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January 17, 2005

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria, please.

Q. You handled a really dangerous opponent really well today, didn't you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. You know, she's a very dangerous opponent, especially in a first-round match. So I knew what to expect. I played her once before last year. Very aggressive player. Attacked her serve. You know, I just played a good, solid first-round match. You can't expect the best from yourself. But meanwhile, you know, it's good to get through.

Q. Are you able to compare this match from the one at Indian Wells, how she's developed since then?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Gosh, so much has happened in that time. I don't know. I was more focused about how I was playing rather than focusing on her.

Q. You found it easier to play her this time than at Indian Wells?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I think I'm such a -- I'm a much better player than I was at Indian Wells last year definitely.

Q. How do you approach or do you approach Grand Slams differently now, given what happened at Wimbledon last year? Are you much more confident or assured?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I know that it's a very important tournament. There are four a year. The Australian is obviously right at the beginning of the year. So, you know, all of them are a bit different. I think here you don't have as much matches going in as, you know, as you would like going into a Grand Slam. But, you know, I always take it as a really tough tournament, something that I really, really want to win.

Q. Do you feel like you're more under the microscope here this year than you were last year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, definitely. I've got a lot more fans, a lot more people shouting my name, yeah.

Q. Does having played in New York, having had a Grand Slam in New York since Wimbledon, does that help coming in here, having had that experience?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was obviously tough because, you know, everything happened so fast. And like I've said before many times, I cannot win everything. So obviously I knew I won a Grand Slam. I was very confident going into the tournament. But I knew that you never know what can happen, and I'm still developing my game. It's not that I won a Grand Slam and that all of a sudden I'm going to win everything. And, you know, I understand that. And that's why, you know, my game is still a work in progress.

Q. Do you feel that the exhibition matches you played coming into here is a better way to prepare than playing a tournament?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I do in a sense because the last one, which was in Hong Kong, was a very competitive one. Unfortunately, I got a virus so I couldn't play -- I couldn't finish the whole thing. But I do take exhibitions very seriously, especially when they're before a Grand Slam.

End of FastScripts….

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