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May 13, 2005

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: First question for Maria, please.

Q. You're handling these clay courts a lot better than you did last year. Why is that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think a lot has happened in the year. I think experience. And I'm just, strength-wise, I feel a lot stronger on the clay, like I can play more matches.

Q. Stronger physically?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I can play more matches in a row and still feel good physically after I did, so...

Q. Two more steps to become the No. 1 in the world.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you (smiling).

Q. Realistically, what were your expectations when you came into this week?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just to, you know, just to have a good warm-up tournament before the French Open and just play more matches and hopefully take -- you know, Berlin was my first tournament, so learn from that a little bit and see what I had to work on and try to prepare for this one.

Q. Was it the sliding and the footwork that you needed to get used to?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not exactly the footwork. I think just the ability to play tough matches and then come back and be able to play another tough match again. I mean, at just 17 -- just when I turned 17 years old last year, you know, it's pretty tough to do because physically I haven't had that kind of, you know, competition before. I've never played so many tough matches in a row, and especially on clay where the matches are a lot longer. I think having a year to work, you know -- I worked really hard physically, which has been my goal in the last year, and I think that's, you know, paying off.

Q. Does this setting do anything for you? It's so historic. It's the 70th anniversary of the tournament being here. I wonder, how do you feel about those gigantic statues?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I've said this in one of my press conferences, that this stadium, the smaller stadium - I haven't played on it yet this time; I don't think I will - but really I think it's one of the best stadiums in the whole year, you know, around the world just because of, you know, the seating - you don't have bleachers, it's like stone all around - and the statues. It's a really, really cool environment.

Q. Up to now your matches seem to have been quite easy for you. How do you prepare yourself? How do you move on to the semifinal and eventually to the final?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think from match to match you try to improve the things that you didn't think were working the match before. You know, you just, both physically and mentally, just try to prepare yourself better because, you know, I mean, it's gonna get tougher and tougher as the matches go on. So you have to be really ready for it.

End of FastScripts….

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