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March 18, 2008

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. That was quite an escape there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uh-huh. Yeah, it was. You know, I felt like I was up throughout the match, and I just did a solid job of winning that first set and had so many opportunities in the second set to finish it off.
I was up a couple of breaks and just couldn't. She started playing really good tennis towards the end of that second set, and I just couldn't get my opportunities back, couldn't get those chances that I had in the beginning of the second set.
And in the fourth game, it was just a dog fight. I felt like I was pretty close to being down and out, because I wasn't able to produce, you know, good points for a long period of time. I was like a little kid that would make -- I was doing like a beaded bracelet. I would put four beads together and they would all fall down and then I'd start all over again.
I felt like I was starting from scratch all the time. I would play a good game, I would get down again and then I would miss three returns in a row. I was just giving her so many opportunities out there.
I was just tough in the end, and it gets me through a lot of matches. And the good thing is I give myself an opportunity to play another match tomorrow.

Q. What did she do well?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She was just really solid, and, you know, she played smart, I guess, but I felt like I was too worried about what she was doing rather than being conscious of what I had to do. That sometimes hurts me in a way, because I'm better off just concentrating on the things that I have to do in order to win the match.
The score should have been 2 and 3 or 4, and it was a three-set match. It could have gone either way, so...

Q. Do you have any idea why you were thinking about what she was doing? Because you've often said you've just got to take care of your side of the net.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Maybe because I never played her before. You know, but I did win the first set pretty closely. I wasn't playing my best tennis, far from it, but I still won the set comfortably. I just didn't take those opportunities, and then once you don't take them you start thinking a little bit, because your opponent's all of a sudden back in the match and it just becomes a battle out there.

Q. Were you having a problem reading her second serve, or were you just missing?

Q. Yeah?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. (laughter.)
I'd go on -- I'd go on these streaks of returning well, I thought, and then I'd just miss them some, and then, I don't know. Just one of those days, I guess.

Q. Was there anything with the stadium with the shadows this time of day? Seemed kind of uneven on court. I don't know if that was a factor.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, you know, we started the match with it being sunny and hot, and in the middle of it you had the shadows, and then we ended the match in complete shadow.
But it's not really -- it's not really an excuse, you know. It was the same for my opponent. I was definitely not seeing the ball well, as well as I usually do.
I wasn't moving up to the ball. I wasn't seeing the short balls whatsoever at all. There were a lot of points that I could have hit and come in and finished off at the net. I was just hesitant and didn't get a good hit on them, and she took the ball and made a few passing shots, but...
Live and learn.

Q. When you miss Most of the time, do you feel like you know why you miss, and are you able to make adjustments?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It depends on the situation. If you go through a streak of missing a few balls in a row, then you get pretty angry and you just -- you start asking yourself questions on why all of a sudden you're making errors.
But I usually -- there are a few things that I think about, you know, when I start making those errors, and I just try to concentrate on them. It's always tougher to come back from making those errors and start playing consistent again. You know, it's one of the things I'm working on.
And even though, you know, I didn't have a good day, at the end of the day you come out with a win, and you just, hopefully for the next match, you improve and get better.

Q. You played so well this year. Is this the most you've struggled this year in a match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I had a couple three setters in Doha, but the conditions there and here are completely different. You have two completely different courts. We were playing on Rebound Ace there the first few matches over there, Mach 50 winds where you basically it wasn't even tennis at times.
And then, you know, here you're in the desert. The ball bounces a lot higher over here, the court's different, playing different opponents. So you just kind of -- it just depends on the matches. You know, I had a good opening round.
I realize I'm not going to be able to play, you know, great, fantastic tennis. But I think most importantly it's just -- I've got to keep my concentration out there and keep my focus for a longer period of time.

Q. Daniela says she's motivated because she feels like she owns this place. You won here two years ago, and you have a good record against her, but she does seem to play a little bit her on center court. So just talk about that match.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Considering two of the three titles she's won were here, of course those would be her words. I've had success here and over the year I've played great tennis and had many good memories here.
She's playing well this year. You know, the last time I played her was at the championships, which was indoors. This is a different part of the year and a new match. We've played each other numerous times and we know each other's games well. But, you know, it all comes down to the person that takes their chances and is more solid.

