Thailand Open (Bangkok, Thailand) – Gasquets Wins Seventh Title; Lu/Udomchoke Clinch Doubles Crown

Singles – Final
[2] R Gasquet (FRA) d [4] G Simon (FRA) 62 61

Doubles – Final
[WC] Y Lu (TPE) / D Udomchoke (THA) d [4] E Butorac (USA) / P Hanley (AUS) 63 64

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WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID

Gasquet: “I played against a French player, who is also my friend, so of course it a little bit strange, but for me it’s a title and I’ve had some tough matches this week so I’m very happy to win. The people here are very nice, the crowd was very nice. The night I played against [Grigor] Dimitrov it was late, but the people stayed and cheered for me so it’s more reason for me to come back next year and defend my title.”

Simon: “I was playing some of the best tennis I ever played yesterday [against Janko Tipsarevic] and today I just couldn’t play at all. Thierry [Tulasne] was here to watch, but it was our last week together so I really wanted to win.”

Lu: “I feel very happy, there’s no reason to be upset at all. I’m very happy for Danai [Udomchoke] to win on his home ground. I don’t know how I can explain how I feel, I’m just very happy and I appreciate playing with my friend. This is another experience we go through as friends and I’m happy.”
Udomchoke: “I was at my happiest moment during match point because I’ve always dreamed of holding a Thailand Open trophy in the 10 years I’ve played the tournament. I feel very proud of having done it today.”

Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – Monaco Wins Fourth Title Of Year; Peya/Soares Win Doubles

Singles – Final
[2] J Monaco (ARG) d [7] J Benneteau (FRA) 75 46 63

Doubles – Final
[3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d C Fleming (GBR) / R Hutchins (GBR) 57 75 10-7

WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID

Monaco: “I think we played a great match, with a lot of ups and downs. I got a little nervous when I had chances, but I never gave up, particularly in the 12th game of the first set. He surprised me a little bit with his comeback in the second set. In the final set, I knew I had to be more aggressive and I am happy the way I finished the match.
“I’d like to relax now and enjoy the victory. It isn’t easy to win tournaments, but I will focus on the next challenge and go to Tokyo tomorrow. It has been nice to be in this city and win the trophy. It feels very good. When I win a title, I think of my family and my team, as they believe in me, they have supported me and we have worked hard to win tournaments.”

Benneteau: “I was very focused on this game, because I wanted to win this final. The fans were great; there was a lot of French in the crowd. It was a nice atmosphere and the game was a good level.”

Soares: “It feels very nice. Every title is very good, really special; a different story and different atmosphere. It is only our fourth tournament, so it feels really good. This week was special, because we felt we were playing better with each match.”

Peya: “We are starting to click more as a team, also on our off days as we work on our games. It paid off this week. We enjoyed the tournament a lot, it was a lot of fun.”

Azarenka Comes Out At The Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – She dances, she sings, and heck she can hit the ball too.

This is a different Victoria Azarenka we are used to seeing. In the past, she could be testy, yelling at the umpires, linespersons and even ballboys and ball girls.

But now, she is having fun.

All thanks to a sitdown with her grandmother Nina.

“I guess it’s just the mentality change, you know, the approach change,” Azarenka said. “I just know how to prepare myself to be in that state of mind.  It’s never always the same.  Sometimes to come up with that fire it takes a little bit more energy out of me or, you know, a little bit of adaptation, something that I have to bring myself.

“But, yeah, the approach is there.  I enjoy playing on the court.  It’s always there.”

Quietly, we have started to see it the last two weeks. Even though she’s the No. 1 seed, the 23 year-old has been overshadowed by the more household names on the tour.

But after her thrilling 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Maria Sharapova in the Semifinals, everyone is starting to know her now.

And she is having the time of her life.

“It’s sometimes it’s not as fun,” she said with a laugh.  “Especially in that first set today it wasn’t that fun. But I try to enjoy my moment.  I feel like I don’t want it to end.  I’m living this great run, you know, this great opportunities that coming at me, that I just want to continue and enjoy that ride.

