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January 27, 2007

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Is it possible for you to explain what went wrong for you today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think it started in the second game, you know, when I'm up 40-15, you know, and I give her that game. From then on, you know, when she's serving pretty big and pretty consistent, you know, it was tough to break her.
So, uhm, you know, I think that was a key game in the first set.
And, uhm, you know, I mean, she played some -- she played some good tennis. You know, we don't really have a lot of long rallies. It was just, you know, about, you know, a good serve percentage, which I definitely did not have, you know, which I said was going to be important, and the return. I thought she just served too good today.

Q. You seemed to have trouble with your ball toss a few times.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, a couple times.

Q. Did you anticipate, even though you didn't serve well, that she would return that strongly?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, I think she started doing that from the beginning of the match. And, uhm, I mean, yeah, she was aggressive from all her shots. You know, I don't think she really wanted to get into long rallies. She was going for it, you know, making most of it.

Q. Was there any point in the match where you thought she was going to go off the boil, the momentum has to stop?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I was just trying to find, you know, personally, you know, a way or a little door opening that maybe, you know, I could get through. Just, you know, like I said, try to get in the rallies a little bit, which was difficult 'cause, you know, we didn't really have enough of long rallies, you know, for me to really like try to grind it out or fight it out.
So it was just really a matter of, you know, serving well and returning well. And I didn't think that I did either well.

Q. Would you prefer today to play with an open roof?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Doesn't matter.

Q. Seems that you didn't serve very well during the tournament, for the whole tournament. Is it a technical problem? Is it confidence? Is it physical?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't see why it has anything to do with confidence. I mean, it's not -- it's not fairly possible to serve well all the time. I think I served -- you know, I mean, I served well when I needed to in the right points.
But when you, you know, against other opponents, when I was down a break, I was able to, you know, to get the break and find a way to get good serves in when I had to. And today I didn't feel like I could get an opening, you know, to break her, even though I did have a couple of breakpoints.

Q. You said you can never underestimate her. But did you expect her to play so well today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course. I mean, she's won six matches here. I mean, there's no reason why, you know, she's not playing with confidence and she's not playing well. I mean, to be in a final of a Grand Slam and to beat the -- to beat the pretty tough players, that takes a lot of good tennis. So you have to expect it.

Q. Don't you think this tournament was rather strange? You were two points from defeat. Serena was also twice. The level was probably a little bit inconsistent because it's the first important tournament of the year, in your opinion, or are there other reasons maybe?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, a little -- a little bit of a combination. Like you said, it has been a bit strange because I could have easily been out of the tournament on the first day and that could have been like a completely different result. And here I am, you know, losing the final.
I mean, I don't know. I mean, yeah, after maybe my first or my second round, I could say that obviously I didn't play, you know, matches and I didn't have enough matches, I still feel like I need to get match tough. But I played six matches before this match, so I don't think that really has anything to do with it.
But, uhm, you know, I mean, it's definitely not the end of the world. Got to the final of a Grand Slam my first tournament this year. There's a lot to be proud of.

Q. 4-1 in the second, you looked like you pulled something out of your bag. Was that a piece of paper?

Q. Can I ask what it said?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just a reminder.

Q. Of?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of? Of what I'm going to buy in the grocery store. I mean, I'm playing a tennis match. It's pretty easy -- pretty easy to understand that they're notes about the match.

Q. You beat her easily in Wimbledon when she was a favorite. Now she beat you in the final here very easy. How would you explain that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, those are two completely different matches on two completely different surfaces, two completely different stages of my career. You know, like I said, you know, at Wimbledon I was going into every single match thinking that I should have been home already, and I can't believe that I was in the final.
You know, as years have gone on, I feel like I expect myself to be in the later stages of the tournaments. I expect myself to be winning these tournaments.
Uhm, you know, it's completely different. I mean, look, she came out today and she really played flawless tennis. And that's -- you know, of course, maybe you personally gave her those chances, you know, some of those -- the reason why she played that well might have been because you gave her those opportunities to play well.
But on the other side I think, you know, she still had to do it. She still had to go out and play well, and she did, you know.

Q. Is there any feeling of shock and awe when you're on the court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I mean, I really -- like I said, I was trying to find a way to get in the rallies, you know, trying somehow to find a way to get an opening, you know, through a door.
And, I mean, you know, I definitely -- you know, I felt like I could have served a lot better. I mean, during the match, you know, you're trying -- you're trying to find a way to do that, you know, either take some pace off and try to make your first serve or, you know, just try to go for a big serve.
You know, you just -- you try to find ways. And I was just telling -- I mean, I wasn't getting frustrated or anything. I was just trying to tell myself, You can always find a way even if you're down a set and two breaks.

Q. It's been a while since you haven't been able to dig into the match at a certain point.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I mean, in a way it is, but these things happen. It's part of a tennis career, you know. That's why we play the matches. That's why favorites can be going into a tournament and they can be playing someone that's ranked outside the top hundred, and that's why we play the matches, to see who's going to win.

Q. Appreciated very much how graceful you were in the speech on court.

Q. I want to know if you think this is a matter of experience, since you're getting used to talking on the microphone, or also because you felt you had to give something more to the crowd since the match was so-so?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thanks. You're telling me my speech was a lot better than the match (smiling). Great, great! Wow, wow! All right.
Uhm, no, you know, at that point -- you know, maybe you're trying to make it up just naturally because you feel like, you know, you owe a few words to the crowd. No, uhm, I mean, I remember when I did my first -- when I had to do my first speech after I won a 10,000 or something in front of, I don't know, like 90 people that showed up to watch the match. I was just thinking to myself, These people do -- don't want to hear what I have to say. I remember being so embarrassed about it.
But ever since that, I've given, I mean, you know, quite a few speeches on the court, off the court. And, yeah, I feel like I want to -- you know, I want to talk with the fans. The fans only get to see you play, see you practice. The don't really, you know, they just read the articles that you guys write, your opinions. Sometimes they don't get to hear what you actually have to say.
That's like a time to, you know, say thanks to them, to really thank, you know, your team and everyone that's helped you in your career in sort of a formal way. It's not like, you know, I tell my coach and my dad, Thank you, it was a great day of practice today. It's not like you do that.
So, you know, when you're up on a stage and when you're in front of a great crowd, you feel like you want to show them, you know, how much you appreciate, you know, what they've done for you.

Q. Does she still have the best first serve in women's tennis?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I mean, I've played against her when her first serve wasn't completely on, you know, when she's had to rely on her second serves a lot. I mean, I think it's consistently the biggest. I think on important points, you know, she still goes for the big serve.
And a little has to do with confidence, as well. You know, when you step on a line and it's, you know, a tough situation, I think it's pretty gutsy to come up with a big serve. But it's definitely her biggest weapon, I feel, yeah.

Q. Andy Roddick lost completely against Federer. He was handling the loss very nice. He said, Just go back to work, work hard. What kind of a lesson is that for you today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, of course. I mean, as much as I can be disappointed about losing a tennis match, I mean, I'll be honest with you, I don't like losing. I know you all know that. It's not fun. You go back in the locker room, like, Darn it, I just lost. Someone is celebrating over there. They're going to be opening a bottle of champagne.
It's just -- I think these moments make you stronger. Not necessarily now. You know, I always -- you know, when I win or lose, I call my mom. She always tells me, Look, you got a tournament next week. You got to focus on that. You're going to remember this day in your future, in your career when you're going to look back and say, This really taught me something. This only made me stronger. This has happened many times.
Unfortunately, it was my mom's birthday today and I couldn't win for her. But, you know, she still made me happy, made me realize this is just another loss.

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