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Old Aug 31st, 2005, 05:35 PM   #196
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Russia might be ready to endorse Sharapova


By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com


NEW YORK -- It was no surprise that the U.S. Open crowd cheered on Maria Sharapova on Monday night.

But what was surprising is that many Russians also may have reveled in Sharapova's first-round victory over Elena Danilidou when they woke up Tuesday morning.



From Brooklyn to Beijing, Maria Sharapova doesn't lack fans these days. It's why companies including Canon, Motorola, Nike and Colgate-Palmolive have paid her millions of dollars to endorse their products worldwide.

But the acceptance of the 18-year-old as an icon is only a recent happening in her native land of Russia, where many in the general population seemed to resent her for her American upbringing, her full-time American residence and her unwillingness to play in the Kremlin Cup while she went hopping around to smaller tournaments in Europe and Asia.

"When she became No. 1 [last week], there was a tremendous amount of media coverage on her in Russia and most of it was overwhelmingly positive," said Alexei Tolkachev of Moscow's daily newspaper, Sport Express.

That's a big change from the tone of recent media coverage, even after Sharapova won last year's Wimbledon crown.

"She wasn't granting many interviews, but in Russia, there was resentment because they thought she wasn't interested in talking to the Russian media," Tolkachev said. "Once people started to understand that it wasn't about the country and that she wasn't doing many exclusive interviews, they realized that she wasn't trying to be standoffish and it wasn't as if she didn't care."

When she was 9 years old, Sharapova left Russia with her father without knowing a word of English and with almost no money to their names. They arrived, without invitation, at the famous Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida. Sharapova refined her talents there and turned pro on her 14th birthday.

"The perception was that she was trying to become more American because it was more marketable," Tolkachev said.

Although Tolkachev said Russian companies usually pay their sports stars "peanuts" compared to the endorsement deals obtained from multinational brands, the journalist said that "as a Russian, she can be appealing in countries that don't necessarily embrace American supremacy."

Although Sharapova lives in Florida and has all American friends, her agent Max Eisenbud said there has never been any attempt to "make her American."

"She's Russian because that's who she is," Eisenbud said. "Every time her name appears in the papers or on a draw sheet, there's an 'RUS' next to her name. That will never change."

Eisenbud said that he has been talking with companies based in Russia and his client would love to do a deal that would include a charity component so Sharapova could give back to her homeland.

Russia's embracing of Sharapova isn't all due to her becoming the first Russian woman to attain the world's No. 1 ranking. It also seems like she's trying harder than ever before to make Russia a priority. In May, she finally committed to playing in the Kremlin Cup, the first event she'll play in Russia.

When Sharapova steps on the court for the event that will take place in October, she at least says she cares about how she will be received.



"I've always been thinking about how they think of me in Russia," Sharapova said. "But I don't know what to expect. Hopefully, it's positive."
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Old Aug 31st, 2005, 09:19 PM   #197
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Maria playing the kremlin cup this year will be something very special
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Old Sep 1st, 2005, 02:53 PM   #198
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M. SHARAPOVA/D. Randriantefy

6‑1, 6‑0

An interview with:

MARIA SHARAPOVA

THE MODERATOR: First question for Maria, please.

Q. You do a lot of endorsement deals. Last night with Roddick's defeats, embarrassing for numerous advertisers you see around here. Is there ever a worry for you that perhaps the endorsement deals take away from your tennis time or could come back to embarrass?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I think when you do an endorsement deal, I think you and whoever you're going to endorse have to, you know, be in contact, have to communicate with what your schedule is like. They have to understand the sport you're in and know you're not always going to be a winner. There are going to be times when, you know, you're going to have setbacks. But that's the point of having a good relationship, is when you know they'll be behind you if you're losing or if you're down, if you have those times when things are not going that well.


Q. You've only lost three games so far. Talk about the way you handle pressure, how you handle expectations.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I kind of don't. I really don't handle them. I just don't think about it. I did those things at the beginning of the week. The last one was Wednesday night. You know, I had five, six days to prepare. I had my mind off of the things I did. But I understand that there are going to be times where, you know, especially before a Grand Slam, you need to set back some time and do these things for the sponsors. But I enjoy it. You know, like I said in my previous press conference, I think in the morning I was doing the Today Show, all being glamorous. Then I'm back on the court after three hours and I'm working hard. This is where I feel I really belong.


