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June 28, 2004

Maria Sharapova


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

Q. I'm sure you never underestimate your opponents, but she played extremely well through patches of that match. Do you feel pleased or relieved to get through that, considering how well she played?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: She definitely played a great match, and she made me work for it until the last point. I was very relieved because knowing that, you know, she just beat a No. 2 seed, a French Open champion, she must be in good form. That really showed today. I had to fight through it. What can I say? It wasn't easy.

Q. What did you tell yourself to do when she was hitting such great balls?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just keep going, take it point at a time. I mean, sometimes when people are on a roll, and they can't miss, there's nothing really you can do until you just wait and be positive and not get down on yourself, try to think what maybe you can do a little bit different. But, I mean, when somebody's playing good tennis and when they're on a roll and on every point and they're playing unbelievable, sometimes there's just not too much you can do. But somehow you have to find a way.

Q. 5-4, Frazier is serving for the second set, 30-All, court's wide open, you're sitting on the backhand side waiting to watch a ball go through the court, suddenly it comes right back to you. Were you astonished?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, because I was running to that side so fast, and I really didn't think I could get to that ball. And once I got to that ball, I was like, "This is it." And then I got the other ball. I hit it down the line. Then I ran for another ball. It was a totally messed-up point. I felt totally out of the court on that point. But I managed to hit the passing shot quite well. I think that point really turned things around. I mean, that situation, when it's 30-All and she's serving for the set, that thing kind of happens, I mean, you know, it could have been a totally different story. Third set. It was really close.

Q. Were you very surprised to see the ball coming right back at you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't have enough time to be surprised because everything happened so quick. But, I mean, she does hit a lot of shots behind sometimes and trying to trick the player a little bit. But, I mean, I played two sets, I was kind of really used to that by now. So I saw that.

Q. Did you see the match with Sugiyama?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't have a chance. I was in the locker room, just stretching.

Q. Your match with her.


Q. How do you feel about your chances against her in the next match?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've never played her before. What can I say? There's nothing I can really predict because I haven't played her before. I've seen her play a few times. But I'm in the quarterfinal and so is she. We've been playing some very good tennis in order to get there. So, I mean, I'm looking forward to a very tough match.

Q. Could you feel today the age difference between the two players, her experience as opposed to your teenage years?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: She definitely has a lot of experience behind her back, and I already played her two times before this match-up. I knew that in certain situations, she can come up with the goods knowing that from previous matches that she just has that confidence and she knows at certain points, certain situations, she can do something else. She's very smart. I mean, going into the match, you know that she's playing well, but also in the back of your mind you know that you have done well and you've had good matches and you've won tough matches and you've been in situations like that. So, I mean, definitely the age is a big difference, but when you're on the court, you don't think about the age or anything else.

Q. Physically how much stronger are you now, say, over the last eight months?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Eight weeks? How long?

Q. Eight weeks, no.


Q. Eight months.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Eight months.

Q. Since the off-season, how much work do you put into your off-court training and how much has that helped you this year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's a very important part of the game, for sure. I've been working on that in the off-season like crazy because it's one thing that I think can improve my game tremendously, getting stronger physically, being able to last two weeks at a Grand Slam, as now I'm in the second week. You know, I just have to realize how my body feels and adjust to certain things and get used to that. But I'm feeling very good. I've had the experience the last year. I'm getting more experience this year. Physically I'm feeling a lot stronger, which is a good thing.

Q. What did you learn from your first Grand Slam quarterfinal and what -- that you did learn from that can you take into this next match?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, first of all, Roland Garros is on clay, this is on grass. The points are totally different. I mean, it's a lot quicker here. Going into a quarterfinal match, I don't think about if it's a quarterfinal or first round. I just want to go out and just play my game. It doesn't matter what round it is. But I know that I've been playing well and I know also on the other side of the court my opponent's playing well, too. So just got to go out there and play.

Q. You love to go for a lot on your service returns. Is that just you or are there situations where you think you have to play returns a little more safely than you have been?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think, especially today, maybe I pushed it a little bit too much because at the beginning I thought she was just playing too well, and I just tried to do something extra. I try to bang everything and try to make her late. But I was not -- that was not really working. But I realized that I just needed to slow it down a little bit. My returns the past two weeks on grass have been very well, but today was just -- I mean, her serve is very good and consistent. When she gets that first serve in, it's very hard, and it's powerful and low. So sometimes you can't do anything, unless you roll it back over the court. And against Amy that's very tough, because you know that the next ball's going to be a winner. I mean, I have to learn from these situations, I think. It's just about experience.

Q. There was always a lot of pressure on you when you came over because of the investment that you made, your family made in your tennis. Has that pressure over the years taken away any of the fun of playing the game or do you find you can have as much fun as the next person?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: There was never, ever pressure. Pressure's out of my case right now. I don't know what pressure are you talking about?

Q. I mean, in a sense your family invested their future with you, bringing you over.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: But there's no pressure. I mean, who has an opportunity in life like I do right now at the age that I am? I mean, not too many people. And pressure, I mean, hey, if I pressure and I feel that I have too much pressure, I'll just leave. I mean, I'm 17 years old. What do I have to lose in this world? I mean, I'm happy with what I'm doing, and I know that my parents have made a lot of sacrifices in my life and they always try to do the best for me. But I know that at moments like these I can return them with favors. That's what they wanted me to do in life.

Q. You're developing quite a following in England, a lot of fans. Does that help you at all when you play?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely. Fans are a big part of the sport. If you have a whole crowd behind you in a tough match or just fans that enjoy playing your match or things like that, I mean, you're out there for them, you really are. Of course, you're out there for yourself and to do well, but they are the ones that watch you. They are the ones that follow you. And, you know, that's why we go out there and we try to show the best tennis. We just try to kind of interact with them.

Q. Max says you're studying for three tests at school. What are the subjects you're studying for?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Sociology, English and math.

Q. When will you be ready to take those tests?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm taking one of them right now.

Q. Are you going to pass?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know yet. But I hope so.

Q. Which one?


Q. Would you say that you've exceeded your expectations for this tournament? What are your goals? How far do you think you can go here?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: My goal is just to see -- just to play my next round. I don't have any future goals. I just want to go out and play my next round. And I don't have any goals for this tournament. Of course, I want to win it, but I know that I have to go out and play match by match.

Q. What about a long-term goal as far as this tournament goes?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: This tournament?

Q. Yes.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I want to win Wimbledon, that's a fact. But, I mean, that's always been my dream. But I don't really set goals for myself.

Q. When is the last time you were nervous in a big match?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Nervous? I'm not -- I don't really get nervous. It's not really about nerves for me. Sometimes you just go out, sometimes you just don't know on the day what can happen. So I feel a little bit like I'm out of -- you know, I don't know what's going to happen next or I don't know how I'm going to play today or something like that. But I wouldn't really call it nerves. You know, sometimes when you're playing a top player, you get those feelings. But I don't -- I mean, every match in certain situations, of course, there's going to be those moments where you're going to feel a little bit more nervous than other points. But that's part of the game and that's why I like it so much.

Q. Did that happen against Suarez at Roland Garros or was that just a bad day for you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think that was a bad day for me. I was going out in that match. I was so happy to be in the quarterfinal. With the court being so slow on that day, those conditions, knowing she was such a good clay court player, and, I mean, she played so smart on that day, and I was off my game. So it was kind of that thing.

End of FastScripts….

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