Q. When you seen an opponent struggling like that in the first set, what do you think?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I got to keep them struggling. (Laughter.)
You know, obviously there is a reason why they’re in that position. You know, could be a combination of them not having a good day and also you forcing the issue a bit.
You know, I certainly didn’t want to play as long of a match as I did in the previous round. I wanted to do a better job of a few things, and I think I did.
Q. Kind of funky playing those dead rubber matches, no?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, they’re not so dead. You’re going out and playing in front of thousands of people.
Q. You know what I mean. You’re getting through anyway and she can’t.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know. I think there are still some things that you play for, because, especially in my mind, I don’t want to go and just play to play tennis. I go to play to win.
So it’s not like a practice match or anything.
Q. But is it just a little bit of an upgrade on a practice match? Are you kind of thinking ahead? You knew going into today that you’d reached the semifinals and she couldn’t get there, so it’s not really same type of pressure or intensity.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn’t want to feel that way, to be honest. I wanted to go and try to replicate a match that matters. To me, in my mind, it does.
I never want to go into a match when I’m in a competitive tournament atmosphere and feel like there is nothing on the line. That would never really get me going, so…
Q. Next you get the winner of the match coming up later tonight between Li Na and Azarenka. Can you talk about each them, especially I guess Li Na, because you’ve played Azarenka a lot recently.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I played both of them in Beijing. I mean, there are no secrets out there. We’ve played maybe a little less against Li Na this year than Azarenka. Either one are a big challenge and I’ve had trouble against, especially with Azarenka this year.
So, you know, I’m putting myself back in the position to try to change things around and do things a bit differently. So I’m happy that I’m giving myself more opportunities against these players, whether it’s Li Na or Azarenka.
Q. When you lose several times to the same player, like Azarenka, do you ever go back and watch those matches?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, of course I do.
Q. Any main things you see when you watch them?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Certainly. (Smiling.)
Q. You said about the Australian Open prize money that you didn’t think it would be a good idea to increase the first round loser’s prize money. What do you think about the case of injured players who come back after and they’re struggling at first because they have no support from federation or maybe don’t have sponsors as well? So the first round loser’s paycheck is very important to these kind of players, don’t you think?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I do. I think it’s obviously an incredible position to be in a Grand Slam main draw. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I just think that when you’re in a position to be in a Grand Slam first round, you want to have the motivation to go further, to win the match, to get prize money, to get more prize money, to get more points.
I always feel like there has to be something on the line. You don’t just feel like just because you’re in the draw you’re going to be paid more. There is no doubt ‑‑ I mean, I think that it’s obviously very difficult for somebody that’s maybe ranked 190, a 100‑something, to make really good money, because this is one of the most expensive sports.
I mean, the expenses are incredibly big and challenging. In order for you to get to the next level, you have to have a really good team of knowledge and people, and that takes a lot of money. That’s no secret.
But yet when you just arrive to a place, you want to have a motivation to get yourself through to the next round. So I don’t think that there is anything that I said that I’m trying to take away from losing or somebody that’s just there.
It’s a really incredible position to get there. It takes a lot. You obviously have to win tournaments, go far in tournaments, and be consistent, so…
Q. Just talk a little bit more about playing Victoria if you play her. You’ve played her a lot this year. You beat her in Stuttgart; very close at the US Open; other ones, not so close. What do you need to do to get over the hump on hard courts?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think just stay with her a little bit more and be a little bit more consistent, but aggressively consistent. We have very similar game styles. We like to hit the ball and be the first one to really go for it in the rallies.
I think that’s just something that maybe I was a little bit tentative and not doing so well in the previous‑‑ in some of the matches where I haven’t had success.
You know, also taking my opportunities. I mean, US Open I’m up a set and a break and having chances in certain games and not taking them. You really can’t do that against someone that’s No. 1 in the world.
Q. Is there a mental part of it confidence‑wise against her, because she seems to return you very well also?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, there are many great things she does, but you have to expect that against someone that’s one of the best in the world. No doubt.
Q. Just one more on Stosur. Since she won the US Open she sort of struggled to replicate that fantastic match she played against Serena. Have you noticed a change in her game or herself since then?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it took me a couple years after I won my first major to get to that type of position again. It’s certainly not an easy one, especially after you experience that type of success, almost floating on clouds and you feel like you’re the greatest ever.
That takes a while to get back. Everyone is different, and you can’t compare anyone. I can’t compare myself to her or anyone else, like she can’t.
But from my experience, I’m not sitting here and saying I won Wimbledon, the next day I won the US Open. I was far from it.
So everything is a learning experience, and I’m sure it is for her as well.
Q. You were the first top player Li Na was trying to challenge when she came back from her retirement back in 2005.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Who?
Q. Li Na.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn’t know she was retired.
Q. She has for two years.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah? I had no idea.
Q. You played her in 2005 Australian Open that year.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Which round was that?
Q. Third round. You beat her pretty bad.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t remember that either.
Q. You don’t remember?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I won?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Okay, good.
Q. After so many meetings in seven years, do you think in a way that she’s still fresh as she was back then considering she’s almost 31 years old right now? Can you talk about that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think age is something that you can really say is affecting someone, especially when they’re ‑‑ I mean, look, last year she won the French Open. What is she, 31 now? She was 30 then, so you could have had the same type of conversation and said she is a Grand Slam champion at 30 years old.
Now, what, she’s 31 and all of a sudden you’re asking if she’s good enough at 31. That’s kind of tough. From the position where she was in 2005, even though I don’t remember that match, obviously she’s been very consistent in the last few years. To be a Grand Slam champion is not an easy task, no matter if you’re 16, 17 or 30 or 35.
Q. I remember when you beat Victoria this year in the Stuttgart final and afterwards you got a car and you drove the car onto the court. Have you had a chance to drive that car much yet?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven’t received that car yet.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it’s at the dealership now. Maybe when I get back I’ll get to drive it.
Q. Did you see the video you were in with Robson and Bouchard?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I did.
Q. Reaction? Looked kind of fun there, huh?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was really fun until ‑‑ well, when I found out what Gangnam was and what Gangnam Style was.
She actually approached me after one of my matches in Beijing and she was like, Can you just do this quick intro for me? We did this video, Gangnam Style. I’m like, What?
She’s like, Gangnam Style. I’m like, I’ll do it if you tell me how to pronounce it right. She’s like, What do you mean you don’t know how to pronounce it? I’m like, I’ve never heard of this. What is it?
So I did it and I sound ridiculous and I sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about obviously and I’m very embarrassed about it. But then driving in my car and I hear this ridiculous song and I’m like, What is this? And I look at my radio and it says Gangnam Style.
I’m like, Oh, my goodness. I’m 25. I’m not that old. I’m still into it. So I didn’t know what I was doing, but it came out great. It was funny.
Q. Did they ask you to dance?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Ask me to dance? I didn’t even know what it was. Now maybe I can, you know, attempt, but before I needed to know how to pronounce it.