“When I’m on the court, I feel like I’m in paradise.  I’m in that most comfortable place I can be.  Why not enjoy it?”

The Belarusian has made a name for herself this year. In the semifinals once in a Grand Slam before 2012, she is now on the cusp to win her second major of the year after winning the Australian earlier this season.

But now, she is facing maybe her toughest competition: Serena Williams.

“Well, first of all, if you look at our record it says it all,” Azarenka, who is 1-9 careerwise against Serena, said. “I mean, I haven’t won in any last meetings, so I definitely need to find something to surprise her tomorrow, because she’s in a great form, you know, feeling really confident right now.

“She has everything on her side.”

And that includes the crowd, who will support the American every day of the week. Azarenka, though isn’t going to be wearing Bobby Bonilla style earplug to drown out the noise.

“I will not really use ear plugs, but I definitely I would be surprised if it would be the other way, so I kind of know that already,” she said. “It’s not the first time for me to kind of face that.  It’s definitely gonna be the first time being in the US Open, but, you know, there is a lot of things that been for the first time for me in this year.  I just need to adjust and try to be, you know, who I am on the court.”

But to win the championship or even make it a game, what does she have to do?

“Well, I have to, you know, try to return well, definitely,” she said smiling.  “And serve.  Because, well, with Serena it’s not really the long rallies.  It’s all about, you know, who grabs the first opportunity, who is more brave to, you know, step it up right from the beginning.”

And if she does it, she will have a puncher’s chance against Serena. But whatever happens, the No. 1 seed will have fun with it.

At least that’s what her grandmother told her to do.

 

 

Sharapova Into Quarters With Help From Rain

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Maybe some higher power is looking favorably on Maria Sharapova, because the rain came at the right time tonight.

With the No. 3 seed down a break in the third set against Nadia Petrova, the sky’s opened for a 75 minute rain delay, and after play resumed, she took a 6-1 4-6 6-4 win to make the Quarterfinals for the first time since she won the Open in 2006.

“It’s a tough situation because I felt like there’s so many ups and downs between the beginning of the first till that break.,” Sharapova said. “She was up a break and it was a little bit difficult going in because I felt like I started getting a little bit of momentum back in the second set and then just didn’t really take my chances when I had them and played a sloppy game at 4‑5.

“But I didn’t really mind.  I have the experience of getting off the court and waiting a little bit and trying to start from scratch.”

Petrova called it Sharapova’s “lucky day” but you have to give Maria a little more credit than that. She has been on a tear this year, winning the French Open and looking determined to get  her second Open next Saturday.

And today, she grinded it out against her fellow country woman, who seemed to be a lot more psky in the second, with Sharapova making a ton of mistakes.

And Petrova had her on the ropes, but Sharapova came out pumped looking to end any threat.

“You’re playing a night match at the US Open, you have a rain delay, you come back, and all the same people that were there waited through for 45 minutes and they came back to watch the end of the match,” she said.  “So that energy in the stadium with the music and the cheering, it’s just unique.  You know, I think it really, really pumped me up and got me going.  I wasn’t going to leave that court without a fight.”

After she came out, she quickly put the set back on serve and gave Petrova no chance against her first service. Petrova’s great serve was shut down by the Russian in the final games.

“That was really important, especially against Nadia,” she said.  “One of her strengths is her serve.  You know, when it’s on and she’s holding easy, that obviously puts more pressure on the service game.

“You really try to concentrate on that, you know, be smart and mix it up a little bit more. Overall I’m really happy with the way it came out in the third.  I didn’t let that little letdown bother me.  I just kept on fighting.”

Now she will take on Marion Bartoli, who roars into the Quarters with a 1-6, 6-2, 6-0 win over Petra Kvitova.

“We haven’t played in a while.  It was a great win for her today, someone who has been playing really good this summer,” she said.  “Yeah, it’s nice to see her back in the quarterfinals of a slam.  I think she’s been a little bit up and down, but obviously her level has stepped up here.  Honestly, I haven’t watched any of her matches here.

