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January 25, 2007

Maria Sharapova



Q. Your thoughts on the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I felt like I played a much better match all around today. Couldn't quite get the serve and return together in the beginning. But overall I was really focused. I did the right things at the right time. I was patient when I had to be patient, played a smart game.

Q. Were you surprised you won in straight sets?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you know, when you're in the moment, you don't really worry about, you know, is it going to be easy or tough. You just try to do the right things.
I mean, I'm definitely glad that I could come up with a two-set win against her, yeah.

Q. Was this the best you played this tournament, would you say?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah, of course. You know, she's probably, you know, the toughest opponent going into the match. I knew in order to beat her I definitely would have had to step it up today.

Q. You'll have favoritism going into the final. What are your thoughts?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, I'm going to be playing against a player that didn't really expect too much coming into this tournament. She's playing some really good tennis. I think she has nothing to lose going into the match. Those are always dangerous opponents.
But we've played quite a few times. We played in Grand Slams before. Definitely love to get a win against her here.

Q. There's been a bit of time since you played her last. How hard is that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's hard in a way. Realistically it doesn't matter because you're in a final and you just got to go out there and you got to play your game, also follow with the weaknesses, strengths, having a game plan going into the match. Either way, no matter who you're playing, it's playing in the final of a Grand Slam. It's not going to be easy.

Q. I assume you knew the outcome of the first match before you went out there.

Q. How does that affect your mindset knowing who you would play if you were to win the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Doesn't do much, no. I mean, at that point when a person wins a match, you're warming up, you're getting yourself ready. Doesn't really do anything for a match.

Q. You prefer to go on first or doesn't matter?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Doesn't matter, no. When you're first, you just know a set time for when you play. That's the only difference.

Q. First time through to the final here. What do you think you've done differently to other years?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven't really -- I mean, it's an extra couple years, first of all, of experience. I've had many chances in the last couple of years to be in the final. Just didn't take them. There's always going to be your time to go through. Definitely happy it happened this year. I still have one more to go. I'm not satisfied yet.

Q. How are you feeling going into Saturday's game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Physically I feel good. It's normal to be sore in some spots after playing six matches on Rebound Ace. I expect that when I go into a tournament. But that's normal. I've dealt with it before.
As for serious injuries, so far so good (knocking wood).

Q. What is your preparation between now and Saturday?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Have a nice piece of steak tonight. Tomorrow, I don't know, have a little hit for an hour or so. Get good treatment, a lot of work on the body, make sure you recover, drink lots. Same old, same old.

Q. How much of a surprise is it for you to play against Serena? Before the start of the tournament, did it cross your mind that possibly you can play Serena in the final in the Australian Open?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, look, I didn't even know if I was going to get past the first round in the situation I was in where the girl was serving for the match. You're not really thinking about it. You're trying to take it one step at a time.
When the draw comes out, you're not looking at who's in the bottom of the draw, who's going to make it, who's not. You're trying to worry about yourself and the next few steps you're going to take in order to win the next match.

Q. When you look back sort of in retrospect, sort of look at your career, how much does that match two years ago figure into things, either as motivation or one of those matches where you kick yourself? How big does that loom in your mind?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was just a loss in my career. It was just one match that I lost. Like I said, I had the opportunities to be in another Grand Slam final. I didn't take them. I've had wins against her. I've had losses against her. That was just a loss.

Q. Could you hear the techno music? Could you hear that on the court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, it was pretty loud. I mean, it wasn't loud because the stadium's pretty big. Yeah, you definitely hear it. Be pretty deaf not to.

Q. Talk about the difference in the final with Serena in Wimbledon and this one.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Completely different. That was my first Grand Slam final. From the quarterfinal on, I was going into every single match thinking I was booking a plane ticket the next day.
I was just out there enjoying -- obviously, I'm still enjoying the way things have gone here. But there I was surprising myself with every single match. I didn't think that I was ready to beat Lindsay, to come back from a set and a break down against Lindsay and beat her, and then beat Serena in the final. Never thought I was ready to do that.
With passing years, I feel like I'm more confident, feel like I'm a more experienced player. I feel like I belong. I feel like I'm able to beat the top players day in and day out. Physically I'm a lot stronger. I'm able to come back and beat top players.

Q. And you are the No. 1?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: And I'm No. 1, yeah. Minor detail.

Q. She's No. 81.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That doesn't matter. Doesn't matter at all. Someone can be out of the top hundred. Like I said, she came into this tournament having nothing to lose really. When you don't play for many tournaments, and she only played a few last year, I don't think you go into a tournament -- obviously your desire is to win it, but you don't really expect too much from yourself. I think that's why she's been improving with every match. She gained confidence from, you know, coming back from tough matches. Here she is in the final.

Q. Are you in kind of a way surprised she got that far?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not at all. Sometimes people play their best tennis when they don't expect their best tennis to come out. It's happened to me.

Q. Have you seen any of her matches?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Bits and pieces of some, yeah.

Q. Is it at all kind of encouraging or inspiring to know that you can have your injuries, some issues, if you have the game and the ability to play well on the big points, you can dip down in triple digits and still come back?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: What triple digits?

Q. You can really go off the map and still pretty quickly get back on top.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You mean -- are you talking about ranking?

Q. Is it encouraging to you as a top player to know you can sort of go off the radar for a while and still...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, hey, it's a lot easier -- I mean, tough as it is to maintain that level, of course. But I'd actually prefer to be at that level than have like, you know, an up-and-down bar.
I mean, yeah, it's definitely tough to keep that level, to maintain it, be in the top five. It's a lot tougher than just getting there. You don't really expect that coming in, especially for me because I became No. 1 when I was 18.
As I was winning, even in quarterfinals, I was just really excited about just winning a match. Now, kind of like I said, I kind of more expect it for myself.

Q. Do you feel like the crowd will be on your side in the final?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I mean, I don't know. I hope they're equal to both players.

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