June 23, 2005
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Maria for you.
Q. Would it be safe to say you were up for that one?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I definitely was. I knew it wasn't going to be an easy match. Mentally from the first point on, even though I was down 15-40 in the first game, I was still mentally really tough. I just played great tennis today.
Q. You didn't let up at all, did you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't. You know, I focused really well. Returning and serving was a big key today. It's always a big key on grass, but I think I did that really well.
Q. In the second set, did you allow her to win that game or did you want to win it 6-0?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I know how it feels to lose 0-0, and it's not a good feeling, so I just let it go (laughter).
Q. What statement do you think you made with your racquet after the verbal statement she made about facing you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, that was a long time ago. She's grown up a lot since then. So it's not really worth talking about. It's just a matter of -- you know, it doesn't matter what happens off the court. It's just going out there and, you know, playing tennis, you know, playing a match. So I don't really worry about what happens, who talks what. Everybody talks and everybody makes comments. But it's normal. You just have to go out on the court and just have to play. You know, the tennis does the talking all the time.
Q. How difficult did you think this match would be today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I knew she got to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. Obviously, grass is totally different. I don't think she's had as much experience on it as she would have liked. But it's normal for someone that's 15 years old. You know, I think she still has a lot to develop in her game.
Q. Did you allow yourself to feel sorry for her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. It's hard to feel sorry for your opponents. Unfortunately, this is an individual sport.
Q. Have you had words since those comments were initially made?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.
Q. Did you speak in the locker room afterwards today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. We're in different locker rooms, because I'm in the members locker room. Sorry. I'm not trying to brag, that's just a fact.
Q. Are you playing as you want to win the championship or you're just taking it a game at a time? Are you under any pressure to win it because you won it before?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, basically I'm taking one match at a time, but I'm giving -- I'm concentrating on every match. I think I played a lot better since I did in the first round. Obviously, first round you're going to have a little bit of nerves, you don't know what to expect. But, you know, I got a lot better. Today was a much better game. Hopefully I'll keep improving because the tennis is going to get tougher. You know, you're going to have to play better in order to win.
Q. Is there any one of the girls out there that worries you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. There are a lot of tough opponents.
Q. You said you know how it feels getting shut out. When did that happen to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, double bagel. You don't remember that?
Q. How did it feel?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, that was a long -- long time, not a long time ago. Actually, it wasn't as much disappointing as losing probably when you have like match points because you're just, I mean, like it can't get any worse, you know. And you just forget about it. And after that I came out and I got to the finals of Nasdaq. It was whatever. It happened. It happens. This is life, you know. Obviously it's not great to lose 0-0, but you play against the No. 1 in the world. Yes, you're a top player, but it just wasn't your day. Life goes on.
Q. On Saturday you're playing Katarina Srebotnik. I want to ask you what are your thoughts about this match and what you know about her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've played her once a long time ago. I haven't seen her play much. But with every single opponent I play, I just go out and I just play my game. There's nothing specific that I'm going to go out and worry about something, you know, about her game. Just have to go and you just have to perform and just do the best you can. Serve well, return well. If you're on those two things, I mean, you have a big advantage on grass if you're serving well and you're returning well.
Q. So you're not scouting your opponents?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no.
Q. You're obviously the champion here and potentially have more distractions this year than last year. Are you actually better this year at focusing and keeping distractions out than you were a year ago? Have you worked at that and do you find yourself better at it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's hard to work at it. It's not like you go to school to work on it (laughter).
Q. You've had a lot more. Do you find it easy to focus?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is it easier? You just -- it's hard to explain, because when you go on the court, I mean, it really depends on the individual. If you're able to block everything out that's around you and you're just able to focus on the ball and your opponent, then you're in good hands. But if you're thinking about what someone yelled in the crowd or the line call or the media or the photographers, then you're in trouble. I'm pretty good, especially at this tournament, going onto the court and just paying attention to my opponent and the ball.
Q. Robert has always said that's one of your great strengths is your ability to do that.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right.
Q. Has it been chipped away at all with the success of last year or have you found nothing has penetrated that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not yet. Not yet. Doesn't seem to be so. I've pretty much concentrated and focused really well when I had to. I see there are days when you concentrate better than others. But you never know really.
Q. Lindsay was saying it's hard for girls to be friends on the tour. Do you have any friends within the Russian camp?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm friends with Maria Kirilenko just because we're the same age, we have similar interests. I've known her since we played in the Juniors.
Q. It's difficult with the other girls, is it, apart from the Russians, to be friends?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think like Lindsay said, it's hard to be friends with someone that's going -- that might be your opponent in the next round. Obviously, nothing against any of my opponents. But, you know, it's difficult to go really, really good friends off the court and then going on the court and trying to beat them. I mean, when you're off the court, it's friendly, but it's hard to become best friends with them. That's normal.
Q. On a technical note, regarding grunting, one of the problems is that someone who grunts, as you do, a number of others, is that it obscures the sound of the ball off your racquet for the opponent. The sound of the ball coming off the racquet conveys information to the opponent about how well or otherwise you've hit the ball. Those who grunt pretty loudly, as you do, therefore are putting the opponent at something of a disadvantage.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel like I'm in school now (smiling).
Q. What do you think about that factor, of it being a disadvantage to the opponent?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I get bored because that was too much information (laughter). I don't know. Like I've said before, I don't think about it. I don't know what it creates, what it affects. I don't know.
Q. It used to happen between Navratilova and Seles. Seles grunted. There was a famous match.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That was a long time ago.
Q. To what degree do you think the game might be helped if there were some nasty rivalries between players? You mentioned that the players can't be friends. But if it were even amped up a bit where there was some real bitterness between players, what effect do you think it might have on the popularity of the sport?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's hard to say when there are not a lot of those around. I mean, there are rivalries, but I don't think they're nasty or they're bad. I mean, I don't -- I don't really --
Q. Do you think the game would be helped if there were some?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Will it help? I don't think it would make a difference. It might make it more exciting for the spectators just because they know the two opponents hate each other and they want to see what will happen on the court. Other than that, I don't know.
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