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January 14, 2008

Maria Sharapova



Q. How do you assess your form today as a first-round match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I played a pretty tricky opponent, someone that I haven't played in a while. You know, the last couple matches that I played in Asia were against pretty big-hitting girls. So she was definitely a trickier opponent. Also a lefty. You don't see too many of those around these days.
So, you know, I was prepared for it, but I was happy that I was able to follow through.

Q. How do you compare your form now with this time last year when you made the final?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't like to compare to last year's form.

Q. How much is this week about getting the business done, getting into the next week?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's always a matter of worrying about what you have to do on your side, taking care of business on your side of the net in each and every match that you play, no matter what your opponent is doing. It's important that you do what you have to do and hopefully come out with a win.

Q. Do you have a different mindset week one to week two?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, you obviously know that the second week is always tougher than the first. But you got to get the job done in the first week first, worry about the second one when you get there.

Q. How many months have you been completely physically healthy and what's the prognosis now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Like completely healthy where I've woken up -- that's pretty much impossible. I'm sure you know that. But shoulder-wise, for a few months now. I still have to do a lot of treatment on it daily, twice a day before I play and afterwards. But shoulder-wise I feel real good.

Q. The constant worry you were having last year week to week about the shoulder, that's pretty much gone away?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Especially when I'm playing, I'm not worrying about it. I'm not worrying about making it worse, thinking it's going to get worse. Yeah, I'm over that stage - I hope. Knock on wood.

Q. Lindsay is not your typical first-week opponent. Can you comment on how you see that shaping up?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's going to be a completely different opponent than the opponent I played today. You know, Lindsay's a big hitter, has a big serve. You know, she's more of a 1-2 ball combination type of player. It's going to be very important to serve well and return well and hopefully get a good hit on the first ball.

Q. Is that what worked for you? You have a good record against her.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I do. Yeah, I do. But this is a completely different match. We haven't played in a while. It's going to be a new match.

Q. When you saw the draw, did you say, Ouch, how come I'm the unlucky one getting her? There's not too many floaters who were Grand Slam champs in the draw.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: If I can't beat them in the second round, I can't beat them at all.

Q. Lindsay spoke about being more aggressive when she plays you. Is that the way you'll approach that match as well?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think that's our game. We have pretty similar styles of game. You know, we're baseline players. We like to take advantage from the first ball. We like to get a good hit. Both of us have pretty good serves. You know, so it's going to be important to hit a high percentage of first serves in and, like I said, get a good hit on the ball, on the first ball.

Q. Lindsay was mentioning getting woken up early in the morning by the baby crying. Could you imagine going about the career, getting woken up at 5 a.m., dealing with the baby, going back to sleep?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not really. But we're in completely different stages in our career. Obviously she loves tennis very much. It's obviously very difficult to have a baby and be back so soon. So, you know, her love and passion for the sport is pretty great. You know, it's wonderful to see someone who has already accomplished so much, you know, still going back and giving it all she has, yeah.

Q. So when you walked onto the grounds after Asia, thinking about last year...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't think about last year (smiling).

Q. Were you pretending you were here for the first time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No (laughter). That's not true either.

Q. Looking ahead, what were you thinking about this tournament, what you felt like you could do, what you wanted to do?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I was just more happy with the fact that I had a really good four to five weeks of really solid training. I put the work in. This is just the time where you go out and you hope that the work that you put in just translates into the matches. Obviously you never know what can happen, how you're going to feel physically, how you're going to go out there.
A practice match or a practice is completely different than going out and playing in front of 10,000, 15,000, you know, people. It's completely different. You just hope, you know, when you finally go out on the court, you hope that work that you put in just translates.
You can't think about what you did in the past years. You can't think about what your results were. You just got to look forward to what's going to come up.

Q. Did that match against Justine at the Championships help you turn the corner?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: The whole week was just, you know, a great relief for me because I was very close to just saying a few weeks before that, This was not my year, it's just been really frustrating and difficult. But I didn't give up. I kept having little setbacks where I would train for a few days and then had to stop for a week.
Of course, that's frustrating because you start asking yourself, Well, where is this going? That's not the way to train. That's not the way you're going to become No. 1 again. I just thought of maybe going on vacation.
But I kept going. I kept working. And even though I lost that match, I had a really good week. You know, I played really solid tennis. I was able to have a vacation without thinking how the next year's going to start.

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