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April 2, 2005

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria, please.

Q. How much of a factor was the wind?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: The conditions were definitely not easy. I knew it wasn't going to be the best tennis you would see from both of us. But I figured that I just had to get used to them quite quickly, and so did she. But, you know, overall I didn't think it was the best match we could have played just because of the conditions, but it was an all right match.

Q. You would come back, there you were at 5-All, 40-15, then it all got away from you. What happened?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I didn't take that chance of holding my serve. That would have put some pressure on her, and she would be serving to stay in the second set. But those are the chances that I still have to learn to take in my future matches. You know, she just managed to play a little bit better in those points, and I was a little bit sloppy and didn't have that extra boost.

Q. How much more difficult was it to hold serve on that one side?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: A lot harder, because she's got very powerful shots and you know if you don't make your first serve, then on the second serve you know that you're going to be attacked either way. So it puts a lot more pressure to make your first serve go in.

Q. Could you describe what the wind was doing out there, swirling, going in one direction or another?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it was swirling. It was not -- it was going in one direction but, you know, the ball moved, you know. It wasn't just going one way. When it was a slow ball, you'd see the ball move. You'd have to adjust really, really quick with your feet.

Q. Can you talk about Kim's comeback. She's a popular player among her peers. She's a nice person, everyone seems happy to have her back even though she's going to beat people. Can you talk about her being back in general.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think all of us, you know, when you're so, I guess, anxious to come back and not having played for such a long time, and actually maybe knowing that you might never play tennis again, I think she was very anxious to get back. And like she said, you know, she was still working very hard physically and trying to stay in shape so she was ready when she came back. That's obviously shown. She has a great personality, so it's always good to have someone around like that. But also a great competitor on the court, which this game needs.

Q. Were you personally surprised after her comeback in Indian Wells that she could do it again, this constant good game for another tournament, win two in a row?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the biggest surprise is that it was her 14th match, and I didn't feel like, you know, she was physically fatigued. You could see her running after every ball and giving it, you know, all she's got out there. She was recovering very well. After 14 matches, you know, I'm at least not at that point where I can do that. She's a very strong girl, and physically, you know, she can play all day out there.

Q. How hard is to get a ball by Kim? You haven't played her in a while, but you play a lot of top players. Where does she rank in terms of being able to retrieve?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: She's definitely one of the top. Running her from corner to corner is like a piece of cake for her, which, for other players, can be -- is not very easy. So, I mean, you just have to expect that when you go out on the court, that she's going to get every ball back, and you have to be ready to play that extra shot.

Q. Was your movement on the backhand side a problem today?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I'm naturally a lefty so when I run to that side, when I feel that I can't get it with two hands, I just hit it with one.

Q. You're a natural left-hander?


Q. Why did you start to play right-handed?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. When I was younger I played with lefty, righty. I played with two hands on one side and finally decided to play with righty.

Q. One of the balls she did get back, with the overhead, got a great position on that ball. You neutralized but you wind up losing the point and that game. You got back into the match, but was that game a pivotal point in the result?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think there are many games in the first set that were very important. When it was 2-All and I had a breakpoint, there were two very close calls that I think, you know, it's hard for me to say if they were in or out, but I thought that it could have given me an advantage. And also that shot, you know, she made me play an extra ball. It was windy, it's not easy to hit such a high overhead. So, you know, little things here and there. I had my chances and I just didn't take them. You know, if it's a little luck, a little lack of energy or whatever it might have been, you know, she just ended up being the better player.

Q. Can you just talk emotionally about the level of disappointment.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I'm not really disappointed. I think I've had a great week. After having such a terrible match at Indian Wells, I think I bounced back really well and I performed well and I fought out there, and I gave it all I got for this match. Unfortunately, you can't win every single match, and I hope that people respect that. So, you know, one day, this is life; you're going to have good moments, you're going to have bad. That's the way life is.

Q. Three crucial matches with Serena, Lindsay and now Kim, you don't come out on top of any of those. Where do you place yourself now in the general pecking order of women on the tour?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think you're just mentioning the matches that I lost. I think, I mean, against Justine I was, you know, I lost the second set and I was able to come back and I won that match. Then against Venus, that wasn't an easy match. I was able to come back. I mean, you know, I don't want to talk about the losses so much, but I guess, I don't know, every opponent is difficult, and we are all very competitive and we all want to win. So I don't know how I would rank myself among them. I mean, you look at the ranking, I guess the ranking doesn't lie.

Q. You can't tell because Kim is No. 17. We know she's not the 17th best player in the word.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, time will tell. In a few months you'll see what she is then. But it's hard when you come back and you don't play for so long. I mean, obviously she's not going to be 2 in the world right away. It's going to take time. Obviously, from today's performance, she is a Top 5 player at this point, but, you know, on the ranking it doesn't show.

Q. You handled the conditions a lot better today than you did in Indian Wells. They were similar. What did you learn from Indian Wells for today's match?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I adjusted better. I was moving my feet out there. You know, I thought I still could have moved a lot better. You know, when it's windy, you can't -- you're never going to play your best game. But I guess you just have to find a groove out there, find a way to win, I guess.

Q. Was this the worst wind conditions you've been in?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: One of the worst. I think Indian Wells was pretty bad as well. But, yeah, I think Indian Wells, it's more swirling. Here it's going to one side but it's still swirling.

End of FastScripts….

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