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March 27, 2006

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria, please.
Q. Obviously, very tough match. I know you know her, you guys go back
Q. What changed it around? It seemed like you picked up your intensity in the second set.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, I definitely did not play my best tennis in the first two sets, but I was playing a lot of defense out there, and she was stepping in the court. She was hitting very deep and hard, and especially against the wind, I was just pushing everything back.
In the second set I think it was just one or two balls that made the difference, and then in the third, you know, I stepped it up. I could see that she was physically getting a little bit tired, wasn't getting to as many balls. I started to pick up my game.
Q. You were running her side to side. You feel that it eventually took its toll on her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, we've been playing three days in a row. Obviously, in the heat and everything, it's very difficult for both of us.
These other kind of matches, we just have to grind it out.
Q. Why do you think you've been playing every day, have you complained at all? Some of the guys have only played one match...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, no, I haven't complained. But that's the way it is. I think for some of the girls, they played a late -- some played a late night match yesterday. To come out today and to play another one is obviously very difficult.
But, you know what, it's part of the game. You know, it's the challenges that we have to go through. You know, I mean, we might not like it, but we've got to do it.
Q. You respect her fighting spirit? You had trouble putting her away at the end.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she played some very good points and that put some pressure on my serve. I made a double-fault, couldn't get my first serve in on the four matchpoints, first four or three that I had. And she took the advantage from the second set and put more pressure on me.
Q. Did you speak with her before the game, before the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I saw her when we drove in together. She drove right behind me today (laughing).
Q. Talk about your relationship with her. How far does it go back?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I've known her -- I mean, we've known each other since we were 12 or 13 playing the junior tournaments. We've always kind of stuck together. You know, she's around my age and we just, you know, because we've known each other for so long and we kind of have similar lives and similar interests because of our age, it's cool to have someone that's very real and has a good heart out here.
Q. Is it tough to play a good friend?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely. You know, you don't want to be playing a good friend in the fourth round, but, you know, you're playing a tournament every single week so that's going to happen.
Q. Do you blind it out?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, I think when both of us, we're on the court, we play like it's any other match. You know, we don't worry about it, just play as it is in the moment.
Q. So when you drove in together and got out together, near the valet, what did you talk about?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: We said, "Good morning, how are you?"
Q. Nothing about the match ahead?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Well, we spoke the match before, I went on, she won her match to go in the fourth round. I was still waiting to go on. She's like, "Come on," you know, "We're gonna play each other." I'm like, "Okay, I have to win mine first."
Q. Who got the best of who in Juniors?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think we ever played against each other in Juniors, yeah. No, we didn't.
Q. Next opponent.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: They're still playing.
Q. A lot of Russian women.
Q. Proud of that? I mean, you're 7 of 16.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's amazing. I think the last few years, what our country has achieved is beyond anyone's expectations. I think it's amazing for the country.
Q. Young ones coming up.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I'm still one of the young ones. Don't count me out (laughing).
Yeah, definitely a lot of young potential.
Q. How about your outfit, is that constricting you in any way?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no. It actually makes me want to dance. It's really cool.
I mean, growing up, I loved ballet. My mom used to do ballet when she was younger. I love art and I love dance. When they came out with this collection, I was in love with it. A lot of the pieces that I wear, you know, in the press conference and on the court are dance-inspired.
So I love them.
Q. Do you feel you're playing better as the tournament is going on? You've had some second-set struggles that you pulled out.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, no, I definitely don't feel like I'm playing great tennis. But, you know, either -- you know, might be the fact that it's second tournament in a row, also three matches in a row, and also the conditions. I haven't been able to adjust quickly to the conditions. You know, the wind has been a little bit of a struggle for me and my game.
But, you know, as long as I can tough it out, you know, I don't know how long -- I'm definitely going to need to step it up further because I'm going to be playing tougher and tougher opponents and I don't think with just fighting I'm going to get away with it.
Q. Have you and Kirilenko gone out clubbing together?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Clubbing, I don't know about clubbing. We've gone out to dinner and stuff.
Q. But not this week, here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not here.

End of FastScripts...

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