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March 12, 2005

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria.

Q. Is this a good beginning for you? Can you talk about the match.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, for sure. I mean, first matches are never easy. You don't know what to expect. You come out. You know, my opponent already played the first round, so she's got a bit of a groove out there. But I felt pretty good. In the first set, you know, I broke her three times and I put a lot of pressure on her serve. The second set, she didn't make as many errors as she made in the first. So it became -- the points became a little longer. But then I broke her, and it went on from there.

Q. What do you think was the turning point in the match? She seemed to play better early in the second set.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, uhm, I think most of her service games in the second set went to deuce, and I had the opportunities, but I didn't take them in the first two of her service games because she held. But I finally took my chance, so, in her third serving game.

Q. How is it playing against a player who feels like she has nothing to lose, she's playing with desperation?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think it's very important to make sure you're ready for every single match you play. You know, I've been in those situations. You know, in every single match, I don't think my opponent has anything to lose, you know, because I don't play with too many girls that are ahead of me because I'm No. 3 in the world. So I think, you know, they obviously have nothing to lose and they go out and they just play freely. And sometimes, you know, when your opponent's too good, it's too good. But I think you just have to be prepared for it.

Q. Speaking of No. 3, how much is No. 1 in your sights right now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's not something that I dream of every single night, let's put it this way. You know, as I said, I'd love to be No. 1 in the world. It is my goal. But I'm not going to, you know, think about it so much that I can't sleep. Just as long as I'm winning, then I know I'm in good hands.

Q. You've been very open about wanting that, which a lot of the other women aren't.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Open about being No. 1?

Q. Yes.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, why would you want to be No. 20 and then when you get to No. 20 it's like you don't want to be No. 1, you know? It's like shoot for the moon. If you miss, you'll still be among the stars, so...

Q. Do you ever stop and think of the period between Wimbledon and now, "Wow, look at all that's happened"? I'm sure you're asked about it all the time.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I am. But, you know, I just try to focus on today, I guess not try to worry about it. It's been amazing what has happened. I take the good things from it, the experience that I got, you know, from the whole months that were past me. But it's been a great ride, and I've been enjoying every second of it.

Q. How much of Myskina's win at Roland Garros was an inspiration to you, and maybe to Svetlana?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I don't think it was like a huge inspiration. I think I've always been really -- I've always wanted to win a Grand Slam in my life, and I've always said that Wimbledon was my favorite. So I've just -- I don't -- you know, when I saw, of course, I knew that everyone has a chance to win, you know, as long as you take your chances. If you don't, you don't. But I think -- I've -- I never really take things from other players. I always want to do my own thing and try to worry about myself rather than thinking about other players.

Q. With such a terrific last year, are the expectations higher this year for you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think a lot of people expect you to win a lot more, and that's one thing that is difficult. But as long as you as an individual understand that it's impossible to win every single match and every single tournament, I think you're human and you can't win everything. I think that's something that people expect you to do. When you lose, it's like big news. When you win, it's not. But it's part of what I do, and I love it. When people are expecting me, you know, I want to raise my level and do better than I can, so...

Q. Does that put additional pressure on you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I've never had pressure, even when I was younger. People have expected me to be the next best thing in tennis. I never really cared what they said.

Q. Do you remember the match last year here? A long time has gone by. The 14-year-old that was out there now said she was going to kick your ass. She took you to three sets.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, my tennis does the talking, you know.

Q. But do you remember that match? There was a lot of pressure on it. Second-round match. Kind of silly. It was a big deal.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I've played too many matches in the past year to remember that.

Q. Your father obviously made tremendous sacrifices to help you out. Some dismiss him as a gruff man. How would you tell the American public about your father, what kind of a man he is?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: The thing is, I don't feel that I need to tell them as long as I know, you know. I can't -- I can't convince people to think -- to have a perspective in their mind of whoever is around me. You know, I know what my dad means to me. I know what the whole team means to me around me, and I don't need -- you know, it's the same thing as tabloids. People believe it and people want to believe it. People read it, people want to look at the pictures. Even though they know half of the stuff is not true. So to me, trying to convince other people that, you know, my dad is a nice man is not very important because as long as I know he's my father and he's done so much for me is the most important thing.

Q. I probably put it the wrong thing. What makes him special as a man? He's done some wonderful things.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think both of my parents have given up their whole lives, you know, for me to be the best at what I do and for me to, you know, enjoy every moment in life. And they've given me many opportunities, and they've sacrificed so much in their life. You know, they didn't have to move to the United States. You know, they could have -- they were working, they were making normal money, like a normal person would in Russia, and we were living a normal life. But they took the chance. You know, they said, "Screw it. It either happens or it doesn't." It takes a lot of guts to do that, you know just for that. Other than that, we've had a really amazing relationship. Just to have a parent around you every single day, you know, somebody that cares for you, somebody that knows you really well. You know, if I wouldn't have loved the relationship with my dad, I wouldn't be in it.

Q. He's a great support?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah, of course. And a great supporter.

Q. How hard is it to stay grounded? As you focus on match to match, whether or not you wanted to, you've become a "celebrity." After you won Wimbledon, you got invited to 18 million things. How hard is it for you to stay grounded? Does having your parents around you keep you grounded?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it's most important to set your priorities. I've been really good at setting my priorities. I've known what I wanted to achieve in my life, and that's always been something on the court rather than off the court. I know that a lot of the off-court stuff is a lot of stuff, and I love doing it, because it's just so different to what I do on the court. But, you know, I have a great team around me, you know, that every day supports me. You know, if I get a little off track, they make sure I get back on the road. But, uhm, I don't know. It's a combination of yourself, knowing what's important.

Q. Why did you attend Davis Cup?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, first of all, I've never been in a Davis Cup or Fed Cup vibe. I was in the area. I saw in the newspaper it said Agassi was playing the first match, so I came in to watching Agassi, and Roddick was playing. So I ended up staying for that much. I always say that I'm never -- that I never watch tennis or anything. But I thought it was a really exciting match, that they were down 2-1. And I thought Andre was going to play, so it was going to be good. It was fun. I really enjoyed the atmosphere.

Q. Is it in preparation for possibly playing on the Fed Cup team that you decided to attend?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't have that in mind. No, not at all.

Q. Were you rooting for Andy?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I was actually in that match, I was -- you know, I supported both people, and they played good points. It was just so good to be settled and not worrying about for someone to win. It was really interesting. Because usually when I watch a match, I want someone to win. But, no, I was -- you know, obviously I'm sad for the person that lost because I know how it feels to lose. But Ljubicic was just playing too good, so...

Q. You could feel for Andy when he couldn't bring those set points?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Why are we talking about this?

End of FastScripts….

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