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January 16, 2008

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: First question.

Q. In hindsight, now that you've actually beaten Lindsay, probably quite good to have such a tough opponent so early?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, since I saw the draw I was really excited about the matchup if both of us would have won our first rounds. Knowing that I have a good record against her, I was probably going into the match as a favorite. But like I said before, you know, she's in a different stage in her career. I think going to play against me she really didn't have much to lose going into the match.
So I really treated it as not just like a second round. I treated it as maybe a semis or final. Ever since I saw potential matchup for her I was getting ready for it.

Q. What pleased you most about your performance tonight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That I was just able to, you know, step it up when I had to, take my opportunities. I served really well. I felt like I kept her guessing on many variables throughout the match.
I took advantage of the first balls when I could get a good hit on it. It's also pretty difficult with the wind, especially in the evening. It's always going on one side, so when you're on one side of the net you're trying to hit the ball a little bit bigger.
When you're playing with the wind, you know, you're kind of taking the pace off a little bit so it doesn't fly too much. And, you know, I watched out for that.
I just, you know, took my opportunities. I just fought really hard, you know, got a challenge, and I challenged myself.

Q. Lindsay said she thought your serve had improved.

Q. Has it? Have you worked on it specifically?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, it was -- it's nice to be able to serve without worrying about my shoulder or worrying about it getting injured more. You know, ever since my shoulder got better I was able to spend more time on the court, not just on the serve, but hitting groundstrokes and just working on the court, going out and putting the nut up and just playing tennis, and, you know, working on different things in my game, not just the serve.

Q. You've thought about this matchup for a while. Was it harder or easier than you expected tonight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, like I say, I love challenges, and anyone wants to challenge me I take those. You know, it was great that we played a night match. I think everyone was looking forward to the match.
Like I said, I was really ready for it. Ever since I knew that I could potentially play her, I was excited about it.

Q. Did you think you would get it done as well as you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just thought I needed to take care of my side of the net, and I did.

Q. If there's one benefit to all the time you spent off the court last year it might have been the training, because it seems like you're moving particularly well. You're get to go a lot of balls now.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think it's the training really. I think it's the work on the court. To tell you the truth, it doesn't really matter how long I spend in the gym. I could do weights, I could do running drills all day long. I don't believe that's going to make me faster.
The more time I can spend on the court playing tennis, playing matches, working on -- playing practice matches, working on the things that I feel are going to, you know, that are going to improve, that're going to make me a better player during those practice matches.
Spending hours on court, that's when I play best is when I can have a good preparation. For those four to five weeks that I trained I didn't spend too much time in the gym. But last year when I did have the opportunity to rest and not play tennis, which was a long time, I actually got to do other things in my life that I usually don't get to do.
I spent a lot of time -- I missed a lot of tournaments last year, like six or seven.

Q. Is there a chance that it could be a letdown, your next match? You built up for this one.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I treat every match with respect. This is a Grand Slam. This is only my second round, and I've got many more to go.
I've got to step it up for my next one. My opponent, I've never played my opponent before, so I'm looking forward to it.

Q. How were you able to spend that time when you weren't playing last year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was just able to do things. I had a week or two I had a friend's birthday somewhere. I could fly and actually see her instead of missing someone's birthday or spending time with, you know, with the people that I love and actually not having them fly to me. I could actually go and see them and support their careers, as well, and just take that opportunity to just to live a normal life.
I probably spent a little more money on both of my houses than I would like to, because I had a lot of that free time. But, you know, it was -- I wish I could spend that time on the court, to tell you the truth. But on the other hand, it was good to experience the other side of my life, as well.

Q. Did you buy your dad his hoodie?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, Nike gave it to him, unfortunately.

Q. He looks intimidating.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It is, right? He looks like an assassin. I swear, he's a really nice guy. I told him, You look like an assassin with that jacket on. He's like, well, he has a cold so he told me that he had to put the hood on tonight.
I said, You can wear it, but don't put the hood on. But then he's like, I have a cold. It was really fun.

Q. What did you buy for the houses that you put into it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Artwork, a lot of it. I'm really into artwork. Modern art, statues. And since I got my house in Manhattan Beach and I didn't have any furniture in it I decked -- that was like my project from the blinds to the security system and everything. That was one big project I wanted to take care of. I've been really into art lately.

Q. Did you consider consulting V Starr Interiors to help you out?

Q. V Starr Interiors, Venus' interior decorating company?

Q. Did you buy original artwork or buy prints, or what did you get?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't buy prints. I'm really into modern Californian artists. Ed Moses, that's actually one that I -- I don't have a piece of his yet. I'm trying to find the perfect one. Chris Gwaltney. Just really cool, modern art. My house is pretty modern, so...

Q. How did you like your designing? Did you design the way you really wanted to?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, since I designed it I like it. I love -- yeah, I love design. Probably if I wouldn't be playing tennis I'd either be in fashion or interior design. I love that side of things.
The cool thing about traveling is I get to go to places like Indonesia or Bali or Morocco, and my dad goes to Morocco a lot. I always have him bring like an antique pieces that I mix with early modern pieces to make, you know, the house comfortable, so...
It's a work in progress, though. I hope one day I can invite you when I win the LA tournament.

Q. Let's go back to the match for a second. I think it's fair to say that occasionally in the ladies' game first week of Grand Slam can be a bit of a breeze for the top players, even though you say you took every match seriously. Is it therefore good, do you think, in the overall aspect of the event to have a match like this soon in the championship and get everything going and everything moving the way you want it to be?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I like the excitement of it, you know, the buildup to the match. You probably don't get to see too many second rounds where you see, you know, two Grand Slams champions, former No. 1s playing against each other.
So I think the buildup to the match, the excitement, the showtime, I love that, you know. I love going into a situation like I said where I have a challenge in front of me and I have to go out there and find a way to win. Especially, you know, playing a night match and everyone's excited about it, and it was just fun.
As an athlete that's what you play for, is, you know, in front of those 15,000 people to watch you play and really see what you're about.

Q. Did you really expect her to bring her Slam-winning form, or can you not afford to think about that?

Q. Did you really expect Lindsay to bring her former No. 1 form when she was playing you tough and you were coming up and she was at the top, or do you say to yourself, I can't afford to think that she's only been back for a few months and she might not be able to bring her top form.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the dangerous side of it is the fact that I think she is in a different stage in her life, and going into matches I don't think she's putting that much pressure on herself.
And most of the time, a lot of the times, 95 percent of the time, that's when players play their best is when they really don't expect too much from theirselves. Either they're coming back from injury or having a long time off. They don't know, and they don't have those extra nerves and pressure, really, and they come out and they play free and they play loose.
That's when your opponent can become quite dangerous, and I expected that. I did, and I thought I handled it well.

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