Miami 4th Round Interview

Q. 11:00 a.m. a little too early for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I started off ‑‑ probably looked like it was too early. I usually like playing first match on, but I didn’t start off the way I wanted to.
Nothing was working. Yeah, just the way it went in the beginning.

Q. Was her game throwing you off at all? You obviously played her before so you knew what you were getting into. Lack of pace? Was that part of it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, she’s a different type of opponent. There is not too many girls that hit a slice backhand 90% of the time in the rallies. You expect that because, you know, she’s been around for a long time.
I played her already this year, so I know what to expect from her game. It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Today I didn’t do too much from my end and I made a lot of mistakes from the first ball, which I think obviously gives your opponent that confidence and the time that they can do whatever they want with their game.

Q. So what do you do? Go back to basics? Tell yourself to go back to basics? What was Sven telling you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, just think of a few things. It’s always nice to get his perspective, you know, from the sidelines. Because in the middle of it, you know, you just feel like everything’s going wrong and you sometimes just need to settle down and focus on one or two things.
You know, I think I made like four return errors in one game, so that gives her so much confidence, as well as on my serve.
So, you know, it was finding that combination of getting something out there to give her something to play with.

Q. In general, how much do you think people should read into the sort of on‑court coaching visits and how results after them‑ someone gets a visit and they win three straight games ‑ might give all the credit to the coach or something?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think it works differently for different players (smiling).
You know, I have seen matches on TV where the coach comes out and they end up losing four games in a row, or it can work to your benefit.
I don’t know. When the coach comes down, there are only a few little things they are going to tell you. Ultimately when you find yourself late in the third set you’re always going to play by instinct and your belief out there, and not so much what anyone else has told you.
But it is certainly nice to be able to calm your player down a bit if they are having a tough time.

Q. Did the heat and humidity bother you at all? I saw you eating a banana.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I enjoy playing in the heat. I have practiced many years in the heat, and I expect it here. I think everyone does. And the humidity.
It’s nothing really new.

Q. When you reflect on your record here, how do you assess it? Five finals obviously is a terrific achievement. Does that overshadow any frustration about not winning the final here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, of course you want to be able to hold the winner’s trophy, but, you know, you also know the matches that you got through to get in the position to get to the final stage.
I had my opportunities. It’s not like I didn’t have my opportunities in those finals. I just didn’t take them.
That’s why you come back and hope for another chance.

Q. Do you feel there is a little unfinished business here? You come back with that in your mind, or is that not part of the equation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, of course it would be meaningful for me to win this tournament after being so close. Definitely.

Q. Do you feel fortunate you’re able to get your match in before this weather?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I am (smiling). It’s nice to see all the players coming back in the locker room, and I’m like, I’ll see you later (smiling).

Q. Percentage‑wise coming back from injury, where do you feel like you are right now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I don’t like to measure, to see where I am. You know, I’m putting myself out there to go out and play, and no matter what percentage I’m at, I still have to go and find a way to win.
You know, I haven’t been very consistent in the beginning of this year. I have had some tough three‑set matches that I have lost. You try to turn that around. I feel like every little step, whether it’s from inside or outside, you’ve got to put yourself out there and put yourself in positions to keep going.
That’s why everyone is here.

Q. Thinking back to the match in Australia, 3 hours, 108 degree heat, what really motivates you? It could be said you don’t need to put yourself through that. What is it that’s motivating you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In the sport?

Q. Yeah, generally to play tennis at this level and the work that goes into it.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know. It’s a nice feeling to know you’re really good at something.
I don’t know. It’s a good self‑esteem booster, because I’m not good at any other sports. I’m worthless at many other things, but I go out on the court and I feel like I’m really good at this.
I’ve accomplished a lot, and why wouldn’t I continue? Why wouldn’t I want to get better and improve? It’s something that I’ve done for a very long time and something that I feel, you know, there’s still so many opportunities for me and things to achieve.
Yeah, motivation‑wise that’s never really an issue. It’s more about, you know, obviously the shoulder has been a big part of my career and something that I’ve had to get through.
But finding that motivation despite all that is, you know, not easy, easy, but you certainly have to work at it at times. I’m very privileged to do what I do, and I love it.

Q. What do you do with the rest of your day when you’re done so early and you’re in Miami? A lot of options.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: There are. Well, there are a lot of options for other people, but I think for us they’re pretty slim (smiling).
Yeah, there’s not much, actually. Once you get back you get a little bit of a break. I like to have like my afternoon tea around 5:00. It’s like a Russian tradition, see my dog, spend some time with him, then get treatment, dinner, and then the day is over.
It’s pretty quick.

Q. I have heard you say that before, not being good in any other sports. Do you think you’re not a natural athlete?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, if I’m not good at other sports but I’m good at tennis, then I can’t say I’m not a good athlete. That would be pretty bad considering what I have done on a tennis court since tennis is an athletic sport (smiling).
But I’m certainly not shy to admit that I’m not good at any other sports.

Q. Do you think if you gave it the same sort of dedication you gave to tennis you might have gotten better?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Maybe. Yeah. I never gave it a try, so…

Q. Do you find all the like modeling and extracurricular stuff, the other stuff that’s nontennis, is that not fulfilling enough? Is tennis really what fulfills you more than the pretty magazine shoots and that kind of stuff? Would you able to be fulfilled just doing that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think so. I don’t think I would be, because your career is determined by other people’s choices. You know, when you’re a model or an actress you can be great at what you do, but if someone doesn’t put you on a cover of a magazine or doesn’t go watch your movies, no matter how good you are you’re going to have a tough time, you know, raising your career and making money out of it and keep getting jobs.
So that’s why I love this sport, is because my wins and losses are in my hands and I get to control that and get to control your destiny a bit.

Q. You’re playing Ivanovic or Kvitova. What do you expect from your next match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: A tough match. I mean, either one I have had a very tough match against both of those opponents. I’m happy to be back in the quarters of this tournament, and I know that it’s not going to get any easier from that.
So I expect a very tough match.

Q. On the subject of other sports, do you follow the basketball tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: March Madness?

Q. That’s the one.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. At least I know what it’s called, right? I have lived in America for so many years.

Q. Are you just not a basketball fan?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I am a basketball fan. Not so much maybe college, but I do follow the NBA all the time.

Q. Did you watch Grigor’s match last night? Kind of a heartwarming moment last night. Did you happen to see that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.

Q. The ball girl, he helped her to the side after she was feeling faint.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn’t see that.

Q. A lot of people were thinking that was fantastic.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is it on YouTube? Probably, right?

Q. Kvitova and you have had long matches, including Wimbledon, and a long Australian Open semifinal after that. What do you make of a rivalry with her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: We haven’t played for a long time, but we have always had interesting, tough matches against each other. I think we know what to expect from one another. She’s always tricky because she is a lefty. You don’t play so many out there. I already had one in this tournament, so maybe that was good practice for it.
She has a different game than someone like Safarova. She has a powerful game and goes for her shots, and when she’s on it’s tricky to play against her.

Q. Your fashion sense, what went into the yellow and the grays you’re wearing in this tournament? Was that kind of springtime, Miami?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I have always worn a lot of color for this tournament. I like neutrals, but I like to add color, as well. Yellow at the time just seemed like a better option.