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March 14, 2006

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria, please.
Q. Kind of took a while to get going tonight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I started off okay. I just tried to get used to her timing on our serve. It was a little bit difficult. She wasn't making a lot of first serves. The second serve kicked up pretty high. It took me a while to get used to that, try to attack it.
As the match went on, I felt more confident about it. You know, should have taken my opportunity at 5-3, at 5-4, especially serving for the set. I don't think I should have let it go to a tiebreak.
Q. Are you happy with the way things are going so far for you in this tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I am. You know, I played under the lights almost every match. I'll be playing again tomorrow. It's kind of different. Usually you play some at night, usually you play some at day. I've been playing under the lights.
The conditions are a little bit heavier than usually when I practice during the day, so it's a little bit different. But I've adjusted well. I'm looking forward to improving the next round.
Q. Even though that first set was so close, were you at all concerned or did you feel you were pretty much in control of the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I was. But a lot of players can play well when they're behind. That's just the way it is. They have nothing to lose. 3-1, then 5-3. They just start playing a lot better simply because they have nothing to lose. They're down a break.
I guess that's when you need to be extra careful because out of nowhere your opponent can start playing really well. It's important to close it out if you can.
Q. Last year you played soccer here a little bit. When you play soccer, is that, in a sense, also some kind of preparation for the grass?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. It has nothing to do with the grass courts or anything. Just more to get your body going. I'd rather do that than run around the field for 20 minutes. It's much more exciting, much more fun. It's competitive. That's what makes it fun for me.
Q. Did you see Nadal playing soccer?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. But I'm sure he's pretty good. All the Spanish guys are really good.
Q. Your thoughts about the next round?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I played Groenefeld last time in Moscow, very weird match. Unfortunately, she sprained her ankle. It will be a totally different match tomorrow. I was worried a lot about my injury in Moscow. I'm feeling a lot better about it this year. So hopefully, you know...
She's a great player. She serves really big. That's one of her biggest strengths. I want to make sure I serve well and try to put pressure on her serve.
Q. Any thoughts about the match between Lindsay and Hingis today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't see it.
Q. When Groenefeld, she seems to get under the radar, and suddenly she's the No. 7 seed.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she's had really good results last year. I think she played really solid tennis. Like I said, she's a tall girl and uses her height really well with big groundstrokes, a big serve. I think the big serve, if you can hold your serve, against many players, that works.
Q. Ana Ivanovic, from what was once Yugoslavia, she is your age. Any perspective that you see in her as a player?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I have not played her. It's hard for me to say. I've seen her. I've seen other, I don't want to say younger because I'm the same age, 18-, 17-year-old girls play as well. It's hard for me. I've seen them on TV. They've definitely got a lot of potential.
But I have not played her so it's hard for me to tell you her strengths or weaknesses.

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