WTA Finals Pre-Tournament Interview

Q. On that note, do you feel old? You played this tournament…
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, but out of all the things you can start with…
(Laughter.)

Q. You won this tournament ten years ago; you’ve been around a while. That’s undisputable. Do you feel like you know everything you need to know about the tour?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I learn things every day. Yeah, you feel like you’ve been around for many years, but I still find a lot of surprises in this life and in the tour life and everything that surrounds it.
I guess that’s what keeps it interesting and fun. Bottom line is I still very much love what I do. It inspires me to come to places like this that are new, playing in front of a new fan base.
Yeah, keeps it fun.

Q. You are one of the few players that decided to stay in Asia after China Open. What was the mindset there not wanting to fly back? How did you find it? Did it put a crimp in your training at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, we just kind of played it by ear in terms of what we were going to do depending on how the Chinese swing would be and how far I would go in Beijing.
At the end of it, as much as I would’ve loved to go home, probably not the best time. I felt good. I didn’t feel too homesick. That’s what we just wanted to see, if I felt like I needed to go home and spend some time in my own environment.
I felt pretty good. I took a couple days off and started training in Phuket and got here quite early, so I only got to spend a few days of training there.
Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

Q. What did you think of the comments by the head of the Russian Federation about Serena and Venus?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA. It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee. It was just really irresponsible on his side.

Q. How important is the year‑end No. 1? You’re one of the very few in contention for it this week. How much of a goal is that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, my opinion about the No. 1 hasn’t changed very much. I always feel that ranking is also not just based on your results but based on other people’s results and accomplishments.
That’s why I’ve always experienced the joy of Grand Slam wins so much more, because the spur of the moment. There is actually a point that you have to win in order to get it; whereas the rankings will depend on other people’s performances during the year, at certain tournaments.
Is it an incredible accomplishment? Absolutely. It would be amazing to achieve that. I haven’t done that in my career, finishing year‑end No. 1, but I have been in that spot before and been No. 2 before and gotten to No. 1.
If I do perform well, then my chances are better than if I don’t perform well.

Q. Do you feel like you’ve had a No. 1 caliber type of year? You started slow after the injury, but been pretty steady the last eight months or so.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think my year has been the way that it is. I think the ranking is the way that it is and shows that I’m in the No. 2 position.
So I don’t think it really matters. Personally it was great to get another Grand Slam under my belt this year and win a couple big titles.
Ultimately hoping to go finish on a good note here.

Q. What’s your sense of the courts here so far, the center court? Simple question.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it’s quite dark. It’s the only tournament of the year where it’s probably quite dark around the court.

Q. Different than Istanbul?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That was a couple years ago, so short‑term memory.
Yeah, I had a good result getting to the final there, so…
Actually, I like the court. I think it’s kind of cozy, not too big. It’s about 10,000 people, which is a bit smaller than Turkey. Atmosphere should be good inside, and the speed is somewhere in between.
I’m never really a good judge of that anyway, so…

Q. Just talk about 2004, WTA against Serena, just your memory, your thought.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, first I couldn’t believe that I was part of a field at that point in my career. Yeah, I was in Los Angeles where I had been training with Robert for so many years. It felt like a home tournament in a way for me. I remember the players. It was of course a very tough field as always.
Just going through the draw there and the way that I felt and the way I played, I’ve seen some clips as well, very inspiring. Certainly hope I can do that here again.

Q. You tweeted a picture yesterday from after the ceremony. Could you just explain why you thought it was the best pic of the night.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just because it’s like a thousand words in one picture. It’s incredible. Can’t wait to write a book. (Laughter.) Those are the moments where I’m like, Oh, my goodness. I just wrote a whole chapter in one evening.
Yeah, looked like a lot of fun, huh? Love those things.

Q. You played the longest final in the history of the Championships against Justine in 2007. What do you remember about that match? How eager are you to get into the final and play an epic match like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I remember being incredibly upset after that final. It was one of the few times where I think it took me quite a long time to get to the press conference because I was really upset.
I was talking with my coach and my father at the time. I really fell like I just wanted to win that match so much, because it was just one of the most physical matches I’ve ever played.
Yeah, had a really tough rivalry with Justine in the beginning of my career. Never felt I had many chances against her because of here style of game. Little by little I felt that I improved so much playing against her.
That was really kind of a bit of a turning point. That match really inspired me for the Australian Open when I faced against her and I won pretty convincingly.
Do I wish to get to the final and have that type of match again? Hopefully not. I certainly hope that it can go in my favor this time.

Q. You must be very busy with all your stuff because you have promotions and you’re playing tennis. You must not have much free time. If you were to have one day off, what would the perfect day be?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, actually I enjoy doing things. I am usually someone that has quite a bit of energy and I enjoy actually getting about and being productive. I’ll go, go, go, and then I’ll crash maybe for a day or so.
Yeah, the best days for me is the first days when I get home, because I get to just really be in a home environment and see my friends for long time. You lose that connection when you’re a way from people. I barely even talk to them or text to them. We’re constantly on different time zones.
So for me, that’s really important. Just making my own bed and cup of coffee are little things that are just really nice when you come home.

Q. Do you have any comments on your fellow compatriot, Davydenko, retiring?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I heard he retired. He’s had a really long career and he has a child, one or two already, and another one on the way. I think he’s had a very successful career, and quite a long one.
He’s been able to stay healthy for so many years. Funny guy. I think not many people got a chance to know his personality, but he was a great character. Yeah, I want to congratulate him on a terrific career.

Q. Speaking of all your finals appearances, do you ever sit down and watch old matches or clips on YouTube of yourself?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not very often. Occasionally if I am bored. I don’t usually go back to ‑‑ like if I am studying a few things with my coach, I don’t go back so long. Usually go back to recent matches that I played against a certain opponent if he wants to show me something.
It takes a lot for me to sit down and watch all these videos, but do I occasionally find the patience. I do feel like you learn a lot watching because you get a different sense of perspective. Prove you wrong a few times as well.
Yeah, even though it’s not my favorite thing, I do find it a good learning experience.