Miami 3rd Round Interview

Q. Long day. Bunch of long matches before you, and then a long match yourself. How does it feel to get through it all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I’m happy to be sitting here winning the match. Obviously it was tough to lose that second set after having a couple of match points, but I was really happy with the way I came out.
I didn’t let that affect me, even though it was ‑‑it’s never easy to be in that position when you fight back in the second set and you’re in a winning position.
But, yeah, I was happy with the way I finished off the match. I thought our level was quite high in the end of the match.

Q. They let the night session in so it filled up very fast and loud the whole time. Must have been not bad?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the Latin crowd is great. I love it (smiling).

Q. For the fans, that’s a lot of fun to watch a match like that. Is it fun for you in any way, or is it just too stressful to enjoy the moment?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: There are so many emotions and there are so many ups and downs, because, you know. You finish off the first set and then I was down a couple of breaks in the second. Then I brought it back up, and then I had my chances to win that match. And then it went to a third.
So of course you’re going through a lot, and, you know, as I said before you got here, that I was really happy that I was able to come back after losing the second set and not letting that affect me, although it’s always challenging to know that you had the match so close.

Q. It seems like it was never going to end. Were you frustrated by that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, she was coming up with some really good shots. There was not really much that I could do.
She’s going for her shots and she was hitting winners on the run. I tried to stay focused, and I think I did a good job of that. It would have been very easy to let that game go.

Q. What do you feel about the people, the Latin people that have been following you here in Miami?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I love their passion for tennis. I mean, besides soccer, I feel that they love tennis. They have very big supporters in Colombia and many Latin countries.
Those are some of the countries I want to visit when I finish my career, because I don’t have the real proper chance to do that while I’m playing.
But you really feel their enthusiasm. They are so passionate for players, and that’s always really appreciated.

Q. Have you ever had a match with nine match points?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I played a lot of matches in my career, so I don’t know. I’d have to go back and do some stats. But I don’t think so. Maybe I have.

Q. For Mexico, do you remember your times in the Florida playing? How do you feel to play in Florida?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I love to play in Florida. I spend a lot of time here. I first landed here when I was a little girl from Russia, so I landed in Miami and went straight to the tennis academy four hours north.
I still play there and I train there and I have a home there. I have a lot of friends there, as well. So I think that’s why I have been very successful here, because I’m pretty used to the climate after practicing so many years in it.
I have a lot of people that come down from the academy that watch me and support me. There are a lot of benefits of playing close to your home.

Q. Obviously you have gotten through a lot of these long matches before in the past, and I guess Safarova hasn’t won as many of these sort of tight matches. You’re about the same age roughly. What do you think it is that lets you get through time and time again?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, it’s tough to ‑‑ when you’re in that situation it’s always ‑‑you always have to think selfishly, because you want to be the one that’s at the end obviously winning the match.
But when you come off the match and you know that there is going to be a winner and a loser, and especially after a match like that, it’s tough because I think especially the level at the end it’s always tough to ‑‑it’s tough to have only one winner, because both players give a lot and both want to win so much. Emotionally, as well.
But as you said, I have been there a lot, and this point in my career, especially after not playing so long last year, these are the kind of matches that I do need. These are the kinds of matches I need to build my strength and where I need to feel my shoulder is holding up and I can hit a serve over 1000 miles an hour. That’s really important for me right now.

Q. How is the shoulder?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Good. Good. I felt much stronger in the end than I did in the last couple of months, which is nice.

Q. Sometimes the women’s games get criticized, but today your match and Serena’s match were close to three hours and three sets and a lot of good tennis. Can you talk about what that means for women’s tennis to have two great matches today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course it’s always great to have that depth and that intensity from the beginning of the tournament, and I think that’s changed over the last few years and has become much tougher.
I’d say five years ago I’d say you’d consider the first couple of rounds as a warmup to the tournament. You don’t see that now. You don’t see players that are seeded playing the first round, but they have had great wins.
Someone like Garcia, she’s played three sets against me. She’s an up and comer and playing really well.
So we all know that everyone can play, and that’s really why there is a draw and the net goes up in the morning, is because you have to play those matches.
But it is exciting for women’s tennis.

Q. Wonder what you thought of the video at the end.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was cute. It was unexpected. Yeah. (Smiling).

Q. Would you rather be considered pretty or tough?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’d rather be considered pretty tough (smiling).