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Old Mar 9th, 2006, 08:39 PM   #301
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NUCLEAR GROUND STROKES, AN INSTINCT FOR THE JUGULAR, AND LOOKS THAT KILL. IT’S SAFE TO SAY THAT MARIA SHARAPOVA HAS IT ALL.
By: Joel Drucker

Think Maria Sharapova’s life is all about parties and paparazzi?

Well, yeah, it is—part of it, anyway. Meeting Usher and Ben Stiller, doing fashion shoots for GQ, Vogue, and Italian Vogue, vacationing for five days at the Four Seasons Resort on Nevis in the Carribean: She’s living large.

Hell, in April, the girl celebrated her 18th birthday Paris Hilton–style, with a bash at New York’s Hiro Ballroom. Put on by one of her sponsors, Motorola, the soirée for Maria and dozens of her “closest friends” featured a performance by one of her favorite bands, Maroon 5. Lindsay Lohan even stopped by.

And if you think she’s one of those woe-is-me stars who dreads the limelight, she’s not. “A lot more people recognize me and that’s been fun,” she says. “You become a celebrity and I guess that says it all. It’s a lot easier to get into places where you want to get into.” Like Hiro. But Sharapova didn’t get there overnight. She’s done hard time on hard courts, and still does.

Just consider a recent practice session she had on a public park in a Los Angeles suburb. If you forget for a minute that you’re watching a global superstar, the scene is straight out of the backcourts at any high school. Her coach, a white-haired man named Robert Lansdorp, stands next to a big basket of balls, feeding one after another to Maria, yelling at her to get down to the ball and drive through it. She admits that before she met Lansdorp she’d never been particularly eager to practice; she was all about the competition. But Lansdorp insists—no, he demands—that she hit one ball after another.

Sharapova hangs on his every word, because, well, Lansdorp is the man, having shaped the ground strokes of Tracy Austin, Lindsay Davenport, and Pete Sampras.

Maria knows, too, that while bending your knees on the backhand and adjusting to changes in speed and spin are a world away from the celebrity lifestyle, practicing is the only way she’ll stay sharp, win more Slams, and avoid the pitfalls of a certain other blond Russian bombshell who’s bombed out. She says she’s far from a complete player, adding that she’d like to improve her backhand, volleys, and court coverage. This, mind you, from a player who this spring was closing in on the No. 1 ranking.

And Sharapova’s working all the time. Whether in Los Angeles with Lansdorp or all over the world with her traveling coach, former pro (and Lansdorp student) Michael Joyce, she puts in hours on the practice court and in the gym. On any given day, she’ll do medicine-ball routines and plyometrics, then hit the court. Remember her work ethic the next time you’re debating whether you should practice your serve or play Halo 2.

Since winning the Big W in 2004, Sharapova has inked lucrative endorsement deals with a slew of companies (Motorola, TAG Heuer, Colgate-Palmolive) to go with contracts she already had with Nike shoes and clothes and Prince racquets. In September, she’ll have a perfume that bears her name. All told, Maria earns major coin: $22.5 million annually (not counting prize money, of course). Since Wimbledon last year, she’s gone from having a respectable portfolio to being the highest-paid female tennis player and second overall, behind Andre Agassi.

Sharapova’s management team at IMG says Maria will, in short order, earn more money than any female athlete in history. Hyperbole? You bet. But you better believe it. Guys are crushing on her, girls want to be like her. And why not? You can write your own ticket when you’re a 6-foot pencil-thin blonde with a captivating smile, a giggly manner, and a Wimbledon trophy. Where is that trophy, by the way? “You don’t actually keep it but you keep a little replica,” Sharapova says. “It’s at home. It’s in a place where I can see it.”

Maria’s also winning over fans with her willingness to wear cool—but not ridiculous—threads on the court. “Fashion these days in tennis definitely has been something that players work with,” she says. “Fashion can express the way you feel, and I definitely think it’s very good for the sport. We don’t have to wear uniforms. We don’t have to be in what everybody else is in.”

Success has come so swiftly for Sharapova it’s hard to imagine that only a few years ago she was a 10-year-old kid learning the game from legendary coach Nick Bollettieri at his academy in Florida. There she roomed with girls nearly twice her age. Though she declines to say if they picked on her, Sharapova says that “they had totally different lives than me. I mean, my bedtime was four hours earlier than theirs was.”

No problem—Maria’s a morning person. “I don’t like to sleep in,” she says. “I want to get up and watch the sun rise.” There’s also a saying in tennis: The ball doesn’t know how old you are. Sharapova has been a natural from the get-go. Both Lansdorp and Bollettieri speak of how she competes without fear. “You get skilled and can learn how to play not to lose,” Lansdorp says. “But that’s never it with Maria. On the big points, you know she’ll play to win, to go for the shot that’s going to break open the point. I have no doubt she’ll become No. 1 in the world.”

