Australian Open 3rd Round Interview

Q. At the last press conference you said there would be no surprises tonight. How surprised were you with at least the first set and a half?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I was a really determined player out there because I knew the tennis that she’s capable of producing and playing.
Despite what she’s ranked or seeded, it doesn’t matter when you go out on the court. She’s been there. She’s experienced enough to know no matter if you’re playing the third round, the quarters, or the final, you have to be ready.
I certainly was. Since the draw came out, I was really looking forward to that matchup.

Q. Of the eight you’ve now played, only one has gone to three sets. Is it a coincidence that it’s fairly decisive one way or the other?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s not something that you’re thinking about certainly during the match. I try to keep the level that I had in the first set and carry that into the second. I did a good job of maintaining that.
Lost a few closer points. Made a few more errors. She started improving her game towards the end of the second set, so I was really happy I was able to close it out the way I did.

Q. Has much changed about her game? Did you have to do anything differently to prepare for tonight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, we’ve played each other so many times. It’s not like we’re looking at each other’s videos because we haven’t seen each other play. We’ve faced each other. We’ve seen each other play on television. I saw her play way before I even started.
That’s why I said there’s really no secrets. We know each other’s games very well. A lot of it is about executing from our own sides. I thought I did a good job of what I had in my head and what I wanted to accomplish out there today.

Q. That was a big celebration at the end there. Were you thinking about another Williams sister in the final at that moment?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I lost a couple I was up 5 1, down Love 40, and it was swinging back and forth for those couple of games. Then I was up 30 Love, it got back to 30 All, and I served that game out really well. I was just really pumped. Why shouldn’t I be?

Q. It will be your 17th quarterfinal in a slam if you make it that far.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s the fourth round, right?

Q. If you win on Sunday.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was like, Hey, am I in the quarters? Great. Do I not know something you know (laughter)?

Q. Your 17 quarterfinal shows consistency. But does it show you anything else?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s always the ultimate goal is to get to the later stages of the Grand Slams. That’s really where you need to improve, and the matches always get more tougher and more physical.
In a way, I am quite experienced about how to pace myself mentally and physically throughout these two weeks, because it’s a long grind. Not one match is the same. Not one day is the same.
Of course, it’s tough to be as fresh in the finals as you are in the first round. But it’s certainly a great achievement, and I’m happy that I’ve been able to be so consistent. But I’m not looking to stop in the quarterfinals.

Q. Have you been pressing yourself so far in this tournament? Do you still feel like you have another level to go?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: There’s always things that you want to improve on. I think the reason I started so well in this tournament is because I knew that I had to. I knew I was coming in without any match play. It’s tough. I hadn’t played a match, you know, a professional match, a real match, in over two months.
Coming into a Grand Slam, it’s not always the best case scenario. I’ve been experienced enough to manage that.
But I was coming into the first round knowing that I was healthy and ready to go. I think I was just much more mentally prepared, and I knew maybe I would make a few more mistakes than I would if I had match play.
But I was just really determined from the start.

Q. Has that surprised you, how well you have played?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Considering I didn’t play any matches, I’m happy with my form.
But, like I said, I’m always looking to improve. That’s always my goal.

Q. Can you talk about Flipkens, your next opponent?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I believe the last time we played against each other was many years ago at Roland Garros. I think this is the best slam that she’s done, right, fourth round? So there’s a reason she’s at this level. It’s great to see her playing like that. She did extremely well in the juniors.
She’s obviously doing a good job of transitioning her game into the pros. She’s a tricky player, uses her slice really well, and a good athlete as well; moves around the court quite well. It’s an opponent I really have to look out for.

Q. There was a lot of talk today about the Lance Armstrong interview. Did you catch any of it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I saw a little bit of it, yeah.

Q. Do you have any thoughts on his admission today, how he justified it as not cheating?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it’s just a really sad story, sad for that sport itself. I’m happy that our sport is as clean as it can be and that we’re constantly tested. You know, we give whereabouts of where we are every single day of the year. Hopefully not on birthdays and Christmas Eve, that would be pretty tough.
Although they did show up on my birthday and I was very disappointed. They did a couple of years ago. I said, Unless you bring flowers, I’m okay with it. But they came empty handed (laughter).
So as long as we’re getting tested, whatever it takes, urine, blood, we’re all here to make the sport as clean as it can be.

Q. Do you feel tennis is pretty clean at this moment?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I do very much. For the amount of times that we get tested throughout the year and as random as they are, definitely.

Q. You are thinking about the next match, but you beat Venus today. How do you think about the performance of Serena Williams to win this title?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She’s on the other side of the draw and other players are on the other side of the draw as well. Until you get to that stage, and if you do, if you’re facing each other, that’s the point when you’re thinking about that particular opponent.

Q. Have you heard if Flipkens had some advice from Kim Clijsters?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’ve heard she’s kind of taken her under her wing. I think that’s great.