Indian Wells Final Interview

Q. Caroline said that you played pretty much perfect. That’s more or less how it looked except for parts of the first part with the forehand.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think, you know, the scoreline, you know, looks a lot easier than I think the match actually was. I think it was a tough match, a tough battle, and there were a lot of games that went to deuce and a lot of long games.
You know, they could have easily swung the other way, especially some opportunities she had in that second set. I always felt like I was always a foot ahead, especially with the breaks. I was able to serve well today, and that helped me.

Q. Do you feel like you were playing as well as you did to start off in Australia?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I was playing a different type of opponent. That was the first few rounds of a Grand Slam and this is a final. So, you know, I don’t like to compare situations too much, but I knew that for today’s match it was very important to step up.
I didn’t feel like I played my best tennis in the beginning of the tournament, but sometimes it’s the way it works. You know, it’s always better to work yourself through the tournament and get better as it ends than sometimes start extremely well and don’t feel like, you know, you’re gaining momentum as the tournament goes on.

Q. She was able to beat you a few times a few years ago and frustrate you, move you around. What do you think you were able to do to turn around these matchups that helped it go so decisively in your favor today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, the one thing that hopefully as a player you take from losing matches is, I guess, the understanding of what you can try to change the next time you play against them or what you feel worked and didn’t.
Those are things obviously that are a little bit tactical. But also, you know, I mean, she’s someone that if she has time she can make you hit so many balls, and that’s not really the way that I want to be and not the way I want to control the points.
So it was really important to try to take away that time that she likes to have.

Q. Adding to that, though, on the move today you were hitting not just winners but balls back deep even when she got you going side to side. Your defense played a part, too, no?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I mean, tennis is not just about offense. Of course, you get to offense by being a good, solid defensive player, as well. It’s very helpful.
But, you know, the serve and return I thought were also very important. It was good to get a good hit on the first ball, which I thought I did quite well and opened up the court.
Yeah, those little things.

Q. The No. 1 ranking looks like it might flicker between the three of you a little bit. How important is No. 1? How important are slams? How good is it to get a title this early?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, No. 1 is a great number. (Laughter.) I have been asked this question so many times, and I don’t want to be boring, but I feel like I sound boring every time I answer it. I’m trying to come up with something new.
So the boring answer is that the more consistent you are and the better results that you have and the more wins that you’re able to get, the better chances you have of getting that spot.
Is it something that all of us want? Absolutely. I mean, no doubt. It’s a no brainer question.
But I think at this point in my career, titles and Grand Slams are just a bigger priority.

Q. There is another question you have never been asked before. Fabulous day, a fabulous run here, Maria, but still some problems with the game of Serena and Li Na. What do you think can you do in your game in terms of facing up with them?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, those are very tough players. You know, against Vika I had a bit of a losing streak. I was able to change that around last year and have some good matches against her.
You know, Serena was very dominant last year. I mean, she played tremendous, confident tennis. She’s also very strong and very athletic, so, you know, you need to be consistent with her. She’s also a great frontrunner. You’re down a little bit and she goes with it. She’s a confidence player.
Yeah, I mean, it was a tough one against Li Na in the semis, but you look forward to that next opportunity that you can play against her.

Q. You fell a little bit short in the final here last year. Did that give you more motivation to get the job done this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, it’s always a motivation to be in a final of a tournament. You know, obviously it’s always tough to lose in the finals, but when you’re giving yourself opportunities to win more finals, that’s better than saying that, you know, you lost early and didn’t have that chance.
So, you know, putting yourself in that position to try to gain those titles is great. I’m very proud and happy that I’m putting myself in those positions. Today I did a good job of coming through.

Q. Reflect on the difference between winning today and then the first time you won this tournament. Seems like a different generation of players on the tour and stuff like that. It’s been so long.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it has been, and here we are, still asking me questions and I’m still answering them.
I don’t think I have gray hairs yet, but I just as the years go by, I mean, I’m still very lucky that I’m here and that I’m still doing it and that I still love it and have the passion to do it.
I feel like I’m a different player. I’m a much more experienced player. I have learned so much over the years.
But it’s nice to hold up that trophy after so many years.