When you think about it, Sharapova is a lot like Monica Seles—and not just because they’re both legendary grunters. Like Seles in her prime, Sharapova dictates play at the baseline with fierce, deep drives to the corners. The bigger the point, the closer to the lines she aims.

But there’s still work to be done. Lansdorp says she needs to round out her game by learning how to build points rather than trying to end them in a flash, get better at handling players who mix the speed and spin of their shots, and occasionally take advantage of her heavy ground strokes by coming to net. But it’s clear that Sharapova takes a long-term view of her tennis. Just after she’d lost in this year’s Australian Open semifinals to Serena Williams after holding three match points, she said, “You know, this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
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Old Mar 9th, 2006, 08:45 PM   #302
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Old Mar 10th, 2006, 03:52 PM   #303
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In the Mind of Maria Sharapova



Photo Gallery
Pacific Life Open


José Omar Ornelas, The Desert Sun
Maria Sharapova thinks about her answers during a press conference with local, national and international press at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Wednesday.

The Sharapova File
Age: 18
Residence: Bradenton, Fla.
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 130
Status: Pro (April of 2001)
2006 record: 10-3
2006 earnings: $353,175
Career earnings: $5,026,526
Highlights: 10 career WTA Tour singles titles; one Grand Slam title (2004 Wimbledon) Season-ending singles rankings: 2005-4; 2004-4; 2003-32; 2002-186

Watch her play
Maria Sharapova plays her first match at this year’s Pacific Life Open today at approximately 4:30 p.m. as the fourth match on Stadium Court, against Jamea Jackson.
</FONT>
Thomas St. Myer
The Desert Sun
March 10, 2006 March 10, 2006</FONT>
INDIAN WELLS - A double-bagel victim at the hands of Lindsay Davenport in the semifinals of the 2005 Pacific Life Open, Maria Sharapova returns to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in search of redemption.


"Oh yeah, I remember," Sharapova said of her 6-0, 6-0 defeat, "but I try to forget really quickly. It was just one of those days where nothing was going right for me. I don't think a lot of times in my career I'll be experiencing something like that."

Catapulted into superstar status after she won the 2004 Wimbledon singles title at age 17, Sharapova remained a fixture in the top five of the WTA Tour rankings and off the court the blonde bombshell cashed in on her fame. Last June, Forbes magazine listed her first among female athletes in the world with annual earnings of $18 million, and her endorsement revenue accounted for about 90 percent of that total.

Her face plastered everywhere, from billboards to commercials to magazines, Sharapova-mania spread across the world over the past two years. Arguably the face of the WTA Tour, she wears a target on her back that brings out the best in her opponents.

"At my first press conference announcing that I was playing the game again they asked me who do you want to play that you haven't played before, and I'm like 'Of course, Maria' because she's a player that's gotten to the top winning Wimbledon at 17," former world No. 1 Martina Hingis said. "I was just interested. I love playing her and hopefully we'll have many more matches."

Ranked fifth in the world, Sharapova split her two matches with Hingis thus far in 2006, and she notched victories over Nadia Petrova at the Australian Open and Lindsay Davenport at Dubai. But in all three events she walked away a loser, twice to second-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne and once to Hingis. Her title drought dates to 2005 when Sharapova fell short of the dominance she held in market appeal.

Winner of 41 of 48 matches through Wimbledon, Sharapova secured the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour top ranking, but she lost the top spot a week later to Davenport. Riddled with nagging injuries down the stretch, Sharapova lost five of her final 17 matches and dropped to fourth in the rankings, the same spot she held in 2004. Overall, she won 53 matches and three tournaments, but her play in the Grand Slam events fell short of expectations, other than maybe her own. She bowed out in the semifinals of three Grand Slam events and lost in the quarters of the French Open.

"I think I have been one of the most consistent players on tour in the past year. It just takes time for me to get past maybe playing two tough matches," Sharapova said. "Physically I'm not at the point yet where I can come out and play Justine and beat her easily. There's no rush. I'm not losing first or second round. Semifinal is not a bad place to be."

Throughout the ups and downs of the past year, Sharapova said she matured emotionally and physically. From a physical standpoint, she shot up another inch to 6-foot-2 and her muscles took their sweet time to catch up. She felt awkward on the court throughout that process and just recently found her comfort zone.

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"Overnight your muscles are not going to adapt to your bones," she said. "I'm done growing. I only grow when I put my high heels on now."


