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August 31, 2005

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: First question for Maria, please.

Q. You do a lot of endorsement deals. Last night with Roddick's defeats, embarrassing for numerous advertisers you see around here. Is there ever a worry for you that perhaps the endorsement deals take away from your tennis time or could come back to embarrass?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I think when you do an endorsement deal, I think you and whoever you're going to endorse have to, you know, be in contact, have to communicate with what your schedule is like. They have to understand the sport you're in and know you're not always going to be a winner. There are going to be times when, you know, you're going to have setbacks. But that's the point of having a good relationship, is when you know they'll be behind you if you're losing or if you're down, if you have those times when things are not going that well.

Q. You've only lost three games so far. Talk about the way you handle pressure, how you handle expectations.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I kind of don't. I really don't handle them. I just don't think about it. I did those things at the beginning of the week. The last one was Wednesday night. You know, I had five, six days to prepare. I had my mind off of the things I did. But I understand that there are going to be times where, you know, especially before a Grand Slam, you need to set back some time and do these things for the sponsors. But I enjoy it. You know, like I said in my previous press conference, I think in the morning I was doing the Today Show, all being glamorous. Then I'm back on the court after three hours and I'm working hard. This is where I feel I really belong.

Q. Seemed so windy out there. Did it feel like you could get knocked over at times today?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I really did. Like I said in the interview after the match, I said it's better I had a piece of cake yesterday or I would have been in that globe somewhere. I'm glad I gained a few pounds (laughter).

Q. You practice a lot down in Florida.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, but it's never like this. This was pretty extreme.

Q. Was it tough trying to find the ball when you were serving?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the first few games, you saw, I was serving 69 miles per hour. It's pretty funny. I think it's even funnier from TV because they can't even see the wind. These people probably think we look like beginners. That's the sad part.

Q. You said you've gained a few pounds, but you also still seem to be getting taller. Do you feel yourself getting taller?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I actually do. I feel like I've grown a little bit. But, you know, what can you do?

Q. Does it affect anything on the court?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: On the court, no, not really. I think once you start growing, it's very important. Like I said, I had my back -- my background was because of the growing and my shoulder. You just have to make sure those parts of your body are strong, your joints are strong.

Q. Your parents aren't particularly tall. Do you have any idea where you get your height from?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have no idea. I've been asking. I haven't got a straight answer yet (smiling).

Q. No tall family relative?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not that they've told me. I don't know who to talk to.

Q. Are you ready to go to 6'2"?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I'm not going to admit it, even if I am.

Q. Are you trying to put on a little more weight?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I was just joking.

Q. Do you feel you should put some more on to get more strength?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely not fat or cellulite. I'd prefer muscle, yeah.

Q. I met a lot of people that came here not to see really the game, but to see you. How do you feel about it? How do you feel about being like a superstar more than a tennis player?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's very flattering. I don't necessarily think about it when I step on the court because the only thing I'm thinking about is my tennis. I hope that people come out and watch me for my tennis. But, you know, I can't control the reason why they come out. Not too much I can do about that. I'm a tennis player. With being a popular tennis player comes a lot of other things. That's part of it.

Q. On the subject of tennis, can you assess the way you feel you're playing right now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think I'm hitting pretty well. I didn't have a lot of matches coming into this tournament. In the first round I felt really solid actually. Played better than I thought I would. But I know the matches are going to get tougher and tougher from here. You know, that's where you have to pick up your game.

Q. How did this get better, the pectoral muscle? How long did it take you? Were you pretty patient with it? Did it take longer than you expected?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It took about five days of no tennis. But, no, I'm not very patient going into the physical office every single day, twice a day. I was there for probably 10 days. By the end of that 10th day, I was just, "Get me out of here." But, yeah, it takes a lot of strengthening. I was, you know, in the office getting the machines on it and probably strengthening it for about two hours a day.

Q. Are you pretty confident with it now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. So far so good, yeah.

Q. Has it been hard for you and all the players this week, given the weather, to really work your way into the tournament the way you'd like to?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: There's no point in trying to think about that because you can't control the conditions. I don't think you will ever be able to control them. But just something that, you know, one day you're in windy conditions, the next day the conditions are normal. You just have to find your groove. It's pretty hard to find your rhythm when it's this windy.

Q. When you see somebody like Roddick go out early, it's a reminder that it can happen to anybody?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's tennis. It can happen to anybody. That's why we play the matches.

Q. Were you watching last night? Did you feel sorry for him?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I saw a few games. I was getting a massage. Yeah, you know, like I said, it's tough. I mean, first round. The other guy played out of his mind, I thought. You know, you run into someone that good in the first round, it's tough. But this is life.

Q. Do you feel better playing during the night?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Do I feel better playing during the night?

Q. Yes.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't mind. I don't think it's as hot during the night, but it's also very humid. No, I love the night matches. Very exciting.

Q. What is your situation with the Fed Cup? Any chance you'd play the final or not even looking into it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, at the beginning of the year I said I would probably not be playing this year.

Q. And for next year, any interest?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, for sure, there's a lot of interest. We're talking about that right now.

End of FastScripts….

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