Australian Open 1st Round Interview

Q. Does this year feel any different to previous years coming to the Open? Coaching situation sorted out, tournament win before you get here, feel different at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think I’m in a much more comfortable situation than I was last year. My goal last year at this time was just to play as many matches as I could to get a good feeling to see where my shoulder was, where I was physically, you know, how I would cope with playing a lot of matches. Yeah, of course with a new team, a few new members of the team. So it’s been a year since that. It was definitely great to get a title in last week. Played a few different matches. I don’t think I’ve done that in my career, winning a title to begin the year. That was nice. When you come here everything is new and fresh. Of course, it’s a nice feeling to have that victory, but you have to start from scratch.

Q. What do you make of your form tonight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I felt the conditions were a little different than the week before. I practiced in the day. I played a few night matches in Brisbane with the roof. It was a little cooler out there. Overall the courts have been playing a little faster. Tonight was a little heavier. But I played an opponent that’s capable of playing very good tennis. She’s been injured a little bit I believe in the last year or so, but she can play. She’s got some, you know, big weapons. For a first round against someone that’s already played a few matches, I knew I had to be really strong from the beginning.

Q. What do you make of Li Na’s announcement tonight that she’s expecting? What sort of mom do you think she might be?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think she’d be a great mom. Yeah, I think it’s a really exciting new chapter in her life. Yeah, it’s something that I believe she’s wanted for a really long time. It’s really nice to be able to settle down and focus on her family and her husband and her future child.

Q. Is that something you eventually would like?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely. I grew up being very close to — my mom had me when she was very young, but I grew up having her as my best friend. It’s a special — I wish that hopefully one day I’ll be able to have that type of relationship with my mom and with my parents, because I know when you’re younger you’re a bit more rebellious. But I’ve always enjoyed spending time with my parents, even though my dad was a coach of mine for many years. Still is when I’m home. I love having them around. I’m an only child, so they get to spoil me a little bit. But, yeah, it’s a special feeling.

Q. Your colleague, Ana Ivanovic, had a tough result today. If I read the record right, since your first year I don’t think you’ve had a single loss in a Grand Slam first round.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have. I think it was against Kirilenko here.

Q. It’s been pretty good, though in opening rounds.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think especially from the media and the press side, you always talk about the matchups, the draw, as in the future opponents. Realistically it’s important to focus on what’s ahead you. You can’t look further than your next opponent. I think we all take that extremely serious. You never know what you’re going to get. You get really inspired opponents that are not seeded in the first round that are either coming from qualifying, and everyone’s eager to do well in this type of environment. You can’t ever underestimate their potential and how they can play. They’re going to fight till the very last point. There were quite a few upsets today. Of course I was very well aware of that. I watched some of it on TV. I had a long day before my match. I certainly didn’t want to be one of them.

Q. Sort of through your career you haven’t played much the week leading into a slam. Is that something you’ve done consciously? If so, explain that.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: The week right before?

Q. Yes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, just never really been my style. I always look to perform really deep in the week. I find that if I’m playing a tournament right before and I’m playing five matches, I’m coming into a Grand Slam looking to hopefully play seven, thinking within three weeks to play 12 matches, I don’t know if that’s physically or mentally very smart. I’d rather come into a tournament feeling fresh and feeling like I had good training and practice. I’m not someone that comes in feeling I have practice matches. I play a couple matches, see how it goes. It’s never really been my style. That’s why I think I’ve never preferred to play the week before.