well.

Q.  Any pain during the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No.  I felt really good today.

Q.  What did Sven have to say when he came on the court in the first set?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, he said just a few little things.  Obviously at that point in the match he's not going to say so much.  But he said I wasn't far off, just a few little things.
She was pretty far behind the baseline and I wasn't really taking advantage of that.  Things that maybe he's able to see from the sides.

Q.  You set up a potential semi with Serena.  How important is it to line up against someone like that ahead of the first Grand Slam?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, absolutely.  I haven't had a lot of success against her in the past.  You know, it's the first tournament of the year.  I came here wanting to play as many matches as I could and obviously wanting to play the best.
There is no substitute for getting ready for at Grand Slam tan competing against the best.  She's been on a roll the lost couple of years with her level and the way that she's been able to play.  I've competed against her a few times last year; didn't work.
You always hope that you can go out and give yourself a chance to do better next time.

Q.  I know you are not intimidated by her, but what what's the feeling when you go into matches?  Is it exciting?  Is it challenging?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, it's all of it.  You're going up against a great champion that's playing great tennis at the moment.  You know that you have to raise your level in order to beat her.  That's the excitement you feel, is you know have you to step up on the line and expect yourself to raise that level.

Q.  It's early in the season for both of you.  Do you feel like you have to play better than today to get past her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I think with every match I'm going to improve.  I didn't come here thinking from the first or second match I'm going to be playing my best tennis of the year.  That's why I said it was important for me to get through a match like this because I haven't had those moments where you're down and you have to get yourself back up again and find a way to win.
I'm happy that I improved towards the end of the match.  Not really happy with the way I started.

Q.  How are you finding the pace of the court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It's quite fast, uh‑huh.

Q.  Just in terms of your rivalry with Serena, seemed like the French Open was your last match and one of your more competitive matches against her.  You feel like you're getting a little closer?  You played a lot against her in the last couple years.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I mean, some of the matches were a bit closer than others.  It's tough to take away all of if.  When you go out on the court in a new time, you can't really rely on everything that happened in the past.  You got to start from scratch from the first point.
Of course I know I've tried and I didn't succeed in the last many times that I've played her, but I'm setting up an opportunity to go out there and try to change that, and I'm going to try to do that.

Q.  How would you describe your rivalry with Serena?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I think I got to win a few times in order to call it rivalry.  (Laughter.)

Q.  We were talking about this before, if you looked at one thing that turned it around for her, was it Australian Open 2005, 8‑6 in the third?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  2005?  Oh, my God, I can't go back that far.  (Laughing.)
Q.Semifinals.  I think you might have even had match points in that.  You beat here in 2004 twice, Wimbledon Championships, and then you were right there with her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Right, that was a long time ago.

Q.  I know you can remember.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I quite honestly don't.

Q.  You don't remember the intensity level?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think the intensity level of our matches are always high.  I think she goes up and wants to play the best tennis against me.  That's certainly no secret because she shows that on the court.
We've had pretty intense matches in our career.

Q.  Ever gone back to watch the ones from '04, the wins you had, to see if there is anything you could pick up on from that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I don't have too much time to look back at '04.  I have a lot of things going on in my life, so...

Q.  You talked to Clarey about your relationship with Serena off‑court.  Talk a little bit about that.  You guys are clearly the two most popular women's athletes in the world.  You earn a lot, you've won a lot of slam titles, but never really formed a close bond.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, that was one of the reasons why I wanted to do that interview is because there were a lot of questions being asked and a lot of questions thrown in the air.
I thought it was really important to clear the air, and I think I said everything I had to say about it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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