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September 8, 2006

Maria Sharapova

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What were you able to do differently today that you had trouble doing the last four times you met?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I thought I played really smart, you know. I wasn't making errors at the wrong times. You know, I started off the match really well. I put pressure on her. You know, I served quite solid and had a good percentage of first serves. I took my chances.

Q. After the Golovin match, I wondered whether one of the priorities for you today was to get your serve back under control.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was also very important to start off well and, you know, put that pressure on her from the beginning, let her know that I'm gonna be strong, you know, from the beginning of the match. And I did, you know. I got off to a really good start, took advantage of that.
You know, it was definitely tough to get broken that last game of the second set. But, you know, I came off, took a little break, and I just thought to myself that it's not over until it's over, you know. I was still playing good tennis, and I knew that I could win it.

Q. You got 75% of your first serves in.

Q. Did you take a little bit off your first serve?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah, it was a little gusty out there still today. It's pretty hard to try to go for the aces. You know, I made this is a big factor: I've been saying it's very important to be consistent and place the ball better, make sure to take a few miles per hour off the serve but better place it.

Q. After the strong performance of Mauresmo during the whole tournament, were you not surprised that it was such an easy match for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You call a three set easy (laughing)?

Q. Two sets were 6 Love.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That just shows that I did some right things out there, you know. Against someone that's No. 1 in the world, you got to play smart and you got to, like I said, take advantage of the opportunities you get.

Q. What made you say to yourself why was it so important
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Because the previous two matches have gotten off to such a slow start. Against someone like her, you can't get off to a slow start.

Q. How did you prepare yourself to do that? What did you do differently to play so well at the start of this match? Was it more mental?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I mean, at the end of the day, words are words, you really just got to go out there and do it. Sometimes you might be doing the same things, but against different opponents, on a different day it works out differently. Today I was happy that I was able it went my way.

Q. How important was it to keep her off the net? Even when she was coming in, you were passing her pretty well.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I will say that I came up with some pretty good passing shots at the right times. That's important. It definitely I'm sure it made her think a little bit the next time she wanted to come in. I've been working on my passing shots for the last three weeks, so I knew that I was definitely ready to play someone that was coming into the net. I was ready for that.

Q. After the first set, did you think that you might be able to take it in two sets? What were your thoughts after that first set was so easy for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I just thought I got to keep doing the same things. But I felt like my level dropped a little bit. I wasn't hitting the ball as deep as I was in the first set, and she was I felt like I took a little bit off the ball, and she was just she took I mean, even though I was able to hold until that last game of the second set, I didn't feel like I was playing at the same level I was in the first.
But, yeah...

Q. Do you feel like you've broken the Grand Slam semifinal jinx?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Doesn't mean anything to me.

Q. Really? It doesn't...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've said it a million times.

Q. We've talked about this earlier in the tournament, about how you've probably gotten over some of the injuries that have bothered you all year. Does this give you more perspective on what you can accomplish when you're pain free like this?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah. I got it's just so important to be healthy in our sport. I mean, especially at a Grand Slam. To be able to physically be able to do it, you know, seven matches in 14 days is very important. You know, I'm very happy that I've been able to come into a Grand Slam. That's why I put such a big emphasis on that, saying that I did get some good matches in before this tournament; I am healthy.
And, I mean, yeah, you're gonna feel a little bit sore. You're not gonna feel 100% physically. Your energy level is not gonna be 100%. You're in the final of a Grand Slam; it's obvious.
But without having major injuries, it's a big help.

Q. Winning Wimbledon at 17, what were the expectations that were put on you after that? How much different of a player are you now than two years ago?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Honestly, I didn't really feel expectations from the outside world, more so just from myself. I won a Grand Slam, and I beat some top players, and I after the couple first months, I felt like I needed to, you know, win every single match. That was I just needed to step back and tell myself, That's not gonna happen. No matter how hard or how much you want it, it's just not gonna exist.
But, I mean, even growing up, I was 14, 15 years old, I was still I was always playing older girls, I was always playing with older boys, and I was beating them, and people always thought I was gonna be good. I didn't really I mean, I didn't really think about what people thought at that point until I, you know, went on the court and showed my tennis.
I guess at Wimbledon, I was kind of feeling after I won it, I felt like I was actually that those sayings were actually true, you know. Before that, I was like, Well, you know, people can say whatever they want, but I haven't really done anything (smiling).
So that was, you know when you win a Grand Slam, you feel like you deserve the, you know, good things that people say about you.

