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May 11, 2004

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Maria will start with a statement summarizing the match.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Talk about the match a little bit, I'm very excited that I pulled this one out. I think I played quite well. I had a steady level out there, and I was dictating most of the points from the start of the match. I felt really confident. I attacked her serve quite well. When the points got really close, I thought she mentally got down a little bit, and I took advantage of that. And, you know, the matchpoint, I was very happy to get that one over with. But she's definitely a very tough player to play. She's one of the fastest and one of the hard-hitting ones, so, you know, you don't know what to expect. But I came out and played a very good match.

Q. Is the ranking true? Do you feel that in looking to the ranking, which is the strongest Russian player in this moment?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, hopefully, it's me. I don't know (laughing). Time will tell. I mean, we've got so many right now that, I mean, they're just coming up. We have three in the Top 10. It's quite amazing for the country. But I don't know which one is the best. We all have our good, good days. But, you know, Myskina, she's 5 in the world now. And Petrova and, you know, other girls that are -- Dementieva, they're in the Top 10. But I'm making my way there (smiling).

Q. Have you had a chance to go out in Rome yet?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I haven't had a chance. I came from Berlin on Saturday night and didn't have a chance yet. But I'm definitely going, because this is one of my favorites countries, and everything that I can. I have a week off before Roland Garros, and I'm not going to stay here, but I'm going to probably stay here one day and visit, you know, the city and go shopping and have fun and then prepare for the French Open.

Q. Have you ever played against the crowd? Tomorrow you will have to play Farina, and probably the Italian crowd will be against you.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm not playing tomorrow.

Q. I mean whenever you play.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, I think she's playing Shaughnessy.

Q. If she wins.


Q. Then you will have to play an Italian player. Have you ever played someone with the crowd against you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes, I don't think it's against me, but it's for her (laughing). But I don't necessarily think it's "against me." But it's another challenge, and I'm just going to go out and play my game. I'm usually very focused with that. I don't let anything bother me from off the court. I'm not really, you know, I'm not really keen on thinking about that right now.

Q. You talked about going shopping. Do you think it's important to sort of factor that time in, where you're just having time for you and it's not tennis, not anything, just doing normal stuff?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's very important. I mean, when I was younger, I always, you know, kind of thought it was like tennis, you're not supposed to go out anywhere. And then the last few years when I've been on the tour, I kind of realized that you just need to get out of the hotel and out of the tennis life and just enjoy your time. That actually happened during my win in Japan. That was my first tournament. I mean, after the quarters, I also played like two matches of doubles. At the end of the day, there's like a shopping center, and I was like, "Why not?" Every day, I just walked around and kind of enjoyed the time by myself, just that feeling to get away for a little bit, and then the next day you come out fresh.

Q. You won today and you seemed so happy, as if you had won the whole tournament. Is this tournament particularly important for you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I felt really joy. I felt a lot of joy. It was like a big relief. I knew it was gonna be a tough match, and the way I played and the way I handled myself and finally winning that third matchpoint, I was like, "Whoa," you know, I just got it off my back. It's a really good win for me. She's in the Top 10. It's not very easy playing another Russian, especially just in the second round. So I just didn't know what to expect, but I knew that I had to play very well in order to beat her. So beating her - and, I mean, any player - and having a good win and feeling good about your game is definitely a good joy for me.

Q. What is your relationship with other Russian players? You help each other? What is your relationship?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Help each other (laughing)?

Q. To lose (laughing).

MARIA SHARAPOVA: To lose, yeah (laughing). No, we have -- I mean, we always talk, we always have conversations in the locker room. But it's just so difficult, the tennis life. We always travel. Not all of us get to see each other all the time because we live in different parts of the world - some of us in Russia. Not everybody lives in the same place. Seeing each other and then having conversations is great, but then, you know, you can also play them in the next round so you never know.

Q. From the beginning when you start to play, everybody was talking about you and Kournikova. Do you ever go out with Kournikova, go to dinner, and do you talk with her?


Q. Would you like to? Do you have a question to ask her?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no, I don't have a question (laughing).

Q. Once upon a time when Russians were not friends with the government, they were sent to Siberia, where you were born. How is Siberia today, and have you been back there since...

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was only born in Siberia.

Q. You've never been back?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I moved there -- I moved to Sochi, Russia, where it's very hot. So I don't remember anything of Siberia. I haven't been back. But we moved there because of Chernobyl, and we went to Sochi so...

Q. Nobody in the family is still there?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no, thank God. I wouldn't want to go back there (laughing).

Q. Kafelnikov is from Sochi. Are you involved with Kafelnikov at all?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I know him very well. My dad knows his father very well. My dad used to play with his dad all the time, and, you know, we always see each other when we are back there.

Q. But do you hear from him in a long time?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I've heard that he's having a lot of fun (laughing).

End of FastScripts….

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