Still a teenager, Sharapova took a step toward adulthood a few months ago when she bought a house in Los Angeles on Manhattan Beach. She lives primarily with her mother in Bradenton, Fla., but over the past few months she frequented Los Angeles to decorate her new home.

"I spend so much time here I decided I finally need a house," she said.

Away from the courts, Sharapova lives the life of a Hollywood star. Her advertisement for Canon, where she serves and then the camera zooms out to a brick wall with the words formed by tennis balls says, "Maria was here. Canon PowerShot" plays on virtually every network. Last month, Sports Illustrated released its swimsuit issue with her featured in a six-page spread and in the bottom right corner of the magazine cover lies Sharapova with the words underneath her, "Maria Sharapova As You've NEVER Seen Her."

The WTA Tour undoubtedly profits from her notoriety, but some critics argue that all of her endorsement spots and photo ops take away from her time on the court and thus take away from her game. Sharapova argues otherwise.

"Every time I'm on the tennis court I know why I'm there. I know I'm there to play tennis," she said. "No one has pushed me to do things I don't want to do. I love everything I've done."

Already accustomed to the spotlight at age 18, Sharapova anticipates a brighter future both on and off the court with her transition into adulthood. "You grow up and you mature. Your tennis matures and you know I think there's a lot more maturing to do, so that's exciting. In my mind I know I can be better than I am," she said. "Some people might say I'm not there. I'm too young. I still think there are so many things that will make me better, and it's not going to come when I'm 19 or 20. It's going to come in a few years. People have to realize that, and I do and that's the most important thing."
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Old Mar 11th, 2006, 08:34 PM   #304
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GET OVER IT: A year ago, Maria Sharapova suffered the worst loss of her career when she lost to Lindsay Davenport 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals of the Pacific Life Open. Sharapova didn't have to answer many questions about the match since that time.

That all changed when Sharapova returned this year.

"It's funny because the whole year, I didn't get one question about it, and then I come back here, I'm getting all these questions about it," Sharapova said laughing. "It's been a year, huh? Come on guys. We need some new things."

GETTING OLDER: At 18, Sharapova is a staple of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. It's hard for her to grasp that she's become a veteran.

"It's funny because I'm starting to come back to the same tournaments year after year after year, and It's like 'Jesus, it's like the fourth year I'm here,'" said Sharapova, who made her professional debut at Indian Wells in 2002. "It seems like a lot, but I'll probably look in the future and four years from now I'm going to be like, 'Wow, eight years.'

"It does make me feel like a veteran, but I don't think as a fact I am, no."

Dear old mom: While Sharapova's father, Yuri, is a visible figure, her mother Yelena is rarely seen in public.

"She's not the type of person that likes to go to the tournaments and likes to be around basically a zoo with all animals," Sharapova said. "She's a very quiet lady and she doesn't like attention. She's very down to Earth. She'd rather read books all day than hanging around the players' lounge with all the players and the coaches and all the parents. It's not her thing.


"Even though she misses me, I don't want to put her in that situation where she doesn't want to be in."
Sharapova said. "Like I'll call her, I'll tell her I won and she'll be like, 'Oh cool.' I'll tell her I lose, and she'll just tell me, 'You play a tournament next week, who cares.' That's just the way she's always been."
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Old Mar 11th, 2006, 10:11 PM   #305
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thanks for that, very nice
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Old Mar 11th, 2006, 11:19 PM   #306
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2006 PACIFIC LIFE OPEN INTERVIEWS: March 10: Maria Sharapova


/noticias.info/ PACIFIC LIFE OPEN
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
March 10, 2006

M.SHARAPOVA/J.Jackson
6-4, 6-3

MARIA SHARAPOVA

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. How did you play today?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: My balls were flying more than they were in LA, getting spin on it, getting tighter tension. And then in totally different conditions, you're really cold out there, so I just had to adjust.

In the beginning I felt like I was hitting the ball, and a lot of the balls were coming back, but actually I wasn't hitting. So you think one thing and you look back and you weren't actually hitting.

Like I said, I don't think first match, you're going to play your best tennis, you know. I hung in there and I served smart and...

Q. Do you just kind of have to go out there and gut it out?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's her style. It's her game, you know, try to attack her serve. That's one of her weaknesses. She's a great mover out there and she makes you play another ball, and, you know, I was ready for that.

Q. Maria, does being from Siberia help?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't think so because I still feel really cold.

Q. Do you have any memories of Siberia?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't.

Q. Any memories of the last time you played here?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Was it on grass I think we played.

Q. The last time you played here.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, here.

Q. Yeah.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I thought you mean a -- when I was on the court?

Q. Yeah.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, no.

Q. Do you have any memories of the last time you played here and the results against Lindsay?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, do I have memories. Well, they're not great memories, so I don't really like to -- I don't really like to keep those memories.

