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June 29, 2004

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Maria Sharapova.

Q. You looked at the end of the match as if you didn't believe you had won and gotten to the semifinal?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't believe it at all. These things don't happen every day. Especially looking at the first two sets, I was always down. I never thought that I could turn it around. But somehow I did. Just emotions, definitely.

Q. Yesterday in the Amy Frazier match, at a crucial point in the second set, Amy gave you a ball back that you weren't expecting at 5-4, 30-All. Today incredibly almost the same situation with Sugiyama with an overhead that turned into a crucial point in the second set. Did you start believing maybe you're destined to get to the final here?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You could have just asked that question without telling me about the point.

Q. I want to hear your answer.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I don't really think about the points when I play. But a few points can definitely turn the match around. And instead of losing, I just won, and I'm in the semis. It's a very good feeling. But I'm not going to think about it's destined to be or it's not destined to be, things like that. I just want to keep going and keep playing and keep having fun.

Q. Have you surprised yourself at how well you've didn't here this year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I haven't surprised myself because I've been playing very well on grass and I've been feeling very good and just coming off of a title in Birmingham, knowing that this is one of my favorite surfaces, you know. This is where my game sometimes comes together. So I was very happy that somehow it came together today.

Q. The biggest problem today was your opponent, how she played, was yourself because you were tense or you didn't play your best tennis? What was it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the first two sets she got some amazing balls that usually with other people would be winners 10 balls ago. But she makes you play ball after ball after ball. Especially on grass when it's so fast, sometimes you don't expect these things to happen. It's not like we're playing on clay where I know that everything is going to come back. But she just played amazing. Everything she got, she hit a very good shot out of it. I mean, it was so consistent that just ball after ball after ball, her balls are so deep that sometimes I try to do a little bit more extra because I knew that is what it would take to actually win the point. Sometimes I think I tried to do a little too much. I was a little unlucky in the first set where some of the balls just missed by few inches. It happened with a few points. You know, somehow I just got into my game. I didn't really change anything except I served a lot better in the third set. But my game plan, it didn't really change.

Q. Apart from serving a lot better in the third set, what do you put down as the reason for it being such a one-sided deciding set after the two tight opening sets?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think my return was very consistent in the first two sets. Giving her all the credit for serving well because she did serve quite well for the first two sets. In the third set, I kind of realized that I looked back and I thought, "Well, you haven't been returning well, so why don't you go in and just step it up out there, get to the baseline, sometimes just rip?" I think a few balls I got even lucky and a few balls maybe she miss-hit. I mean, it seemed easy, the third set, but it really wasn't because I had to fight for it, even on her serve.

Q. Would it be fair to say you put more energy into the third set? You seemed to be making more noise than you had done in the previous two sets.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know about the noise, but game-wise I felt a lot better, a lot better with my game in the third set. I felt like from any position in the court I could hit a good shot. That's a good feeling to have when you're in the third set. We had so many rallies that I kind of knew what she was doing, you know, what her game plan was a little bit, got used to her game because I never played her before.

Q. Is there anything significant about the necklace? Is it a good luck?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I always wear a cross.

Q. Will you wear that all the time? Do you do anything with superstition? Is there something you always do?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no, no. This I wore all my life. I just always wear a cross.

Q. In a tough match like today, how much did the experience of playing here two years ago and reaching the finals as a Junior, how much does something like that help you out?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, gosh. I don't know. Because the Juniors is a totally different story than the professional tour. It's amazing what a difference it is really. But learning-wise, I don't think I learned that much about being in the Juniors. But I think last year being in the pros for the first year gave me a lot of experience because I played some top names and I won a few good matches and I got experience from others and I did well. I think experience definitely helps, especially in these situations. I'm only 17 and I haven't had that much experience. I learned a lot in the last year.

Q. She probably ran about 150 miles today. You ran her from one corner to the other. She did keep making you hit one more shot. Do you think by the third set when you really began to roll that she just got a little bit tired?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I sure hope so because, I mean, if she kept running like that in the third set, that's just too good, you know. There's not much you could do. And like I said, a few balls, I just got a little bit unlucky. I made a few errors which I shouldn't have made, but some balls were just a little bit out. She did make me go for my shots a little bit more to hit the winner, and I knew that she was just playing good tennis. She was running everything down. And I knew that she was quick, but I was a little surprised because it was grass and sometimes points finish a little quicker. But we had some long rallies today.

Q. What does it feel like to be the only Russian player left in the draw?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, I don't really think about that for my side. I'm just happy to be in the semifinals. That's what I'm really concerned about. Unfortunately, you know, we don't have any more Russians out there. But, you know, I'm happy that I am the only one, of course.

Q. Do you think you can take another step forward into the final?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm definitely going to try. I'm going to give it my all. That's what I'm here for, and I want to win this tournament. I want it very bad. When you have a big passion for something and you want to achieve something, I mean, I'm going to give it my all definitely.

Q. Do you have some connection with Davenport, the coach maybe, Lansdorp?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, Lansdorp. But he coached here a long time ago.

Q. Do you think there are some similarities between you and her in some way?


Q. Yes.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, we both hit a pretty powerful ball, both have a pretty good serve. She's a great champion. I mean, one word about her, she's won this tournament and I want this tournament, so it's going to be interesting.

Q. How will you prepare now? What will you do leading up to the match?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think at this point I'm going to have a day off tomorrow, so just going to practice a little bit. Nothing, I mean, just like what I've been doing the last matches. It's not really anything special.

Q. At 4-1 in the third set, a lot of Maria Sharapova fans were happy to see you come to the net and knock off a volley. Do you have the courage to do that when the match is tight or were you having to battle from behind also?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I tell you one thing, the match was very tight today. I did go to the net and I was very proud of myself because I don't do that quite enough as I would like to do it. So actually, I went to the net from a second serve, I don't know what I was thinking on that ball. But I did.

Q. Do you have the capability of imparting some spin on that ball or is everything going to be hit flat when you play your next round?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, when I play, I don't think about -- of course, it really depends who you play. But on this surface, I mean, the points are quick. You have to somehow adjust. But, of course, the powerful game really works on the surface.

Q. I saw James Brown sing at the weekend. I've seen you play tennis today.


Q. James Brown, Godfather of Soul. You both punctuate your performances like "HHH." How do you determine which shots you grunt with?


Q. Which of your colleagues are you more close with and can you say why?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: The Russian girls?

Q. Yes. Or other players.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: To tell you the truth, I get along with many of the girls. But this is a tour, and it's a professional sport, and it's very difficult to be friends because you never know, you might be playing them in the next round. Of course, you want to beat them. But I'm pretty good friends with Maria Kirilenko, all the Russian girls I know them well. We always have conversations, we always laugh together. We have very friendly attitudes towards each other. Also, I mean, I really get along with everybody.

Q. Why do you give some kisses to the crowd? Is just a habit? Is because you want to thank them?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes, because I want to thank them. It's very important because they're the ones that go out, they're fans, they cheer for you, they watch your match and they enjoy the tennis. You just want to give back to them and say, "Thank you for coming out and thank you for supporting both of us." I mean it's always good when somebody supports your sport and buys a ticket and goes and watches you. And when you win, you just want to say thank you.

Q. Myskina has a pretty impressive record against her fellow Russians. Do you feel like a player gets an edge over the other players from their nation?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I never thought about that, no.

End of FastScripts….

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