Cincinnati 3rd Round Interview

Q. Talk about your match. How did you like the way you played today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I had a tough opponent, considering I lost to her in the beginning of the year. I was happy to get my revenge in Stuttgart, but I knew coming in she’s an aggressive player. I had to try to take that away from her.
In the end when I was down, I was just happy that I was able to, yeah, win the match in the end in two sets.

Q. Along those lines of playing her before, is it any different playing someone from your same country as opposed to the rest of the field?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it’s always a little bit more difficult, but we know each other quite well. We know each other’s game very well, so not a lot of secrets out there on the court in terms of our strengths or weaknesses or things that we have done before in matches against each other.
But, yeah, I mean, she’s a really good server when she has a great day. Today I tried to attack her second serve a little bit more and put some pressure on that side.

Q. What do you think the difference was in the tiebreak when you were able to really blow past her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, just the high percentage of first serves, not giving her too many looks on the second serves, and grinding it out, really. There was a couple long points especially, breaking to go into the tiebreaker, that were really important. Just being there, you know, and making sure that I kind of had a presence in that breaker instead of just going away.

Q. Do you like to play on not a small court but a smaller court? It’s a little more intimate?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It is. I have never actually played on the Grandstand here at this event. Definitely more noisier, but I love the feeling of intimate stadiums. I have always actually preferred that in my career.

Q. You have Simona Halep next. Talk about that match.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: We have played on hard but a long time ago. Our last few matches this year have been on clay courts, so this will be a pretty new encounter.
Again, we know each other’s game very well because we played quite recently in the middle of the season. She’s had one of her best seasons in her career. Obviously being No. 2 in the world is a really big achievement. It will be a tough match.

Q. You have a different coach now than you did last year here at this time. Can you talk about what Sven has brought to your game and elaborate on what other coaches haven’t got?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: He comes in with quite a bit of experience being on the tour over to years, you know, coaching against me for many, many years, being on the other side.
I think visually and perspective‑wise that helps me because he’s seen me play a lot of my matches and seen me play a lot. He brings really good energy into practice, and, you know, put in a very calm kind of charismatic way, which is nice.
Been through a couple of coaches, different coaches in my career, and I’m currently quite happy with the team.

Q. He’s sort of anything but calm when you’re playing. Is that something that you feed off of? A lot of coaches are sort of stone faced throughout matches.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m usually a player that plays with energy, and I think I bring that energy to the court with me. I know my team kind of feels that, as well. I think we work extremely hard on a daily basis, just like many other teams do.
I guess when you’re out there on the court it’s kind of show time and you want to give everything you have, so their support is really great.

Q. I’m wondering if this tournament and at majors, as well, do you watch other matches on TV, or do you attend other matches either for scouting or just for entertainment purposes?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I watch a little bit. I spend a lot of time on the treatment table after my matches. We do have the matches on TV. I’ll catch a glimpse. I’m usually doing a lot of work e‑mails and watching a bit of tennis.
I don’t like to watch too much because you’re constantly surrounded by the sport every day. It’s nice to get away and be in your own world for a bit.

Q. Do you remember the butterflies or the nerves when you first played a major, and if so, how you’ve dealt with those in that situation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I started in the qualifying. I started in the juniors and moved up professionally to the qualifying. It was all quite surreal because you’re kind of in the big leagues.
Yeah, even though you’re playing on the back courts, you still have a lot more fans watching, people who don’t quite know who you are, but certainly a lot more than the junior tournaments. There is a lot more expectations. You know, a lot more going on outside.
So it’s a real, proper tennis event. That’s kind of new and something that you deal with, because it’s almost not just like playing a tennis match. There is so much hype around the event itself.
That was really something you really had to adjust to.

Q. Are you planning on having an exhibit for your candy company at the US Open?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I am actually. We’re doing a pop‑up shop in a hotel coffee shop.

Q. That must be really cool, an idea like this and it’s taken off wildly. Can you share your thoughts and how that all came about?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. The pop‑up shop in London actually just came about when I knew that there was a good space in the Wimbledon Village which was nicely located from where people walk from Wimbledon. It was great to have that type of traffic. Designing the store was really fun.
It’s always fun to see something go up in such a short amount of time. Creatively that’s what I love to do, because I loved architecture ever since I was a young girl. Putting all the pieces together was a lot of fun. And trying to keep to the budget, which is always very difficult with me (smiling). I do have those problems too.
And then just seeing the excitement around it and the people and then all the pictures and the photo booth and the success of it all, that was really fun. The NewYork one is a smaller version of that, as it’s not my own store. But it will still be a chance for the people to go in and try the candy and all that.

Q. What part of NewYork is that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s going to be close to the public library.

Q. How many flavors are you up to?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: 15. Yeah.

Q. You’re going to go how many?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m not sure. I think there’s a few different directions that I want to go to. Maybe chocolate in the future. But, yeah, there is still a couple that I want to launch that I’m still trying to perfect in the factory, but it’s taking a little bit longer than I want to.

Q. When I talk to the younger fans of you today, it looks like the U.S. is becoming a training hub for many foreign players now. People feel if you don’t move to U.S. and train at the academy in Florida you’re not going to make it to the top. But do you have any advice for foreign players living outside of U.S.?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think that could have been said maybe when I was growing up and playing tennis, because I can only judge it based on my experience and not having a lot of, you know, tennis coaches and tennis facilities in the city where I was from in Sochi. So that was always very difficult to find.
When you get to a point where you realize you want to take this further and be a bit more professional about the sport itself, you have to make decisions based on that and based on availability and the best coaches that can help you. For us, that was always Florida.
But now I think because tennis has become such a global sport and such a popular sport around the world, I think there’s much less of that. You can get the same type of quality in different countries. You see that a lot in Russia ‑ even in a city like Sochi ‑ to Japan, to China. Tennis itself it booming there.
So I think it’s become quite international, and that’s helped tennis facilities and the growth of the sport. So many youngsters are playing tennis, which is fun to see.