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January 20, 2007

Maria Sharapova



Q. How would you sum up your match today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I thought it was pretty good. I thought I was a bit slow in the beginning of the match. You know, didn't really adjust from the beginning. I thought I was letting her play her game a little too much.
But I felt like as the match went on, I moved a lot better. I saw the short balls a lot quicker, put pressure on her.

Q. The air-conditioning apparently broke down on Rod Laver Arena. Did you feel the difference?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was a little steamy in there. It wasn't nearly as warm as it was the last few days. It was just humid. It was all right.

Q. A big step from here, either Ivanovic or Zvonareva.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I played Ivanovic for the first time a couple months ago in Linz. It was a pretty competitive match. She's got a lot of big weapons, a big game. Just got to go out there and be a little smarter out there. But, of course, still play my game.
Vera is also tough physically, gets a lot of balls back, makes you hit a lot of balls. Just a matter of giving her another ball to hit.

Q. Do you feel in prime second-week form after three matches?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel like at the end of this match I was getting better, moving a lot better, was seeing the ball earlier, going for my shots a little bit more.

Q. Tomorrow you're going to practice for the second week. A different mentality because you know now you're facing elite players, the pressure gets more intense.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think with every single match you know it's going to get tougher and you know that you have to improve. I try to look at this match a little bit, see what I still think I need to get better.
It's not a matter of thinking about it's the second week, here we go, now you really have to step it up. Obviously that's normal. That's just part of it. It's only going to get tougher from here. It's just about trying to focus on those little things that you think you can still improve to get you even better.

Q. Has this tournament been the biggest physical test for you over the last couple years?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I actually think it suits my game a little bit 'cause the bounce comes up a little higher. It actually depends on the day. Sometimes when the conditions change, the court changes. The surface sometimes becomes stickier on some days than others. It depends on the day.
Actually it feels like it suits my game. The ball bounces high. Can get a good hit on it. It's definitely not really fast, but that's not really a concern for me because I like to play on those kinds of courts.

Q. Is this a sense that you're reaping the rewards for the off-season work you'd done? When you left Madrid you said you were going away sort of to dedicate the next six weeks to getting yourself ready to come down here.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, after Madrid I wasn't thinking about much except a vacation. I don't know what I promised at that point.
Yeah, I feel like I had a really decent off-season compared to some of the past ones that I had. I was able to work without having to stop and go like I did last year -- I mean, two years ago.
So, yeah, I hope the work pays off. Like I said, it's always difficult going into your first tournament having it be a Grand Slam. That's just the way it is. Physically that's just the decision I'm making. But here I am.
Yeah, I don't think I'm nowhere as good as I can be playing. I hope that's yet to come. I hope I can still improve and get better with every match.

Q. Was that a hard decision to make, to say to all your various endorsement people, No, I've got to work at my tennis over this six-week period?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Can you repeat that? Was it a hard decision to make?

Q. Obviously a lot of people would like you to do appearances, to go places, have your picture taken.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: During the off-season?

Q. Yes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I only did two days of commitments for my sponsors in the off-season. I think those two days were part of my two-week break.
Is it hard? I mean, no, it's not hard because that's just the way it is. The off-season is for my tennis and nothing else.

Q. Are you one of these people who like to spend their vacation at home, not travel? What did you do with it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I was in Costa Rica for 10 days. Definitely not my home. I do like to get away, oh, for a little bit. I like going to different places, experiencing new things.
The good thing was that I did get to spend a lot of time at home, some in Florida, some in California. Got a little bit of both worlds.

Q. When you were in Costa Rica, didn't you do some kind of across-the-jungle ride?

Q. Did you think, If I fall, my career could be over?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm very adventurous. I'm pretty fearless at those things. Not really crazy things. I know if I do it, I love to get an adrenaline rush, yeah. There's only so much sitting at the beach you can do.

Q. There was no fear when you're that far above the ground?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no. It's so fun. You see the trees and the waterfalls. So surreal. I don't know, it was just -- you're in a different planet when you do those kind of things. In a few hours you could be in a big city, but here you are in a jungle and you're doing something totally different.

Q. Did you manage to bunjee jump?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. That I think I'll have to wait. I don't think I'd even want to do that. That's pretty safe. It sounds pretty crazy, but it's fairly safe.

Q. When you spend so little time at home -- you have two homes -- does it really feel like home when you're there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it does, yeah. It does just because you don't have to pack. I have two closets. It's easier. I don't have to pack as much.
In Florida, it's really quiet. It's sort of where I grew up. It's a good training base. I mean, I'm 19 now. It just gets boring after a week or two. There's only so many movies I can see.
In California, most of my friends are there. Just a bit of a younger place. Meanwhile, you know, I can practice at a private court, have my own little gym. Things are also pretty convenient there. Meanwhile, I feel like I'm living life as well.

Q. When you go on vacation, how long does it take you to stop thinking about tennis?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Like that (snapping fingers).

Q. You can go 10 days without thinking about any kind of tennis whatsoever?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I did until I try to turn on television. I turned on ESPN. I saw, Live coverage of the Australian Open starts the 15th of January. That was the end of that, yeah. That was not a good TV experience for me. It was like, Who needs this?

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