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August 31, 2006

Maria Sharapova

Q. Pretty easy out there?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was, and so I had a little bit of a choke game (laughing). Second set.

No, I was really solid. I served well again, you know, until the one game. Tried to finish it off and hit a big second serve, and then ended up hitting a couple of double faults.

But other than that, yeah, I felt pretty good out there.

Q. Your serve is feeling particularly good for you right now, or is it all aspects of your game?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, the serve has been good the last couple of matches. You know, I've been holding pretty easily.

But, no, overall, I mean, the points that I have got an opportunity to rally then I definitely feel like I am moving well and taking the opportunities when I get them.

Q. Do the double fault come from trying for too much on the second serve?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I hit three aces and go up 40 Love. Then I try to hit a second serve ace and then I missed another first serve and I just started thinking, and then I made another double fault.

But, you know, you live and learn.

Q. You're facing Elena in the next round. Can you talk about her a little bit. Can you also perhaps comment about the great showing of this Russian contingent.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven't played Elena in quite a while, but she's a pretty solid player. You know, matches I've had with her have been pretty, pretty tough. I mean, I don't know how she's been I don't really know her.

I haven't seen her play in the last couple of months, but, I mean, this is a Grand Slam. I'm sure she wants to win just as much as I do. Yeah, I got to take it as another tough match.

But it's definitely really good to see, you know, the Russians doing well. I mean, we've had a really good year this year. '04 was one of the best for our country. Hopefully, uhm, hopefully we'll finish it off in a good way this year.

Q. I picked up the New York Times this morning. Great picture of you in the sports picture. Picture of you on page 2. Another ad on page 10. How are you balancing this?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's not really my choice to put myself on the cover of the New York Times sports section. I don't really have a lot of control over those things. The only thing I have control over is my tennis racquet when I'm on the court. That's all I worry about, you know.

I love doing the things that I do off court. I enjoy them. They're fun opportunities, you know, for my career. But my passion is still on the court. That's why I can balance both things.

Q. I'm doing a documentary on the history of Argentinian tennis. Do you remember Gabriela Sabatini? I know you never played her.


Q. What are your thoughts about her?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't really see her play a lot, so I can't really judge on, you know, too much on her. But, I mean, she's done great things for the game. She's also had a pretty balanced career. She did a lot of -- she was a great athlete, but also great as spokesperson for the sport.

Other than that, I don't really know I mean, I've actually never met her before.

Q. Some of the players on the tour now, though, Argentine players?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know too many personally. But Paola Suarez, she's had pretty good results in her career. She beat me in the quarters of the French.

But the men are doing well, as well.

Q. Who do you match up better with, Mauresmo or Henin Hardenne?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: As in matchup? As in have a better match?

Q. Who gives you more problems? Who gives you fewer?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think they're pretty different.

Q. Yeah.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: They have different styles of games, and it really depends on what court you play on, I think.

Q. Here, for instance.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I don't know. It's tough to say. You know, it just depends on how you're playing, what you think you're capable of, you know, your confidence. I mean, there's so many things that go into that. It's not just about how they're playing, yeah.

Q. Is there a key to your game that needs to click in strong for you to be able to win at the Open this year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I mean, at every tournament it's pretty much the same, you know. Like I said, I haven't really come into a tournament feeling until now feeling great. You know, I've always had some I've either had an injury coming in or I haven't had enough matches. This time I really feel like I'm coming in, you know, with confidence.

I did play a lot of matches a couple weeks ago. I feel healthy. At this point, I mean, I've realized, even though I haven't had a long career, that being healthy is probably the most important thing. You know, wins and losses, yes, they're great and bad. But at the end of the day, that's not really what life is about.

Q. What's the best you ever felt on a court? Of all the matches you've played where everything was working real good, just the best you've ever felt on a court?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: There was never a match where you feel you've you did everything right. I mean, I've, you know I've had matches where I felt like I played really good tennis and still lost them, you know. So it's hard to say.

I mean, on grass, probably I feel like I play more, you know, more the "perfect" match in a way. The court is fast. You don't get to play that long of a point. If you're serving and returning well, you know the points are short and you feel like, yeah, you get the job done.

Q. Moving away from tennis, getting back to the fashion sense, the black clothes, the black around your wrist, you kind of played up the lavender dress today. It's very different from the black Audrey Hepburn dress. The little flower, ventilation. What was the thinking?


Q. You're inspiring a lot of people now.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I am? That's good to know (laughing).

Well, the day dress, the back of the dress, it started at Wimbledon. The ventilation thing where the flower opens, that kind of debuted at Wimbledon. Nike wanted to carry that technology over to this tournament.

I wanted to incorporate lace in the US Open dress. They came out with a mesh material that resembles lace. It basically feels like lace. They added that.

And the colors, it's a little different compared to the night dress, so it gives you a little bit of that English, you know, bruncheon feel.

Q. Earlier you said still the most important is tennis, and that's in your career. So is this what tennis stars need to do, they need to kind of have this fashion statement?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I think everyone's different. Everyone has their own personal feel and what they want to wear and how they want to feel on court. I mean, I've worked with Nike for many years.

I mean, I love clothes designing with them and giving them my ideas into what I want to wear because they want me to feel comfortable in what I'm wearing. It's a pretty fun collaboration that we have.

When I go on court, I'm sure not just me, but everyone wants to feel confident and feel good about what they're wearing. Little girls, you know, women, anyone. I mean, you don't want to feel bad when you're on court. You don't want to feel uncomfortable with what you're wearing. Yeah, that's the goal with everything that I wear.

Q. On the men's side, which Argentine player do you think has a promising future?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, God. This is like a pop quiz on Argentina. I don't really know. I don't watch I don't concentrate on certain countries and their players. It's hard for me to judge someone, whereas if I really knew their game or knew them as a person, I would give you an honest opinion. But I really can't.

Q. Serena just beat Hantuchova. I'm just wondering, considering how little she's played, do you consider her a real threat to possibly win this tournament?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, you can never underestimate her with all her achievements and what she's done. If she's playing the tournament, she's definitely ready to play it. You know, I mean, you can't let's see. Until I play her and see how she's playing, then I can't really give you an opinion.

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