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March 12, 2006

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria, please.
Q. How cold was it out there for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was pretty cold. I usually don't wear pants when I play, but today was definitely the day to get them out.
Q. When is the last time you wore pants during a match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I wore capris before I think in Birmingham during a doubles match, but that's about it.
Q. So how long did it take you to get warm enough when you felt comfortable?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It took a few games, took a few games to get used to the weather, to the lights, to my opponent, you know, a little bit of everything. But, you know, I served well from the beginning, and, you know, I felt like I was serving well. And I was making a few errors on the return until I just had to get a little rhythm on the return.
Q. When it's that cold, do you feel like you're getting enough hit on the ball? Do you have to swing a little harder?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Actually, today the ball was flying a little more than it was the other day. I thought the conditions on Friday were a lot heavier than today.
Q. So you're pretty pleased after two matches?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I am. You know, my -- I served really well today. I definitely can start better, but overall, yeah.
Q. Maria, when you're playing somebody who's a doubles specialist, do you feel a lot more confident that they're not ready to give you the battle in singles, or is it a different feeling?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not necessarily. She has a lot of experience behind her back playing singles, so I know -- I mean, she's a very experienced player. She's got a great slice, you know, pretty flat slice. So you have to be ready, and, you know, experience is definitely a great advantage in a matter if you're a doubles or singles specialist.
You know, she's very patient out there, but has a good serve. So every match, I have to be ready. But I don't think -- I don't think she's necessarily just a doubles specialist.
Q. Maria, when you're that far up in a set and you feel like I'm pretty much in control here, do you ever think, "Okay now this is time for me to bring out some of the stuff I've been working on in practice and in the matches"?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the points at the end were pretty short. It was basically I went to ball combinations. So I -- when I tried to serve and volley, I missed my first serve, so that didn't really work. But overall, you know, I think I moved well and I think, as I said, towards the middle of the first set, I started moving a little bit better, and, you know, started running around my backhand and hitting a few extra forehands, just to get going.
Q. What's the thought in practice about the serve and volley and how much are you doing it in practice and how comfortable are you hitting the serve and then actually having to run forward?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right. I'm actually feeling a lot better out there. You know, before it was a matter of practicing the first ball, getting to net and hitting the first ball. And then I started playing a few -- I played a few practice matches and I did it, and, you know, I did it in a few of my matches in Dubai. I was hitting a great first volley, then I was like, whoa, do I need a second volley, too?
So now, you know, I'm doing a lot more drills, a lot more volleys because before, I'd hit a great approach shot and kind of go to La La Land. I didn't really know what I was doing out there. But now I definitely feel a lot more confident. I feel my ground when I'm up there.
Q. So you could see maybe in the next couple years, I mean obviously players who start from the back rarely complete transition into serve and volley, but someone like Mauresmo will end up coming to net more, using that as a part of the arsenal. Can you see that from yourself?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely. I think, you know, adding a little variation to my game will definitely help it, you know. But a year ago, I probably wouldn't even have in mind to go to the net, you know. Everything was basically just from the baseline for me, and, you know, that took a year for me to actually get in my mind and start going there. And now it's just a process of working on it, getting it better, and adding it to my game when I'm playing, you know, matches.
Q. Maria, everybody reacts differently if the rain starts while they're playing. Andre was angry, Safin said you have a right to stop the game. Does it make you nervous? Are you afraid, or would you stop the game if you don't feel safe?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course I'd stop the game if you don't feel safe. You know, I don't know what the rule is on that, you know, if both of us have to say we have to -- we want to stop or the umpire does, but I mean definitely. If I don't feel safe, I'm going to tell the chair umpire, for sure. I'm not going to play when the lines are wet.
Q. Maria, you've done some incredible, very quiet but incredible charity work for some causes back in Russia. The kids in high school near me noted it was the 20th anniversary of Chernobyl. They're doing some incredible stuff for people there still suffering. Are you aware at all about the situation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I'm aware, I'm aware of that situation, but, you know, right now I'm playing a tournament and it's hard, you know, to balance a lot of things at this point. But yeah, I definitely know that that happened that long ago and, you know, my -- like I said, in my salary, my team and I are working -- working on different -- different charities, trying to -- trying to come up with a plan because that's going to be a very important part of my life.
Q. If I may follow-up with what I asked you, for instance, the TV and all of that, you are judging, well, it's not safe for me, would you still take the step and stop the game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, it's my own safety, so, yeah. If I don't feel safe enough I'm -- you know, I'm going to point it out, you know. I'm going to tell the umpire I don't feel safe and, you know, at that point, I mean, I definitely wouldn't be lying if I didn't feel safe, I'm not safe. I'm not going to play. I don't think an umpire can force you.
Q. Lindsay said that she had a chance to play the stadium if it would be a night match or play outside court for a day match. Did you have that option of where you could play today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Say again? What did Lindsay?
Q. Lindsay had an option of playing in the stadium, it would probably be at night, or playing on an outside court and play a day match, and she chose the outside because she wanted to play a bit warmer. Did you have an option today or did it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think so. I don't think I had an option, no.
Q. If you did, what would you prefer?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Probably play in the day because it is warmer, but, I mean, doesn't make any sense. I mean, now it's over so.
Q. Maria, your outfit tonight with the leggings and the long sleeves, was that an indication you thought the weather might be marginal?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it was pretty cold, yeah. Definitely not a trend you'll be seeing more of, I don't think, from me, but I think the weather kind of came up with that trend.
Q. Did it concern you about pulling muscles, a leg muscle or any concerns about that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I haven't really -- I haven't really felt concerned about pulling things, you know, pulling that muscle simply because I've -- I spent the last six months, or the last year worrying about that, and, you know, I've done all the worrying. There's no more worrying left in the bag. So, you know, I just go out and I -- I don't worry about it because I played -- I still played a lot of tennis last year and under heavy conditions, too, and, yes, it started hurting, but nothing was torn or pulled, thank, God. But, yeah. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Just to clarify, I think just from what I took from what Lindsay said, I don't think she requested. I think she actually requested that it wasn't placed as an option. That's what I took from what Lindsay said, if that makes sense.

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