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March 30, 2006

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How would you sum up that evening?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Very unfortunate, definitely. I mean, she played unbelievable tennis, the best I've seen her play - ever. You know, didn't take my opportunities in the second set, and she came out. You know, she just played basically out of her mind in the second set, didn't miss a ball. It was just so close in the third set, and I hit a shot, I turned away, and the next thing I know, the crowd just kind of went silent and I turned and she's on the ground.
I tried -- I looked at the screen to see the replay of what happened. Nothing happened. I thought she was cramping. It was just so strange. I hit the shot and I turned around, getting ready for the next ball. All of a sudden, she's just on the ground. It was just very, very bizarre.
Q. Was it kind of an empty feeling for you not to be able to finish the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Because of the quality of the match. I mean, we were playing, both of us, were just fighting. We both wanted it. I mean, it's just very unfortunate. I feel terrible for her.
Q. It was probably the best of the women's matches in the tournament so far. Can you feel that sort of extraordinary level of play while you're actually playing, or is there too much focus on the job that has to be done?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, definitely you feel like, you know -- I felt like we were both giving everything we had. It was becoming a very physical match, whoever could just, you know, make an error or try to somehow finish the point off because the points were becoming very long, especially when I tried to serve for it and we had about five, six points back to back that were long, that were tough, and she came out and won all of them.
She gained confidence from that, and she ran, hit every ball hard, deep. You know, didn't feel like anything was bothering her anymore. Definitely she wasn't hitting as well at the beginning of the second set and the first, you know, I took advantage of a lot of the balls she hit. But then she started hitting freely and making a lot of shots.
Q. It seemed like the crowd was rooting for an upset. I never saw a match with you where the crowd was against you, it seemed like.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the crowd always wants a semifinal to be entertaining. I think at the point where 6-3, 5-1 or 2, I mean, the crowd definitely wants her to come back in. And with those -- with that game that we played where it was four matchpoints and she was able to come back, and the quality of the tennis that we played, I mean, definitely you're going to expect the crowd to start, you know, trying to bring her back.
Q. What was the situation with the bathroom break?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I've -- I had to go to the bathroom from the beginning of the set, and that was the longest game. I mean, that was like a five-, seven-minute game. I really had to go. In the middle of the sets I had to change, which is absolutely normal.
Q. Were you surprised by the boos from the crowd at that point?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it's part of the sport. It happens everywhere - NBA. I mean, the crowd needs entertainment.
Q. When did you realize the injury was very bad?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I did not know what happened until the ankle was being taped. I wasn't sure -- I wasn't sure -- I honestly thought it was cramps, that's why I was kind of getting ready, trying to get myself going, because I know after three- or four-minute layoff, you can get down and very sloppy. I wanted to make sure that didn't happen.
When the ankle was becoming taped, I didn't know how serious it was, you know, until the first point, she just went for it and couldn't really walk. That's when I realized it was pretty bad.
But, I mean, I didn't know for the first three minutes when she was down on the ground. I had no idea what happened.
Q. Any regrets about the matchpoints or do you just say "too good"?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Honestly, too good, really. She hit about three shots in a row. One of them, she kind of hit the frame it seemed like and the wind took it. Three of them just went an inch from the line. At that point, you know, you're just trying to battle it out, trying to do everything you can, and, you know, she was just too good on those long points.
Q. What did you say to her after at the net?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, what can you say at that point? I mean, you feel terrible. Your stomach is flipping inside-out, and, I mean, of course to her "I'm sorry" probably doesn't mean a lot, unfortunately. But I really am.
I saw her in the locker room, the trainer's room, I told her anything she needs, I mean, it's very unfortunate. I feel awful for her. I understand it's sport, but, you know, I've known her and I've seen her over the years, growing up together. It's just difficult.
Q. So you're in the final.
Q. Weird under the circumstances.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah. I mean, in a way it's exciting. Obviously, unfortunately how I got there based on today. But, you know, I've played solid tennis. Should have finished it off, of course. But that's not the way it went.
But I kind of have to forget about it and look forward to the final.
Q. Did you watch the other semifinal?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I watched a few points on TV, but not the whole match, no.
Q. What do you make of the way Svetlana Kuznetsova is playing at the moment?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Judging from the points I saw, she's playing pretty well to beat the No. 1 player. She gained a lot of confidence from the Martina match.
You know, it will be my job to stop her.
Q. When she was receiving treatment, the TV commentator said you were not showing enough heart for your opponent. Would you agree with that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, if I knew that -- if I knew what the problem was, I probably would have showed more heart, for sure. But I had no idea what the problem was, so it was very difficult for me. If she was cramping, you know, that's one thing. But I had, you know -- I was trying to look on the monitor right after she was on the ground and they didn't show anything. And then I, yeah...

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