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January 20, 2008

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Was that your best performance, given the opposition?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, yeah, one of them. You know, I did a good job of just being solid. You know, the matches against her always physically challenging. We always tend to have long rallies, and she makes move, and she gets lots of balls back. So I was really trying to focus on doing the right things and when getting the opportunity, trying to come in and hit a few volleys.

Q. You kept a lot of points short, served well, came in, finished off. The plan was there and it just clicked?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, when I was in trouble, I managed to serve well. I got myself out of trouble with the serve. I didn't -- I didn't feel -- I don't know what my stats were on the first-serve percentage, but I feel that maybe that can go up a little bit. But other than that, I felt like on the return, I hit the ball, I looked to come in. I was seeing the ball well today.

Q. So given that your draw was pretty tough on paper, you've come through pretty well to the quarters.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, but it's not going to get easier from here (laughter). No, it never does.

Q. Against Justine, why don't you just talk about that match. You saw her plenty. You saw her at the Championships, Australia two years ago, in the US Open. So it's a big, big challenge?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Currently, she's the one to beat. She's on a pretty good winning streak. But every match is a new match. That's why in the morning the guys go out, or girls, and they put the net up. That's why there's always an opponent on the other side. That's why we play the matches.
You know, the one in Madrid was pretty tough, I think. Physically she got me in the end. She was fresher than I was in the end. But it was a good match. And I still had many chances, you know. I was very close to winning that match. But this one's a new one. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. So is there anything else you can do differently or is it more about execution than anything else?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, against someone that's No. 1 in the world, someone who has a lot of confidence, you've got to take your chances and take the opportunities because you won't get many, and if you do, you've really got to take them.
I think that was one of my problems in Madrid, was when I did have a few chances in that second set, I didn't take them. And in the end, she was just physically fresher than I was. I felt like that was the biggest difference, but like I said, it's going to be a new day and a new match, and we'll see what happens.

Q. The freshness factor probably won't be there unless you play three and a half this time because you haven't been as long on court, and quarterfinals?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, that match -- not probably. It was the longest match I've ever played. And I didn't play too much tennis before that, so my body was definitely feeling it, especially after playing, what did I play, four matches before that. My body was sore. I was feeling it. When the adrenaline is running, you don't feel it that much. But after three hours, I think I pretty much hit the wall.

Q. Justine's added a new element to her training regime. She's taking hip-hop lessons?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, really. I love hip-hop classes.

Q. Do you take those classes?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I take them all the time at home. I actually write about them in my blog a lot. I love it, yeah.

Q. Singing and dancing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I only sing in the shower where no one hears me. But I do like to take dance classes, yeah.

Q. She said that it made her feel like she was doing something she wasn't naturally good at, sort of putting her in an uncomfortable situation, and that was good for her. Is that the way you feel about it, too?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I actually did jazz classes when I was younger, when I was about 12 or 13, with my friend just for fun. And then I stopped for a while, and then I started doing it a couple years ago again.
But, I mean, it's only for entertainment purposes, just to get a good laugh at yourself.

Q. Perhaps the two of you could do a duet for charity (laughter).
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Let's not get out of hand here.

Q. What makes it so difficult to play her? Of course, she's mentally very tough, but is it also the way she mixes up her game, or...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She's just very steady and very consistent and she -- she'll do whatever it takes to win the point. No matter how long the point is, you know, no matter how many times you run her side to side, she's willing to be out there all day and, you know, be the one that challenges you to make the errors. My goal and something that I've been that I've been getting better at is trying to do the same thing to my opponent.
You know, when I was younger, I used to hit two or three balls and then go for the winner. But as physically I've become stronger and better, I'm able to play longer matches and longer points, and not be tired, as well, and try -- still play my game, but try to make my opponent go for the big shots.

Q. Do you feel like you have to be a lot more patient with her than other players? Do you still have to wait for your chance?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, if I have the chances, I don't want to wait to take them. If I have the opportunity to get a good hit on the ball and come in, I'm hopefully going to take that. If I don't, I'm doing something wrong.

Q. You were saying after the Lindsay match that at the outset of the tournament you saw that and said, Yeah, that's a big challenge for me. Is that the same thing with Justine; you see her name there and say, That's the kind of match I'm going to get up for?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely. All the previous matches were just little hurdles, and this is another hurdle that I have to get through. It's a tougher one, of course. But, I mean, quarterfinal of a Grand Slam is not going to be easy, especially when you're playing against someone that's No. 1 in the world.

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