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June 28, 2007

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Maria Sharapova. First question, please.

Q. Feel good after that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I do. I think I played a really solid first set and I uhm -- you know, it was really hard with the conditions because the wind was swirling, so I was quite happy that.
I, you know, was able to hold my serve after, uhm, getting that break in the second set. And, uhm, I was able to follow through.

Q. You had to be very focused in the first game of the second set. Seemed to drag on and on.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was a very, very long game. It seemed like a huge part of the match. Sometimes even when you lose that game, although it's just one game, sometimes that can really change the momentum of the match.
You know, I thought that was a really important game.

Q. What was working well today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you know, I think she's a very tough grass court player. She has good slice, serves, and volleys. Clearly that's what she did last year to get to the quarterfinal.
Uhm, in the past when I used to play those kind of opponents, uhm, that was probably, you know, I wasn't patient enough. I used to go for too much off the slices, try to win the point as quickly as I could.
You know, that's one of the things that I've definitely improved. When you guys ask me what I've been, you know, improving, uhm, that's definitely one of the things that I feel like tremendously I improved on is when I play these players, I'm much more patient.
I still didn't feel like I came in as much as he could have, especially in the second set. I had so many opportunities that I didn't take.
But, uhm, it's still a work in progress.

Q. You're working the points better. Is part of that experience?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely.

Q. Or are there specific things that Mike and your dad are working on with you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, just realizing that, you know, against those kind of opponents you've got to make them hit another shot, especially in the wind like that. When their game is based on variety and slices, you know, serve and volleying, I think the wind favors more the person that drives the ball, is able to hit through the wind.
So knowing that, I'm a lot more patient. And physically I can withstand it a lot more than I used to. I know even if I play an opponent like that, it goes into the third set, I'm not tired like I used to get.

Q. You hit a perfect forehand dropshot the Spanish way.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: The Spanish way, okay (laughter).

Q. Have you been specifically practicing these kind of touch shots?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not really. I mean, I try to incorporate little things in my game. It's not like I hit 200 balls a day of forehand dropshot. You know, it's something that you work on over the years and you add to your game. Sometimes you use it.
I mean, I don't necessarily -- you're not going to see a lot of that from me. But at certain times, yeah, that's definitely something new. You probably won't see that from me like a year ago.

Q. How is the shoulder?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's holding up, yeah.

Q. I could see you this morning in training do some exercises. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do to keep it going.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, well, the beginning of the day, before I warmed up, you probably saw me doing some rehab exercises with the tubing, right? Yeah, just to get the blood going to the muscles and all that stuff.

Q. It's not to do with the shoulder?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it is. Just warming up the shoulder.

Q. How will it hold, do you think, through the tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's the future. Do I look like Ms. Cleo? I don't know, we'll see. I'll tell you what I'm done playing here.

Q. Do you feel more confident in your game now than when you won the title here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's a different year, different match, different circumstances. You know, you're playing in new surroundings, new Centre Court. It's really hard to compare. I'm definitely confident.
I've played a lot of matches in the last few months. Despite the injury, I still feel like -- you know, today was a big improvement from my first round. I know it's only going to get tougher from here.
But as long as I keep going out there and enjoying myself as much as I've been doing in the last couple matches, I'll be fine. If it's a bad day, then it's a bad day.

Q. Do you sense this could be your year again?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Sure, why not? I try to sense that every year (laughter). You know, and then sometimes you're proved wrong. But, uhm, yeah, I mean, like I said, it's pretty -- I mean, I'm physically a lot fitter than I was, say, especially when I won it, a lot fitter than I was back then.
When I lost to Venus in '05, that was the first thing that I just told myself. It's tough for me at that level to withstand that level of play for a long period of time. I played a great first set, and then the intensity and level dropped. That's what I'm a lot better at.
I have the confidence on the court when I'm in those situations and when it's tough, I'm able to dig it out, not just mentally but physically as well. So, yeah, that gives me a lot of confidence.

Q. Did it feel weird without the roof?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. It's like someone took off the torch from the Statue of Liberty. It's like they took the arc from the Arc de Triomphe. It's my favorite court to play on, but it's definitely so weird, the atmosphere. It's missing that little touch, missing that something that I think all the players, you know, love to see.
It's not just about the roof. You know, it's the whole feeling of it.

Q. Does that make it harder to play out there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, it was good for me to kind of look around in the beginning. I haven't -- I'd just seen pictures of it. I didn't see it until I actually walked on court and see it with my own eyes. So that was a little bit of a change, yeah.

Q. What are your preferences regarding equipment? Do you like stiff racquets, stiff strings? Could it be related to your injury?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I used to play with a pretty stiff racquet. That's why I changed a couple of years ago. That has helped my game and my arm tremendously. But, no, I try to stay away from the stiff equipment.

Q. And the strings?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: And the strings? The strings? Well, the strings, it depends on where I'm playing and the circumstances and the tension. Especially here when the balls are so heavy, you want to make sure, especially with my shoulder problems that I'm having, I want to make sure I go a few pounds looser.
You know, I mean, I'm pretty good at being able to control the ball. I mean, I've hit tennis balls since I was four. So, you know, if I need to do that for -- you know, for injury reasons, I'm pretty easy with that.

Q. Do you have to play patient against Sugiyama, or is she the type of player you can hit through if you're having a very good day?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, I'm still going to be able to -- you know, I'm still going to go out and play my game on grass because that's how I win matches here, you know, is driving the ball and seeing my ball go through the court rather than just letting them play their game.
You know, she's a fighter. She's feisty. She gets a lot of balls back. You know, I'll definitely need to be looking to come in more, unlike in the second set today. But, yeah, I mean, I played her on grass when I won here. It was a pretty tough match, but that was a long time ago and this is going to be a new one.

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