Australian Open 4th Round Interview

Q. Is your collarbone causing you too much trouble at the moment, Maria?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I’m feeling healthy.

Q. When you’re playing as well as you are, what do you do to keep it up? Does it ever get nerve wracking that it might stop at some point?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it’s really about keeping your focus and, you know, no matter what the score is, no matter if you’re up. You know, I didn’t start the match really great. I was facing a different type of opponent today and I was making a few more mistakes than I would have liked in the beginning.
But after, you know, I held at 2 1, you know, I really started making her play a little bit more. Started really getting under the ball and being aggressive and just had a little bit more energy which really helped me and I carried that throughout the match.
It’s always much easier said than done to keep that focus, especially when you have a first set, you know. And maybe in the end of the second your opponent can start going for it a little bit more. She started serving and volleying the last game, which she wasn’t really doing too much.
All of a sudden, especially in women’s tennis, things can change really quickly. It’s really about, you know, sticking to your game plan, being consistent, but playing your game.

Q. Statistically you’ve probably never had as good a start. Can you remember when you’ve had anything like this, dropping as few games as you have?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think I can remember, not as many games, no. I mean, the year that I won here I don’t think there was many games that I lost, but I don’t think it was five or six.

Q. The year you won here you beat a lot of good players, three former No. 1’s.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Toughest draw in my career.

Q. Dementieva in the fourth round. All respect to Flipkens, but she’s not Dementieva. Do you know where your level is right now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You have to face whoever’s in the next round. Whether it’s Flipkens and it won’t be Dementieva now it’s who’s ahead of you, who’s the next one. It doesn’t really matter. There’s a reason why your opponent gets to that stage of the tournament. I mean, she beats Zakopalova like, what 2 and 1 or something.
She has a different type of game, one you don’t see so much. That’s why she wins so many matches. She’s doing it more consistent. Maybe before she was making a few more errors.
But, you know, she’s a very solid player. It’s such a contrast to the match of my previous round where it was all about power. So that’s certainly not easy, you know, to come from that and adjust to a match like this.

Q. Do you know much about her story, what she’s done in the last year, after blood clots and everything?

Q. She had blood clots last April, ranked 260; she’s done pretty well.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That’s for sure. Definitely. To be playing tennis as well as she is after that, that’s a nice story.

Q. Do you think you’re playing well enough to win this or do you really have to wait till you play some of the fellow high seeds to find that out?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Like I mentioned in my previous answer, it’s not about waiting to see where you are in the semis or finals, it’s about who’s ahead of you.
And my next match is against Makarova. I have to do the right things to beat her.
If I win that, it’s moving on to the next one. That’s how I go about a tournament, a Grand Slam. Obviously I want to be playing my best tennis towards the end of the second week.

Q. You’ve been playing very well, but particularly this tournament we can see lots of return winners. How do you feel about your return at the moment?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel like against Venus I returned pretty well. But if you don’t, I mean, the scoreline is not going to be the way it was. I think that was really important, you know, the return and the serve, the first shot.
The court is playing a little bit faster this year, I feel like. So those are two very extremely important, you know, shots because they start the point off and, you know, hopefully get you in a good position in the court and finish the point how you want to finish it.

Q. So you are happy with your return?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think so. I could have maybe returned a little bit better in the beginning of today’s match, but overall I did, yeah.

Q. When you spend so little time on the match court in matches, do you then go onto the practice court or are you satisfied with just the match? Some people feel they haven’t been extended and want to play more in the day.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have in the past certainly when I felt like I’ve come off a match and I’m feeling like something needs a little bit of extra work or I need a little bit more time in the gym, do a little run.
But it depends. You also have to pace yourself because it’s a two week event. Over the course of those two weeks, it’s important that your body and your mind is as good as it can be towards the end of the second week as it is in the beginning. You’re not going to be as fresh.
The work that you put in before the tournament is the most important. What you do in the off season, you’re not going to put this work in during the tournaments.
I actually love coming to tournaments. You practice less and just go and play matches. It’s like the best case scenario.

Q. How much more time do you spend on recovery than you did maybe four years ago or eight years ago?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I spend a lot more time doing like little shoulder exercises that are a complete bore, that I wish I didn’t have to do, but I do. You know, I have to get treatment every day on the shoulder and also the body.
Yeah, I mean, usually on the days off I spend a good 45 minutes to an hour in the gym. But it’s not like lifting heavy weights. It’s more preventive exercises for the whole body. Then another hour on the massage table. I’m usually doing emails and my trainer is working.

Q. Is there such a thing as getting like a special feeling during a Grand Slam that you know you’re going to play well or is it really match to match, day to day?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It is. The lead up to the tournament, you know, sometimes if you’re playing really good in practice I get a little bit worried. But I never do. I’m horrible in practice most of the time.
I’m like, That’s a great sign, because I come to the matches, you know, and my expectations are quite low.
But I think it depends. Every Grand Slam that I’ve won or done well at, I’ve always felt different actually. You know, sometimes I feel like I’m not playing my best tennis in the beginning, but I start playing better.
And then a couple that I’ve won, I felt like I was playing great from the beginning and I was able to carry that through the whole tournament.

Q. 2008, what match did you know you might win? Was it Justine when you beat her in the quarters?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think so. I was really ready for Justine’s match, especially after losing to her in Madrid.

Q. Do you have any certain habits to give your game confidence before the game? For example, like when you wake up today, what do you usually do? Like choose a certain color of dress or do something that makes you feel good looking or fresh?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, if it was good for business, I’d wear a different dress for every match. But the dresses are the same for every match. If you played well, you’re wearing it again, great; if you didn’t, it’s just bad luck. You have to wear it again.
I mean, I have my routine. I wouldn’t say it’s very superstitious. But I think over the years when you find a routine that works for you, you stick with it, whether it’s the times and when you warm up, how long, how long you like to give yourself before a match.
It’s more those things that make you just feel comfortable because you know it’s worked for you before.

Q. Are you still practicing your Yoga every day?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: My Yoga? No, I haven’t. I’ve got so many other things to practice. Yoga just really isn’t on that list anymore.

Q. If you were to make a new Sugarpova flavor based on your first four matches, what would it be called?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think you get a bag for that (laughter).
Oh, I don’t know.

Q. Happypova?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know. I would call it steamy, but just for different reasons. (Laughter.) You know what I’m talking about, Max.
Russian questions now (laughter).