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March 10, 2006

Maria Sharapova


Q. How did you play today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: My balls were flying more than they were in LA, getting spin on it, getting tighter tension. And then in totally different conditions, you're really cold out there, so I just had to adjust.
In the beginning I felt like I was hitting the ball, and a lot of the balls were coming back, but actually I wasn't hitting. So you think one thing and you look back and you weren't actually hitting.
Like I said, I don't think first match, you're going to play your best tennis, you know. I hung in there and I served smart and...
Q. Do you just kind of have to go out there and gut it out?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's her style. It's her game, you know, try to attack her serve. That's one of her weaknesses. She's a great mover out there and she makes you play another ball, and, you know, I was ready for that.
Q. Maria, does being from Siberia help?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't think so because I still feel really cold.
Q. Do you have any memories of Siberia?
Q. Any memories of the last time you played here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Was it on grass I think we played.
Q. The last time you played here.
Q. Yeah.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I thought you mean a -- when I was on the court?
Q. Yeah.
Q. Do you have any memories of the last time you played here and the results against Lindsay?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, do I have memories. Well, they're not great memories, so I don't really like to -- I don't really like to keep those memories.
Q. 6-Love, 6-Love. Seems to me that -- I mean, you were in a lot of games. It wasn't that you really wiped out.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's funny, because the whole year I didn't get one question about it, and then I come back here, I'm getting all these questions about it. It's been a whole year. It's been a whole year.
Q. It's been a year. That's why.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's been a year, huh? Come on, guys. We need some new things.
Q. You did okay in the next tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, like I said, you have to get -- to take that out of your mind and, yes, learn from it and know that these days are going to come in your career. But forget about it, you know, because everything was just going wrong. So if you start thinking on what you can improve, I mean it's basically you can start over from zero.
Q. Maria, what would you like to improve if you had your choice, what part of the game would you like to get better?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, you know, I'm working on my net game, you know, working on coming in, watching the ball better, you know, seeing the short balls, you know, coming in and trying to finish the points sooner, you know, not letting my opponent get another chance to get back in the point.
Q. During that long break, what kind of things do you try to do?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Stay warm today, yeah.
Q. Maria, Martina Hingis is playing right now. You played her twice already. I don't know if anyone else has played her twice. Can you talk about those two matches, talk about her level.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Completely different situations, conditions, you know, in Tokyo the court was totally different, fast. I didn't try -- I wasn't playing my game. I was more worried about, um, you know, how to beat her rather than doing my thing. And in Dubai, the conditions were a little slower. You know, I played her before. I knew what to expect, and, you know, in Tokyo she served really great percentage of first serves, and, you know, and good placement. And, you know, I didn't serve well that day and things, you know, things turned around.
Q. Maria shouldn't the fast courts, though, favor you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it did, but not on that day, no. Usually --
Q. It's more -- sorry about that.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I think it was more of just the game plan. I wanted to take the ball a little bit earlier, not to give her any time. I was just making too many errors by doing that.
Q. Can a player like Martina Hingis with a really big weapon reach the upper echelon of the game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, I don't think it's for me to predict. I mean, it's hard to say. You know, I don't like to predict things, yeah.
Q. Have you played against her and the power in the game today, do you think that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I don't -- I mean, I don't think it's all about power necessarily. I think there are -- I mean, there's -- a lot of the game has to do with mental and physical, and, I mean, yes, you know, it's definitely changed since -- you know, probably since she played, but we'll see.
Q. Do you get nervous?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not too much, no.
Q. Did you ever see her at the height of her game when you were a young girl, did you ever watch that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't remember specific matches that I watched. I mean, I probably watched, you know, just general matches, but I don't -- there wasn't a point where I remember who she played against or where or when it was.
Q. She was able to overcome the Williams sisters here. It's very interesting to see somebody with not much power or other --
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Like I said, I don't think it's all about power.
Q. So, Maria, when her balls are coming back?
Q. Do you, can you tell how well she anticipates?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely.
Q. It's not just speed with her. It's real anticipation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's one of her biggest strengths is her anticipation. The way she sees the ball, the way -- you know, the way she -- she knows what's coming next. She knows what's coming off her racket and it makes her look like she's quick, you know. Maybe she's not the quickest player, but it makes her look like she is because she's on time on every ball. But a lot of it has to do with her seeing the ball, you know, early, and she knows what you're going to do.
Q. Do you think you see the ball better now than you did say three or four years ago?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's definitely something that I'm working on. It's not just about hitting. It's also about seeing what comes off of your opponent's racket, yeah.
Q. Is it hard to understand the attention she's getting?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is it harder to --
Q. Just to understand sort of the need of attention on Martina Hingis, you know, having sort of the --
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I think it's great for tennis. I think it's great for the sport. I mean, it's great for the fans to see someone that was a great champion, I don't know, a few years ago and that is coming back.
