Q. Tough match today. Your thoughts about how it went, what went wrong?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, you know, she played quite explosive. Thought at times, you know, when I got in the rally I wasn’t moving forward, wasn’t cutting the angles off enough.

She got herself back in the points. She was really explosive off the return. Yeah.

Q. Looking back on the match, is there much you think you could have done differently? Tight first set.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, I feel like if it was 5-All, I mean, the momentum would have been a little bit different than going into where she played a really great beginning of the second set.

You know, I think at 5-All maybe the mentality of her confidence would have changed a little bit. But, you know, she returned really well on those deuce points. Really got me on the back foot, yeah.

Q. You mentioned her confidence. She got off to a fairly slow start in the first set. What were your thoughts when you saw that? Why weren’t you able to keep that gap that you had early on?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was a 2-0 gap, so I’m not sure it’s…

Q. It’s something.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely. But the match is still two-out-of-three. It’s not about the first point or a point in the middle. It’s really about the last point, so…

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Maria is out of the Australian Open at the quarter-final stage after a 4-6 1-6 loss to No.1 seed Serena Williams of the United States. The match lasted an hour and 32 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

The match started strongly for Maria as she got an early break and led 2-0. The set was intense as Williams then won six of the next eight games to take the set 6-4 in 55 minutes and dropped only one game in the second set.

Source: (mariasharapova.com)

Maria Sharapova took over two hours to defeat Swiss teen Belinda Bencic 7-5, 7-5 under the roof of the Rod Laver Arena. Maria also established a personal record of 21 aces in a match, and that makes Maria the tournament leader with 52 aces.

In the first set, Maria had break points in the first two service games of Bencic, all of them were saved. A doble fault handed the Swiss the first break of the match to lead 3-2. However, the lead didn’t last too much as it was followed by a run of four consecutive breaks. As Bencic served to force a tiebreak, an unforced error gave Maria the first set.

The second set was full of opportunities for Maria, but the young Swiss wasn’t going to give in that easily. Once again Bencic found herself serving to stay in the match as the Russian lead 6-5.

Maria had a match point on Bencic’s serve, which she failed to capitalized after dumping a backhand into the bottom of the net. In her second match point, Sharapova responded with an amazing return which was called out, but the Russian wasn’t convinced and a challenge confirmed her pass to the quarterfinals.

In the next round Maria will face No. 1 Serena Williams.

I added 102 photographs of Maria from today’s match. Check them out!

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Q. Did that perhaps end up being a little bit more difficult than it needed to be?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I felt like I made it a little bit more difficult than I should have. I definitely had a letup at 2-1, 30-Love. You know, felt like I was hitting the ball well, doing the right things to get in that position, then let up. In a Grand Slam environment against anyone you can’t expect to get away with it, and I didn’t in the second set.

But overall really happy with how I came out in the third and stepped up, considering it’s been, you know, many weeks since I’ve been in that position. So I was happy with the way I finished.

I think I can take a lot of good things from that.

Q. 600 career wins. Is that a difficult number to get your head around?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not very difficult (smiling). I’ve faced much more difficult things. But I think it’s a proud number. I’ve played for many years. I don’t think about those numbers until I finish the match and someone does mention it. I think it’s a good fact that I’ve been able to win that many matches.

But overall it’s not constantly on my mind, how many matches I’ve won in my career.

Q. You must remember your first win, though. Got to remember that. A little younger.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Was it in Palm Springs?

Q. Yeah, a long time ago.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well (laughter). I’m going to pretend like I’m smarter than that. Was it against Samantha Reeves? I remember that match because I got smoked by Monica after that. It’s a great memory.

Q. Do you ever think to yourself, My goodness, I’ve been doing this for a very long time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, I have. I have been doing it for a long time. That’s a fact. But there’s nothing else that I’d rather do right now than keep doing that. I think if I think about it like that, like, Oh, I’ve been around the block, I’ve been to all these tournaments so many times, that would seem quite heavy, not really motivate me much.

You always have to find new inspirations and new goals, find things that really get you going in the morning.

Q. Through to the second week. Can you just assess the first week, in general? What did you think of it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s Friday. I mean, I don’t really categorize each week. I just go by matches. You know, as I assess this match, I thought I did a good job of just doing the right things in the first two matches. And today, even though I definitely let up in some moments in the second set, I thought I had a really good attitude in the third set. That’s something I can take away. Although I didn’t play many matches, if I keep having that attitude, I’m sure I’ll get the chances and opportunities.

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What a match that was! Maria Sharapova struggled to reach the 4th round of the Australian Open. She had to play American Lauren Davis and after over two hours she won the match 6-1, 6-7 (5-7), 6-0. Maria will play Belinda Bencic from Switzerland in the next round, they have never met before.

But that’s not all this win is Maria’s 600th win of her career, and is the 17th female player to achieve this. In the post-match on court interview, Maria said: “Oh wow, I’ve won 600 matches? A friendly reminder that I’m getting older?”