Q. 6-Love, 6-Love. Seems to me that -- I mean, you were in a lot of games. It wasn't that you really wiped out.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's funny, because the whole year I didn't get one question about it, and then I come back here, I'm getting all these questions about it. It's been a whole year. It's been a whole year.

Q. It's been a year. That's why.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's been a year, huh? Come on, guys. We need some new things.

Q. You did okay in the next tournament?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, like I said, you have to get -- to take that out of your mind and, yes, learn from it and know that these days are going to come in your career. But forget about it, you know, because everything was just going wrong. So if you start thinking on what you can improve, I mean it's basically you can start over from zero.

Q. Maria, what would you like to improve if you had your choice, what part of the game would you like to get better?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, you know, I'm working on my net game, you know, working on coming in, watching the ball better, you know, seeing the short balls, you know, coming in and trying to finish the points sooner, you know, not letting my opponent get another chance to get back in the point.

Q. During that long break, what kind of things do you try to do?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Stay warm today, yeah.

Q. Maria, Martina Hingis is playing right now. You played her twice already. I don't know if anyone else has played her twice. Can you talk about those two matches, talk about her level.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Completely different situations, conditions, you know, in Tokyo the court was totally different, fast. I didn't try -- I wasn't playing my game. I was more worried about, um, you know, how to beat her rather than doing my thing. And in Dubai, the conditions were a little slower. You know, I played her before. I knew what to expect, and, you know, in Tokyo she served really great percentage of first serves, and, you know, and good placement. And, you know, I didn't serve well that day and things, you know, things turned around.

Q. Maria shouldn't the fast courts, though, favor you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it did, but not on that day, no. Usually --

Q. It's more -- sorry about that.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I think it was more of just the game plan. I wanted to take the ball a little bit earlier, not to give her any time. I was just making too many errors by doing that.

Q. Can a player like Martina Hingis with a really big weapon reach the upper echelon of the game?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, I don't think it's for me to predict. I mean, it's hard to say. You know, I don't like to predict things, yeah.

Q. Have you played against her and the power in the game today, do you think that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I don't -- I mean, I don't think it's all about power necessarily. I think there are -- I mean, there's -- a lot of the game has to do with mental and physical, and, I mean, yes, you know, it's definitely changed since -- you know, probably since she played, but we'll see.

Q. Do you get nervous?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not too much, no.

Q. Did you ever see her at the height of her game when you were a young girl, did you ever watch that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't remember specific matches that I watched. I mean, I probably watched, you know, just general matches, but I don't -- there wasn't a point where I remember who she played against or where or when it was.

Q. She was able to overcome the Williams sisters here. It's very interesting to see somebody with not much power or other --

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Like I said, I don't think it's all about power.

Q. So, Maria, when her balls are coming back?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Mm-hmm.

Q. Do you, can you tell how well she anticipates?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely.

Q. It's not just speed with her. It's real anticipation?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's one of her biggest strengths is her anticipation. The way she sees the ball, the way -- you know, the way she -- she knows what's coming next. She knows what's coming off her racket and it makes her look like she's quick, you know. Maybe she's not the quickest player, but it makes her look like she is because she's on time on every ball. But a lot of it has to do with her seeing the ball, you know, early, and she knows what you're going to do.

Q. Do you think you see the ball better now than you did say three or four years ago?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's definitely something that I'm working on. It's not just about hitting. It's also about seeing what comes off of your opponent's racket, yeah.

Q. Is it hard to understand the attention she's getting?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is it harder to --

Q. Just to understand sort of the need of attention on Martina Hingis, you know, having sort of the --

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I think it's great for tennis. I think it's great for the sport. I mean, it's great for the fans to see someone that was a great champion, I don't know, a few years ago and that is coming back.

Q. Maria, what's the status of your shoulder injury?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's getting better. It's definitely better than it was last year. I mean there's some days where, you know, it hurts a little bit. There are some days where it's perfect. You know, but I'm maintaining the pain.

Q. Is it tough on a day like today?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It is. It is tough. It's cold. Your shoulder, I mean, your whole body, your joints don't feel really warm. I'll get treatment tonight. I'll have a day off tomorrow, so it should be fine.

Q. Maria, have you had one tournament here where you could take your service as well as you want to through the tournament without your shoulder bothering you, getting tired?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: In Australia my shoulder was -- I mean, remembering all the matches, I think there's pretty much 100 percent, but because I didn't practice as -- I mean, I felt like I could hit hard, but because I didn't get to practice as many serves before the Australian, I did not feel that it was hard. But I do think it's gaining speed.

I mean, I was hitting 105, 108 tonight, but, you know, I don't -- it's definitely not getting slower. That's a good sign. I'm not holding back as I was last year with the shoulder.

