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January 24, 2007

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Another match over two hours.

Q. How did you win this one?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was just very competitive. Against a girl like that that gets a lot of balls back, it's just a matter of who can be a little bit smarter, who can get an extra ball back, who is a little tougher. I thought I did the job really well today.

Q. You played the big points better than her.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean overall I thought it was a bit scratchy. I mean, first set I'm down a break. I get back in the groove. The tiebreaker was a bit up and down also. We broke each other quite a few times. Then when I got a break, broke her in the second set, I felt like I just gave it to her on my serve, let her back in it.
From that, you know, a player like that, she plays on confidence, takes the ball early. She definitely got the confidence from that point.

Q. You took a timeout for a foot injury. What was the injury?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just from the heat, my skin was kind of coming off from the heat. Just a blister. Nothing major.

Q. You've coped okay with consecutive two-hour matches?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I felt like physically I had really long points today. I felt like I won a majority of them today. Definitely felt pretty good about that.

Q. What was happening with your serve today? Was it conditions?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was strange. I warmed up indoors. I came out. It's always pretty gusty on that court. The wind just blows one way. I got broken most of the time from that side because my serves were going long.
On the other side, I didn't feel like I was getting enough pace on the serve. I'm not sure if I just didn't adjust quickly. It just took me a long time. Then when you start thinking, it's like a little snowball.
Yeah, uhm, you know, didn't serve as well as I did my previous round. But it's tough to get a lot of easy points from her. She gets a lot of balls back and she makes you work even if you do hit a pretty big first serve.

Q. Did you find at the end you finally had her figured out?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Sometimes I feel like I don't know if she knows what she's doing. She kind of like -- I feel like she tricks her into her own game. She definitely has a lot of variety. If she wants to step in, she has a lot of power behind her strokes. Overall, I mean, at the end of the day, it's just about who took the chances a little bit more. I still felt like on the match point I should have just gone for the shots. I was a bit tentative.
But, yeah, I still feel like there's more room for improvement. But against her, she's not a player that's going to make you feel great about your game either.

Q. You feel like going against either Kim or Martina that you're going to have to show a better level?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel she's a little different player to those. I mean, I feel like she doesn't give you much rhythm. None of the other two give you rhythm, as well. They're a little bit different. It's hard to say because the matchups are going to be different.
But, yeah, I mean, in the semifinal, you'll have to step it up, because I think whoever is in the other half will definitely want to win, as well.

Q. The serve was not working for you. Were there other reasons for you feeling a bit scratchy?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Yeah, I mean, if I could have served a little bit better, you know, if I didn't give her too many looks on my second serve. When you give your opponent those chances, even when you break them, they feel they can break back because you're not completely confident in your service games.
It's not like I didn't really feel that confident. It's just that I go up to the line, realistically I wasn't making many first serves. I don't know what my percentage of first serves was today, but it felt like it was pretty low.

Q. Have you been watching Martina and Kim throughout the tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Little bits here and there. Not like whole matches, no.

Q. Do you feel like you're playing well enough to win the tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, I felt like I stepped it up in my previous round. Today, like I said, I didn't feel like my opponent was going to give me a lot of rhythm. Coming out with a win against her, someone who's playing good, beat Schnyder 4-1, someone who is playing with a lot of confidence, you can beat them in straight sets, definitely gives you a lot of confidence.

Q. You finally beat Kim on a hard court last summer. She got you in the XO. Is she still the biggest challenge to you physically on hard courts?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, she makes you work for every ball. She gets a lot of balls back. I don't think she's -- I mean, Amélie physically also is quite tough, and Justine. But at the end of the day, I think it's mentally who is a little bit tougher.
Obviously, she's a lot stronger than I am. Hands down to her. Other than that, I feel like I'm definitely on a closer level than I was, say, a year ago.

Q. That's because you're playing better defense; don't always have to play the offense against her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, I feel like I'm doing smarter things in situations, being a little bit more patient when I have to. I feel like I have a lot more plans in my pocket. Also experience.
Like you said, beating her for the first time, that definitely gave me a lot of confidence, that I can beat her. Beating Amélie and Justine on back-to-back days, that definitely gives you a lot of confidence, tells you that you could beat No. 1 and 2 players back-to-back days. As much as they're probably stronger and physically than I am, I can still beat them.

Q. Both dads were animated today. Was it unfair that your father was singled out for coaching?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Was the other guy coaching? I don't know. Is that what you're saying?

Q. You were given a violation.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I asked the umpire if it was on that change -- if it was in between those points. Between those two points, I didn't see anything. I didn't even look at him. That's why I asked her if that was when. If it was before, she should have said something before. That's why I asked her.
No, I mean, it's normal. I've been with my dad every single day. I'm sure Anna has, as well. They're both animated. They both want you to win. They're really excited for the opportunities you have.

Q. What did the umpire say?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She said, yeah, it was between that point.

Q. Can you switch over to Martina. Kim is the favorite in that match. If she wins, is that match more on your racquet?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Against Martina?

Q. Against Martina, if you play to your level you should win.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I feel like I can. I mean, it depends on how well I play and how well she plays. She's a very smart player. I think I can hurt her with my pace. Physically I feel like I'm up there, as well. It's just a matter of how I step up to the challenge of playing against her.

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