US Open 2nd Round Interview

Q. How would you evaluate your overall performance tonight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I thought I played really well and stayed aggressive. I think she’s someone that likes to have a lot of time. I think her best results are on clay courts where she has a lot of time. I didn’t want to give that to her, play my game, and open up the court. Overall I’m pretty happy, and happy to be in the third round again.

Q. Max Eisenbud is outside signing autographs.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: (Laughing.) He deserves a little attention once in a while.

Q. How do you feel when you’re back on hard courts after playing on the grass for almost two months?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, and clay. We haven’t been on hard for a while now, obviously. Skipping those two tournaments, you know, it was a little, not worrying, but I wanted to play an event but couldn’t. Really thought it was best to rest and just be healthy going into this one. But, yeah, I’m happy to be back on hard. I love playing on it. It’s much more predictable as far as the game goes, instead of the bounces on the clay and the sliding, but also on the grass with the unexpected bounces and the change of the surface during the weeks. Yeah, I think you just know what you’re going to get when you play on hard courts.

Q. You mentioned on TV your next opponent will be the crowd favorite. You’ve lived in America for most of your life. You don’t think that American fans root for you, too?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I do, but this is her first US Open main draw. I mean, obviously she’s going to get a lot of home support, which is absolutely normal. Of course, I’ve lived in this country since I was seven years old. I consider this to be my home. But I understand on the other side if the crowd does cheer for her as she’s coming in as the underdog.

Q. Many players have commented on Kim Clijsters. Can you share some memories of playing against her.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, she was a tremendous athlete, a really good competitor. I think the nicest thing you saw about her was her commitment to the sport, but also wanting to have a great family life, retiring from the sport to start that, and then coming back and achieving the things that she achieved in winning the US Opens that she did and the Australian Open. I think it shows how much the sport meant to her, how much she missed it, and she wanted to get back out there. And being a mother as well. I can’t say enough nice things about her.

Q. What would you say is the best fashion statement you ever made on the tennis court, in your mind?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the successful ones are always the ones that are unexpected and different. I think for me it was during the time when my dresses weren’t for sale yet. They were quite expensive to produce, so you could do a little bit more. You could, you know, use materials which are just too expensive to go into the mass market or details that are just too hard to perfect when you’re doing many dresses. I mean, the dress that I won in here was pretty special. It would be extremely expensive to have at retail. That’s probably why you can’t replicate something like that. If you ever do, it will never have that special feel to it. I’ve had a few. I mean, I’ve wore this corset top that was part of the Nike dance collection in Miami one year which zipped up the front which was different for the tennis court. A few here and there.

Q. Was there ever one that inhibited you from playing properly?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, because I usually wear‑test all the dresses that we design.

Q. Do you prefer playing the night matches, some lopsided matches? Do you prefer that, or do you prefer during the day?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t mind either/or. I’ve played many in my career. I played a lot during the day, a lot during the night. There’s something special about playing the night matches in New York, I think because of its history. It’s like a night match at the US Open, there’s a special feeling about it. But overall I don’t mind. I mean, it’s great to be out on Arthur Ashe competing playing tennis whether it’s day or night.

Q. You said your next opponent is the crowd favorite, but you’re the statistical favorite. How do you go into this match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, it’s quite rare being on the tour for so many years and this will be the third opponent this tournament that I’ll be facing for the first time. But it’s one of those things where you go into the match just focusing on what you have to do in your game, but also trying to figure her game and the things that maybe you want to look for in the first few games; try to figure that out as soon as possible to have a bit more of a game plan on your end. I think overall you have to believe in what you have and not focus so much on your opponent and the fact that you haven’t played her before.

Q. Do you prefer sometimes being the bad guy, not being cheered? Does that drive you at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s a different type of emotion. I’m usually in my own little bubble when I play. You can certainly hear the crowd, the emotion, the energy from the crowd. But I try to stay pretty levelheaded about the energy swings. Or if you’re up so much, you’re winning games, your opponent wins a game, the crowd goes crazy. I try not to focus too much on that and let that affect me.