Q. Maria, being a leading member of the teens that are in the top 100 right now, what do you attribute to that trend?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I don't know. That's -- I mean, I guess hard work and dedication. I mean, wanting to be the best, but, you know, you -- you never know if that's going to happen or not, you know.

Q. Is it the predecessors? Is it like globalization of the sport? Is it girls maturing earlier? What do you think it is?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think girls have to mature in this sport, have to mature quicker than probably normal 18-year-old girls simply because this is -- you know, I think it's a tougher life than just going to school and having more of a social life. I mean, you have a job. You're a professional athlete. You travel around the world and some players don't even travel with their family members. I mean that -- that's -- that's very difficult, especially when you're younger.

But, you know, at the same time, you know that makes them tough, and, I mean, it -- I don't know.

Q. You're still only 18. In the last two years, you've been the focus of attention all over the world. In one sense, do you also feel a little like a veteran on the tour, you've played so much, you've had such a lot of success?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's funny because I'm starting to come back to the same tournaments year after year after year, and it's like, Jesus, it's like the fourth year I'm here. It seems a lot, but I'll probably look in the future and four years from now I'm going to be like, "Wow, eight years."

So in a way, yeah, it does. But then I look at the facts and I'm just, you know, almost 19. So in a way, I am. But there are younger girls than me on the tour now and, you know, they're coming -- they're coming up and, yeah, it does. I mean, it does make me feel like a veteran, but I don't think as a fact I am, no.

Q. In Martina's life, Martina Hingis's life, her mom was a very important character, she was her coach and everything practically. In yours, it's your father, but we seldom hear about your mom. What's her role in your career, her position?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Her role is to be my mother, that's her main role. And my father's role is to be my father, and that's the most important role and support that I can get in my life, so...

But saying that, you know, my mom she's not the type of person that likes to go to the tournaments and likes to be around basically a zoo with all animals. You know, she's a very quiet lady and she doesn't like attention. She's very down to earth. She'd rather read books all day, you know, than be hanging around the players' lounge with, you know, all the players and all the coaches and all the parents. You know, it's not her thing.

And even though she misses me, I don't want to put her in the situation where, you know, she doesn't want to be in, you know. But I miss her a lot when I'm on tour and I talk to her every single day. But, you know, she's my mom and when I see her, you know, she's my best friend.

Q. Does she watch your matches on TV?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.

Q. Never?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Well, she saw the Wimbledon final, yeah.

Q. That was a while ago now. Does she get too nervous about it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, she doesn't get nervous, but she -- to her, it just -- it's weird, because to her, it doesn't really matter if I lose or win. She's that kind of person. Like I'll call her, I'll tell her I won, and she'll be like, "Oh cool." I'll tell her I lose, and she'll just tell me, you know, "You play a tournament next week, who cares." Yeah, that's just the way she's always been.

Q. So it sounds like she balances you pretty well, right?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah, she does. I take her, you know, to all my -- to all my exhibitions that I do and, you know, all my -- she does like the photo shoots and the education part of it and where I just like playing, like merry-go-rounds here, like the lights are playing (laughter).

Q. What's like the main character? Is there something that's in you from your mother, that it's just something that actually reminds you of your mom?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: That I'm a strong woman, that I'm intelligent, and that I'm down to earth. She's taught me all of that.

Q. Does she know anything about tennis? Did she ever say don't do this?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no, no. Jesus, I mean, am I on the spotlight now? Is this like the question? No. No. She'll definitely ask me, like, if my homework's done today, but, no, she'll never ask me about anything.

Q. Is she strict?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is she strict? Um, I can get away with things with her, yeah.

Q. You talk about photo shoots. Did you take her to the Sports Illustrated one?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah.

Q. What did she think?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: She thought it was beautiful, but that's my mom, you know. I mean what is she going to tell me, it's ugly?

Q. Not only that but --

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Huh?

Q. I didn't mean it that way.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I mean -- thank you. No, she -- I mean, she thought it was. It turned out really well, you know. She told me it turned out really classy, and if you look through the whole magazine, I mean, there are a lot more unclassier pictures in that magazine than the pictures that I did, that we shot with a photographer. So, you know, it turned out really good and everybody's pretty happy.

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Old Mar 12th, 2006, 02:35 AM   #307
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the usual off-topic questions there but some good answers to read
Some nice words about Martina but we see her shoulder is still giving a little trouble.

