Q. How do you feel going into this tournament winning in Cincinnati? Must have given you a lot of confidence.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I came into Cincinnati, you know, asking to play a lot of matches for myself, as many as I could at that tournament.
It was great to win the tournament. I beat some really good opponents, played some good matches. You know, the final was a little whacky, but I just managed to win that one.
Yeah, it’s great. Obviously coming into the Open it’s great to have a title under your belt.
Q. How different are you this year compared to last year at the same time for the US Open?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I’m seeded higher. I’ve won two titles this year. You know, I feel like my tennis is at a much better level than it was last year. Yeah, I’m a better player, definitely.
Q. How do you expect to deal with the expected hurricane in the next 24 hours? What are your plans and what are your thoughts about being here for this?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I’m a Florida girl so I’m used to this stuff. (Laughter.)
I think everyone’s a bit overreacting about everything, but of course you have to take precaution and all that. But, I mean, where are we gonna go? All hundreds of us?
So I just hope that our hotel is nice and tough and sturdy, you know. That’s all we can do, right?
Q. What do you know about Heather Watson?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not too much. I’ve never played her before. I saw a little bit of her matches in the past I think at Wimbledon her first rounds. Yeah, she’s someone that’s up and coming, and those are sometimes dangerous because they’re quite fearless when they go on the court, don’t have much to lose.
It’s not too often that you play an opponent you haven’t played against before, so, yeah, it’s not an easy first round.
Q. You had experience of that obviously at Wimbledon against another British youngster in Laura Robson.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uh‑huh.
Q. Sort of a similar situation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I guess, but they’re two different players.
Q. In the (Head) advertising you were on the court with Djokovic or it’s…
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I was there watching it happen.
Q. You always say you enjoy the process, but now that the process is paying off, where is your level of enjoyment in competing right now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it’s a lot more enjoyable when you’re winning more matches, that’s for sure.
Actually it’s a lot easier to go out on the practice court. I mean, even when you take a few losses it’s a little bit easier to shrug them off because you know you have that level. You just need maybe sometimes a little time or just a few things to click to get it back.
Whereas when you haven’t had it for a while, you kind of are trying to find it, trying to find it. You play one good match, and then, Do I have it now? Do I feel it? It’s definitely different.
Q. Coming to a tournament now, fourth seed, obviously people think you’re one of the favorites here. Do you feed off that? Does it give you confidence coming into a tournament like this? Do you feel a bit more pressure now that you’ve got more of an X on your back?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, to be honest, I have been seeded a lot lower and I’ve still been one of the favorites, so it’s not anything new for me that people expect me to do well.
Q. How do you look back now on your run to the final at Wimbledon? What do you come out of that tournament with?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, my opponent played a really unbelievable match. You know, I had my chances, and it’s quite important in tennis to take them. She was able to find an answer, you know, in things that I kind of challenged her with.
It was a really great match for her at a big stage. That’s the only way you can really look at it.
Q. She hasn’t had a great summer since then. Is that pretty normal when you come off a great breakthrough win like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it’s not easy, that’s for sure, especially after your first one, definitely.
Yeah, I think she’s a good enough player to find her form back here.
Q. In all the time since your shoulder problems, how would you compare how you feel now with the process which was discussed earlier? Getting over that, the surgery, everything till now, what is your feeling now compared to all the times since then?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it’s just great to still be a tennis player. I’ve said this many times. I’m very fortunate to do what I do, obviously, to do it at a high level and to win tournaments and to win big matches obviously.
It gives you tremendous amount of confidence and delight that the work you’ve put in, you know, is paying off. It’s the time that you spend away from the courts, the time that people don’t see what you put into the sport of trying to get back there. Just to play a match, and then do it over and over again, not many people experience that feeling, see it.
So to be able to prove to yourself that you’ve put in that work and there you are at that stage again, giving yourself these opportunities to win Grand Slams again, it’s a good feeling.
Q. But your level of play now and your level of confidence, how would you compare it with all the time since your shoulder problem?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I just feel like this year I’ve improved. Last year I felt like I would play a couple good matches and then I’d play a bad match. I didn’t have that sense of consistency, and that’s something I felt like something that has changed this year.
Q. Do you have any memories of working out with Freddy Adu at IMG?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.
Q. Somebody was doing something on him and said you guys might have crossed paths for a couple weeks.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think we worked out at the same facility in Florida, but I don’t think I’ve ever ‑‑ I mean, I sure hope I wasn’t doing a soccer workout.
Q. Just one of those questions we needed to ask. Were you in the city at all this morning? Could you characterize the mood here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: This morning?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I left pretty early. I left at 8:00 a.m., so I’m not really sure if everyone was sleeping in New York on a Saturday morning or if it’s the hurricane effect. But it was pretty quiet.
Q. You were talking about your chances and things like that. When you see the news that somebody like a Kim Clijsters is not playing, what goes through your mind? Do you feel like it opens up another alley?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I can’t really think like that. I don’t think that’s a mindset of a winner, to be honest. You’ve got to be ready to face anyone at any given moment. It’s obviously unfortunate that she can’t come back as a defending champion.
But on the other hand, you know, she is the one that has the memory of holding up that trophy last year. It’s I have been in that position before. It’s definitely tough, there is no doubt about it, to not be able to defend such a big title. It’s sometimes the adversity that we’re faced with.