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August 24, 2003

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You are a new start to Russia. What do you expect in this tournament?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just want to go out and just perform well and play some good tennis and get as much experience as I can 'cause that's really important right now for me. You know, hopefully play some top players and do well and, you know...

Q. Can you explain how you came from Nick Bollettieri to Robert Lansdorf? Why you change?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: We just wanted -- my dad heard about Robert. We decided just to visit Robert.

Q. You wanted to learn something else with Robert?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I mean, my dad was always trying to find what was best for me. You know, he thought that maybe Robert could help me with, you know, whatever it was. So that's why we went.

Q. And he's still your coach now, your father and Lansdorf?


Q. Does he speak to you about Pete Sampras, he coached before?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not really, no. I mean, once in a while, you know, comes up. But it's not like an everyday conversation.

Q. When you were small, you have idol?


Q. No?


Q. No players inspirate you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, and I didn't really watch a lot of tennis on TV. I just always did my own thing all the time, and I really never, never looked up to anyone. I mean, I enjoyed people's games because I don't think anyone's perfect, you know, anyone has a perfect game. But, you know, there were a few things that I liked about a certain player but I never really had an idol that I looked up to.

Q. Can you explain why the Russian girls are so good that now are on the tour? What is your expectation?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: My expectation?

Q. Explain that.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: They just want to be No. 1 in the world. All of them, they're very talented out there. You know, they think why not use their talent and develop it. That's what they do, you know, they work hard and that they think that is their only, you know... I mean, if they can develop their talent and be really good, why not? Why do something else? I mean I think that that's their only option. They have so much talent. So I don't see why they don't want to really develop it. They're really fighters out there and they want to be No. 1 in the world.

Q. Talk about your level since Wimbledon, how you feel you've been playing, what you've been working on.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I went out and I played World Team Tennis after that, and I got a lot of matches in and I played Los Angeles, which was, you know, a good experience for me. I played some good tennis. Then I was sort of tired. I haven't been home for, you know, since the French Open. So I went home for a week, you know, and I just sort of relaxed and just practiced. I don't know, I haven't played a match -- I haven't really played, like, a tournament in, what, two weeks? So I'm just gonna go out and just hopefully perform, perform well and, you know, hopefully I'm in good shape.

Q. Do you feel match tough? How fresh are you mentally?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I... Match tough? I wouldn't say I'm match tough because I haven't really played, you know, like. I played a practice match last week but it's different when you go and you play a match at a tournament. So, you know, the last time I really played a match at a tournament was against Elena Likhovtseva in Toronto. Mentally, I think I'm ready. I got my week at home. I just sort of kicked back and just really practiced and worked on my game. So, you know, hopefully I'm mentally fresh.

Q. Is it different for you now than it was, say, in the spring in Paris and in Wimbledon when a lot of the players know who you are, the expectations on you are higher because you did so well at Wimbledon?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, I haven't changed as a person, you know. I'm still the same person. You know, I think my level in tennis went up a bit, went up a notch. You know, I'm -- I mean, I'm getting as much experience as I can right now, so that's really important for me. But of course many of the players have seen how I play, you know. And, I don't know, if they're scooping on my game or something, but... (Laughing).

Q. Is consistency in your play a big thing for you? You played a great set against Kim in LA. Is sustaining your level of play set after set after set important?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, playing the important points a little bit smarter. I mean, I think, I mean, I watched the match back on tape, you know. I think there were just a few points that if I could have won, maybe could have given me a little boost in the third set. It is consistency and, you know, just doing the right thing on the right shot. That's all time and I have to just get my experience, you know. Because, I mean, it's not easy when you have two weeks off then you got to go play a tournament and you can't always win, you know, the tournament, so you just hopefully try to get as many matches and do as well as you can. Like, you know, in Toronto I lost first round. So there you go, you have two weeks before the US Open and you can't really play anything. So, I mean, saying that you're match tough, that's really hard, you know, but...

Q. The Clijsters match, did it give you some encouragement that you were able to play with her, the No. 1 player in the world now, pretty well for two sets there?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I still didn't win the match, you know (smiling)? So, uhm, I don't think it's really with Clijsters. I mean, I obviously get more confidence when you win. I think at Wimbledon when I beat some top players like Dementieva, you know, I didn't think I could compete with them, but I thought I could actually beat them, and that's a big difference. So thinking of that... But winning a set off Clijsters is something, but at the end of the day you lost the match, so it's not really like you got so much out of it.

Q. Here you're not just looking at getting good experience, you're actually looking to win matches regardless of who you play?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, I mean, definitely. That's what I want to do at every tournament, I want to win. I'm just saying that I haven't had the experience I would love coming into the tournament, you know. I mean, I have a first round, I mean, it's not gonna be easy. You never know what can happen. Yeah...

Q. Did you look at your draw other than Ruano Pascual?


Q. Do you see possibilities for yourself there? It's not like you have to play Justine or Kim too early. You have Jennifer, I think, in the third round.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I just want to take it a match at a time. Of course I look at the draw. It's not like I hide the second or third round, you know. I know this is the US Open, you know. It's not some Tier 5 in Asia or something. So, you know, it's not like I'm here playing with Barbie dolls. I mean, I know that every round is tough and I just really got to take it one match at a time. That's what I really got to do. Just hopefully good things can happen and I can get to the next round. When I do get to the next round, I'll tell you how I feel about my next opponent.

Q. Venus and Serena are not here. Does it change something for you in the atmosphere, in the locker room?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. No, I still feel the same. I don't really -- I mean, I don't really pay attention to who's here, who's not. It doesn't really make a big difference. I mean, for the tournament I think it does. But I think we still have a really strong field out there. You have Kim and Justine and Capriati and all these girls. So, I mean, of course for the United States, you have Serena and Venus pulling out, the defending champion. So it's kind of sad. But, I mean, this is the world of tennis and sometimes, you know, these things can happen.

Q. Is this the biggest Grand Slam for you given that you've spent half your life in the United States now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't really -- I don't really think about it. I think Wimbledon is more special to me for some reason. I don't know, it's always been since I've played the Juniors two years ago. It's definitely, definitely a great Grand Slam, there's no doubt about it. It's New York City. I mean, that explains it all (laughing).

Q. When you walked in here for the first time to practice, do you get any special feelings?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, you get -- well, I mean, every Grand Slam, it's sort of like the hype is all around you. I mean, there's -- you have the men's and the women's and doubles and mixed. It's really crazy. You get a big facility. You've got so many people around. So, I mean, yes, of course, you begin to realize that, "This is something big." You know, I mean, when you go to practice, you feel that this is a Grand Slam so you've got to give it that extra notch.

Q. Robert's here with you?


Q. Is that important for you? Is that a special thing, that he's able to travel to this tournament, to this Grand Slam?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. It's great. It's great having him. I mean, he's been my coach since I was 11 or 10. So of course it's great having someone that you've had for the past to be around you. You know, but I think still the specialty of what he has given me is the fact that I can hit every single ball. So, I mean, it's great seeing him here being on the court around me. But I don't think it's something, like, spectacular, you know.

End of FastScripts….

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