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August 28, 2007

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Seemed to serve very well. Has that been feeling a lot better?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, apart from being a little nervous in the end, I thought I did a good job of doing the right things, not just on the serve but in my game as well.
Coming in after being the defending champion, stepping out on to the court, it's not exactly the easiest situation. I thought I handled it pretty well.

Q. You play Casey Dellacqua next. I don't know if you know anything about her.

Q. She had a good win today.

Q. How do you handle somebody like that, not a big name but is obviously playing better?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's kind of weird playing opponents for a second time than playing someone that you haven't played against. Usually, you play opponents week in and week out. Sometime in your career you think you've already played them but I never played the girl I played today and never played her before.
I think it's just a matter of going out and trying to figure her game out as fast as you can. Those opponents can be tricky because you don't know their game. I know she's a lefty and I've seen her play a little bit on some of the matches on TV. I haven't seen too much to know really what she does well and not. So I think it's just going to be up to me to figure it out as soon as I can.

Q. Do you have a lot of trouble with left-handers? Do they bother you? I mean there's not a lot of left-handers.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's very tricky. When I was younger especially I had a lot trouble, like an opponent today that comes in and chips and volleys, when I was younger I had a lot of trouble with those. Those are tougher opponents for me than big hitters or big servers because when I was younger I tried to go for the bigger shot so much faster than I do now and as I've grown as a player, I'm more patient, more consistent and I, you know, I try to find the opening when it's there?

Q. Have you changed you're serving action to kind of compensate for the shoulder a little bit?

Q. Talk about that a little bit.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was just, you know, it's a group decision because obviously I was struggling with the shoulder for quite a while. After Wimbledon, you know, all of us, my team got together and we just thought of all the things that could help my shoulder not just for the next tournament or not just for the next Grand Slam but for my future, what was going to be important for it.
You know, I adjusted my weight of my racquet a little bit. I changed the serve and made it a little shorter. It's not that short, just shorter than it used to be because my old swing used to be pretty dramatically long.

Q. How do you think it's affected action of your serve itself?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's interesting because you know, changes take quite a long time to figure out whether it's, I don't know, a new string or a new racquet or a new motion. I've never really had to change too much over the course of the last couple of years, you know, until I've had to change the swing on my serve. So you know, but that's just so I can play for so many years and not be injured.
And you know, as an athlete you have to be pretty realistic about those things because you want to be healthy as much as possible. So you understand those circumstances even though you -- because you personally don't like changes. I don't want to -- I'm pretty stubborn. I like to keep things the same. Once your injured and you realize you can't play then you try it find things that will make that better.

Q. Are you losing power as a result?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think so. I mean, I serve pretty consistently today. I hit one 115 or 116 actually. But I feel like my speed is getting here. In the middle of year I was just trying to get a higher percentage of first serves in and now I'm feeling like I'm getting a lot more velocity in it.

Q. It's not even that you serve and volley. You did that a couple times tonight. Coming into the tournaments that what, you were saying you could do that once in a while as a change-up?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, my serve becomes better when I jump forward and I move in. It just gives me more confidence on the serve. It's a good way to practice it when you're up 30-Love or 40-Love. I mean, why not? I mean, like I said, I'm going to be playing for a few years to come.
If I can add these things to my game now it'll only make me a better player in the coming years.

Q. What would you give yourself grade-wise tonight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I did everything solid. She's a pretty quick opponent, like she'd rush from side to side. Like I said, a couple years ago those types of opponents would have been difficult on me. But I feel like I'm a much more patient player now and I feel like I can handle that and not have that many problems with it.

Q. Roberta said tonight that she's suffered from a toothache this week.

Q. Had a toothache. Hadn't practiced in three days. She tell that you that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Tell me? I don't think she'd want to tell me before the match. If I had a toothache I don't think I'll tell my opponent.

Q. She said I probably would have lost anyway, but maybe not 6-0, 6-1.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, you're the first one to tell me.

Q. When did the freak left shin injury go away?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Two days. Told you. The next day was pretty bad. It was very disappointing because I had a few friends coming into town to watch me play if I was in the final, and all of them decided to go bowling, which was perfect with a bad shin.

Q. So you just sat there and watched them bowl?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah, waddled my way out there.

Q. Do you ever feel bad for an opponent when you're beating them that quickly and easily?

Q. On the plays down the stretch though you had an opportunity to challenge a call that was borderline. I mean, if it were closer would you have challenged, or did the score dictate that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, sometimes in the court you can see the marks of the ball. That helps a lot, especially here because the surface. It's blue, and when the ball hits it and -- not always, but you can see the marks. Because there are so many marks you usually don't know which one it is.
Sometimes if it's a fresh mark you know that that's where the ball landed and you can see if it was on the line or not. If it's really close then challenge, and if not then you don't.