Q. Seemed so windy out there. Did it feel like you could get knocked over at times today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I really did. Like I said in the interview after the match, I said it's better I had a piece of cake yesterday or I would have been in that globe somewhere. I'm glad I gained a few pounds (laughter).


Q. You practice a lot down in Florida.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, but it's never like this. This was pretty extreme.


Q. Was it tough trying to find the ball when you were serving?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the first few games, you saw, I was serving 69 miles per hour. It's pretty funny. I think it's even funnier from TV because they can't even see the wind. These people probably think we look like beginners. That's the sad part.


Q. You said you've gained a few pounds, but you also still seem to be getting taller. Do you feel yourself getting taller?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I actually do. I feel like I've grown a little bit. But, you know, what can you do?


Q. Does it affect anything on the court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: On the court, no, not really. I think once you start growing, it's very important. Like I said, I had my back ‑‑ my background was because of the growing and my shoulder. You just have to make sure those parts of your body are strong, your joints are strong.


Q. Your parents aren't particularly tall. Do you have any idea where you get your height from?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have no idea. I've been asking. I haven't got a straight answer yet (smiling).


Q. No tall family relative?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not that they've told me. I don't know who to talk to.


Q. Are you ready to go to 6'2"?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I'm not going to admit it, even if I am.


Q. Are you trying to put on a little more weight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I was just joking.


Q. Do you feel you should put some more on to get more strength?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely not fat or cellulite. I'd prefer muscle, yeah.


Q. I met a lot of people that came here not to see really the game, but to see you. How do you feel about it? How do you feel about being like a superstar more than a tennis player?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's very flattering. I don't necessarily think about it when I step on the court because the only thing I'm thinking about is my tennis. I hope that people come out and watch me for my tennis. But, you know, I can't control the reason why they come out. Not too much I can do about that. I'm a tennis player. With being a popular tennis player comes a lot of other things. That's part of it.


Q. On the subject of tennis, can you assess the way you feel you're playing right now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think I'm hitting pretty well. I didn't have a lot of matches coming into this tournament. In the first round I felt really solid actually. Played better than I thought I would. But I know the matches are going to get tougher and tougher from here. You know, that's where you have to pick up your game.


Q. How did this get better, the pectoral muscle? How long did it take you? Were you pretty patient with it? Did it take longer than you expected?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It took about five days of no tennis. But, no, I'm not very patient going into the physical office every single day, twice a day. I was there for probably 10 days. By the end of that 10th day, I was just, "Get me out of here." But, yeah, it takes a lot of strengthening. I was, you know, in the office getting the machines on it and probably strengthening it for about two hours a day.


Q. Are you pretty confident with it now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. So far so good, yeah.


Q. Has it been hard for you and all the players this week, given the weather, to really work your way into the tournament the way you'd like to?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: There's no point in trying to think about that because you can't control the conditions. I don't think you will ever be able to control them. But just something that, you know, one day you're in windy conditions, the next day the conditions are normal. You just have to find your groove. It's pretty hard to find your rhythm when it's this windy.


Q. When you see somebody like Roddick go out early, it's a reminder that it can happen to anybody?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's tennis. It can happen to anybody. That's why we play the matches.


Q. Were you watching last night? Did you feel sorry for him?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I saw a few games. I was getting a massage. Yeah, you know, like I said, it's tough. I mean, first round. The other guy played out of his mind, I thought. You know, you run into someone that good in the first round, it's tough. But this is life.
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Old Sep 9th, 2005, 03:21 PM   #199
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Sharapova returns to spotlight



By HAROLD GUTMANN
THE JOURNAL NEWS


(Original publication: September 9, 2005)


NEW YORK — Practice court No. 1 is the most mislabeled court at the National Tennis Center.

Far from being the biggest court, or the most prestigious practice area, P1 is actually at the northwest corner of the grounds, bordered on three sides by a tall fence and on the fourth side by four other courts.

It's the most inaccessible, private outdoor practice area, and it's where top-seeded Maria Sharapova chose to prepare yesterday.

Of course, spectators still found her, snaking up the elevated stands on Court 4 to grab a glimpse from overhead, or peeking through a fence and past the wheelchair tennis players on practice courts 2-5.