Q. A lot of people are talking about the appearance on TV this evening of Monica Seles on Dancing With The Stars?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is that tonight or yesterday night?

Q. I believe it's tonight.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's tonight, oh.

Q. So you come from the country that probably has the best history of dance in the world. Have you ever gone to any of the great dancing performances in Russia, done much dancing yourself?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not in public, no. (laughter.)
I keep it to the areas where not many people see what I'm doing. Obviously Russia has a lot of, you know, dance and the art, you know, and that type of culture behind them. When I was younger my mother would always take me to the local ballet, and she'd always -- she'd always be the one looking for programs to see where the new musicals are and the museums and all that.
But as far as Dancing With The Stars, I mean, I don't know if I'm going to be -- where I'm going to be tonight and what time it is, but hopefully --

Q. 9:00.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's at 9:00? God, you guys are on top of it.

Q. I mean, Lindsay's despondent that she won't be able to see it.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, she's playing tonight?
There's always TiVo. Good thing about technology.

Q. If you could go on the show and dance with anyone, can you think of anyone you'd like to dance with?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, let's -- I don't even know if I'll do that. I don't know. I mean, definitely not during my career. After -- I mean, maybe, just have a good laugh at myself.
But I'm a pretty competitive person, so if I do get in the competition, I'm just going to make sure I train a lot. I'm sure they do a lot of training, as well. They must, because I've seen some episodes, and they're pretty good for people that don't really dance. I mean, they're pretty good and train.

Q. Ana Ivanovic yesterday spoke to us a lot about how she reads Freud, and she went on for about 10 minutes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: How she what?

Q. Read Freud, Sigmund Freud, the psychologist.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know who that is.

Q. The psychologist. Very famous?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, psychologist, sorry.

Q. And she went into the details about how she is knowledgeable about the subject. I was wondering what you read? Do you read Russian authors, like Dostoevsky, in spare time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I try not to read a lot of psychology-related things. Actually, I just finished school year and a half, so during the time I was in school I was basically reading schoolwork. Other than that I never had time to read, and so the last year and a half is the first time that I've actually gotten an opportunity to read books. You know, recently I've been reading a lot about Chernobyl, because I'm going on a -- I'm involved in Chernobyl-affected areas with the United Nations.
There are a lot of projects that are going on right now. That's kind of been my main focus, and the last, about, six or so months I've been doing a lot of research on that. That's kind of been my homework. And then on the planes I just read things that, like, just novels that I can read and forget about the next day.

Q. You have given $100,000 to that project. Can you little bit more elaborate on the United Nations and Chernobyl?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the next activity I'm doing with them is I'm going on a field trip right after Wimbledon for about three days, and I'm going to be visiting the projects that, the money that I donated and all the things that are being developed and the hospitals and the computer centers and there are many buildings and -- you know, many other areas that are getting involved within the region as well.
I'm finally going to see how that has developed, because I haven't actually been in that area. And I'm also announcing a few projects that they're going to start developing, as well. Very excited about it. I haven't been back to Belarus since I was a very young girl, and I had to make sure that I can go to my grandma's house and have some good home cooking, as well.

Q. Sorry to talk about tennis again, but have you ever felt more confident on the court than you do right now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Umm, it goes day by day, because every tournament is different, and obviously you treat the Grand Slams as obviously the biggest ones, and these -- when I came into Doha, I was kind of -- you know, it was a strange feeling in a way, because after a Grand Slam, you know, tournaments that are lower just, in a way, don't seem that -- not that they don't seem that important, but -- I don't know.
It's hard to explain, because after playing with so much emotion at a Grand Slam and beating top players, when I get out there, it's like, this doesn't really mean much right now. Maybe if I was in that position last year I would have thought of it differently. But I think these tournaments I treat as kind of the buildup towards the next Grand Slam. You know, during these tournaments, even though I haven't really done much of it, but I try to work on the things that are going to get me better and that I've worked on in practice, and hopefully take that to the courts, you know, because I'd maybe rather lose here earlier than in a Grand Slam, so...

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