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August 31, 2004

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria.

Q. Tougher than you thought? It was really up and down. You closed the match really well. It was pretty dicey there.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was very tough. A lot of different things were happening in the match. It was going up and down. You know, what mattered was the end. And thankfully I was on the upside then and able to get it through.

Q. Can you go over a bit of what's happened to you since Wimbledon. Has it been harder for you to focus on tennis because of everything that's happened?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, well, to tell you the truth, I never won a Grand Slam before. And, uhm, you never know what's going to happen. I think the world just got very excited. You know, everybody sort of wanted a piece of my victory. You know, of course, it's not the easiest thing. You know that there are going to be many sort of difficulties and things that you have to go through mentally. I mean, I personally know that this is not the end of many great things to come. So, you know, just keep working hard and keep your head up high. You know, don't think you're going to be perfect just because you won a Grand Slam.

Q. But has it been difficult for you to actually concentrate on improving your tennis game?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, because I think that's what's going to help me, you know, make me a better player. After I won, I realized that - that even though I just won, you know, something big, I know that there's so many things that I still need to improve and so many things I still need to work on that are going to make me better. And I know that with improving that, you can't win match after match. You have to develop it. It's not going to happen overnight, and all of a sudden you're going to come out and feel great about what you just, you know, learned in the practices.

Q. You said to TV that you felt you were in la-la land. I'm presuming that means you felt you weren't concentrating.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I mean, you know, I was just making too many errors, was totally out of it, you know, a few times in the match. So that's basically the definition of that (smiling).

Q. Besides consistency, what would you like to develop more in your game? Would getting to the net be one of those things?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, that's one of the, you know, crucial things. And also the strength and the endurance and the physical part of the game. I mean, you know, on the grass, the points are a lot shorter. Obviously on the hard court, they're going to be very, very long. And it's a lot tougher on my body, as well. You know, I'm not that developed yet that, you know, I can sort of handle, you know, these very long matches. Of course, I'm getting better and I know that this is something I have to work on. But, like I said, you know, these things sort of don't happen overnight, all of a sudden you wake up and you're Superman.

Q. Was it nerve-wracking at all to be out there on that court under the lights for the first time?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah. Of course, you get nerves. I mean, it was my first time, you know. I actually played doubles last year on Arthur Ashe at night. But, I mean, I was in a totally different situation. It's an amazing feeling, I guess. Not too many people get to experience that. But, you know, I try to take the good things out of it.

Q. Since you won Wimbledon, what's been the single most surprising thing that has occurred?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you know, I don't think the fact that winning Wimbledon, anything else can beat that. There is nothing. I mean, that's sort of what I wanted to achieve all my life. When it happened, I don't think anything could have beaten that. And of course, I mean, you're sort of a celebrity, and people want a piece of you, people want to, you know, have relationship with you, companies and stuff. But I just -- you know, I know the people that were with me before. I mean, like I said, Wimbledon, you know, was an amazing thing, winning it, but now I have to sort of move on.

Q. Are you surprised at all at the level, intensity of interest which virtually happened after you won?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, yeah, this never happened to me, like I said. So, of course, I didn't know what to expect. But, you know, it hasn't been very silent, let me tell you that (laughter).

Q. Now that you've won, you're expectations are higher. Are you feeling more pressure?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I love expectations. I think that's part of the game and that's why I play. I mean, there's a lot more things, you know, than tennis. There are the pressures, the nerves. I mean, night match on Arthur Ashe, of course, that's just part of that feeling. I mean, you don't just go out and hit ball after ball, you know. You have a brain on your shoulders and your brain thinks hard, you know (smiling). That's just another part of the game.

Q. Have you switched racquets since winning Wimbledon and has that caused any problems or issues?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not since Wimbledon. I've been playing with the Shark, no.

Q. Have you ever had a total space-cadet moment?


Q. Where you're spacing out, not being able to pay attention to stuff.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, there are a few moments in the match today, I made a lot of unforced errors. But you've sort of got to think positive, you know, come back to earth.

Q. You lost three tough matches post Wimbledon coming into here. After tonight's victory, you actually pulled one out on the big stage; how important is that for your confidence going into the rest of the tournament?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's very important. You know, this was a very tough one and I'm very happy I pulled it out. But, I mean, losses are just part of the game and you have to learn from them. It can't make you, you know, sort of lose control of yourself. But, I mean, even if you lose some matches, you know that there is other tournaments ahead that you're going to play. By losing one match, you've just got to learn and keep going.

Q. The unforced errors today, what do you think the coach is going to say to you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I'll talk to them later. But that sort of thing, you know, is between us.

Q. What do you expect them to say?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, like I said, I think, you know, that's going to be between us.

Q. Do you have a greater appreciation now of the Everts, and Navratilovas and Grafs?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have a lot of respect to those athletes. They've achieved so many things. What they did for the sport was amazing. It's not easy being a professional athlete. And I think that the way, you know, they achieved so many things in life, what they wanted to do, you know, it's amazing, and it's also great for the game.

Q. Can you describe your best vacation that you've taken?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: My best vacation? You know, when you're on the tour for so long, just going home I think is the best vacation, and sleeping in your bed once in a while.

Q. Can you name one of your favorite places you've been on tour?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: On tour, one of my favorite places? Well, obviously I like England now (smiling).

Q. What do you like about it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the fact that I won Wimbledon. No.

I think every city is so different and has its, you know, sort of ups and downs. I love culture and I just love visiting different places. I love places where there's just a beach, where you can just go and sort of look and you have the blue water, sort of the sand, you're just chilling out.

Q. Can you name one for me.


Q. On the subject of when you were saying earlier people wanting to take a piece of you and get involved, will we be seeing a cell phone after every match on the court? Is that going to be your signature thing now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, maybe. You got to sort of check it out and see for yourself. You know, I like to keep my cell phone with me now because I can actually get a connection these days. I'm just very happy that I have something in my hand that works.

Q. Do you know why you have a Latin-derived name Maria; not Russian?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It is a Russian name. Maria in Russian is Mosha. It's a very common name, too.

Q. What do you know about Chile?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not that much (laughter). I know there are a few players from Chile. I mean, I've never been there before, but I'd love to go. I've heard it's an amazing country.

Q. Your visit in Chile is long awaited. He hopes you would like it better than England.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: We'll see. Hopefully.

Q. You were talking about how far the points were extended, that your conditioning has to play into it, how it's tough on your body. Because of that is it premature to think that you have a decent shot at winning this tournament?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm never going to doubt my chances. I mean, why not? Really, I just love to compete and I love challenges and being a Grand Slam champion and coming into another Grand Slam. I mean, of course, you know, there are going to be a lot more expectations. But like I said before, I love this challenge. And hopefully, you know, I can improve as the rounds go on. You know, if I don't do it this year, there's so many years ahead that, you know, I don't want to make it a big tragedy if I don't win.

Q. Is there something about the big stage that just inspires you perhaps more than smaller tournaments?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, definitely. There's the vibe, you know, the vibe you get. This is the big one. That's just the feeling you get. It's a great feeling to sort of have the people interact with what you're doing and sort of, you know, also know that this is, you know, a big tournament. You know, a lot of people enjoy tennis in different ways. You know, New York people enjoy it in a very different way, as well (smiling).

Q. It suits your personality, being quite extroverted, outgoing?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's very outgoing. New York, yeah, I think the New York population's very outgoing. But, I mean, it's so different. I think that's why the tour is so unique, is that all the Grand Slams are very different. They all have their, you know, qualities which you love and some, you know, you would love to improve. But, you know, I definitely love New York and the US Open.

End of FastScripts….

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