Q. Maria, what's the status of your shoulder injury?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's getting better. It's definitely better than it was last year. I mean there's some days where, you know, it hurts a little bit. There are some days where it's perfect. You know, but I'm maintaining the pain.
Q. Is it tough on a day like today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It is. It is tough. It's cold. Your shoulder, I mean, your whole body, your joints don't feel really warm. I'll get treatment tonight. I'll have a day off tomorrow, so it should be fine.
Q. Maria, have you had one tournament here where you could take your service as well as you want to through the tournament without your shoulder bothering you, getting tired?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In Australia my shoulder was -- I mean, remembering all the matches, I think there's pretty much 100 percent, but because I didn't practice as -- I mean, I felt like I could hit hard, but because I didn't get to practice as many serves before the Australian, I did not feel that it was hard. But I do think it's gaining speed.
I mean, I was hitting 105, 108 tonight, but, you know, I don't -- it's definitely not getting slower. That's a good sign. I'm not holding back as I was last year with the shoulder.
Q. Maria, being a leading member of the teens that are in the top 100 right now, what do you attribute to that trend?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I don't know. That's -- I mean, I guess hard work and dedication. I mean, wanting to be the best, but, you know, you -- you never know if that's going to happen or not, you know.
Q. Is it the predecessors? Is it like globalization of the sport? Is it girls maturing earlier? What do you think it is?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think girls have to mature in this sport, have to mature quicker than probably normal 18-year-old girls simply because this is -- you know, I think it's a tougher life than just going to school and having more of a social life. I mean, you have a job. You're a professional athlete. You travel around the world and some players don't even travel with their family members. I mean that -- that's -- that's very difficult, especially when you're younger.
But, you know, at the same time, you know that makes them tough, and, I mean, it -- I don't know.
Q. You're still only 18. In the last two years, you've been the focus of attention all over the world. In one sense, do you also feel a little like a veteran on the tour, you've played so much, you've had such a lot of success?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's funny because I'm starting to come back to the same tournaments year after year after year, and it's like, Jesus, it's like the fourth year I'm here. It seems a lot, but I'll probably look in the future and four years from now I'm going to be like, "Wow, eight years."
So in a way, yeah, it does. But then I look at the facts and I'm just, you know, almost 19. So in a way, I am. But there are younger girls than me on the tour now and, you know, they're coming -- they're coming up and, yeah, it does. I mean, it does make me feel like a veteran, but I don't think as a fact I am, no.
Q. In Martina's life, Martina Hingis's life, her mom was a very important character, she was her coach and everything practically. In yours, it's your father, but we seldom hear about your mom. What's her role in your career, her position?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Her role is to be my mother, that's her main role. And my father's role is to be my father, and that's the most important role and support that I can get in my life, so...
But saying that, you know, my mom she's not the type of person that likes to go to the tournaments and likes to be around basically a zoo with all animals. You know, she's a very quiet lady and she doesn't like attention. She's very down to earth. She'd rather read books all day, you know, than be hanging around the players' lounge with, you know, all the players and all the coaches and all the parents. You know, it's not her thing.
And even though she misses me, I don't want to put her in the situation where, you know, she doesn't want to be in, you know. But I miss her a lot when I'm on tour and I talk to her every single day. But, you know, she's my mom and when I see her, you know, she's my best friend.
Q. Does she watch your matches on TV?
Q. Never?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Well, she saw the Wimbledon final, yeah.
Q. That was a while ago now. Does she get too nervous about it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, she doesn't get nervous, but she -- to her, it just -- it's weird, because to her, it doesn't really matter if I lose or win. She's that kind of person. Like I'll call her, I'll tell her I won, and she'll be like, "Oh cool." I'll tell her I lose, and she'll just tell me, you know, "You play a tournament next week, who cares." Yeah, that's just the way she's always been.
Q. So it sounds like she balances you pretty well, right?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah, she does. I take her, you know, to all my -- to all my exhibitions that I do and, you know, all my -- she does like the photo shoots and the education part of it and where I just like playing, like merry-go-rounds here, like the lights are playing (laughter).
Q. What's like the main character? Is there something that's in you from your mother, that it's just something that actually reminds you of your mom?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That I'm a strong woman, that I'm intelligent, and that I'm down to earth. She's taught me all of that.
Q. Does she know anything about tennis? Did she ever say don't do this?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no, no. Jesus, I mean, am I on the spotlight now? Is this like the question? No. No. She'll definitely ask me, like, if my homework's done today, but, no, she'll never ask me about anything.
Q. Is she strict?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is she strict? Um, I can get away with things with her, yeah.
Q. You talk about photo shoots. Did you take her to the Sports Illustrated one?
Q. What did she think?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She thought it was beautiful, but that's my mom, you know. I mean what is she going to tell me, it's ugly?
Q. Not only that but --
Q. I didn't mean it that way.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I mean -- thank you. No, she -- I mean, she thought it was. It turned out really well, you know. She told me it turned out really classy, and if you look through the whole magazine, I mean, there are a lot more unclassier pictures in that magazine than the pictures that I did, that we shot with a photographer. So, you know, it turned out really good and everybody's pretty happy.

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