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spiceboy
Jan 22nd, 2004, 09:53 PM
Geometry student's big future takes shape
By Emma Quayle
January 23, 2004

Maria Sharapova has a busy year ahead. The Russian teenager will start her final season in which tour rules limit how much she can play; she will enter more tournaments than she has ever played before. But she won't let that make her overly ambitious.

"I don't really have any specific goals. I'm still young and I don't want to go and put too much pressure on myself by thinking I have to be somewhere by the end of the year," said the 16-year-old yesterday.

So far, Sharapova is satisfied. Having moved 154 places in the rankings last year, to No. 32, she wanted to improve on her first-round appearance at last year's Australian Open and did that yesterday, beating American Lindsay Lee-Waters to book a third-round spot.

She is content off the court, too, although with just as much to do. In the first four days of this tournament, Sharapova has used her spare time to do her English, geometry and health homework. She is currently completing her final year of school via Keystone High, an online American high school, and does not struggle for motivation.

"I do it all the time. If I have five minutes, I'll just be doing it for five minutes, as much as I can do. I have to finish in one year, the course that I take, so I have to keep up to date," Sharapova said.

In her single year on the senior tour, Sharapova has been featured in Teen People and named one of the coolest girls in America by another magazine. She has done the occasional photo shoot and will do more, "when I get a few weeks", but figured out how to handle the inevitable comparisons to Anna Kournikova some time ago.

If Kournikova really has retired, she has left without a title; already, Sharapova has two tournaments to defend.

"I've always just wanted to be me and people can say whatever they want to say," she said.

"I'm Maria - I'm not anyone else - and I think the comparisons stopped in the last few months because I've actually won two tournaments."

ALPHA
Jan 22nd, 2004, 11:31 PM
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Nastya ... please !!