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March 16, 2008
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. She plays you tough for some reason? Why do you think?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was a very scratchy match from my side today from the beginning. I was just not seeing the ball, not moving that great. She always -- she always plays tough, because you never really know what to expect from her.
You know, her serving pattern is always different. You know, she can hit really big serves, and then she all of a sudden she goes to like 90 miles per hour and does the same thing on the second serve.
So she doesn't quite give you a lot of rhythm, which, you know, which I should pick up really fast, and I didn't do that well today. You know, I wasn't moving quite well throughout the first set. I was Grandpa Joe out there (laughter.)
But it got better towards the end of the second set. I started seeing the ball better and moving in. I was just not moving in after my shots at all.
Q. So how do you like the new WTA thing about being able to call down your coach any time you want during one set?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's not new.
Q. I'm not talking about after sets, but now you can call them at any changeover.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't even know that.
Q. So are you going to do it after the fifth game of your next match then?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: So you can do it any time during the set?
Q. Once a set, unless there's...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, goodness. The things the WTA Tour thinks of, huh? I don't even think it really matters. I'm definitely not going to use it. If I'm going to use it, I'm going to use it in between sets if I need it. But I don't see myself using it.
I hope I'm not in a situation to use it in the middle of a set.
Q. You've talked about him before, and I know he's your good friend, but as a coach, how much he's helped you and how much that relationship has helped your tennis overall?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Tremendously, because he -- he was a player and he was in match situations. He knows that you are a not going to be able to play perfect every day. He knows, you know, when the conditions change, you know, adjusting is important.
It's not like he changed something majorly in my game. It's the little things that he's been able to, you know, to tell me and encourage me on, and we've worked on other things in my game, as well, you know, repeatedly.
But he's, I think, more as a friend he's just -- he's done an incredible job of just knowing -- because he was a player, he knew when you're going through a bad time that you're never going to be able to play your best tennis and produce the best shots.
He knows what it feels like to play with confidence, and I think just the experience of someone who's played is huge, because he knows what you're feeling inside and what you're going through in certain situations.
Q. What do you like about Novak Djokovic as a tennis player and colleague and as well as a person?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: He's just really funny, really entertaining. You know, tennis -- tennis in a way, I always say, lacks that a little bit. You know, compared to other sports, I think, you know, we should have more personalities like him, because it really brings so many fans outside of the game into our sport.
You know, he's just very outgoing and fun. That's probably because he's only 20 years old, so (laughter.)
Q. Unlike somebody else.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: But he's just a really fun and a funny guy. You know, doesn't take life too seriously, which is good to see, but yet, you know, he's a hard worker. He's already won a Grand Slam and he's got his feet on earth, you know, right now. So hopefully he will continue that. I'll make sure he does.
It's good to have those types of players and personalities. It just makes it so much more fun because you want to watch it, you know, either live or on TV, because it's entertaining.
Q. You're such a good sport. You know, there was lots of talk about when he was impersonating and all of this. Apparently, I don't know about it, but apparently he's going to be on Jay Leno. You're going to watch it or see it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it was already on Jay Leno. Yeah, he told me about it.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, he told me they asked about me again. (laughter.) He's like, of course. And then showed the impersonations I guess is all I know. So he warned me before it actually aired. Yeah, he always warns me, but...
Q. Have you ever gone on YouTube to see how many videos they have of him impersonating you on YouTube?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm sure there are tons but no, I haven't. I saw him do it once; that's enough. While having a family dinner at home watching him at the US Open. That was great.
Q. What did your family say about the impersonation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: My mom was like, Do you see what he's doing? (laughter.) I'm like, Yes, mom, it's right in front of me. As we're eating our steak. That was the first time I actually saw it was at the US Open when I was at home watching tennis on TV, which was quite sad at the time.
Q. Andy Roddick lost today obviously, and for the last few years he's been kind of stuck in the middle of the pack, in the middle of the top 10, No. 5, No. 6, and he wants to get to that next level. I'm curious, as a player yourself, when you get to a certain level of play and you're practicing every day, how hard is it to really make improvements where you see the results and you really feel it to the point where you can kind of break through?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I don't think as a 20 year old I should be giving advice to someone that's, you know, how old is he? 26, going on 20? (laughter.)
No, I think he's got a lot more experience than I do.
