Pre-Final Press Conference



            Q.  It’s been not even 24 hours, but are you wanting to talk about how you’re going to prepare maybe mentally and emotionally for this final?

            MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, it will be special, my first Roland Garros final.  Not many firsts in my career, as I have been a part of many tournaments and fortunate enough to win many.

            So to be in this situation is going to be quite new, but it’s something I’ve dreamed of for a long time.  I’m very looking forward to it.


            Q.  Martina Navratilova was just here before, and she said with all Maria Sharapova went through, there is no way she’s going to be tense for this final;  she is just going for broke.  Do you feel that way?

            MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, there is no reason that I should be.  I feel like, you know, it’s not my first time in this position, but you never know once you get there.  Obviously it’s a big moment for anyone, whether ‑‑ you know, I mean, pressure is always part of the game.  It has to be.  If you don’t feel anything then, you know, maybe you’re not so normal.

            But, yeah, it’s really about how you handle it.


            Q.  What’s more meaningful to you, back at No. 1, career slam, or just the chance to win a slam after a four‑year exile from that?

            MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, each one is very special on its own, or would be.  I mean, I made a goal myself to try to get back to No. 1 a few years ago when I came back from the injury, and, you know, I wasn’t really sure if that would happen.

            So to be in a position where, you know, I wake up Monday morning to know that I reached that goal is very just extremely happy.

            But yet for tomorrow, we’ll see what happens tomorrow and we’ll see the feeling that I have and maybe we can try to compare it.


            Q.  You said you are very happy to take back the No. 1 position.  Did you celebrate that yesterday or prefer to focus on the final without celebrating anything?

            MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, my celebration was room service and a massage.  (Smiling.)

How exciting, huh?  Yeah, that’s as good as it gets before a final.


            Q.  Did you know when you played in your first major final at 17 that you were going to handle it that well?  Did you even surprise yourself by thatWimbledon?

            MARIA SHARAPOVA: Wimbledondefinitely.  Yeah, I look back at that all the time, and I just ‑‑ I’ve always said nothing really bothered me, the situation, the atmosphere, my first final, my opponent.  It didn’t phase me, really.

            You know, I went out there with a really clear head and I had horse blinders on.  I went out to try to do my job and tried to do it well.  Yeah.


            Q.  How important is that on‑court routine that you have, your various little things that you do, the steps you take?  You know, it looks like you go into a little zone before you reengage in a match.

            MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think it’s always nice to have a routine.  I have always had my own, you know, little routine during the matches since I was very young.  I’ve kind of stuck to it, win or lose.

            I mean, the moments that I take before each point is mainly just to have like a moment sort of within yourself and not let anything kind of ‑‑ you know, if you really think about things, you’re playing in front of thousands of people.  Maybe you’re in a situation where you’re not playing the best tennis.

            Sometimes I feel like it just gives me a moment to kind of zone in and think about what I want to do, what I want to keep doing, and just concentrate and focus.  You know, over a time of whether it’s an hour or three hours during a match, you know, it’s tough to keep a high level of focus at times.

            You know, you’re going to have a few dips here and there.  But if you can kind of come back from that, I always take that time to sort of go ‑‑ you know, to try to do that and try to stay on that high level as much as possible.


            Q.  Can you say anything about what your Swedish coach, Thomas Hogstedt has meant for your game since you started working with him?

            MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah.  Well, he was a really nice addition to my team.  It was a different change for me, because I had a coach for many years, and my father, as well.

            But he came in with a lot of belief.  He had a big goal in mind.  His goal was to get me back to No. 1 and to make me a Grand Slam champion again.

            You know, we have put myself in that position, and I just got myself in a position of being No. 1 again.  He’s been a tremendous influence for me.


            Q.  After the shoulder surgery, you have changed a lot of things.  One is the coach and the other one is the racquet and also the form of service and the fitness coach.  Which one do you think is the best decision you have made since that shoulder surgery?

            MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, I’ve had to make many adjustments in my career, but it’s not just me.  I think everybody has to make certain adjustments.  I think it’s probably the toughest thing for a professional athlete, because sometimes even when you have things that work for you in the past, in the back of your mind you always feel like maybe it will always kind of help you and continue and you believe in it.  But sometimes you feel like, you know, you need change.

            You know, as far as the coach, there was a point in my career where if he said the same things, it would have come to me in a different way.

            You know, the racquet, I picked up the racquet that I played with and tested it out, and I knew that right away I loved it, which was just different than I have had in the past.

            I mean, fitness coaches, I have had numerous fitness coaches.  They’re usually the toughest to find, because they usually think they’re experts in everything, and they go from fitness coach to all of a sudden being a tennis coach in a matter of a few weeks.  But then, you know, Yutaka’s been great because he knows his role, and he’s also just a great positive person, as well.

            I mean, all little things, you know, you believe will eventually help you get to a position you want to be at.  Sometimes they don’t.  Not every change you make always works out.  I mean, you see on the tour how many times people change coaches and this and that, and racquets.  They’re always looking for the best new things.

            Sometimes it just goes back to you, you know, and not those things.  Sometimes it’s all about you and your brain and the little things.


            Q.  I’m Italian, and I’m as shocked as everybody is by Errani’s performance so far.  So what do you really know about her?  Have you two crossed paths back when you were kids at Bollettieri’s Academy?  Do you remember her back then?

            MARIA SHARAPOVA:  That, I don’t.  But I don’t remember crossing paths.  We have never played against each other, but I certainly know she’s a dangerous player because of the way she’s played here and because of the way she’s performed on clay this year.

            She’s won so many titles already on clay, and these last couple of weeks she’s really been improving beating great players and is really confident, and that’s obviously a dangerous opponent.