M. SHARAPOVA/S. Peng 6‑2, 6‑1






Q.  I guess you couldn’t ask for a better few rounds.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I came into today, you know, knowing that I’m facing a pretty tough opponent who I have had trouble against in the past, who has beaten me before.  And played three sets with her a couple of times.

So she can really play, and, you know, she hits the ball really well.  You know, but I tried to get her on the run today and really move her, you know, stay aggressive.  I served well and returned well, and I thought that was really important, especially against her.


Q.  Assess your level here, I guess, against last year when you had your best performance.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, the first few matches have been really good, and we’re on to the next one.


Q.  Is there any part of you at all that feels bad for somebody paying a lot of money to come see a match, and they’re as fast as they have been so far, one after another, your three?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  The last thing that’s on my mind when I’m going out on court is thinking about who paid for a ticket and how long they’re going to watch my match for.

I mean, I’m not sure if that’s selfish or not, but my job is to go out on the court and to try to win.  Whether it’s 6‑0, 6‑0, whether it’s a tough three‑set match, you’re trying to do what you have to do and play as well as you can.

If things ‑‑ obviously always could be different, you make a few more next and she plays better, then things can change.  But that’s not my goal.


Q.  Do you remember years where you would arrive here and think, oh, no, clay again, don’t feel like it so much?  And can you tell the difference between a few years ago and how you’re enjoying play more?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I never thought like that.  I mean, that would be pretty bad.

But I felt that in the first few rounds when I would always ‑‑ especially the first couple, I’d always have ‑‑ I mean, as far as I can remember, I always had three‑set matches here in the beginning.  I just always ‑‑ I hesitated and I was always thinking, well, it’s going to be tougher for me later in the rounds, because I don’t think I’ll recover as well.

That was the main thing.  Now I could play, you know, the longest match, and I feel like I could go out and play the next day, which is mentally really helpful.


Q.  Paris is like the only major title that you haven’t had yet.  The crowd here likes you very much.  This year with those early well‑played first rounds, do you feel kind of more confident?  How do you envision your chance in the tournament here?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I’m certainly happy with the way I performed in those rounds, in those matches, and followed through.  I did everything I had to do.

But, you know, in the next round, it starts from 0‑0.  Whoever you’re playing, you have to go and try and do the same thing.

There are a lot more rounds to go.  It just gets tougher from this point.  And you hope as the tournament goes on that you raise your level, that you get better.  You’re going to be facing tougher opponents, you’re going to be maybe facing two three‑setters, and you just have to be ready for that.


Q.  Is it fair to say you’re on a real roll, or did Madrid kind of give you a reason to pause and say, Well, the game isn’t quite where I want it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I don’t know about a pause, but, I don’t know about a roll, either.  I don’t know.  What’s a roll?  Like winning…


Q.  Well, you won Stuttgart, you won some matches in Madrid, you won Rome, you haven’t lost a match here.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, if you can determine that as a roll, then I guess.  But I just see it as I played really good matches, beat great players.  And I’ve got to keep moving forward and try to do that again.


Q.  What about coming to Europe as early as you did this year?  Has that been a good thing for you?  How do you adjust being away from home as long as you have been?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I love Europe.  I mean, of course I love being home.  There’s nothing like it.  This is my job.  I love to travel, and I had my mom here on the road with me, which is really nice.

Yeah, it’s tough because it gets a little bit long.  The days just kind of ‑‑ you start counting the days and the weeks, and I think it’s already been like five or six weeks, but I’m actually feeling okay.

I think it was ‑‑ when I was maybe a bit younger, I felt like it was too much.  Maybe I needed to go home.  Maybe at some point I will, but right now I feel good.  I’m happy where I am.  I mean, I’m going to some pretty nice cities, so I can’t complain about that.


Q.  Your mom is here.  So do you know where your dad is?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  He’s in Florida.  Yes.  He’s with my dog.


Q.  Are you getting some calls, texts, comments from him?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, he can’t text.  It’s useless.  Yeah, the text ‑‑ he writes half Russian, half English.  The words are all mixed up.  Misspelled.  I mean, it’s ‑‑ I just ask him to call me.  And I try to Skype with him, and that’s a nightmare because he doesn’t know like how to answer.  It’s horrible.

But I talked with him every day.  Mainly just to find out if my dog is still alive.  (Laughter).


Q.  Has he had dog care before, or it’s new for him?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It’s kind of new, which is why I’m a bit worried, especially my mom.  But they seem to be okay, so that’s good.


Q.  On the endorsement front, some of your deals have expired, you’ve got like Sugarpova coming up.  Are you looking for new deals?  Is Max slacking off?  What’s going on?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Slacking off.  Oh, my.  I have more e‑mails in my career than I’ve had ever.

I’m really looking forward to the candy launch, which I think was the most exciting project that I’ve ever done before, because it’s my own business, my own investment, my own money.  It’s like a baby kind of where everything you put in, every single dollar, every minute is going into something that you’re really passionate about.

Yeah, we’re pretty much ‑‑ just finished all the packaging and we worked out all the creative.  Going to do the shoot for it soon.  It’s going to launch at the US Open.  We just got some really good buyers, so I’m really excited.


Q.  Is this the longest your mom has been on the road with you since you were a kid?



Q.  So how is that?  Why did you ask her to come over for so long in the first place?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I have someone to fold my laundry.


Q.  You’re so spoiled?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I am so spoiled.  She is the best mom I could ‑‑ oh, if I was only 1% of the mom that she is.  But, yeah, I’m really lucky.

She’s just such a nice influence in my life, just a calm, so calm, could care less ‑‑ I mean, of course she cares how I do in tennis and life, but her perspective on things and just in general is really nice to have.


Q.  When you get off court, whether you won, lost, practice, you pretty much can go to her and shut it down tennis‑wise?



Q.  Talk about other things?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  We talk about everything and anything, yeah.  Business, life, friends.  Yeah.


Q.  I know you can only play who is in front of you and players never look at the draw, but no Kirilenko, Serena is not in your quarter anymore.  Do you feel like the draw is sort of breaking your way, as well?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I don’t look at it that way.  I never have, and like I said before, I don’t think it’s the right way to look at things to see somebody lose and say, Oh, well, now the draw is open or it’s not, or, They won, it’s going to be tough.

You can’t go about playing a Grand Slam like that.  You’ve got to be ready to face your toughest opponents from the first round on.  And if you’re not ready, then you should probably not be here.