Q. The Canon promotion was absolutely hysterical, the look alikes to kick off the US Open. Was that a way to poke fun at your own image, to show your sense of humor about things?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely has a little bit of sense of humor. I don't I mean, it's a good way to promote Canon. It was just a fun thing that I don't think a lot of people came up with before. So it was just something different.

Q. As a player, do you like the idea of a prime time final?

Q. Why?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Especially at the Open 'cause The Open is all about the night matches. To have a, you know, woman, obviously the men, I don't think they have a night final, right?

Q. 4:00.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I support it. I think it's really cool.

Q. That was an important match for you against Justine at Key Biscayne. Can you comment just a little bit about that. What do you expect tomorrow's match to be like?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You mean the time I beat her in Key Biscayne?

Q. Yes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, that was a long time ago. She was coming back from an injury. That was her first tournament.

Q. You beat her.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I mean, definitely. But, you know, I haven't beat Amélie in a competition match before. I beat her today. I don't have a great record with Justine, so, you know, I mean, it doesn't really matter. It's a new match, new opportunity. I know I've definitely beaten her before and I know I've done it, and I know that I'm playing good tennis and I'm confident. I'm looking forward to beating her again.

Q. Do you think for the final that you're going to have some more people come to see you play? Like your mom, will they be in your player box?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, my mom won't come, no.

Q. Against Justine, will this be the first time you go into a Slam match against her where you're confident that physically, if it gets really long, you can stay with her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I guess we'll just have to wait and see. It's hard to say. Uhm, you know, she's a different opponent, and it's the finals. I mean, I don't remember how I felt physically going into the previous matches. I mean, this is it's gonna be a new day, you know. That's what it is.

Q. Australia was very long. It was tiring. As you said before, beginning of the year you weren't completely at a hundred percent health.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right. Yeah, well, knowing that I've played six matches and that I feel, you know, physically good, yeah, it definitely gives me the confidence that I can go out and beat her.
Even without that, even if I wasn't feeling, you know, physically great, uhm, or injured, I would still be in the final, still be excited about the opportunity.

Q. What was your thought process, what was going through your mind during that break after the second set?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of the first game? Of the third?

Q. After, sorry, the break between sets, before the third.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: What was oh, that I knew the match wasn't over yet, you know. It was equal. I had there's still another set to be played.
You know, I didn't think that I played a bad second set, you know. She just played a really good game to beat me. And if I could beat her 6 0 in the first, I could definitely do it again. There was no doubt in my mind.

Q. Davydenko said yesterday, he called you American rather than Russian. He said you're a passport Russian, but considered more American. Maybe that's a lot of what contributes to your popularity. Did you have any reaction to that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't see it. But when you spend more than half of your life in the States, you know, doing living and, you know, doing the things you have to do for your career, then, yeah, of course. I mean, I can't hide from the fact that I've lived here for so long.
But, uhm, I'm also not gonna lie to you, but I definitely feel Russian.

Q. Is there any chance you would play Fed Cup for the U.S.?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, that's definitely not in my mind right now.

Q. Martina Navratilova is retiring. What would you say her legacy is in the game of tennis? I know personally she's had an impact on you. What has that been?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She's had an incredibly amazing and also long career. I mean, she's to still see her out here today definitely shows how much she appreciates the sport. Just to be here. I mean, is she in the final of the mixed? That's pretty amazing at her age.
But she's I mean, I saw her when I was six years old in Moscow, at an exhibition. That was probably the first time I ever saw her. It's been really great to see her, you know, still today in the locker room.

Q. I don't know if you heard about Jelena's blowup in the second set today versus Justine. Having spent some time
MARIA SHARAPOVA: What is a "blowup"? Sorry.

Q. She was up 5 2, very close to winning the match. She got in an argument with the chair umpire between her first and second serves. Then she lost the next ten games.

Q. Then she was out of there. Having spent some time around her, several years in Bradenton, does that surprise you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think that has anything to do with that. This is her first semifinal in her career. I mean, she's young, and this is a great opportunity for her. But she's, I mean it's a new thing for her. I don't think she's had that much experience. She's still so young. This is, I think, probably one of the most greatest thing in her career, to be in the semis.
So, I mean, you can make little mistakes here and there, but I'm sure she'll learn from the experience and move on hopefully.

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