Quote:
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, you know, I'm working on my net game, you know, working on coming in, watching the ball better, you know, seeing the short balls, you know, coming in and trying to finish the points sooner, you know, not letting my opponent get another chance to get back in the point.
spot on Masha
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Old Mar 12th, 2006, 08:23 AM   #308
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Hope her shoulder stays fine

as usual they asked many dumb and rude question, good answers from Maria
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Old Mar 13th, 2006, 11:25 AM   #309
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Quote:
Working on her short game: With her powerful groundstrokes, Maria Sharapova can slug it out from the baseline with the best of them. However, Sharapova is working on coming to the net.

So far, it's something Sharapova is having a hard time getting used to.

"I did it in a few of my matches in Dubai. I was hitting a great first volley, then I was like, 'Whoa, do I need a second volley too?'" Sharapova said. "I'm doing a lot more drills, a lot more volleys because before, I'd hit a great approach shot and kind of go to La La Land. I didn't really know what I was doing out there. But now I definitely feel a lot more confident."

Although Sharapova isn't quite as comfortable at the net, she has shown progress.

"A year ago, I probably wouldn't even have in my mind to go to the net," Sharapova said. "Everything was basically just from the baseline for me and that took a year for me to actually get in my mind and start going.

"Now it's just a process of working on it, getting it better, and adding it to my game when I'm playing matches."
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Old Mar 13th, 2006, 06:30 PM   #310
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An interview with: MARIA SHARAPOVA

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria, please.

Q. How cold was it out there for you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was pretty cold. I usually don't wear pants when I play, but today was definitely the day to get them out.

Q. When is the last time you wore pants during a match?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I wore capris before I think in Birmingham during a doubles match, but that's about it.

Q. So how long did it take you to get warm enough when you felt comfortable?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It took a few games, took a few games to get used to the weather, to the lights, to my opponent, you know, a little bit of everything. But, you know, I served well from the beginning, and, you know, I felt like I was serving well. And I was making a few errors on the return until I just had to get a little rhythm on the return.

Q. When it's that cold, do you feel like you're getting enough hit on the ball? Do you have to swing a little harder?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Actually, today the ball was flying a little more than it was the other day. I thought the conditions on Friday were a lot heavier than today.

Q. So you're pretty pleased after two matches?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I am. You know, my -- I served really well today. I definitely can start better, but overall, yeah.

Q. Maria, when you're playing somebody who's a doubles specialist, do you feel a lot more confident that they're not ready to give you the battle in singles, or is it a different feeling?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not necessarily. She has a lot of experience behind her back playing singles, so I know -- I mean, she's a very experienced player. She's got a great slice, you know, pretty flat slice. So you have to be ready, and, you know, experience is definitely a great advantage in a matter if you're a doubles or singles specialist.

You know, she's very patient out there, but has a good serve. So every match, I have to be ready. But I don't think -- I don't think she's necessarily just a doubles specialist.

Q. Maria, when you're that far up in a set and you feel like I'm pretty much in control here, do you ever think, "Okay now this is time for me to bring out some of the stuff I've been working on in practice and in the matches"?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the points at the end were pretty short. It was basically I went to ball combinations. So I -- when I tried to serve and volley, I missed my first serve, so that didn't really work. But overall, you know, I think I moved well and I think, as I said, towards the middle of the first set, I started moving a little bit better, and, you know, started running around my backhand and hitting a few extra forehands, just to get going.

Q. What's the thought in practice about the serve and volley and how much are you doing it in practice and how comfortable are you hitting the serve and then actually having to run forward?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right. I'm actually feeling a lot better out there. You know, before it was a matter of practicing the first ball, getting to net and hitting the first ball. And then I started playing a few -- I played a few practice matches and I did it, and, you know, I did it in a few of my matches in Dubai. I was hitting a great first volley, then I was like, whoa, do I need a second volley, too?

So now, you know, I'm doing a lot more drills, a lot more volleys because before, I'd hit a great approach shot and kind of go to La La Land. I didn't really know what I was doing out there. But now I definitely feel a lot more confident. I feel my ground when I'm up there.

Q. So you could see maybe in the next couple years, I mean obviously players who start from the back rarely complete transition into serve and volley, but someone like Mauresmo will end up coming to net more, using that as a part of the arsenal. Can you see that from yourself?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely. I think, you know, adding a little variation to my game will definitely help it, you know. But a year ago, I probably wouldn't even have in mind to go to the net, you know. Everything was basically just from the baseline for me, and, you know, that took a year for me to actually get in my mind and start going there. And now it's just a process of working on it, getting it better, and adding it to my game when I'm playing, you know, matches.

Q. Maria, everybody reacts differently if the rain starts while they're playing. Andre was angry, Safin said you have a right to stop the game. Does it make you nervous? Are you afraid, or would you stop the game if you don't feel safe?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course I'd stop the game if you don't feel safe. You know, I don't know what the rule is on that, you know, if both of us have to say we have to -- we want to stop or the umpire does, but I mean definitely. If I don't feel safe, I'm going to tell the chair umpire, for sure. I'm not going to play when the lines are wet.