“I played her before; I know her game style.  It’s always a little bit different, nontraditional.  But, yeah, it’s the quarterfinals and I’m excited.”

Hopefully, Sharapova won’t need the rain gods for this one.

Harrison Shows He Belongs

FLUSHING MEADOWS – Is Ryan Harrison America’s Great Hope?

Well, he certainly hopes so.

“I mean, hearing the good stuff is always exciting,” he said. “But I think that those guys have obviously had such extraordinary careers.  They’ve done so well for U.S. tennis.  I’ve got such a long ways to go.  Hearing stuff like that doesn’t really come into play.  I mean, I’ve never made third round of a slam.  After that you got to get second week.  It only gets tougher from there.

“The closer you get to the top, the more difficult it gets.  I have a long ways to go.  I do believe I can get there ‑‑ and I’m going to do my best to get there ‑‑ but it’s not going to be easy.”

And it won’t be easy in the second round when he get Juan Martin Del Potro, after the young American beat Benjamin Becker 7‑5, 6‑4, 6‑2 to win a round this year.

 

“It’s going to start with my serve,” he said. “If I serve well, everything kind of becomes a lot less, I guess, pressure on the rest of my game because I can dictate and I can actually swing out on some return games and have a little bit of a crack because there’s not as much pressure.  It’s going to start with that.

“If things go my way, then I know I can return well enough to where I can put some pressure on him.  I play good defense, so with some of his shot‑making, I can make him hit a couple extra balls on some of his service games.

“Like I said, it’s not going to be easy, but I think I have the game to do it.”

That’s great confidence and he will need it to beat the No. 7 seed, but there is work to be done. Harrison has a goal to make the second week, but he knows the obstacles in front of him. Just 20, he has a long career ahead of him and can work on his game and make this Open a learning experience.

“Obviously you want to, but I’ve got a really tough opponent next round,” he said. “I know I can do well and I know I can win this match if I play well.  It’s going to be not easy, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

“It will be fun.”

Yes it will. Watching this American always is.

 

 

Wozniacki Ignores Love Advice And Advances

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The Williams sisters are a great resource for any tennis player. After all, they have seen it all on the courts. Been there, done that.

When it comes to relationship advice…well take it with a grain of salt.

No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki learned that today before her second round win over Danish native Arantxa Rus, 6-2 6-1.

“Well, we were all in the locker room,” she said.  “I was going to get some treatment.  She was sitting there with Venus and talking.  And then, I don’t know, it just came out that we were talking a bit and we had a laugh.  We were just kidding around a little bit.

“I think I should not listen to her or Venus (laughter).  She was not better.”

The Great Dane has very open about her relationship with Irish golfer Rory McIlvoy. It’s been in all the papers and the US Golf Open Champion has been attending Wozniacki’s matches last week in New Haven. With her own US Open at hand can her love life become a distraction?

Not so, said the 21 year-old.

“Well, tennis is my first priority and I’m focused on the tennis when I’m on court, that’s for sure,” she said.   “You know, what I do off the court, I know that I’m a public person, so a lot of things will be seen by the public.

“But, you know, I don’t really think about it.  You know, I think we have our limits and we know where they are.  So as long as we both keep the feet on the ground and, you know, we both have our careers, which are important to us, I think it’s working well.”

With that out of the way, Wozniacki is focused on her third round match against American Vania King.

“She’s definitely getting a lot of balls back,” Wozniacki said if King. “It’s important to stay aggressive, but not too aggressive.  You know, I just need to dictate, but have control over the points.

“She’s definitely a player that is not easy to beat.  So I’m looking forward to the match, and hopefully it can be a good one.”

And you can be sure Rory will be watching.

Life Comes To Ferrero At The Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – With all the focus on the young players at this year’s US Open, it is almost easy to overlook Juan Carlos Ferrero, who went back to the future and partied like it was 2003 today in Queens.

Ferrero didn’t drive a DeLorean, nor did he take some sort of youth pills in his five set classic over the 7th seed Gael Monfils, winning, 7-6(5) 5-7 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4. Rather he did it the old fashioned way – he became healthy.

