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Old Nov 12th, 2004, 05:50 PM   #52
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Sharapova lives up to expectations
Tennis teen queen defeats Kuznetsova

By Leighton Ginn
The Desert Sun
November 12th, 2004


LOS ANGELES--Although Maria Sharapova’s picture is in newspaper ads and billboards around Los Angeles, tennis’ teen queen said she usually could go shopping incognito.

That is, until she has to purchase something.

"They recognize me especially when I go shopping and give my credit card, then they go, ‘Oh, it is you,” Sharapova said. “Unfortunately, I give my credit card a lot because I’m a big shopper."

Unlike most 17-year-olds, Sharapova can afford to run up her credit card, as she’s become the new face in tennis.

With her model looks and a game that was good enough to win her a Wimbledon title this year, Sharapova is the face of tennis. Or at least that’s how the WTA has been promoting her.

On Thursday night, in her first match at the WTA Championships, Sharapova defeated U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-4. Sharapova had never defeated Kuznetsova, losing to her in last year’s Wimbledon and this year in Beijing.

In the other matches Thursday, second-ranked Amelie Mauresmo defeated Russia’s Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-0.

In the late match, Serena Williams defeated Elena Dementieva 7-6(3), 7-5.

As far as her tennis is concerned, Sharapova was impressive in defeating Kuznetsova.

"She was coming off a big win streak and she was unstoppable," Sharapova said. "I thought she served better, especially with her second serve. She was hitting aces and sometimes that’s too good. This time, I wanted to get off to a better start to give myself a chance and put pressure on her."

Sharapova has had to deal with a level of fame she hadn’t expected, because she didn’t expect to win Wimbledon.

However, once she won, Sharapova said it was a gratifying moment, to know all her hard work had paid off.

"I never expected to win Wimbledon," Sharapova said. "When you are working on the court, I am not the kind of person that worries about results. I think the work will pay off in the end and it will speak for all your success. I think it is just important to understand that in order to achieve something big, you just have to give it all you have, so you never regret anything.

"I remember all those hard days. After I won Wimbledon, those days flash in your mind and you just think that is what happens when you work hard."

Sharapova had her fans during her match, including one who came down to the floor level with a rose.

At every match, some fans will yell things toward Sharapova. Asked if it bothered her, Sharapova said, "Depends how loud they are. I usually just try to focus on what is going on on the court and not what is happening around the stands. Obviously, it is very difficult when some fans are a little crazy.

"But one example is, if you are down and you hear people cheering for you wanting you go get back in the match, then of course, that is great. And you start to feel that energy."

Playing in the heart of the movie and entertainment capital of the world, Sharapova said she doesn’t have any plans of following in Serena Williams’ footsteps and attempt acting.

"I don’t think so, I haven’t done a lot of acting," Sharapova said. "I think it is great, once in a while to do something different. I am, you know, a renaissance woman. I love to try different things. I love fashion."



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