So instead of walking through the main entrance to the women's locker room inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, Sharapova walked along an outer fence and then out of the main grounds, using a players-only passageway to get to her destination.

The Russian superstar chose not to be the center of attention yesterday, but she has no choice today. The top seed will face No. 4 Kim Clijsters at Ashe in her first-ever U.S. Open semifinal, preceded by No. 6 Elena Dementieva and No. 12 Mary Pierce.

Sharapova is looking to make a Grand Slam final for the first time since her captivating run through Wimbledon last year. She cruised through her first four matches here, but had to fight through a gritty and tense three-set quarterfinal against Nadia Petrova.

"I always prefer two-set matches, but I think this was a good challenge for me," Sharapova said. "It gives me a lot of confidence that I can pull out a win like that when there are points of a match when you don't feel great."
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Old Sep 20th, 2005, 02:19 PM   #200
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BEIJING, Sept. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- World number one female player Maria Sharapova said Tuesday that she's in excellent fitness before playing her first match in this year's China Open.

"I feel really good. I played an invitational touranment in South Korea with Venus (Williams), so I did a little practice today to be ready for my first match (at China Open)," the Russian icon told a press conference at the hardcourt tournament of WTA Tour. Talking about her aims for the 585,000 US dollars event, Sharapova, whose position on the WTA Entry Ranking board rose again to the top after Lindsay Davenport suffered early exit in theU.S. Open days ago, ruled out an in-purpose defense to her top ranking.

"I don't really think about that when I'm going into a tournament," said the 18-year-old. "My main goal is to perform well and try to win it and not just focus on the ranking and I don't really care. The competition still has top players right now, and I don't think of keeping number one during games."


"I always say that my most successful year is last year, no matter how much more success having been made in my career, becauseI won my first grand slam title at the age of 17-year-old that I could not have imagined and also because it (Wimbledon) is my favorite championship and I just cherish it very much, so to be No.1 at 18-year-old is just to be consistent," added Sharapova, who becomes the world number one without a singles title at Grand Slams this year.

As Davenport has withdrawn from the China Open WTA tournament, Sharapova, the top seed here, is facing an easier draw en route to win the title in Beijing, where she was ousted in the semi-finals of the initial one 12 months ago. The Russian teenager, however, was still looking forward to a tough matchup here.

"I think that's why I play tennis, because of the challenge, because of the competition," said Sharapova. "That's why we love to play tiebreaker in the third set. It makes it more exciting, and the bigger support in the stand, and more fans involved in it. I really enjoyed the competition and took a lot of hard work to make myself No. 1 at 18 years old."

Regarding another Anna Kournikova to world tennis, Sharapova ruled out suspicions that she may not well-balance her activities on the court and off the court.

"I enjoy the things that I do off the court," she said. "It's very important to keep balance between on-court things and off-court things. But more important is to enjoy everything I do, and I think everything I do off the court enlarge my freedom to do something after I work so hard the whole year and I enjoy it. But most important is that I practice really hard to maintain my form." "My study is good I have three more courses to finish my high school study, and I'm picking economics and chemistry," she added.

Speaking of the upstart to world female tennis Sharapova, Venus said the Russian sensation should be respected not only for her achievement on the court but for her influence on tennis fans.
"She's obviously a great player, doing things on the court that amazing," said Venus. "She's motivating other people all over the world to do their best both on the court and off the court, so I think it will be really cool and I regard her."
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Old Sep 20th, 2005, 08:58 PM   #201
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That's a very nice article, thanks for posting that
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Old Oct 3rd, 2005, 02:41 PM   #202
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Tennis: Sharapova Japan tour set for Dec.

(Kyodo) _ World No. 1 Maria Sharapova will make a Japan tour in late December for specially arranged tennis matches and other events including fashion shows, organizers of the tour said Monday.


Sharapova will begin the tour at Osakajo Hall on Dec. 21 and move to Nagoya Sports Complex the next day and Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo on Dec. 23. The tour's main attractions include matches featuring Sharapova and Japan's Ai Sugiyama, fashion shows and tennis clinics for children.
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Old Oct 6th, 2005, 02:19 PM   #203
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Image by MosNews.com

Maria Sharapova is Russian, Will Never Be American, Says Star’s Father

Created: 06.10.2005 12:59


MosNews

Maria Sharapova is Russian, and she will never become an American national, world number one’s father told the Sovetsky Sport newspaper in an interview Thursday. With his statement he denied rumors in the media that the blonde tennis star is going to become the national of the U.S. where she has lived for the past eleven years.

