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January 22, 2007

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Were you completely happy with your form tonight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I thought I definitely stepped it up. I had to. I felt like I was a lot looser. I was going for my shots a bit more. I felt like I was a little tentative in my previous matches just tying to find my rhythm.
Today when I came on court, I knew she was going to be, you know, a challenge. I just had to go out there and, uhm, step up to it.

Q. You've had 13 breakpoint opportunities and only converted 3 of them. Is that a little worry? Did she get out of them well?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, obviously it's disappointing in a situation where you don't take care of business after five or six. But the main thing is that I didn't really let that get in my head. I was pretty positive about things.
She didn't have a breakpoint on my serve until I was up 5-2 in the second. Those are pretty good stats for my own.

Q. What were the conditions like? Seemed chilly.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: A little chilly. A little windy. A lot better than playing in that heat.

Q. Heat first, steam second, chilly now. What's next?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. Let's go through the whole forecast.

Q. Sometimes people think having a tough first-round match is a good thing, a wake-up call. At this stage of the tournament, do you look back on that and think maybe it was a positive?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In a way, yeah. In a way, I was out on the court a little bit longer. But at that point I wasn't -- like I said, I don't think a lot had -- tennis-wise, it wasn't like I was working on some shots, something wasn't working. It was just that basically I was just trying to beat the conditions out there.
I mean, it's hard to say. But, yeah, it definitely made me stronger. As you look on, you think that you were a girl that was serving for the match, and now here you are in the quarters. So, yeah, it's a pretty good stat.

Q. Were you surprised that Kim is the favorite as far as the bookmakers go?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. She's been playing great tennis. She played against me really well in Hong Kong, won in Sydney. I didn't play there. So, yeah, I don't see why. That's cool.

Q. What does No. 1 mean to you? You're going to reclaim that when the tournament is done.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it means that I showed some pretty decent results last year with the help of Justine's withdrawal here and Amélie losing the other day. Yeah, it's a good fact, but it's not something I go onto the court thinking about.
Probably at the end of the tournament, once you see it on paper again, it's pretty cool. Yeah, it takes you back to the hard work and the results that you've had.

Q. When did you actually hear about it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I don't know. I didn't really -- no one really told me, You're going to be No. 1. When I was No. 2 in the world, Justine obviously was No. 1, she lost in the final last year, so it's not a lot of points. You automatically do some math in your head. It's not that big of a deal.

Q. Do you like the kind of match against Vera when you know you're going to have to run and play some defense?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I do. I do. I felt like it was going to be tough. I challenged myself. I wanted to see what I could come up with today because I felt like I needed to come up with something better than I did in my previous rounds. It was good to go out there and just finish the match. I was definitely lucky to get out of it the way that I did.
But, yeah, looking back, I think I was very pleased with the way things went.

Q. Movement-wise, seemed to be as well as you've run all tournament.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah. Probably some of the longest rallies I've had this week. Tougher situations point-wise, holding your serve, again being breakpoints down.

Q. You've had some pretty tough losses here the last couple years. Is that any extra motivation or incentive for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Just the one against Serena, I mean, that was years ago. You don't think about that when you're on court. I forgot that a couple days after that happened. Those don't affect me that much.

Q. No breakpoints until you were serving for the match. But what happened there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think I played that bad. I did, I made a pretty easy error. I should have hit a volley when the whole court was open. I decided to hit a swing volley at 30-15.
From that point on, I didn't think that I really just gave it to her. I mean, she worked hard for that game. She earned it. It was a little bit of up and down from that 5-2.
I mean, look, I was down Love-40 on my serves and I think I hit like three or four backhand winners. I can say that I'm pretty proud that I could come up with that in that sort of situation, because that's basically what it's all about.

Q. Chakvetadze has been playing great. Do you remember the L.A. match, 7-5 in the third?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Little bits here and there. I think she's more of a developed player than she was then. She's definitely a lot more experienced. She's played more top players, has had great wins over top players.
I mean, look, I don't think I'm going to look back at that match too much. Obviously I've seen her play here and there. Just got to go out, and if I play like I did today, I think my chances are pretty good.

Q. You've been in this stage of a Slam so many times in the last several years. Getting over the hurdle of New York to get your second major, do you think that gives you a sense of relief going forward, that you got the second one in the bag?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it's not really a relief. It was that feeling inside of you where you know you're able to win another Grand Slam, you know you have it in you. It was just like when are things going to come together physically, mentally, a little bit of luck here or there. Fortunately it came out at the Open.
But I think it was just more, you know, you guys, more the media just trying to sort of make a bigger deal out of it than it really was. Technically I've always said I never really expected to win my first major at 17 years old. After you win your first major, it's really understandable that a lot of people expect you to win another major really soon.

Q. You were knocking at the door at many tournaments.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: And I felt like I was learning with every match that I played in those situations. I probably became stronger by losing to Justine those many times. I learned more about my game. I learned more about her strengths and my strengths through those matches. Sometimes you've got to give up some to win maybe one or two. There's always going to be a time to shine at some point.

Q. You're saying if you weren't ready to win Wimbledon 2004, you were probably ready to win the Open last year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely.

Q. Now going into this year, what do you think you're ready to do?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, that's a good question. I mean, my team asks me that all the time. They even asked me after the Open. I mean, You've won two majors. You've been No. 1. You won The Championships.
I mean, honestly, I still enjoy going out on court and working to be a better player. I still feel like I can be so much better. That's what sort of drives me, because if I add little things that can make me better, I think that I have many more Grand Slams in me.
As long as I have that feeling inside of me, then I'm always going to go out and work on those things and have that competitive spirit in me.

Q. What is your take on the Hawk-Eye system?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think positive of it. I think a majority of the players, and the fans, enjoy it. There are only a few cases, that, you know, that don't like it.
It's one of those things, you know, it's there. If you don't want to use it, you don't have to use it. It's your choice. But if there's a doubt in your mind, you want to challenge a call, why not? It's there for you.
It adds so much more excitement to the TV. You know on a certain point that can bother so many players, if you really think that was a misjudgment by the umpire or the lines person, it's up to you to make that decision to challenge a call. If you don't like it, don't do it.

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