Q. Maria, you've done some incredible, very quiet but incredible charity work for some causes back in Russia. The kids in high school near me noted it was the 20th anniversary of Chernobyl. They're doing some incredible stuff for people there still suffering. Are you aware at all about the situation?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I'm aware, I'm aware of that situation, but, you know, right now I'm playing a tournament and it's hard, you know, to balance a lot of things at this point. But yeah, I definitely know that that happened that long ago and, you know, my -- like I said, in my salary, my team and I are working -- working on different -- different charities, trying to -- trying to come up with a plan because that's going to be a very important part of my life.

Q. If I may follow-up with what I asked you, for instance, the TV and all of that, you are judging, well, it's not safe for me, would you still take the step and stop the game?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, it's my own safety, so, yeah. If I don't feel safe enough I'm -- you know, I'm going to point it out, you know. I'm going to tell the umpire I don't feel safe and, you know, at that point, I mean, I definitely wouldn't be lying if I didn't feel safe, I'm not safe. I'm not going to play. I don't think an umpire can force you.

Q. Lindsay said that she had a chance to play the stadium if it would be a night match or play outside court for a day match. Did you have that option of where you could play today?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Say again? What did Lindsay?

Q. Lindsay had an option of playing in the stadium, it would probably be at night, or playing on an outside court and play a day match, and she chose the outside because she wanted to play a bit warmer. Did you have an option today or did it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think so. I don't think I had an option, no.

Q. If you did, what would you prefer?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Probably play in the day because it is warmer, but, I mean, doesn't make any sense. I mean, now it's over so.

Q. Maria, your outfit tonight with the leggings and the long sleeves, was that an indication you thought the weather might be marginal?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it was pretty cold, yeah. Definitely not a trend you'll be seeing more of, I don't think, from me, but I think the weather kind of came up with that trend.

Q. Did it concern you about pulling muscles, a leg muscle or any concerns about that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I haven't really -- I haven't really felt concerned about pulling things, you know, pulling that muscle simply because I've -- I spent the last six months, or the last year worrying about that, and, you know, I've done all the worrying. There's no more worrying left in the bag. So, you know, I just go out and I -- I don't worry about it because I played -- I still played a lot of tennis last year and under heavy conditions, too, and, yes, it started hurting, but nothing was torn or pulled, thank, God. But, yeah. Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Just to clarify, I think just from what I took from what Lindsay said, I don't think she requested. I think she actually requested that it wasn't placed as an option. That's what I took from what Lindsay said, if that makes sense.
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Old Mar 13th, 2006, 06:38 PM   #311
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Thanks Jakim
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maria S
So now, you know, I'm doing a lot more drills, a lot more volleys because before, I'd hit a great approach shot and kind of go to La La Land. I didn't really know what I was doing out there. But now I definitely feel a lot more confident. I feel my ground when I'm up there.
Good to hear
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Old Mar 14th, 2006, 12:56 PM   #312
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Can't wait to see her on TV! Espn2 should show at least part of her match tonight.
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Old Mar 15th, 2006, 06:39 AM   #313
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An interview with: MARIA SHARAPOVA

March 14, 2006


M.SHARAPOVA/S.Peer

7-6, 6-1

An interview with:

MARIA SHARAPOVA

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria, please.

Q. Kind of took a while to get going tonight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I started off okay. I just tried to get used to her timing on our serve. It was a little bit difficult. She wasn't making a lot of first serves. The second serve kicked up pretty high. It took me a while to get used to that, try to attack it.
As the match went on, I felt more confident about it. You know, should have taken my opportunity at 5-3, at 5-4, especially serving for the set. I don't think I should have let it go to a tiebreak.

Q. Are you happy with the way things are going so far for you in this tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I am. You know, I played under the lights almost every match. I'll be playing again tomorrow. It's kind of different. Usually you play some at night, usually you play some at day. I've been playing under the lights.
The conditions are a little bit heavier than usually when I practice during the day, so it's a little bit different. But I've adjusted well. I'm looking forward to improving the next round.

Q. Even though that first set was so close, were you at all concerned or did you feel you were pretty much in control of the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I was. But a lot of players can play well when they're behind. That's just the way it is. They have nothing to lose. 3-1, then 5-3. They just start playing a lot better simply because they have nothing to lose. They're down a break.
I guess that's when you need to be extra careful because out of nowhere your opponent can start playing really well. It's important to close it out if you can.