“The people who wrote these articles are just short of information. My daughter is Russian and she will never become an American,” Yuri Sharapov, Maria’s father, told the newspaper.

Sharapova was born in Siberia but moved to the U.S. at the age of seven. In spite of residing in Florida, she has always played for Russia. However the press keeps speculating on the subject of Maria’s citizenship, claiming that her perfect English, her easy manner and even her good looks are typically American.

Sharapova is at the moment in Moscow, first time since emigrating eleven years ago, preparing for next week’s Kremlin Cup. She, accompanied by her father, personal coach and producer, came to Moscow on personal plane Monday.

Maria is relaxed ahead of the game, looking forward to her first tournament in native country. She is not troubled by the possibility of losing her top rank to Belgium’s Kim Clijsters, who may snatch the title from her if she wins this week’s Fielderstadt tournament.

“Masha is absolutely calm about this,” Yuri told Sovetsky Sport.
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Old Oct 6th, 2005, 02:30 PM   #204
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Thanks GL
Good stuff Yuri
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Old Oct 6th, 2005, 02:31 PM   #205
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Wonder how many haters are going to call her an ingrate after this...
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Old Oct 6th, 2005, 11:14 PM   #206
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldenlox



Image by MosNews.com

Maria Sharapova is Russian, Will Never Be American, Says Star’s Father

Created: 06.10.2005 12:59


MosNews

Maria Sharapova is Russian, and she will never become an American national, world number one’s father told the Sovetsky Sport newspaper in an interview Thursday. With his statement he denied rumors in the media that the blonde tennis star is going to become the national of the U.S. where she has lived for the past eleven years.

“The people who wrote these articles are just short of information. My daughter is Russian and she will never become an American,” Yuri Sharapov, Maria’s father, told the newspaper.

Sharapova was born in Siberia but moved to the U.S. at the age of seven. In spite of residing in Florida, she has always played for Russia. However the press keeps speculating on the subject of Maria’s citizenship, claiming that her perfect English, her easy manner and even her good looks are typically American.

Sharapova is at the moment in Moscow, first time since emigrating eleven years ago, preparing for next week’s Kremlin Cup. She, accompanied by her father, personal coach and producer, came to Moscow on personal plane Monday.

Maria is relaxed ahead of the game, looking forward to her first tournament in native country. She is not troubled by the possibility of losing her top rank to Belgium’s Kim Clijsters, who may snatch the title from her if she wins this week’s Fielderstadt tournament.

“Masha is absolutely calm about this,” Yuri told Sovetsky Sport.

Great article, we don't hear Yuri talk to often

Thanks for posting
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 12:38 PM   #207
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Excerpts from a Pravda interview with big Maria on October 11, 2005. Here is the url in case you wish to read the much longer interview.

http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/90/...Sharapova.html

Both Maria's are very open about their friendship. Big Maria also says that she is buying an apartment in Moscow (Maria Kirilenko's home town) and plan to visit more often.

Do you see yourself as a Russian or an American citizen? Is it in your plans to change citizenship? I consider myself a Russian, especially when I live abroad. I do not even think about changing my citizenship.

You will have to play some other Russian tennis players during the tournament. Do you have any preferences on whom would you like to play?
It makes no difference to me, whom to play. I can only say that it is hard to play them.

Which victory of yours do you see as the most important accomplishment that you made? It is Wimbledon, of course. I love fast court.

Do you have any friends in the world of tennis? Yes, it is Maria Kirilenko, first and foremost.
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 02:16 PM   #208
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World No.1 Sharapova finally commits to playing Fed Cup
Web posted at: 10/11/2005 3:59:28
Source ::: Reuters
World No.1 Maria Sharapova of Russia poses with the “Russia’s Sportsperson of the Year” trophy during her press conference at Kremlin Cup in Moscow yesterday.



MOSCOW: World No.1 Maria Sharapova said yesterday she wanted to play for Russia in the Fed Cup at some point in the future.


