Miami Quarter-Final Interview

Q. Hi Maria. Congratulations.

Q. I’m thinking that ninth game in the second set was the key to the match. Just talk about how it seems to define you as a tennis player, about going for winners on set point down, match point down.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was at 4 5. Sorry, my math at this point.

Q. Three winners, too, on one of the set points.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, to begin with, I don’t feel like I should have been in that position. It’s great that I got myself out of it, but, you know, I don’t think that I should have been there.
I was up a break. I had my chances. I was up 30 Love on my serve, and those are the type of games that against these types of opponents you need to buckle down and win.
Of course it’s great that I was able to come back, but I felt like I made things much more difficult than they should have been.

Q. What is it about you that you go for the lines no matter what the score is?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I want to play aggressive. That’s my game. I mean, I want to take my chances. I don’t want to be waiting for my opponent to make mistakes.
And, you know, situations like today I felt like I had to start doing that because I didn’t feel like I had much pace. I wasn’t hitting the ball, and, you know, not stepping in when I would hit a good ball. I just wasn’t taking that to my advantage.
So in those points I guess I just buckled down and made those good shots.

Q. How tough is it to play her? She’s such a remarkable retriever.

Q. What goes through your mind at those times?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She’s extremely difficult. She makes you work. That’s why she’s so extremely consistent. That is why she’s at the top. That’s why she’s been doing it.
And she doesn’t have the height, doesn’t have the power, but her ability to get so many balls back, to stay consistent, and to do it over and over and over again. You know, to have the court coverage that she does and the variety, obviously she’s able to do those things very well when she has time.
My success in the beginning of the match today and at some points was when I didn’t give her that opportunity.
But most of the time I did, and that’s why she kept coming back and kept playing really well.

Q. How does it feel when you get through a match like that, especially with your game because you’re so aggressive, take a lot of chances?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I feel very lucky that I’m through. She had her chances to win that second set. Who knows what would have happened.
Yeah, I’m lucky to get to the next one and have a chance to be in the semis again.

Q. The other night you paid respect to Marcelo Rios, and your former coach, Michael Joyce, told me you practiced with him when you were younger. If that happened, can you share that experience?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn’t practice with him, but I took a picture with him. He practiced up at the Bollettieri Academy, and I was quite young at the time. I don’t think he would want to hit with me. (Smiling.) He was too good for me.
But, yeah, it was nice to have a picture with him. I still have it.

Q. What was the difference today in the match than your final at the French? She obviously got a lot closer.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s a different situation, different match. I mean, tough to compare, but, I mean, I would say that when I was up I didn’t use that to my advantage. I put a few points together pretty well, and then, you know, either my concentration or my focus wasn’t there. You know, tough to do that against a player like her.

Q. You often say a win is a win, but were you at all disappointed in your performance today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I think sometimes matches like this, you know, as tough as they are it’s maybe not as well as you’re playing, but when you get through them, it’s nice to get through a match when you don’t feel like you’re playing your best because you feel like you have a lot to improve, you have a chance to really improve in the next one because you have no choice. It’s a semifinal.
Yeah, would I have loved to play better? Of course. But some days you can’t go out on the court and everything goes in and you feel great and, you know, you’re playing the way you imagined to play. It just doesn’t happen.
You know, it’s okay. The great thing is that I pulled through. I worked hard. I was steady, and I gave myself a chance to get here.

Q. Pretty well throughout the tournament and today I think it’s fair to say your serve let you down a little bit. Was it because of the weather conditions or was there any other reason?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think in the beginning just my timing wasn’t there. First of all, my first serve percentage was very low from the start. I think that put so much, you know, pressure on you because you’re trying to find your first serve that, you know, you’re constantly going up to the line and hitting second serves. As a returner, you know, you’re waiting for that.
But, yeah, I have been serving pretty well this tournament, and just today was not good. But also on the return, I mean, you know, when you’re returning 85 , 90 mile an hour serves and you’re missing them left and right, you can’t do that. So it was really a combination of a few things today.

Q. Are there any other great athletes that remind you of you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That remind me of me? I mean, I personally always admired Monica Seles, but I don’t know. I think every individual is different. They’re unique in their own different ways. They have their own special qualities and strengths and weaknesses and we all do but I don’t think anyone is really the same.

Q. The clay is coming. How would you describe your relationship with clay at this point in your career?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it felt like today I was getting a good example of what’s about to come. I think I put myself in a good position to play a few longer rallies, to play a really long, two set match.
But, yeah, I’m really excited. I mean, it’s been a pretty busy last few weeks. It will be nice to have a little bit of a break after here and then, you know, work again on the clay, get those clay court shoes ready.
It’s crazy that it’s already here.

Q. Do you look forward to going back to Roland Garros? Such a different thing when you’re the defending champion.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, of course. Yeah, it was such an incredible moment, and to be able to step out on the court where you were able to experience that moment of winning, it will be special.

Q. It was such a high hurdle for you. Do you think you’ll enjoy the actual tournament more than you have in the past? How do you think it will be different?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m not sure. I’m not sure. My job is to go out there and to try to win it again. I don’t want to I mean, of course it’s a little bit different when you’ve won it.
I don’t to treat it as that. I still want to go out there and be the best competitor I can be and try and win the whole thing.

Q. I’d like to know how often you practice yoga and how you think it helps you in your tennis?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I used to practice yoga when I was much younger, but now I don’t have the time for it.

Q. You don’t practice anymore?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I have so many other things that I do for my tennis. Yoga is just really on the bottom of the list right now.

Q. How difficult is it to pull off the Indian Wells Miami double? Last year you got to the finals in both, and obviously you could do it here. Talk about the physical and the mental toughness of it.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s tough. I think it’s one of the toughest back to backs of the year.
It’s the amount of matches. It’s also the late matches that you’re playing. You know, the recovery. Also coming from different coasts.
I mean, it’s not like just a hop, you know. It’s a five hour flight. Conditions are completely different.
It’s not easy. You do have a couple of days in between the matches, but it is one of the toughest back to backs for sure.

Q. How badly do you want to cross Miami off your list? Seems like it’s one that escaped you over the years.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I would love to. With all the tournaments I have played, this one I have been so successful at but yet I haven’t won it. It would certainly mean a lot to me to go all the way.

Q. You mentioned earlier that she’s not as powerful as many players. Was your timing on the ball challenged by the pace off her shots? Was it harder to get into a rhythm because of the pace of her balls?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think it’s more – I don’t think it’s the pace. I think it’s the spin that she creates. I don’t think her ball is very powerful, but I think her spin is very dangerous when she has a lot of time.
Her forehand and her backhand are quite different. I mean, her backhand is pretty flat and her forehand is, I would say, a pretty loopy shot, but it has a lot of give on it. When she has time, she creates really good angles. She can step in and she likes to hits the high one to the backhand. She has a lot of variety on that shot.
And the backhand is pretty solid but it’s pretty flat.