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September 2, 2010

Maria Sharapova


M. SHARAPOVA/I. Benesova
6-1, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria.

Q. Pretty routine? You didn't have to play great, but steady enough, served pretty well, good off the ground.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I thought I just had to be consistent today, you know, because I'm playing a lefty. It's a little gusty out there. You know, it's just important to hang in there and, you know, not normally go for the lines as much, try to be a little more consistent.
My first-serve percentage was quite low in the first set, but in the second set that got better. I got a few free points off of that.
Yeah, overall it was solid. I played the important points well.

Q. So second set, when you're well in control, did you think, Maybe I'll try a couple things to use in the next round?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the main thing is to do the things that you feel are gonna help you win, you know, not just this match but the matches coming up, what's gonna make you better even if you make a few more mistakes.
For me, it's being aggressive, not being tentative, really going for it, you know, having something on the ball instead of letting the opponent kind of dictate.

Q. What goes through your mind when you hear an opponent, even though you're still young, having looked up to you since she was young as your next opponent spoke about earlier today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's pretty crazy because I still somewhat consider myself pretty young, as well; I'd like to think so, at least. You know, to see someone coming up that's 18, that's a lot younger than I am, in the third round of the Open is great. I think it shows, uhm, a lot about the younger generation that's coming up. To see someone especially that's an American and doing well at the Open is really great.

Q. She spoke about your mental toughness as something she's used as an example. That's her strength, too. When you think about the example you've set, what is your feeling about that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, it's strange. It's really strange because I've always had a difficult time accepting, you know, when little kids, whether I'm doing a clinic, talking to them, when they tell me they want to be just like me not only is a bit overwhelming and a bit of a shock, it's kind of strange.
I mean, I'm certainly far from perfect. I have many things I'm not good at. I always say to them, You should want to be better than, uhm, me or anyone else.
I think maybe that's one of the reasons growing up, you know, I idolized a certain part of someone's game but I never thought that someone was so good that I wanted to be like them. I think that's a good point is, you know, she probably said one of my strengths. Obviously, that's something that's gotten me through so many matches in my career. In tennis, being strong and steady mentally sometimes more than physically is more important on certain days.

Q. Are you going to research or study tapes of opponents you're not familiar with or just go out and play your game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, it's not really my job. That's why I have a coach to study that, to scout your opponent, yeah, have a little bit of a game plan.

Q. What, if anything, do you know about Capra?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not too much. I know that she's American and she's 18, I believe (laughter), and she's in the third round of the Open. So that says a lot.

Q. Back to what you were saying about the little kids saying, I want to be like you. Are you not the type of person that takes compliments and flattery well?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I get kind of shy about it.

Q. Do you shut it down and say, I know all my imperfections?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't openly talk about my imperfections in front of them (laughter). Uhm, but I just smile and say, Thank you. Then I just think about it. Like, No, you want to be better than me.

Q. Did you ever ask anyone for an autograph?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes. A chef (smiling).

Q. Must have been some dinner.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: A chef whose name is Jose Andreas, a Spanish chef.

Q. In Washington?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In Los Angeles. I've never been to Washington, so never been to his restaurant there. Who else? Peter Lindbergh, who is a photographer.

Q. You're normally a crowd favorite. You won't take it personally if the crowd is rooting for your underdog opponent in your next match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it's absolutely understandable. We're playing in New York. When you have someone that's coming up, having a great Open, I mean, there's no reason why there shouldn't be any support behind her.

Q. Michael Jordan said the same thing. He never really asked certainly an athlete for an autograph. He didn't understand why you would do that, especially if you're in the field.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, one of the coolest things about our jobs is we obviously get to meet many different people in different industries. You get to talk to them.
I mean, I don't know. I've never really met anyone that I was just kind of star-struck about. Once, many years ago, like four or five years ago, we pulled up to an airport in Miami, and Michael Jordan was in front of us in a car. I didn't even see him. For some reason, I was in the car with my coach Michael. I said, I think that's Michael Jordan. I saw Nike bags. He walked out of the car. I was like, Oh, my goodness, I can't believe it.
I don't know where that came from. It was him. That's the only time where I was right.

Q. I take it you didn't ask for autographs, but a couple courts over from you was Martina Navratilova and Jimmy Connors. I don't know if you have any reaction to that.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I get to see both of them quite a bit during the Grand Slams. They do some commentating. I just asked Martina to hit a few lefty serves at me because I was playing against a lefty, yeah.

Q. How were the serves?

Q. Service winner, an ace?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She did ace me. I was expecting the one out wide. Aced me down the T.

Q. Did she come in behind it, backhand?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I just stood there. She's like, Yes!

Q. When you were out at Stanford, Billie Jean King was there, celebrating the 40th anniversary of that tournament. When you hear about the grass-roots beginning of the women's tour, are you amazed how far you have come?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, goodness, yeah. I mean, you look back, I think so many players take what we have for granted because I think without, you know, people like Billie Jean King, I mean, we wouldn't have the opportunity not only to play in such big and great events, we wouldn't have equal prize money. We wouldn't have someone that was so strong behind so many issues. We wouldn't be getting paid so much.
So many of those things you realize were done at a point where I think then, you know, none of those players really knew what was going to happen 20 years from then, how much effect and how much of what they did really mattered to the upcoming generation.
I think that's something that all of us really have to look at today and say what we do now is ultimately, when we're done and retired, whatever we're doing with kids, families, commentating, whatever it is, we're going to have some sort of piece, a part of what's going to happen in years to come. We really have to be thoughtful.
When I talk to Billie Jean King, she says, There's always going to be somebody in your spot. No matter how you do, how much you achieve, there's always going to be the next person that comes along that's going to be No. 1. There's going to be tons of them coming ahead. But at this point you guys are setting the bar for the younger generations to come.
We are. We try to be good examples by doing that.

Q. What do you remember about last year's Melanie match here? It was probably a low moment. What were some of the memories about that night?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Why do we need to remember that one?

Q. You and Michael Jordan are with Nike. I take it Phil Knight doesn't arrange parties?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I never got my invitation. Maybe they don't have my address. No, I think our schedules are too busy for everyone to get together, yeah.

End of FastScripts

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