| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo credit: Kenneth B. Goldberg

Russian Maria Sharapova, fresh off her recent finals win in Cincinnati over former world number one-ranked Jelena Jankovic in three sets, 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-3, is in New York gearing up for her appearance at the 2011 U.S. Open. Sharapova, like the other pros shooting for 2011 U.S. Open glory, have hit a number of obstacles in gearing up for the event thanks to Mother Nature and the impact of Hurricane Irene in the area. New York Tennis Magazine had a chance to catch up with Sharapova, who jumped to number four in the WTA rankings, as she discussed her big recent win in Cincinnati and how she will build upon that success beginning this week at the 2011 U.S. Open.

How do you feel going into this tournament winning in Cincinnati?

Maria Sharapova: I came into Cincinnati asking to play a lot of matches for myself, as many as I could at that tournament. It was great to win the tournament, and 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.

How different are you this year compared to last year at the same time for the U.S. 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.

In all the time since your shoulder problems, how would you compare how you feel now?

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. It gives you a tremendous amount of confidence and delight that the work you've put in 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.

To be able to prove to yourself that you've put in that work and you are at that stage again, giving yourself these opportunities to win Grand Slams again ... it's a good feeling.