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May 14, 2008

Maria Sharapova


M. SHARAPOVA/D. Cibulkova
6-2, 3-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Were you annoyed about the fact you have to play on night with the wetness, slow court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I played so many night matches in my career that it doesn't bother me. I like playing night matches.
This is probably one of the later starts, because usually they start around 7:00. But that's just the way it is.

Q. (From Italian) First of all, we're very happy that you won here in Rome, because it's important for tennis that you win tonight. It's important for tennis.

Q. Secondly, try and put yourself in Justine Henin's shoes and tell us why you might not like tennis and decide to retire from tennis.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think she's retiring from tennis because she doesn't like tennis. She's 25 years old and has achieved so much in her career and has had incredible success on the court.
If I'm 25 and I won I don't know how many Grand Slams she's won, seven or something, I'd call it quits as well.
You know, I wouldn't be disappointed leaving the sport, because obviously there's a lot more to life than tennis. She's had a very long career, and you never know, maybe one day she'll be back.
She's done incredible things for the sport. She's shown that without being the strongest or the tallest girl on the tour she's been able to win so many matches in so many tournaments and Grand Slams. She's an inspiration to many young girls coming up.
Like I said, there are so many things in life, and I'm sure she wants to explore them as well. I definitely don't blame her for retiring.

Q. What's it going to feel like next week, no matter what happens at this point, should you take over the No. 1 ranking? I mean, will it be a kind of a strange feeling with the fact that she's retired and you kind of inherited this?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: To be honest, ranking has never really been a big deal for me. Whether I'm No. 1 or 5, my main goal is just to keep winning tennis matches. The ranking will take care of itself if I keep winning matches. Yeah.

Q. Once you said that you didn't see yourself still playing at 30 years old or so.

Q. So that means you understand very well what Justine has done and you could do it also?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely, yeah. I think -- like I said, I just, I mean, you're 25 years old, and tennis starts at a very young age. You're basically committing every day of your life to tennis.
No matter what days you have off or how long you have off, you're always thinking but consequences to what you're doing and how that's going to affect your training and performance.
It's tough to be able to do what we do day in and day out. There's only a certain amount of time. Everybody is different and everybody can withstand it as much as they can.
But I totally understand where she's coming from. Like I said, I don't think she has anything to regret. She's had a great career. If I were in her shoes, I would probably do the same thing.

Q. (From Italian) First of all, I'm sorry about what I witnessed on the court today. This happens in Nadal's matches a lot as well. The crowd sometimes cheers for your opponent even though it's an unknown player, perhaps because of envy or jealousy or perhaps because you seem unapproachable. What do you think about this? Does it affect you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Certainly doesn't affect me, and it's part of the sport. I completely understand if a crowd cheers for the underdog, somebody that's playing somebody that's No. 2 in the world and taking them to the third set.
The crowd want a good match and the crowd wants good tennis. They don't want to come and see a 40-minute match. They don't pay money for that. They want entertainment and the drama, the more the better for them. I completely understand.
Although I'm young, I've been in numerous amounts of matches where I've played against underdogs, and when I was coming up I was the underdog. Obviously that has changed a little bit because, you know, the rankings and the things that I've won.
It's all right. I mean, it doesn't -- when I'm on the court I do my own thing. I worry about my own side of the net, and that's pretty much it.

Q. Why do you have so many problems to keep your game service tonight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: One is that the conditions are obviously a lot heavier than I've been playing in the last couple of months.
You know, it's not as easy to hold serve, especially against somebody that's -- that gets a lot of balls back and makes you hit a lot balls. In your mind you got to change the process a little bit, and I think that's what I did wrong.
Kind of went for too much at the wrong times. Especially after long rallies it's sometimes a little more important to be a little smarter. Definitely classed me a few times today.
At the end the day, if I know my errors and I know what I did wrong, the most important thing is to go into the next match and improve that hopefully. I'm just glad I can go out and have another match.

Q. Is your wrist a problem? I saw you that you were touching yourself.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just think the balls are heavy and my arm was a little bit kind of heavy. It's not normal to wake up being an athlete and feel fine, so I'm okay with it.

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