The Florida-based 18-year-old has turned down invitations to play for the country of her birth in the past in order to concentrate on improving her singles ranking.


Addressing reporters before the opening of the Kremlin Cup, Sharapova said: “I want to play for Russia, I definitely want to play for Russia in Fed Cup competition.


“I just don’t know when I’ll be ready to make my Fed Cup debut.”


Russia have won the women’s team competition for the last two years without Sharapova’s help.


Last year she was involved in a public squabble with Anastasia Myskina, who led Russia to their 2004 Fed Cup win. Myskina has hinted that she might no longer play Fed Cup.


Asked how she felt when Russia clinched their second Fed Cup title by edging France 3-2 in last month’s final in Paris, Sharapova said: “I would just say to the girls ‘Well done’.


“I didn’t play (Fed Cup) this year because it would have been too tough for me but in the future, yes, it’s definitely one of my big goals.


“I also want to play in the Olympics and would love to represent Russia there as well,” she added.


Sharapova did not get a chance to play at last year’s Athens Olympics despite winning the Wimbledon title a month earlier because she was not ranked high enough at the time.


A maximum of four players from a single country are allowed to play in the Olympics and Sharapova was not among Russia’s top four when the selection was made.


Sharapova, who left Russia 11 years ago with her father to pursue her tennis career in the United States, arrived in Moscow last week and will make her Kremlin Cup debut on Wednesday.


“I definitely feel Russian inside, even when I’m in America I feel Russian,” she said. “But coming here for the first time in years it made me feel even more so.”


Sharapova faced a barrage of questions during her first news conference in the Russian capital, with reporters quizzing her on everything from boyfriends to what dress she would wear at her private parties.


But the teenager played her cards close to her chest.


One reporter asked Sharapova if she was dating any ice hockey players, alluding to another well-known US-based Russian, Anna Kournikova, who was married to Sergei Fedorov and also dated fellow NHL All-Star Pavel Bure.


“I’ve met (Zinedine) Zidane and Ronaldo a couple of months ago and I met (Russia’s NHL goaltender Nikolai) Khabibulin, whose daughter is playing tennis,” Sharapova said.


“I also met Shaquille O’Neil in Miami. He’s so huge and when he shook my hand I was so scared that he was going to break it. I also love to watch football, not American football but Russian football.”


Sharapova also said that she would love to meet President Vladimir Putin and was looking to buy real estate in Moscow.


“I was so surprised when Putin called me last year to congratulate me on my Wimbledon title,” she said.


“Just imagine, I’m going shoping in London and suddenly there’s Putin on the phone calling. I just said ‘Oh Wow!’”


The only thing Sharapova did not like about Moscow was the city’s notorious traffic jams.
“I think it’s worse than in Los Angeles,” she said. “Everything else is just great here. I think it’s one of the best cities in the world.”

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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 02:20 PM   #209
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Maria Sharapova unwilling to trade her Russian citizenship for anything

10/11/2005 13:39

World's tennis player No. 1 answered questions at a press conference before the opening of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow

The Kremlin Cup international tennis tournament opened in Moscow yesterday. Maria Sharapova's arrival in Moscow has already become the central event of the entire tournament. Maria gave a press conference on the threshold of the event: the President of the Russian Tennis Federation, Shamil Tarpishchev, awarded world's tennis player No.1 with a badge of an honored master of sports and presented the Russian Cup prize to mark Sharapova's achievements of the best Russian tennis player during the recent 200 years.

Do you see yourself as a Russian or an American citizen? Is it in your plans to change citizenship?

I consider myself a Russian, especially when I live abroad. I do not even think about changing my citizenship.

You will have to play some other Russian tennis players during the tournament. Do you have any preferences on whom would you like to play?

It makes no difference to me, whom to play. I can only say that it is hard to play them.

How do you like the court surface?

The surface is slow, although I have played on such a surface before this year. I will get used to it.

Which victory of yours do you see as the most important accomplishment that you made?

It is Wimbledon, of course. I love fast court.

Maria Sharapova arrives in Moscow to win the Kremlin Cup: Photo gallery


Do you have any friends in the world of tennis?

Yes, it is Maria Kirilenko, first and foremost.

Your father always accompanies you when you travel for tournaments. Does your mother participate in your tennis career?

