Q. I want to talk about your dog. How important is him in your life that you are traveling all the world with him?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I have had my dog for many, many years. It’s been nice to have a traveling buddy, but he doesn’t travel with me to many tournaments. Actually, he doesn’t travel outside of the States. I think it would be quite difficult for any dog.
It’s been nice to have him here, and I also take him in Miami and New York. He knows the States pretty well.
Q. A lot of people ask you what’s going through your head during matches. I’m curious, when it comes to the really critical moments, do you even formulate thoughts with words in your head or are you speaking to yourself or are your thoughts visceral reactions, you know what to do and it’s pure instinct at that juncture?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it always depends on the situation. When you feel that things are going well you really try to keep that momentum by telling yourself to focus and kind of keeping that momentum as you go on and as you’re in the point to not let down.
Because I think within a time frame of an hour to three hours ‑ it can be as long as you make it to be ‑ you can have your little dips. And always find that it’s really how fast you get out of it that helps you towards the rest of the match.
Q. You had great matches against Azarenka in the past. How do you see the next one?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think it’s nice to be able to play against each other quite early in the season, I would say. It’s still only, what, our fourth ‑ for me ‑ our my fourth tournament this season. I think it will be a good challenge for both of us.
We have had some really good matches in the past, even though we haven’t played against each other in a while. She’s made a few comebacks. She’s already been playing really good tennis. So, yeah, I always look forward to our matches, and I’m sure it will be a good one.
Q. She’s coming back from injury, and you know what it takes. Is it tricky to play a player like this compared to previous years?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, I think first, she’s made a couple of comebacks last year. I think she tried to come back a couple of times. I remember in Asia she just decided to take the end of the year off.
So, you know, I think between coming back and some of the times off, I think she’s ready to be back. I think she took the right amount of time to come back and be ready to play. I think it’s always a little bit difficult in the beginning, because you find yourself healthy but yet you have to perform at a high level.
I think she’s already done a good job of that in some matches last year, and this year especially.
Q. Is it the rivalry you enjoy? You have had rivalries with Serena. Is there something special with Azarenka? Something different?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, absolutely. I think we have had some really good matches. I don’t remember which one because the last one, but our match at the French Open was quite memorable and physical.
I think all our matches become quite physical. But, yeah, I think it is a bit of a match that a lot of people enjoy watching.