March 14, 2005
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria.
Q. How were the conditions?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not too good for tennis today. You know, I guess it's Mother Nature. You can't really do too much about it. But it was very unexpected because in practice it wasn't that bad. But when you got on the court, on the stadium, it wasn't like it was it was one direction. It was moving around. You know, I guess I just had to hold on. The first three games were pretty ugly. You know, it's just a matter of getting used to the conditions.
Q. What's the most difficult part of playing through wind like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think when you're playing -- when you feel confident, when you're playing good tennis, all of a sudden you come out, and these conditions are there. You don't know what to expect because you know you're playing well, but these conditions don't make you play well. You start trying to do something different, you might start making errors.
Q. The wind died down a fair amount towards the end of the second set. Is that fair to say?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. It got a lot better in the second set, for sure.
Q. Could you feel how well you were playing? Do you like how you're hitting the ball?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I think I was consistent. The first three games are a big exception, because that was not very pretty. But after I thought that, you know, when the points went a little bit longer, when the wind died down, I thought it was more consistent. I was able to hit one more ball in.
Q. She's been playing pretty well the last month. That has to be somewhat satisfying. You might have expected a big challenge on court.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I was definitely expecting a challenging match. And I think it was because when you go out and you're in these conditions, even though you feel that you're playing good, you just never know what can happen because of the conditions and the wind and the swirling.
Q. Was sand a factor?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I just think it was the wind.
Q. Your on-court interview, they mentioned this was your breakthrough tournament. Can you relate to Kirilenko, Linetskaya, you've been in that spot?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I just remember it was my first sort of big tournament I played. I got a wildcard. I won in the first round. I played Monica Seles, which at that time, I don't know, she was the top player. Just the memories. I lost 1-0 but I thought I played so good. "There's something wrong here." You know, you look back and think, even though you lost so easy, you know, you improved the things that you needed to improve. You wanted to work harder in order to get better, even though you thought you played the best you could. I think with each single tournament, Maria or anyone else that plays that are young, they might feel like they're playing their best tennis, but at the time they might not be physically ready or they might not have the experience behind their backs. I think it just takes time.
Q. You'd just tell them to be patient?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: For sure. You know, nothing can happen that quickly. You can't just play your first big tournament and all of a sudden, you know, you're the greatest. It takes a lot of time to develop little things in your game that can make you better.
Q. What was the biggest thing you learned from that first experience?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the level of the competition. Just the fact that, you know, I went on court, and I remember first two games were really, really difficult against Monica. Deuce, I had breakpoints. I think I might have even broken her. You just think you're playing so good. But the top people, they just know -- you know, they're not worried. "Oh, I lost a break." But they know what to do. It's just -- I don't know. I've learned so much in the past from that match.
Q. Did it just seem like the biggest stadium ever?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah, yeah, for sure. It was one of the biggest, if not the biggest I've ever played on back then.
Q. Does that all seem so long ago?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I can't believe it was only two yours ago.
Q. How well do you know Maria Kirilenko? What are your impressions of her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've known her since the Juniors. I think we've known each other maybe four, five years already. And it's good because we're both the same age. We have the same interests. We're really good friends. It's good to have someone, you know, you talk to on the tour. And we've played doubles a few times. But I think physically, you know, it took a little bit more time for her to develop than some other players. I don't think she had the experience behind her back yet. She didn't have those tough situations where she could, you know, pull out a match when she was behind. You know, I don't think she was an experienced player as she is now. I think she has a great future ahead of her.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.