Q. I'm not even saying for advice, just have you ever felt like you've hit a wall and you just can't get better? And then after a while, maybe after a year or two, you start seeing better results?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, every athlete is going to be, you know, is going to have their peaks and is going to have their downfalls. At my age I've already had my high notes. I've had my, you know, share of low notes, as well.
That just comes from, you know, not a lot of confidence or injuries or whatever it may be. But, you know, it's about what you learn from it and the attitude you take from it, and, you know, how you deal with it.
Because at the end of the day those moments, you know, personally have made me stronger and have made me, you know, appreciate things a lot more. You know, when I do win matches and when I come out of, you know, matches where I'm not playing well but I come out and I win them just because I'm tough, I think of those, you know, tough moments where I was pushing myself and I was trying to get myself going.
I mean, last year for me was a huge example. You know, it was very frustrating. I had many downfalls, and many times where I could have just said, I'm going to give tennis a break for a little bit, maybe a month or so go on vacation, but I just kept going.
I had a great team around me, positive team around me that just kept me in that -- you know, was trying to keep me in that positive and happy bubble. For people -- I mean, I don't think Andy is necessarily, I mean, just because he lost today, everyone's human, you know. It's not that big of a deal. I'm sure he'll bounce back in full force.
Q. How deep is Gwen Stefani into tennis? Does she talk about it a lot when you hang out with her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't talk to her that often, actually. I haven't -- I just met her I think a couple years ago. I think after I won the US Open. But I don't really --
Q. Didn't she just do a XO with you before the tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think she was there. I think Gavin was there.
Q. He's big into tennis.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: He's' huge. I think he practices every day. He's a fanatic with Murphy. They always practice in LA.
Q. He's decent?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've never played against him. I see him practicing, I do. Especially here every single year.
Q. Can you talk about your next opponent? Were you surprised how easily she won today against Mauresmo?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I can't say too much, because I've never played against her, haven't watched too much of her on TV. Before the tournament we did that little match exhibition, mixed doubles. She was one of the girls I played against. That was the only time I've really seen her play. It was in the mixed doubles, and Novak was on my side and then Marat was on the other side, so it wasn't much of a match. It was just a lot of laughing.
You know, when you're going against someone you've never played before, I think the best thing to do is try to figure her out early in the match in the first few games. And, you know, I know I always say this, but just try to do your job on your side of the court, you know. That's worked for me in the past, so...
Q. Were you surprised by that score today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Against Amélie? What was the score?
Q. 1 and 2.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, Amélie hasn't been doing that great since her injuries, and, you know, it's never easy coming back. I mean, I haven't seen her play or even on TV or anything, so, you know, I really don't know.
My coach saw it -- he saw a little bit before the match, but he hasn't told me anything, so...
Q. Marat and Novak are two of the whackiest players on tour.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Two of the what?
Q. Whackiest, most fun loving.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You can say that again.
Q. Who was funnier between the two?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Who is funnier? They have different humor. Novak just doesn't stop talking, and Marat finds a way to -- like, he'll be quiet for a really long time and then he'll come up with a good one-liner. So between -- I mean, we played for maybe an hour, and I couldn't stop laughing.
Q. So are Novak's jokes and comments off court as funny as his mime routines on court? Is he that funny off court, as well?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, he's really outgoing. It's fun to know someone, you know, that knows, is an athlete, knows what you're going through, and also as a friend, you can chat over, you know, other things and tennis, as well. You know, not take life too seriously, which he doesn't do.
Q. Sorry to ask you this.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uh-oh.
Q. It's not necessarily a subject that you like, but just recently in Australia - you may have heard about this - a nine-year-old girl in Melbourne was banned because of grunting, banned from tennis. She says her idol is Maria Sharapova. What are your thoughts on something like that for a nine-year-old girl?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't exactly read about it, but I did hear that she was banned. I asked my manager about it, and he actually told me that someone called him and said the story was sort of made up and that she wasn't actually banned. Someone told her in the next court to be quiet, so I think it kind of...
Q. Apparently the woman that was overseeing the whole competition said, Either you stop grunting or you don't come back.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, I don't think that's right. You know, I've grunted since I was four years old, and, I mean, you know, it's unfortunate, very unfortunate, yeah, and I hope that it doesn't become too serious for her.
Q. Monica Seles also did, you know. I played with her when she was a young girl. She did all the time, you know. You might not remember, otherwise her career couldn't exist.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Probably mine, either. (laughter.)
End of FastScripts