Q. Last year you played soccer here a little bit. When you play soccer, is that, in a sense, also some kind of preparation for the grass?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. It has nothing to do with the grass courts or anything. Just more to get your body going. I'd rather do that than run around the field for 20 minutes. It's much more exciting, much more fun. It's competitive. That's what makes it fun for me.

Q. Did you see Nadal playing soccer?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. But I'm sure he's pretty good. All the Spanish guys are really good.

Q. Your thoughts about the next round?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I played Groenefeld last time in Moscow, very weird match. Unfortunately, she sprained her ankle. It will be a totally different match tomorrow. I was worried a lot about my injury in Moscow. I'm feeling a lot better about it this year. So hopefully, you know...
She's a great player. She serves really big. That's one of her biggest strengths. I want to make sure I serve well and try to put pressure on her serve.

Q. Any thoughts about the match between Lindsay and Hingis today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't see it.

Q. When Groenefeld, she seems to get under the radar, and suddenly she's the No. 7 seed.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she's had really good results last year. I think she played really solid tennis. Like I said, she's a tall girl and uses her height really well with big groundstrokes, a big serve. I think the big serve, if you can hold your serve, against many players, that works.

Q. Ana Ivanovic, from what was once Yugoslavia, she is your age. Any perspective that you see in her as a player?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I have not played her. It's hard for me to say. I've seen her. I've seen other, I don't want to say younger because I'm the same age, 18-, 17-year-old girls play as well. It's hard for me. I've seen them on TV. They've definitely got a lot of potential.
But I have not played her so it's hard for me to tell you her strengths or weaknesses.
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 12:32 AM   #314
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Smile

SORRY, MARIA
------------
Baroch's probably one of a few men to have turned down Sharapova

Cubby Leong
cubby@newstoday.com.sg

HE WAS so good Russian superstar Maria Sharapova approached him twice to
take her under his wing.

Both times tennis coach Michael Baroch turned the 2004 Wimbledon champion
down.

A long-time coaching understudy of Australian legend Tony Roche, who is
now guiding men's world No 1 Roger Federer, Baroch declined the chance to
travel the world with current world No 5 Sharapova in late 2003 and then
again in March 2004.

The Australian, who is in Singapore conducting a coaching clinic sponsored
by VGO Corporation, Head and Penn, said: "I couldn't travel because the
contract was for 40 weeks and I've got a business at the Melbourne
International Tennis School (MITS) to run.

"It's pretty hard to travel for 40 weeks without my wife and kids.

"Of course it was a disappointment.

"I said no to Sharapova in 2004 and she went on to win Wimbledon. It is a
loss, but the Sharapova thing might not be around forever. My family will
be there all the time. Plus, I think we're doing a good job at the
Melbourne academy."

The 39-year-old coach's CV includes the likes of Ivan Lendl and Mark
Philippoussis. He coached Sharapova briefly just before the start of the
2003 Australian Open.

Baroch then accompanied her on the circuit for a month or so, but he could
not continue coaching the Russian beauty permanently.

While he is not the one responsible for plotting more Grand Slam titles
for Sharapova, Baroch feels he has the answer to how the 18-year-old can
add to her collection.

"Maria's got to make a few adjustments to her game. I think she becomes
predictable at times," he claimed.

"She has to get a defensive game going because that gets her undone.

"She's such a great player anyway so it's a matter of time before she does
win more Grand Slams."

Using Sharapova as an example, Baroch points to desire, rather than any
revolutionary coaching policy at the Russian tennis federation, for the
rise of talented women players in the country.

There are currently six Russian women in the world's top 20 and Baroch
said: "The Russian tennis revolution is an interesting one. They're so
desperate to win. You look at girls like Nadia Petrova and Elena
Dementieva and they all want to win.

"That's the common thread through all of them. They're so hungry for
victory."

When Martina Hingis made her comeback at this year's Australian Open after
a three-year absence and reached the quarter-finals, the old argument that
the women's game was simply too low in standard reared its ugly head
again.

Baroch feels that is unfair.

"I think it's an incredible effort for anybody to come back after three
years and do so well, regardless of the standard of play," he insisted.

"I can't see that the standard in the women's game has dropped all that
much. You look at the top-20 girls and it's pretty loaded. Anyone can beat
anyone.

"You've got girls like Anastasia Myskina and Ana Ivanovic who can really
play and they are ranked 12th and 19th in the world.

"They are all young girls who can play and have wins against the players
in the top 10.

"Maybe the standard drops off a little bit once you go past the top 20
players in the world, but it is a competitive top tier."
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 01:42 AM   #315
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Yea I remember Baroch being involved in 2003, it would be good for Maria to be able to work with someone of that quality again. He missed the chance to be involved in that magic time in 2004 but hes happy so its all good.
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