“I still having little bit problems with my hip,” he said.  “I have some pain.  But I played two matches, five sets.  I’ve been testing too much right now.  But I think I’ll be okay to play in good conditions next round.”

After winning his first round match against the 45th ranked Pablo Andujar, Ferrero fought through against Monfils, the highly ranked Frenchman, who many had pegged to go to at least the quarterfinals.

The 2003 US Open runner-up had different plans.

“I mean, this match means a lot for me because, like I said, it was a long time that I didn’t enjoy inside the court,” said Ferrero, who is now ranked 105th in the world. “Today was very physically match all the time, but I think I played the whole match a very good level.

“Maybe the serve wasn’t work very well in the whole match.  But from the baseline I was trying to be very aggressive all the time and move him because, you know, his moves are very good.  So it’s always tough to play against such a good player.”

Ferrero fought through trainer’s visits early in the match for his foot and then later on to treat blisters on his hands, but nothing that will hinder him in the later rounds. Instead, he thought it was the humidity at Flushing Meadows Park which caused the problems.

“Yeah, it was only, you know, maybe because it was a long time that I didn’t play such a long match,” he thought. “Also because of the humid.  For skin, it’s tough to get normal all the time.  Is, you know, problems of the matches.  I think I’ll be okay.”

Today Ferrero reminded the packed Luis Armstrong Stadium of the player who beat Andre Agassi back in 2003 and then lost to that up and comer Andy Roddick.

“Of course the year that I get No. 1 here in semifinals against, you know, I beat Agassi,” he recalled. “I always like to watch him on the TV when I was young.  So was big opportunity for me that year. Was a pity to not win the tournament.  But, you know, was great.”

Yet, it was a career that was derailed by injuries recently and had surgery on his left wrist and right knee last October. After losing in the first round in Madrid, Ferrero was hinting at retirement at the tender age of 31, but held on for this Open run.

And today, the man nicknamed the Mosquito because of his fancy footwork around the baseline fought back the younger Monfils delivering back all the Frenchman could give him.

He only had two aces to Monfils 21 while keeping his unforced errors down to 52 compared to his opponent’s 81.

Ferrero will try to keep it going in the third round against 31st ranked Marcel Granollers.

The New Blake

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – James Blake seemed very pleased when asked about his bloved New York Mets. Last year he was blunt about his feelings about the management, saying general manager Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel “must go.”

And now that Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins took their places he seemed like a very happy fan.

“That is good,” he said with a smile. “I wish we could have kept Beltran and will keep Reyes. This year was a tough one as the last few have been. We are a little more optimistic than we were last year.”

Yet, even though he wears his trademark Mets cap after every match, baseball is his hobby and tennis is his job and after a tough 2010 where he was injured, Blake seems very content with his 2011 performance.

So much so that he wants to continue playing even after this season.

“I want to play this year and I want to play next year and the year after that. My body was worse off last year. I have ice on now, but that’s just preventative,” he said after he won his first round match against Jesse Huta Galung, 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-4. “I feel good. My legs are back under me and I am feeling great. I am happy to be playing here at 60 in the world and hopefully I am on the path moving upward. I am having fun and I love playing here with as much fun as I am having.”

With a bad shoulder and bad knee, tennis became a chore for the 31 year-old New Yorker. He struggled through matches last year and ultimately looked for different answers. He found that less is more and let his body heal itself.

“I think it was just general healing. My trainer and I have been on the path to get this healthy. At one point we were at a little bit of pain and we just accepted it. We tried to get it to perfect. At 31 years-old there will be nagging things and it will be hard to be this old and not have things after beating up my body for 12 years.

“Once that happened and once I relaxed and didn’t stress about it, there was less pain. I didn’t think about it as much and it’s really been incredible. All the treatment have been the same, but we did change a little bit on how we did with the ibuprofen and message and stuff, but no huge changes. We just worked smarter.”

