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March 29, 2005

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did the level of her game surprise you after such a long absence?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, she's a top player. She's been a top player. Even when she's been gone I think she's very anxious to get back. Those people can be dangerous because they want to give all they've got out there. I was expecting a really tough match. It came out to be really tough.

Q. Is she really difficult to play? She comes very often to the net, has a different style of play. It's something you Russian players aren't very used to.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she's a great all-around player. She hits a lot of balls back, you know you have to hit one extra shot. That's one thing that I wanted to make sure, I was ready for every ball.

Q. What happened to you after the second set?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, my back has been sore for a little bit. But, you know, today there were a lot of long points and a lot of moving going on, so it was getting tighter as the match went on. I couldn't serve. When I landed, I felt it more on the serve while I was landing. But, you know, I got some treatment and I just try to forget about it.

Q. Will it hurt the rest of your tournament?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Will it? I don't know. It's a tough call.

Q. Can you talk about playing either Venus or Serena.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, either way it's not going to be an easy match. I'm expecting a tough one either way. I've had great matches with Serena. Played Venus before a few times as well. You know, both are going to be difficult.

Q. Is there a tougher, between the two? Obviously, you want the easiest path to the final.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Doesn't matter.

Q. What's your Fed Cup status? Has that been determined yet? Will you play?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I'm not sure yet. I haven't replied to the request. But for sure, you know, I've said this before, I'm going to play in the future, yes.

Q. Have you been called about the upcoming tie?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. We are in ongoing conversations.

Q. What seems to be your qualms about playing?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know yet if I'm physically ready for, you know, for more matches at this point. I've been on the road for a while already, and I think after this tournament, you know, I'm just going to see how I feel, you know, if I'm physically -- you know, I want to make sure I'm 100%. If I'm not, then there's no reason why I want to play.

Q. Can you talk about the strength of each one of the players you'll be coming up next. How do you prepare for Venus or Serena?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, both of them, like I said, you just have to go out and you have to play. I mean, I try to focus on my game rather than thinking what's their strength or their weaknesses or what I have to do. I mean, you know, just focus on myself.

Q. Can I ask you a question about Elena Dementieva. There's a lot of talk about her serve, obviously, not being her major weapon. She seems to do well, has made it to finals. What is it about the rest of her game that you feel gives her some strength?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, she's very consistent. Her balls are very powerful. You cknow, even though, you know, she might not have the best serve, you know, she still -- I think she knows that, you know, she feels that her game, you know, is good enough. I know she's been working on her serve, and that's a big part of a game in tennis. You know, it's a big advantage. But, you know, she's been in Grand Slam finals, so it doesn't seem to hurt her too much.

Q. Going back to Justine for a second, you played her in the past?


Q. From when you had seen before to what you saw today, it seemed like she was slower in her step, still trying to get herself back in shape. Could you tell there was something there?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I wasn't trying to look at how she was playing.

Q. Can you just talk about what you have to do mentally after you serve for the match in the second set and it doesn't pan out to regroup.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I guess just keep fighting and keep being positive even though, you know, you just missed out on a big opportunity. Easy to say, hard to do. But just I think it's all mental. You just got to stay positive. You know, I was playing well till that point, then why can't I just keep playing well?

End of FastScripts….

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