US Open 2nd Round Interview

Q. It was not an easy one today, especially the first two sets. What was the main issue?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it was a combination of everything. She played really well. Although I started off really good in the first couple of games, didn’t take the opportunity to go up 3-0. After that she started getting a little bit of a rhythm. It was difficult. Obviously the conditions were tough. You start in the sun; you finish under the lights. It was a very long match. Overall I felt like in the end I was in much better shape than she was and I could have played another few sets. Mentally that helped me a lot.

Q. Does your routine that you have behind the baseline, is that a way to get you focused? You developed that over the years.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I’ve had that routine for a long time. Everything is very quick. You go from point to point. You’re playing in front of thousands of people. Sometimes it’s nice to have a little bit of a quiet moment with yourself. That’s the reason I started doing it. Whether you’re having a good run with a few games and you want to keep that going and keep that going and keep yourself motivated or you need a little pick-me-up, regain focus if you’re down.

Q. You’re playing Lisicki next round.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She’s a great player. She’s a very powerful, aggressive player. I expect a tough match from her.

Q. Can you tell us something about your cooperation with Sven Groenefeld.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s been a great partnership so far. We met this time last year. At the time I was still going through injuries so I didn’t quite know when I would be back. But I was very interested in working with him because of his experience. He’s been on the tour for many, many years. He’s coached against me. A lot of good things. Positive attitude that he brought to practice, to the environment. He’s a leader but listens to everyone in the team, which is very important. At this stage in my career, I’m quite happy with the team that I formed.

Q. He’s quite energetic in the box. Do you like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think he was like that before. I think I just make everybody energetic (smiling). I don’t think they have a choice.

Q. Do you come away from a match like today focusing more on what maybe didn’t go right at the beginning or being pleased with how you finished?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think you always expect yourself, no matter who you’re playing, the conditions, you always want to play well, win the match easy. Sometimes it’s good to kind of look back and think in these types of situations, conditions, all of that. It’s really good to get through, put yourself in a really tough position, but then you’re able to find a way to get back and finish really strong.

Q. Big-picture question. You’ve had all these years on the tour competing. One challenge after another. Successful in the business world. What is the best part of being Maria Sharapova these days?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the best part this day is that I’m healthy enough to compete at this level. That’s the most important thing for me, looking back at this time last year. You seem to forget that I was in New York, I was in a hotel room, I was going to a few different doctors, I was getting a few different opinions, different machines, different MRIs, and different treatments. It’s so easy to forget that you get yourself back in such a great position in your career where you win a Grand Slam, you’re playing the US Open, which you missed last year. So a lot of positives. Yet I get to do other great things in my career and set up my life for when I’m finished with tennis.

Q. Do you ever say to yourself before a big match, This is pretty sweet; I’m pretty fortunate?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely. Especially when you’re walking through the tunnel of all these incredible tournaments. They’re all very different, but there’s such a unique vibe in every single one of them. You realize that, you know, of course it’s always tough to have those early mornings and practice on the backcourts where no one is watching. That’s really where you have to push yourself. To go in front of thousands people and perform, that’s really what I work for.

Q. Michael Jordan was here yesterday to see Roger Federer play. Roger said he was a huge inspiration for him as a child. When you were growing up, who were you looking up to in the same way?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, actually I met Michael Jordan a few years ago randomly, unexpectedly, at an airport. Usually I don’t get very star struck, but he’s such a powerful person and athlete. I think he has that aura about him. It’s very special. He’s like, Hey, you’re that tennis player. I’m like, Oh, my goodness, Michael Jordan knows who I am. So, yeah, that was unique (smiling).

Q. Do you think you’re in your best shape at the moment or do you think there’s still room for improvement and recovery?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think physically I’m in a very good position. I think that’s shown a lot in my three-set statistics this year. I think I played more at this point in the year than I have in all of my career. The numbers are quite high, and I’ve been able to recover quite well. I don’t think that’s something that I would have been able to do and recover from as quickly as I’m able to today. But I think that takes a lot of work and obviously commitment. Whatever it is, hours on the court, hours in the gym, it’s just finding that combination to get yourself in that good shape.

Q. Mentally, it struck me you had a long wait after the second set, and then you had a long wait while she had a medical timeout. You seemed to handle it very well. Is that an improvement? Did that used to bother you more?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think it’s always a matter of just, you know, moving, not stopping and sitting around for five, six, seven minutes. It’s always just kind of getting your body going, resting a couple minutes sitting down. Whether it’s hitting a few serves, doing a few movements or motions, just to make sure that your body and your mind is still active. It’s very easy to have a little bit of a letdown if you’re just sitting around for that amount of time.

Q. Does it ever occur to you, I could lose this? I could be in trouble? Or given all of the success and experience you have in three-set matches, you don’t feel worried at this point?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course experience certainly helps, but she’s a player that’s been on the tour for many years. She has her fair share of experience as well. But I felt that I was physically stronger today. No matter the conditions or the errors, being frustrated, I knew that in the end I was in better shape.

Q. How does your pop-up store here in hustling, bustling New York compared to the pop-up shop in sedate Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: A little different.

Q. Are you pleased it’s been so successful?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I am. The pop-up shop here is a little different, a little smaller, because it’s part of a hotel’s coffee shop, rather than at Wimbledon we created something from scratch in our own space. It’s a little tougher to do in New York, especially on Fifth Avenue. I am really happy. We’ve had great partnerships since the beginning of the year with the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, with Pinkberry. We’re definitely growing. A lot more exciting things to come.

Q. What hotel?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: At the Andaz.