Australian Open 2nd Round Interview

Q. Slow start. Looked like a tough match today.

Q. How would you assess it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it is definitely a slow start. I think after I had been waiting for a long time, you know, she came out playing really well. Deep, hard, low, making me hit a lot balls and I was just making a lot of unforced errors and it was just going one way.
The most important thing was that I didn’t let go of that set, even though I was down 3 0, Love 40. Just played it a point at a time, and little by little got back in the set and won that one. Then stayed tough in the end there. That’s the most important thing.

Q. In hindsight, was it a match you needed?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely. Looking back, obviously you want to play faster matches with an easier scoreline. That would be great, but it’s also good to play these types matches where you’re put in a situation where you have to find a way to win, especially when your opponent is playing really well as well. I think that’s something that I’m happy with today.

Q. How long did it take for you to figure out her patterns?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She’s someone that plays really flat and she loves her down the lines. Also has a pretty flat first serve. In the beginning I was having little bit of trouble with that. I think I was not staying low enough.
Yeah, and then I started making her play a little bit and made her think. Then she started going for it a little bit. But overall, she played a good, quality match. I really needed to step it up.

Q. Seemed pretty relaxed. Are you enjoying just being able to get about your busy and not worrying about Caroline being No. 1 or Kim being the favorite? Can you just forget about it and just play tennis?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, I’ve been there and I’ve been No. 1; I’ve won Grand Slams; I’ve been in a position where, you know, in semifinals or finals in Grand Slams where I’ve faced tough opponents and had to beat them in order to be the champion.
I’ve done that in my career. This is a different stage in my career. This is where I’m trying to find my groove after being gone for a while, and also finding it on the court and playing matches. I’m enjoy that. I mean, it’s also tough to say that you’re enjoying when you’re struggling a little bit and maybe not winning the matches that you want to be winning. But when you’re feeling like you’re on the right path, it’s gratifying that you’re out there and just trying to improve, really.

Q. With things happening off court, is there a certain freedom on court that you haven’t experienced before, freedom of not having to wait, always be that person that’s at the pointy end of the field? You can adjust get about doing your trade?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it’s really a matter of being in the zone, being in your own zone. Whether you’re going to a tournament and you’re the favorite or whether the people think you need to prove something. Everyone is in a different stage in their careers. As the years go on, there’s always a new generation that is behind you. When you retire there’s always going to be the next you, a better you. That was the way tennis is and sport is. In the time when you’re playing, you want to try to make your mark as much as you can and go out there and do your business. That’s what I try to do.

Q. Your return games were pretty good, but the serve games you’re still struggling. I’m guessing it’s going to be important for to you hold more frequently.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I served much better today. I was definitely smarter in many ways. With the wind going one side, I did a good job of having to change a few things, and I was able to do that within the match.
Yeah, I think it’s also a little bit of, you know, the serve and the first volley. I missed a few of those today.
In the beginning, I was just not really ready for her deep balls. Maybe that’s something that I’ll work on, just reacting a little faster.

Q. So how well do you know Goerges? Doesn’t she wear your collection?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she wears my collection. I played her last year in Strasbourg on clay. She’s playing really well. I mean, she won her first tournament I believe last year. Yeah, she has a big first serve and she’s a big hitter. You know, work on a few things tomorrow to get ready for that.
But, yeah, I’m expecting her to play well because I think she will go out and not have much to lose.

Q. Do you have any control over what she wears?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have a lot of input in the design of what she wears. I can’t force her to wear something if she doesn’t like it. She’s liked all of it so far since she started wearing it. It’s good news.