Maria Sharapova Interview
SONY ERICSSON OPEN - Miami
March 31, 2011
M. SHARAPOVA/A. Petkovic
3-6, 6-0, 6-2
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. In light of the week you've had and with the weather conditions today and she's playing great, how satisfying is that win today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I'm really happy that I'm back in the finals here. I missed this tournament so many years. So to be back in the final and -- I started off really well in this tournament.
Almost lucky to be here. Had a tough one the other night and also a three-setter today. She's been playing the best tennis of her career and beat some good players here, so I was really happy I was able to change things around after losing the first set.
Q. She said that one of the things that makes you such a good champion is that you sense right away a weakness in the other player and basically you jump on that. She said that she felt that you sensed she was hesitating, whatever. Can you talk about that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, to be honest, I felt like I was just making a lot errors in the first set and I wasn't moving my feet at all. And especially with the wind I wasn't moving towards the ball and letting the ball come to me and not really being aggressive. That's what's won me so many matches in my career is when I step in and I hit my strokes and they come deep. I just wasn't doing that.
So first and foremost I felt like I had to start doing that and making little steps and adjusting my game a little bit. More than anything, I sensed that she was tired -- probably a lot of the dancing that she's been doing -- and I took advantage of it.
Q. She thought you would be tired in the third after the long match you had the previous night. Didn't seem to be that way.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Because I didn't do the dance after. I wasn't tired.
Q. It's the steps, is it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know what it is. I just know that I won my match and I won it today again.
Q. Clearly you feel physically good, strong. You say you were hitting your groundstrokes pretty powerfully in the second and third set.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I started to. Yeah, I think that's really important. I didn't feel like I had in the beginning. I don't think it was because of that. I think it was just because I was not moving that well. I knew that I had to make that adjustment, yeah.
Q. Is that the best you've served in a while? You really picked it up in the second and third set.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I did. But I felt like in the first set I wasn't returning or serving well, and that took the pressure away on her serve.
And even when she had second serve opportunities, she just had a lot of confidence. I didn't take a lot of that out of the way.
Q. You were very dominate in the second set. Going into the third set, how did you feel? Did you feel there's no way you could lose or this match is still up for grabs?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I wish I could feel like that. I would be overconfident if I felt like that. But it's tricky, because you have to figure that it's one set all. And although you just won the set 6-0, I still felt like we had a lot of deuce games, as much as we did in the first set, I just didn't win them.
It was a matter of making sure that I was doing the same things that I did in order to change the match, to keep doing them and being consistent about that.
Q. Seems like the Russian women were really dominating the game five years ago, and that's changed lately. You may meet Vera in the final. Will that be exciting?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, absolutely. Another girl is from Belarus as well. So all from the same region, I guess. But, yeah, we had a lot of great results from our country many years ago, like you said, so it obviously would be great to play Vera. We haven't faced each other for a while, so, yeah, it would be nice.
Q. What would it mean to win this tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It would mean a lot. It's the biggest tournament I think after the Grand Slams. Like I said, I'm pretty fortunate to be in the finals after having a few tough ones like I had the previous rounds.
Yeah, I look forward to going out there and getting it done.
Q. Are you back? Do you feel like you're back to the top, you can get right to the top again?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel like I'm finding my form. Like I said, I was looking to play a lot of the matches before I came to Indian Wells. I really felt like with many matches and staying healthy that I would feel better and my form would start coming back to me, and my tennis as well.
I feel that that's playing out really well.
Q. Talk about what happened with your shoulder and sort of the process of coming back from this and maybe why it took a little bit longer than you hoped and how you've had to adjust your form to help your shoulder more?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I don't know how much you know about it, but I had a couple minor tears in it, tendon tears, that weren't initially seen in the first MRI I did, and I played with it for a little while. Got a little bit worse after that. We caught it a little late, and that's why I think it took a little longer than it should have.
I tried to rehab I believe the first two months. When that didn't help I had surgery on it. Probably took me six, seven months after the surgery to come back to the tour.
Q. Have you had to change your serve?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I did in the beginning, yeah.
Q. How about now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, well, in the beginning I had a much shorter motion. Just kind of took it straight up. My joints are pretty loose in my shoulders and kind of throughout my whole body. That's one of the reasons why I think I got the injury in the first place.
So in order to start earlier I had to change it. Now it's not as long as it used to be, but it's pretty much there.
Q. Do you and Sasha ever exchange competitive strategies about each other's sports?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Give me an example.
Q. He's had his ups and downs over the years. Every athlete does.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.
Q. Talk about certain situations...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It obviously helps that he's an athlete and understands the perspective and the mindset going into matches and being an athlete. It's quite different to many other things in life and careers.
We have that between each other. We're obviously in different sports, but we -- although we're all in sports and we understand each other, it's not something that we constantly talk about.
Q. Is there any one piece of advice you gave him or he gave you that stayed with the other person?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think that stays between us.
Q. I didn't mean to say what it was...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You just asked the question. (Laughter.)
Q. Have you exchanged things?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, of course. Obviously he's my fiancee. We talk. We talk about many things. He understands what I go through obviously, like you said, from an athlete's perspective. It's very different. You have ups and downs and wins and then the losses, and he's always there for me and understands what I go through. So it's very nice to have that.
Q. Your return of serve today again was very phenomenal, and you also mentioned it earlier. Has that always been such a strong part of your game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't think so in the first, but I think that was one of the adjustments that I had to make for the second and third set, was to really -- you know, by me saying being aggressive, it starts from the first ball you hit. That starts with the return, because it puts something in their mind when they go up to the line. They have to go for a little bit more maybe.
So I've been returning quite well throughout this tournament, and it's something that's going to be quite important in the final.
Q. Talk about your match maybe against Azarenka.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, she plays really aggressive and swings really hard from both sides. You know, a great returner. It'll be tough. I lost to her the last time we played - in Stanford that was, I believe - so, yeah, I'll look to change a few things around if I play her.