No, she does not. She deals with my studies and takes me to museums. Tennis is my father's prerogative only.

Did you follow the Russian tennis team in the Fed Cup?

Yes, the girls did very well. It is hard to win for the second time. Maybe, I will help them next year.

What other sports do you prefer?

Football and hockey. I am a fan of Madrid's Real. I have recently had a chance to meet Zidane.

Do you have any acquaintances with Russian hockey-players?

Yes, with Nikolay Khabibulin.

And what about Hollywood?

I am friends with Uma Thurman. She is a great woman.

What are you going to do after tennis? You have recently launched the production of your perfume.

I like fashion. I will probably go studying in this field. As for perfumes, I personally participated in the production process and blended scents. The perfume has just been released in the USA, but it will be out in Russia soon too.

Have you managed to see anything in Moscow yet or visit any events probably?

I do not attend any events. My goal is to win the Kremlin Cup. I have done a little shopping and bought some shoes. Moscow has very good stores; this is one of the most beautiful cities in the world really.

Are you going to buy an apartment in Moscow?

Yes, I am, but I am not telling you where. I hope that I will be visiting Moscow more often than I do now.

Do you drive?

Yes, I own two cars, a BMW and a Rover SUV. I am a good driver; at least I have not been in a car accident yet.

Do you have a special talisman?

Not really, no, just my cell phone, probably, which I always carry with me.

Have you spoken to Boris Yeltsin?

Yes, but not a lot. His secretary approached me and said that Mr. Yeltsin would like to talk to me. We had a sweet short conversation.

What about Vladimir Putin? Did you congratulate the president on his birthday?

I would love to. I was glad when he called to congratulate me on my victory in Wimbledon and then on my birthday. I did not congratulate Mr. Putin on his birthday, but I will a little bit later.

Do you follow Russia's life while living in the USA? Do you like any new books or movies?

My father does. He likes Brat, the movie (translates into English as "Brother") and its sequel, Brat-2. I listen to the Russian band called Umathurman. As for books, Maria Kirilenko has recently given me one, but I have not read it yet.

What is the most important thing for you in life?

Health. Everything else will come along.
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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 04:18 PM   #210
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MOSCOW, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova scraped into the
Kremlin Cup quarter-finals when Anna-Lena Groenefeld retired
with an ankle injury leading their second-round match 6-1 4-2 on
Wednesday.




The unseeded German was 4-1 ahead of the world number one
and top seed in the second set when she slipped and twisted her
left ankle.




After a medical time-out during which the ankle was taped,
Groenefeld, on the brink of tears, played three more points
before quitting.




"I knew I didn't win this match fairly. I don't like such
victories," Sharapova told reporters.




"But strange things do happen in tennis and today's match
was one of them."




Groenefeld had dominated Sharapova from the start.




The Florida-based Russian, who was making her Kremlin Cup
debut, was broken three times in the opening set, losing her
serve to love in the third and seventh games.




"I would be lying if I said that I was not nervous before
the match," the 18-year-old said.




Sharapova again surrendered her serve in the fourth game of
the second set when she hit a lame forehand into the net on
break point to fall 1-3 behind.




Groenefeld won the next game and held two break points in
the sixth before stumbling on the baseline as she tried to reach
Sharapova's forehand.




"I knew she was a strong player and played well in Beijing
but I must admit I just wasn't myself on the court today," said
Sharapova, who beat Groenefeld 6-2 6-2 in their only previous
encounter at the German Open this year.




"It's always tough to come back after injury and I haven't
played for two weeks, so obviously I need some time to find my
rhythm. Hopefully, I'll play better in my next match."




Sharapova has not played since pulling out of her semi-final
with a chest injury at last month's China Open, where Groenefeld
reach the final before losing to Maria Kirilenko.




Sharapova began tentatively and had to save a break point in
the opening game before going ahead 1-0. But it was all
Groenefeld after that as she pinned the 2004 Wimbledon champion
to the baseline.




A 10,000-strong home crowd, including Moscow Mayor Yuri
Luzhkov, urged Sharapova on with chants 'Masha, Masha', as she
tried to stay in the match.




"The crowd definitely helped me today. It was nice to hear
them yell my name. The atmosphere was very much Russian," said
Sharapova, who left her homeland 11 years ago to pursue her
career in the United States.
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