Maria dominated the first set (26 minutes) only making four unforced errors, she won the set 6-1. The second set turned out to be more complicated after being up a break, Davis broke back and leveled it up to 2-2. Both players held their serve and forced to a tiebreak where a forehand unforced error gave Davis the second set.

In the last set, Maria came back on court and controlled the rest of the match, winning in an amazing 6-0.

Q. Are you happy overall of how you played today with different conditions, the roof on?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think last year I didn’t play an indoor match until the final until they closed the roof, so I guess it’s good to play in a different environment.Yeah, against somebody again I haven’t faced before, which is quite rare, but, you know, felt like her game was a little bit unpredictable. I had to make some adjustments. She came up with a few good shots and a few errors, some great big first serves and some shorter ones.So I think for me it was really about adjusting today.Q. At the end of the first set you had a bit of a rough patch on your serve. When it’s like this, was it the timing? How do you fix it right away?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, my toss went off a little bit, but I thought I was able to serve quite well the rest of the match except that game, so that was good.Improved my returns a little bit today compared to the first match.

Q. Players often talk about confidence coming from wins and from matches. When you have a spell like you’ve where you haven’t played, missed the first tournament of the year, you come in a little bit cold, where do you gather that confidence from?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think from ending the season on a pretty, yeah, good run, I would say, considering I hadn’t played much since Wimbledon. The matches that I did play I thought they were of good intensity. They were physical; I got through them.

Yeah, I think that gave me — especially in Prague, I think, even in the end, as a team, we didn’t win, I thought they were very big personal victories for me. Playing Kvitova in front of 15,000 screaming Czech fans, it felt like there was a lot on the line, and I felt I had to face that myself, and someone I had lost to just a couple of weeks before.

It was a big win. So I think taking that and bringing it into the season, there is definitely — it’s not like I had so much time off and it’s not like I had a really long offseason.
Q. Do you think your lack of match practice heading into the Australian summer is a good thing for you again?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn’t really have much choice, so I don’t think if it’s a good thing or bad thing. I just work with what I have.

Q. Quite a few dropshots from you today. How would you rate your mastery of that after recently adding it to your arsenal?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Mastery and arsenal in two sentences. That’s quite a vocabulary you’ve got there.

Yeah, it’s something that I have added to my game, and that’s helped me, you know, especially playing against opponents that stay far back.

When I’m aggressive and I have depth on my shots, it’s just good to have that variety to bring them in, to move forward myself. I mean, I had a couple of good ones; I had a couple of really crappy ones. I’d say it was pretty mediocre today.
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Maria defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus to advance to the third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne. Maria won 6-2 6-1 in 71 minutes.

In the first set, Maria started the match strongly as she built a 4-0 lead. Serving for the set at 5-1, Maria’s serve was broken after a long deuce game but re-grouped in the next game to break Sasnovich to 30 and won the set with a blistering forehand winner.

Maria’s form from the first set continued in the second set as she took a 3-0 lead and dropped only one more game on her road to a place in the last 32. In the final game of the set, Maria held her serve to 15 and won match point when her opponent hit a forehand error.

In Friday’s third round match, Maria will play either world No.103 Lauren Davis of the United States. Maria has never played the 22-year-old before.

Q. First match of the season for you. Pleased with that effort?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I guess I am. It was just nice to get on court and face the opportunity of playing a first match. No matter how much you train, it’s always different when you walk out onto the court. Definitely a relief to get that first one out of the way, yeah.

Q. Are there extra nerves after such a layoff, after the injuries, all of that stuff?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, there’s always a little bit of nerves, sometimes more, sometimes less, going into any Grand Slam, but especially when it’s your first tournament of the season. Just a different feeling. I try not to focus so much on the opponent or the atmosphere and just really focus on myself and try to bring the positives of a good training week, just try to execute that, yeah, keep it simple.

Q. What were you particularly pleased about today in your game, and to the extent there was any rust, where were you feeling it most?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I felt like I adjusted quite well to the conditions, although you don’t really notice it. There’s quite a breeze going to one side. I think just moving your feet, I definitely started moving back a little too much towards the end of the second set. I wasn’t as aggressive as I was during the whole match. That gave her a chance to get back in the points.

Overall I could have returned better. Served quite well, yeah.

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Maria won her first match of 2016 at the Australian Open in Melbourne after a 6-1 6-3 win over Nao Hibino of Japan. The match was 73 minutes long under the lights on Hisense Arena.

The first set lasted 32 minutes as Maria got the first break to lead 2-0. At 5-1, Maria didn’t drop a point on her serve as she won the set on a punishing backhand winner.

Maria got another early break in set two as broke in the first game and took a 5-1 lead. At 5-1, Maria was broken serving for the match but re-grouped in the next game to break her opponent and a forehand winner booked her spot in the last 64.

On Wednesday, Maria will face world No.105 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus. Maria has never played the 21-year-old before who is playing in her first Australian Open main draw.