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August 2, 2012

Maria Sharapova


M. SHARAPOVA/K. Clijsters
6‑2, 7‑5

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Was it an easy victory finally for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I don't think any victory is easy, especially not against Kim.  Our previous matches have been quite difficult.  I had so many opportunities to win at match points, so I knew I had to step up today and to stay extra focused.  She's such a tough competitor.  Obviously, won so many Grand Slams.  She has endless experience.
We've always had difficult matches.  I was just really happy that I was able to step up in terms of the way that I played compared to previous matches.

Q.  Talk a bit about how important it is, the Olympics in Russia is huge, how much inspiration that is for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It certainly is.  When I was growing up, tennis wasn't very popular ‑ not yet.  A few men's players, especially Kafelnikov.  But apart from that, in the women's field there wasn't too much competition.  So I hoped that one day that could be different.
You've seen over the years how much it's developed in Russia, evolved, how many more opportunities there are for younger kids that are starting up, opportunities that maybe I, the girls and boys sort of in my age group or generation, didn't really have those opportunities growing up as far as facilities, coaching staff, all of that.
It's been incredible to see it grow.  I'm really happy that one of us will have a chance to go for gold.

Q.  You've won a lot of matches, big matches.  You looked really happy when this one was over.  Obviously it's the Olympics, but is there a unique kick to achieving what you've achieved here this week?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, it's the Olympics, like you said.  I'm really happy with the way I progressed today.  I thought that was just really important, especially against Kim.  I knew that I needed to play at a high level in order to beat her today and I was happy that I did that.
Obviously to have a chance to get to the final, you know, creating those opportunities, that's what it's all about.

Q.  Where would winning an Olympic gold rate, Grand Slam champion, world No.1?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think it's so different, obviously very unique.  The Grand Slams, they come four times in a year.  The Olympics is only once in four.  You know, it's a completely different feeling.
I mean, if I do have the chance to win it, then I'll have a better explanation.  You know, it's tough to compare something when you haven't achieved one of them.

Q.  Was there a moment in the match that you felt threatened, that you feared losing control of the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  'Fear' is not really the word you want to think about when you're in the match situation.  And if you are, that's definitely not a good sign.
But, you know, I know little points here and there that I thought could have concentrated a bit more, maybe not giving her that break, playing a sloppy game in the second set to equal the set again after being up a break, you know.  Against an opponent like Kim, she could obviously turn the match around with those opportunities.
Other than that, I was happy with the way I just kept fighting, no matter what the situation was.  I stuck to what I wanted to do, and I kept doing it.

Q.  A question on the Olympic spirit.  How different is it from your normal season?  How much do you have to adjust sponsorship issues, clothing, et cetera, to play here in the Olympic spirit?  Would you favor flexibility in these rules for sponsors, for example?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I mean, there are a few things in terms of logos, a couple of my sponsors have had to adjust, just a couple of logos on the shoes as far as the sizing of the logos, of the tennis bag.  Also the swoosh on the hat or the visor can't be on the front, it has to be on the side.  It's little things like that that make it harder for the sponsors and the players.
To us, it's really no big deal.  We're not the ones in the factories that are making all these changes, but we're happy there are people that can do it for us.
There are a lot of different things.  You see so much more security around.  The anti‑doping control I think is much more enforced here.  I mean, after practice one day, before the event, you know, I had to go in and do that.  I think just little things here and there that you see that are different.
But in terms of playing, you still have to go out and play a tennis match.  It's still two‑out‑of‑three for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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