Q. Can you tell us about the field? The field feels so much different now than 2006.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t exactly remember who was in the field then, but, I mean, you know, down the line you know there is going to be a generation that comes up. There are going to be players that you played in the beginning of your career that are retired and no longer playing, like the Belgian girls, Justine and Kim, which I think they were both in the draw that year if, I’m not mistaken. And Lindsay.
So of course that changes and you have a lot younger players and younger generation, and I’m probably somewhere smack in the middle of it all.

Q. I talked to your trainer a couple of days ago, and he said the biggest improvement you made might be movement, running side to side. Do you feel that way?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, he’s a trainer. He’s supposed to say that, right? (Laughter.)
If he told you that I didn’t improve then that’s not a good sign. Smart guy, huh? He’s Japanese.
Yeah, I think movement has always been something in my career which I have always said that I can improve, that I can get better at, the recovery, the movement, getting in the corner, getting myself back in position.
Those are all very important parts of the game. You know, I’m a tall girl and for sure not the fastest or the strongest. We knew that since I was ten years old that I was going to be tall and probably not the girl with the most muscle or, you know, lifting heavy weights.
So for me a lot of the improvements I make are when I do those drills on the court and when I, you know, do a lot of tennis and do footwork drills and quick feet. Those types of things are really big for me. I’m not looking to go to the gym and squat with weights or do, you know, biceps, triceps. That’s not really my thing.

Q. Can you talk about risk taking a bit? When you’re playing super aggressive and it’s going well, like today, I’m sure you say, Hit, hit, hit, but if it’s not playing well, do you say to yourself, Play with more margins or this is how I’m used to playing and this is the only way I can win?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Funny, you’re not the first person that said I was hitting quite big, right? Did it look like it? Didn’t really feel like it.

Q. It did look like it. Caroline said so.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: (Laughter.) I think I don’t know, because I kind of had a different idea about the match, or about at least how I was hitting.
I didn’t feel like I was hitting rockets out there. I thought I was being aggressive, but I was doing the right things and being patient enough and looking for the right shot of, you know, when I wanted to move in a little bit.
I don’t know. Sometimes when you’re in the match you don’t really realize what’s going on. Obviously this sounds like the case here.

Q. Obviously we know that you’re very good with what you do on court. If you go off court, what is it that you don’t do well or you can’t do that you would really like to do well?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Where do we start? (Laughter.)
One thing I would love to do well is to draw. I doodle. I don’t draw.
The other thing is I would like to learn more languages. I would like to know more languages. That’s one of the regrets I have, is when you’re younger it’s just such a great opportunity to learn languages. I mean, French and Spanish, I know French a little bit but not as good as I want to know it.
Cooking. I’d love to be a better cook. And a baker. Yeah. I can think of a few others.

Q. Singing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I can always be everyone can be a better singer except Adele. She’s got her thing down.

Q. When you talk about your kind of aggressive game, which you discussed over the week, how much of that, looking back, is the game that was taught to you versus the game that kind of is your game and it’s an expression of what you kind of want to do on the court in terms of taking control of points as opposed to being more of a counterpuncher or defensive grinder or something?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I went through different types of coaches through my junior days, but I would say the main one that really put my strokes and my technique not technique, but my I would say game in place is Robert.
He had the vision of just feeding out of the basket and his students being able to hit just hundreds and hundreds of balls and have that feeling they can do it over and over again no matter where they are on the court. Mentally that helped me so much because I, I always felt like I had good, you know, fluid groundstrokes.
There’s nothing really but the consistency I didn’t feel like when I was younger was always there.
After a lesson with him I just always felt I could go out and play and I could close my eyes and have the same type of rhythm.
So that was I think like a big key for me and very important, you know, in my development.
But then I also went to people that would, you know, help me with different things or, you know, work on serve or work on just different types of specialists, whatever you call them.

Q. You seemed to break new ground on court tweeting today.

Q. Broke new ground with on court tweeting today.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I tweeted from the court. Why did I break ground?

Q. Not a lot of people do that between the match and the ceremony?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: How long did it take for them to get the trophy out? I was getting a heat stroke out there. I was still drinking water. (Laughter.)
It takes a lot for me to start drinking water. Yeah.