Q. You didn't determine not to challenge because the score was so lopsided?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, because I saw the ball was in. It showed on the screen it was almost inside the line, so...

Q. When you get all dressed up for the nighttime at the US Open, does it do anything to you psychologically almost like when you're going out for a big evening out and you dress up and it pumps you up for the night? When you come out, is that part of the whole...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was trying to get through my warmup as fast as I could so I could put the dress on actually. Not a joke. Was pretty excited about putting it on.
So I told my coach, I was like, Last return and I'm out of here. I'm going in the locker room.

Q. So it just gets you up when you're putting on something special as opposed to just an average kind of dress?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah. When you feel good about what you're wearing and you feel good about putting it on, yeah, you know what it's like. Put on a nice outfit and some makeup and you're the bomb.

Q. So how does it compare to the Audrey Hepburn outfit from last year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Last year was Breakfast at Tiffany's and this year, I don't know, it's basically...

Q. Cocktails at Tiffany's?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's like the Big Apple Tiffany earrings.

Q. If you can do it in New York you can do it anywhere?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I figured that it was going to be pretty tough to top off, you know, a black dress. I mean, you can only do so much with a black dress. I think because last year's was pretty successful and, you know, it did really well and because I won in it, we thought, let's just do something different.
I've never worn red before. There's no better place to do it than a night match in New York.

Q. Venus was saying the other day sometimes she goes match by match in a tournament and other times, if she's won a tournament, sometimes she says, This is mine and there's no way I'm going to lose it. Do you feel like you have a little bit of a part of Open now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel like I'm part of its history, for sure. No matter how I do here this year, in the future, no matter where my career goes, my name will always be engraved on the trophy and always on the board.
So that's kind of -- it definitely gives you that satisfaction that no matter how you do in the future, you're always going to have that little part of history of the US Open.
It really is an incredible -- I don't know, an incredible feeling, you know, and walking down the court when I got here, when you're walking and you haven't won the tournament you see all the past champions and the photos and the year that this won it, the first thing I did when I got here was I was going through the corridors trying to find my pictures.
I was like, Where is that thing? It's going to be there all the years unless they move it. I'm always going to be there. It's always nice to know that you're always going to somehow be there no matter how you do.

Q. You spoke about how you've improved in the patience department. Do you think if you put the Maria Sharapova of today up against the young Maria Sharapova who won her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon, what would the score of a match be?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, goodness. It's so tough to say, because when I was playing, say, the finals of Wimbledon I wasn't expecting myself to be in the finals of Wimbledon. I think what was the most impressive thing about that was that I went into the final and I didn't even know nerves existed. I played as if that was just another match.
That was the greatest thing looking back at it. Getting to the finals here last year I really felt like was ready to be in a final of a Grand Slam and I felt like I was ready to win another slam physically and mentally.
Whereas, at Wimbledon I was just going match by match and I never seemed to care what people were saying, how things were playing out. I was just winning matches. I was beating top players and doing it, you know, without nerves. That was -- but it's just hard to say.

Q. It's pretty amazing. But there's some young players, like Sampras when he was very young. But other players who are very young and get the moment are sort of overwhelmed. Is there any distinction?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was overwhelmed after I had won the title, definitely. I mean, I've said it many times. It took me a very long while to realize that just because you won a major doesn't mean that you're all of a sudden going to be great. Doesn't mean you're going win every single match.
It definitely took a while for me to realize that. I just thought I had everything in my game, and all of a sudden I'm just going to keep winning everything. That's not how things work, even today. No matter how good a player is, that's why we go out and play tennis matches. Everyone has a chance. One of the greatest things about tennis is there's a very thin line between winning and losing.
I mean, it is definitely physical and power has definitely stepped it up over the years and everything seems to be faster and quicker, but a lot is mentally and I feel like I have a huge edge on that.

Q. What about this year? Talk about your approach at Wimbledon and then last year. This year, how is it different?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I know how sweet it was to win last year. You know, I know what it took and how good it felt when I had won it. And coming into this year, no matter how good or bad this year has been, you know, I want to have that same feeling again.
I know what I'm capable of doing when I'm healthy. I know how I can play and how tough I am. When I go on the court, I mean, I know that I can do it and I know that I can win it again.

Q. Could you talk about your black jacket? You wore it today when you walk on court.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's very couture. It's actually the material comes -- okay, if I say I think it's Italian or either from Paris or Milan and they're going to kill me if I got this wrong. But I think it's from Milan. I only have two because they didn't have enough material. But that's really useless information in here.
But, yeah, it was -- the idea of couture from the French couture shows.

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