Australian Open Pre-Tournament Interview

Q. How do you feel?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Good. I’m feeling really good. Obviously, I would have loved to have gone into Brisbane and play that. I wish I would have had maybe two, three extra days to be able to practice some more overhead stuff and serve and whatnot.

Yeah, but I came here a little bit earlier than obviously I would have wanted to. I’ve been able to get a lot of good practice in, playing on center court, be in Melbourne for a little bit.

Q. Can you describe what happened? Did you wake up with the neck stiff in the morning? Was that the first time it ever happened that it was bad enough to prevent you from practicing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was something I was feeling a little bit. Then I woke up I think it was the day before Christmas Eve, it was a Sunday. I was like, Wow, this is not too good. Christmas Eve I had to do like a few tests, machines, MRI. It was just not good enough, certainly not for Korea, Dr. (indiscernible). If I get anything in that type of area… He just wanted to make sure that I really took care of that.

Q. Did it ruin your Christmas?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not at all. It actually gave me an extra couple days at home. I had more time to wrap (smiling). Just what I need in my life, another few presents to wrap.

Q. You’ve gone into Grand Slams a lot of different ways. Going in this time, does it really matter that you haven’t had match play or does it not matter at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I would have loved to come in with a few matches. But sometimes circumstances don’t allow that, and that’s okay.

To me, I’d rather be going onto the court knowing that I’m healthy. Yes, I might be a little bit rusty, but I’ll work my way through it. I’m experienced enough to know the adjustments I have to make in those types of circumstances. I went to Brisbane. I certainly would have loved to step on the court and play those matches.

Q. Do you actually play matches?

Q. Who would you play against?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I played a couple of the junior boys here, actually a good couple Australian kids. I think one of them got a wild card in the main draw. I played against Daniela a set out on Margaret Court just now. It was nice to be able to go out and play in front of a crowd because I haven’t done that in a bit.

Other than that, just some girls here and there.

Q. You handled those junior boys okay, no problem?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Hmm. One of them was really on top of me and then I got really mad. I think he had eight set points and I ended up winning the set. I’m not going to tell who it is. Too embarrassed. I don’t think he slept well after that one.

Then another one, I think it was Luke Saville, we didn’t actually finish. The set took too long.

Yeah, it was just nice to be able to have different types of game styles as well.

Q. Joining Twitter sometime this month?

Q. When is that going to happen?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s a surprise (smiling).

Q. Do you have a user name picked out and everything?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Maybe (smiling).

Q. Can you give us a hint?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I would tell you if I could.

Q. You were pretty active on Facebook. You’ve grown to like it a lot more now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That’s my New Year’s resolution, to be a little more active. I was getting a little lazy in the last few years. Certainly the last six months I wanted to step it up. I’m actually really enjoy doing it. I like to write. When I’m taking pictures now, I’m actually thinking of taking pictures for my fans to be able to see what’s going on in my life a little bit. I think it’s a really nice interaction. I also like writing, making it fun and interesting, giving a different perspective than what people see of me on a daily basis in my sport.

Q. Is Sugarpova putting it more out there as a saleswoman, a brand partially?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mostly do it for my fans. I think I have over nine million fans. I don’t quite really believe that. I think Max is probably just pressing the button all the time, all the different computers, all his different devices.

But it’s certainly a great way to reach out to the world. I mean, when I look at the incredible fan base I have from all around the world, no matter. I just went to Brazil, I haven’t been there in a few years, just to see the excitement, to see a different fan base.

When people write me letters, they mention their only kind of connection that’s more personal is through my social media. That’s when I realize it’s so important to me.

Q. Do you ever answer any of those letters? Nine million people are a lot.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: The letters or the Facebook posts?

Q. The communications.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t write letters back. Most of them end with, Can you please send me an autograph? Yeah, my mother and I actually have a whole system where she goes through all the mail and I sign as many as I can back.

Q. What was another New Year’s resolution?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, I don’t know. You know New Year’s resolutions never come true. I just hope to keep one, so…

I’m not very good at those. But this one I’m going to try really hard.

Q. Tennis wise?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Are you asking me for my goals for this year?

Q. Whatever you want to talk about.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, I certainly have a lot of goals. The off season was a really good time for me to look back on the previous year, just settle down, have some time off. I was also thinking about the things I want to work on, goals I want to accomplish.

But those are just step by steps. I don’t like to talk about my open goals too much.

Q. You mentioned looking back. Do you look back on who you were five years ago and all that’s gone on since then? What do you make of all that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Certainly I was playing some of my best tennis in my career. Little did I know six months later I would not be playing tennis at all.

It’s certainly nice to look back at those memories, nice to be able to sit here. I think this is, what, my 9th or 10th year playing the Australian Open. It’s nice to be still here in the middle of my career and go out on a court and compete in front of thousands of people.

Q. Is it good to be back in Australia?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It is. I’m not sure if it’s because you’re training for a month and a half and you’re officially board of training and life in that period of time that you really want to get going again.

You’re just over the fitness, you’re over your coach for a little bit. You really want to go out into a match atmosphere. Part of it is because you’re coming here. It’s summertime. Everyone is in a great mood, chatty, probably half drunk it’s so hot, you just want cold Mojitos.

But, yeah, I love it. They’re so passionate about the sport itself.

Q. When you won in 2008, six months later you were out with the shoulder, was there anything here that you could feel here, a little sensation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t want to look back to that. Yeah, I mean, certainly anything with the shoulder, the surgery, it’s not the most pleasant memories.

Q. Because Serena has been playing so great and is considered by many as the favorite to win the tournament, does it take a little bit of the pressure off everyone else and put it pretty much on her shoulders?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think everyone reacts to it a little bit differently. There’s a reason why everyone’s playing here and everyone’s in the draw. You can’t worry about somebody else that’s not even close to you in a certain part of the draw. You have to take it a step at a time.

That’s certainly my goal and my job here.

Q. You’ve had a lot of tight matches with Venus over the years. What are your thoughts on that matchup?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: First of all, we still have to get to that point and then we can discuss it further.

There’s no doubt that she’s a champion, an experienced one at that. No matter where she’s ranked, what level she’s at, she’s a tough opponent.

Q. When you haven’t played much at all going into a slam, how do you keep yourself calm knowing that you might not play your best early on and build from there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it’s just experience, maybe giving yourself that extra slack in case you do make a few more errors, you don’t concentrate maybe as well as you would if you were in that match groove.

But, yeah, just giving yourself a little bit more room for error I guess as well, going out there. Just because you’re rusty doesn’t mean you’re not going to play well. You might maybe go for a little bit more in certain situations.

I’m too experienced to feel that way. I shouldn’t be feeling that way.