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January 18, 2006

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You had a bit of a problem in the second set, didn't you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, played a really good, solid first set. Then all of a sudden I got a blister on my foot and the taping made it worse, and I started thinking about it and kind of my mind shut down for a little bit. It's really weird. I've never gotten blisters before on my feet, so I was kind of a little shocked and forgot, you know, what I was doing out there. So it took me a little while just to get a groove again.

Q. Would the blisters have made it difficult if it would have gone to a third set?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the third time the taping -- the third try, it was a little bit better. But towards the end, my foot started sweating more and it started to come off so I started to feel it a little bit more. It was right in my arch so my orthotic was pushing right on it. Should be okay. I sound like a wimp saying this to you guys.

Q. What about the other injuries? There's no flare up?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it seems okay. Yeah, doing fine.

Q. Was it in some ways a good match to get because you did get that extra bit of time out there on the court?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah. Well, I thought it was good to be in a tougher situation. I haven't felt like I've been in a tough situation because I have not played any competitive matches lately. It seems like it's been a while, so it was good to just, you know, to get that feeling again. You know, I broke and then I didn't -- at 4-3 I didn't take the opportunity to finish it off. Then she had set points and the set could have gone either way. So, you know, was just good for me to kind of realize that, you know, once I'm up a break, I need to finish it off rather than just play another four games out there for the crowd.

Q. Are you physically where you want to be after a couple of matches now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I think there's always room for improvement, yeah, definitely. I think you can get better. I think as the challenges become bigger, I think physically you're going to get better, you know, on the court, yeah.

Q. If you compare yourself to a year ago, is there less pressure now because 12 months ago you were the reigning Wimbledon Champion, all guys were on you? Do you feel the expectations aren't as great or just the same?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, well, first of all, I have never, ever in my career felt like I had anything to prove to anyone. Now more so. I mean, I became No. 1 last year and I won a Grand Slam at 17. So, I mean, I never felt like I needed to prove anything. So, you know, I still don't. I'm really happy to be here because I didn't think I would be here. I didn't think I would be competing. So, you know, after having a tough last six months with my shoulder injury, you know, it feels really good. I'm not expecting a lot from myself because little did I know that I would be here.

Q. As one of the game's most popular players, obviously you have a lot of off-court interests. Do you ever find them a distraction or do you find there is a balance?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I love everything I do off court. I'm not one-dimensional. I'm always doing things. If I'm doing one thing, I'm already thinking about doing another thing. I always love to keep myself busy. I love fashion very much. I get involved with that very often. I mean, there's a lot of interesting things, you know, that I want to do after my career. I don't want to finish my tennis career and just, you know, sit there and be empty-handed. I want to have a lot of opportunities.

Q. You think it will be in the fashion industry?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uh-hmm, definitely.

Q. Your thoughts on your next opponent.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Who am I playing?

Q. Kostanic.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I played her -- last time I played her...

Q. Philadelphia 2004, I think.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you. Yeah, wasn't that three sets or something?

Q. Three sets.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she's a lefty. Not a lot of lefties out there. I'll just have to -- can't worry about my opponent or what she's doing. I've just got to focus on my game. That's what makes me a great player, you know, I don't worry about what anyone else is doing out there. A lot of people ask me to comment on players but, I mean, it's difficult to say. I'm sure, you know, she's playing good tennis. She won two rounds. Yeah, be ready. I have to be ready.

Q. Do you think the blisters can be a problem on Thursday or Friday?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no, it won't be a problem.

End of FastScripts….

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