Indian Wells 4th Round Interview

Q. Tough start; fairly easy finish. Talk about your form and the conditions and her and you.

Q. And you.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: And me? Yeah, slow start. Just didn’t get a good rhythm on her game from the beginning. Yeah, I think maybe I was going for the lines a little bit more than I had to, especially in the first few games when you haven’t really ‑‑don’t know too much about your opponent or haven’t played her.
But, yeah, I thought towards the end of the first and beginning of the second set I really stepped it up, was being more aggressive, and really gave myself a better margin than I did throughout the first set.

Q. Looks like you’re going to be playing four straight kind of counterpunching baseliner types.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Good preparation for the clay.

Q. Exactly. No doubt.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just getting ready mentally.

Q. You know Errani’s game, but she seems to be playing well this year. She’s pretty consistent, no?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think that’s one of her biggest keys is her consistency and her ability to make her opponent play. She doesn’t make many mistakes. You really got to win the match out there.
Yeah, I mean, the return and the first ball will be really important. And being aggressive, as well and not making as many errors in the beginning as I did today, because obviously, you know, she’s another level. She’s a top player, and you can’t give her those opportunities.

Q. I presume that you prefer playing someone like that where you can dictate play to an opponent who might a little bit erratic, or not?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It depends. The conditions here are quite slow, so I think it actually suits someone that likes to play a slower game and likes to hit high balls and slices and do all that, you know, junk.
But overall, I mean, it doesn’t really matter if ‑‑I mean, early on in my career, yeah, I think it was much tougher to play these types of players. I had a lot of difficulties against them. That was very clear.
But now I think I’m a much more experienced player, and, you know, I have a much better game plan and, you know, I’m much fresher and, you know, I’m physically able to withstand whatever, you know, whatever points that they might want to play. Whether they’re long or however long it goes, I’m ready for it.

Q. Kvitova said that the surface is actually playing like clay, not just slow‑wise but because there are different bounces all the time. She said she is not getting the same bounces all the time. Do you feel that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel it’s a very sandy court. Like especially if you have a pair of new shoes, like you really need to scruff them out.
You know, you definitely feel the texture of the court more than any other hard court. I don’t know about Miami.

Q. Takes slice and it takes topspin?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I agree with that. I don’t know about the bad bounces.

Q. She said different bounces.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Different bounces? I don’t know. I mean, they should be more or less the same, but the feeling of when you’re moving around, it’s definitely ‑‑ it’s a little bit tougher on the body when the court is like that.

Q. How much more comfortable are you as a slow‑court player maybe than you were earlier? Obviously some of your biggest results lately have come on clay.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: A lot more. I think that’s clear. I’m able, you know, to push myself no matter how long the match is. You know, I feel like I’m much better from the corners, but yet I still feel that it’s something I can improve and still work on a lot.
The footwork, the recovery, you know, going into the court are all things that have to do with your feet and your legs, and that’s something that I always, you know, want to improve.
Because I’m tall, it doesn’t come very easy or naturally for me, but I’m, you know, willing to try to make it better and as good as it can be.

Q. Do you think it’s about patience during rallies? Is that something you learned over your career?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely. But in order to have patience, you must have the stamina and stability and the endurance that you know you can be patient. It’s one thing to be patient and then have a 30‑ball rally and then the next ball you’re not recovered, not ready for it, and it’s pretty much over.

Q. What are you reading these days?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not much, just a bunch of e‑mails.

Q. That’s it?

Q. So just a businesswoman, no novels, no nonfiction?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I finished Grace Coddington’s book recently, and that was a big one. I haven’t picked up a new one. Actually just haven’t been to the bookstore. That’s why I’m not reading.

Q. Did you finish [] Orwell’s 1984?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah, I did. That was a while ago. I didn’t take it out again, I’m not looking forward to for a while. Until my kids have to read it, I don’t think I will be taking that one out.

Q. Found it disturbing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it’s not a tournament read. (Smiling.)

Q. How do you keep this from ever getting old?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, that’s a good question.
I mean, the sport itself, personally it’s not old at all. It’s actually very motivational, because, I mean, the work that you do is the time where you really have to motivate yourself because it’s only you and your team and a very close surrounding. It can be cold, can be really hot, and you just have to go out and improve.
So those are the types of moments that you really have to motivate yourself. But when you’re walking through a tunnel and you’re going on center court to play in front of thousands of people, if you don’t have motivation to do that and to be excited and lucky, to be in front of them, you know, I don’t know if that’s ‑‑that’s not good, you know. You probably shouldn’t be doing it.

Q. After all this time, do you still learn something about the game or yourself every time you play a match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, absolutely. You know, every match brings you in different types of circumstances. You know, during all the matches, you know, when you have to fight and you have to pull it through, that’s always when I look at it.
And sometimes, as tough as it is, I always think that this is really why I play, because I love that competitiveness. You know, I love those situations where you really have to dig it out, whether you’re down or you have the momentum or things change.
It’s such a mind game, as well, this sport, that so many things can happen. It’s just you and whoever you’re facing against.

Q. You’re in another quarterfinal. You have been remarkably consistent the last several months getting into the latter stages of tournaments. Can you talk about that a bit?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think consistency is really important. I have been doing a good job of that, and I want to pull through even to the next level. I don’t want to stop here or the next one. I want to go all the way.

Q. How do you avoid those early match upsets and coming up flat, things like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel like, you know, I have always been a good starter in tournaments‑‑ actually since I started playing.
And I think also when you don’t play that many tournaments, it’s like you don’t really have a choice. You really have to come out for the ones that you’re playing and start well and do well, because you’re not looking to play two warmup tournaments before Indian Wells, you know, to get myself ready or match ready.
I’d rather have a good training base and, you know, look at a long summer schedule ahead and think that, you know, I’d rather get my game and my body and be healthy and expect to play many matches, you know. Here and in Miami, what, a total of 12 or so matches?
So, you know, that’s not physically very easy. You have to be ready for it.

Q. Was that a Sugarpova slogan you wrote on the camera today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I guess. Yeah, today was, actually. But I don’t know. They’re always so last minute. I got bored with the signatures, and actually I don’t even know why we ever do signatures. I mean, it’s like the signature is going to someone or, you know, they’re going to copy and paste it.
So, I don’t know. I was just bored of signing my name and started doing something different.

Q. Twitter handle on there or something?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not yet. I’m sure tennis fans know my Twitter handle.

Q. Why do you sign it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have no idea.

Q. Do you remember someone actually telling you, Go sign the camera?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. It’s probably when you play on center court and win a match that’s probably when it started. I don’t know. (Smiling.)
I think when they got that removable lens is when they really started it. I don’t know. It just seems, I mean, so expected, you know. You know me. I don’t like to do things that are expected.

Q. Routine?

Q. Stamp it. Start a trend, just stamp it with something.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Good one. Now I’m not going to do it because that’s your idea, not mine.