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January 18, 2008

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Your third straight-sets win in a row. What are your thoughts on today's match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I started off a little bit slow. I was trying to figure out her game. We never played before, only in practice. It took a few games, I think six games, to really find my game as well.
You know, I really tried to keep the intensity I had in the previous match, take it to this one, but that's always difficult.
But after the 3-All game I thought I did a good job of stepping up and playing good.

Q. Any aspect of your game that you're really happy with?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I think I returned well today. I've been returning well throughout the last couple of matches. That's pretty important, especially against big servers.
I think, you know, especially in the beginning of the match she served pretty well and didn't give me too many looks at second serves, but I was able to take advantage from the first point.

Q. She's just not quite as consistent as you are, huh?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think that's where it's tough to say, because I think she came out having not really much to lose and hitting the balls big and having a lot of pace on her balls.
But when it got close I felt like I had a huge advantage. You know, whether that's experience or her being a little tight, you know, even though we kept breaking each other a couple times, I still felt like I had the edge in the match.

Q. You know Dementieva really well, your next opponent. She had a quick win today in a match that could have gone long against Peer. Should be a tough matchup.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's always a tough match against her. It's very physical because she gets a lot of balls back. She makes you work for every point. You know, I'll need to definitely -- definitely need to serve well, take my opportunities when I get on the return, and get a good hit on the first ball. It's going to be important.

Q. Your father doesn't wear the hoodie anymore. Is he feeling better?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it was a lot warmer today. Would you wear a hoodie? Would you wear a sweater in this weather? Question. Can you answer the question?

Q. If Nike would pay me enough money, I would do it.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I don't know if they're paying him money (laughter). He's happy to get some free sweaters.

Q. The first week has pretty much passed for you now. Tough second-round matchup. Going into next week, looking ahead, it will get pretty rough. The draw isn't that easy.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It definitely isn't. But I think my goal is - like always - to try to take care of my side of the net, do what I need to do, and also keep the intensity up from match to match. That's very important.
Coming off a solid performance in the previous round, you want to try to keep that intensity with every game and point that you play. You really got to concentrate on what you have to do. Of course, it's only going to get tougher.
But you know me, I like those challenges and I look forward to them.

Q. Considering how much you focused on trying to get ready to beat Lindsay, do you feel you had any sort of hangover from that at the beginning of the match today, being able to get focused and into it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I played a different opponent and also someone I never played before. I played Lindsay numerous times. I know her game quite well.
But when you play someone that you're not really sure of their game, practice is completely different than playing a match, of course. And also them coming into the match and having not much to lose.
With the way she was playing, you know, in the first few games, especially on my serve, ripping every ball and going for it, you know, that can be dangerous.
Like I said, it was just important for me to try to take care of my own business.

Q. In the past sometimes they said equal prize money was not fair because women were winning too easily.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course it's fair. We were waiting for the men to finish five sets. God. We should get paid more for waiting around all day long (laughter).

Q. In these days it's happened that the top eight players have won all their matches very easily. I mean, there were seven 6-Loves and there were only two men two sets love.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: God, I love your questions. Always the professor (laughter).

Q. The professor would like to know if now you believe women should be paid more than men?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Let's not get greedy here. No, I'm happy that it's equal. I think all the girls are. I think it's definitely fair. We fought for a really long time. I think prize money should grow in both women's and men's tennis, because I think the popularity of our sport is growing in so many different areas of the world.
To see it expand with every trip you take into different regions, it's incredible. And I hope with years to come, like Billie Jean King did for us, we can do for the generation that's going to be playing when we're all retired.

Q. Are you intending to come with the Russian team in the Fed Cup to Israel?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah, definitely.

Q. For sure?

Q. The Israeli crowd is expecting you very much.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you. I expect to conquer them (laughter). I'm so excited about this trip. It's one of my priorities for this year, along with competing in the Olympics. Ever since I've been watching the Olympics on TV and ever since I went to Moscow to watch the girls play in the final, watch them win, hear the anthem, it was really amazing.
I mean, in today's match we had a group of about 20 Russian fans, you know, yelling my name and Elena's name and saying, No matter what happens, Russia is still the champions. I'm looking forward to it.
Even though we're playing in Israel, I'm looking forward to the team experience and also visiting Israel for the first time.

Q. You know Dementieva beat the two Israelis pretty easily.

Q. What do you think about your chances?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think we're coming into it. I think we're gonna be expected to win. But I don't think -- you know, we're not playing at home. You know, that's never easy. You know, the girls would obviously know.
As an individual, I take every match seriously, no matter who I'm going to play. I look forward to the challenges. And, like I said, I mean, the crowd is going to be on their side, and that's never easy.

Q. Today Jankovic got a warning because her mother apparently was coaching her. She said it wasn't true, so on. Do you remember when your father had the warning for the same reason, or if he ever had?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: He's had a couple. I'm sure you remember better than I remember (laughter).

Q. Do you remember when was the last time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Was it here last year maybe?

Q. Maybe so.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You should know. You're the teacher. You should tell me.

Q. I'll tell you later.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's all right. We'll drop that subject.

Q. It was against Camille Pin. Very hot conditions.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I remember the match. I try not to remember that much, for many different reasons, yeah.

Q. Was today the first time you got a time code warning?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think so, yeah. It was strange because I always play with the same pace no matter if I'm winning or losing. I don't think she won a game after that, so I don't think it helped my opponent too much.

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