And it worked against Huta Galung with a four set win. He was in total control during the first two sets, but has a bit of a hiccup in the third, ultimately finishing off the Dutchman in four sets.

Blake was very pleased with the results.

“It’s never easy when you are playing guys who are hungry to win, are talented and have the confidence to win,” Blake said. “I played the first two sets. In the third set he stepped his game up. I played one bad game and broke myself but he played hard to get back into that set. That was on him. He played great.

“The fourth set, I was in control getting more looks than his looks and I just played a good game to break me. I just broke back and the crowd helped me there. He looked uncomfortable at that time when I was up. I don’t know how many matches he played here, but nerves can get to you. That can definitely be a factor.

“When I got that break I was real confident.”

He hopes to continue that confidence in the second round against fifth ranked David Ferrer, a buzz saw of a second round matchup, although Blake had success against the Spaniard in the past with a 2-0 record.

“I have a ton of respect for him,” Blake said. “He played in incredible match in the Davis Cup to beat Mardy [Fish]. I have a tremendous respect for him. I am 2-0 against him and I hope to continue that pattern. He’s a tremendous player and I have been seeded up there and not seeded and if you want to go deep you have to beat some seeded players. It’s what I have to deal with it from where I am.”

Last year you had to wonder if Blake could win, but this is a new James Blake or rather the old James Blake.

“I hope it’s more like the old James Blake before the knee injury and before the shoulder was back,” he said. “Either way I am having a lot of fun and I am trying to get back to getting better and having fun doing that.”

Now if only the Mets could have the same success.

Maria Through The First With Good Open Chance

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It’s pretty easy for Maria Sharapova to blame her sluggish start today on the weather.

Sure today’s conditions were perfect, but this past weekend kept her indoors.

“I think the last couple days have been tough on players,” said Sharapova after she downed the unseeded Heather Watson 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. “Obviously none of us practiced yesterday.  The day before was raining.  Everybody was trying to get 30 minutes on an indoor court, which is always a little bit tough.

“So I think it was just going out there and trying to find that consistency.”

So the 2006 US Open Champion spent yesterday in her hotel room, playing with her dog, going to the gym and taking in what was open in New York City.

Yet, her dog may have been trying to tell her something during the storm yesterday.

“My dog kept like going back to his little bag,” she said.  “It kind of freaked me out because that’s a sign he wanted to go home.  Maybe the hurricane was going to be bad.  We were lucky, yeah, that it was just a little rain.”

New York was lucky yesterday and the No. 3 seed was lucky today when she survived the match with British Watson, even though she committed 58 unforced errors (39 in the first set) and eight double faults.

“I don’t think I did enough to make her feel like she had any pressure in the first set,” Sharapova said.  “You know, I’d hit one, two good balls, then hit an error.  Whether it was a centimeter or two out, it doesn’t matter, it’s still an error.”

Even with the slow start, Sharapova was too much for Watson. Using her power game, she was able to squeak by in the second set and then dominate the third to advance in this version of the US Open. She is the new Maria, someone who is older, wiser and out to prove she isn’t washed up at the tender age of 24.

Instead, after years of injuries and inconsistencies, Sharapova is ready to dominate again. A year of resurgence saw her win in Rome and then Cincinnati, while losing the finals in Miami and of course Wimbledon. It was good enough to rank her No. 3 in Flushing, and one of the odds on favorites for the tournament.

“Well, I just feel like this year I’ve improved,” she said. “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.”

Even at her still young age, Sharapova is the grizzled veteran on the circuit. And much like any other sport, she has made adjustments. Where she was a pure power player before, the Russian by the way of Florida is now a more complete player, with a defensive game to go with her attack.

During her journey back, which she called it “the process” she had many pitfalls, but her hard work is now looking like it is paying off.

“Well, it’s just great to still be a tennis player,” she said.  “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.”

And now with the first round hiccup out of the way, Maria Sharapova seems poised for her Open run.

Of course let’s hope there are no more hurricanes.

Maria Sharapova Transcript

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?

 

Q.  Yeah.

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.