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March 15, 2015
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
S. STEPHENS/S. Kuznetsova
7‑6, 1‑6, 6‑4
THE MODERATOR:¬† Questions, please.
Q.¬† Topsy‑turvy match.¬† Second, third set, dropped serve.¬† Then you broke.¬† What was going on?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† Yeah, I was up and down.¬† She played some good tennis and I played some good tennis at times.¬† Just happy to get through it.
Q.¬† What do you feel went well in your game today?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† I was running down a lot of balls, making her play a lot of shots.¬† I was trying to be aggressive.¬† But you're playing an opponent, so, you know, it's kind of tough to always execute and things like that, especially when you're playing a good player.
I just tried to stick with it.¬† In the end I was happy to get the win.
Q.¬† You have had a pretty tough draw here beating out two former top 5 at least players.¬† How happy are you with your first week here?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† It's good.¬† I played some really good matches.¬† It was good to get through them.¬† I mean, obviously it's tough playing top players, but to get through both of the last two was really good for me.
Q.¬† Do you feel it was a result you needed at some level, that you were searching for this sort of good run?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† I mean, you could say that, but, like I said, I'm just happy with the wins and happy that I was able to string a couple of matches together.
When I wasn't playing great I was able to pull it together.¬† That was good.
Q.¬† You're playing Serena next.¬† What are you going to do to get ready for that match?¬† What are you expecting from her?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† The same thing I do every day:¬† just go out and play my game.¬† Stay focused and fight hard and just get out there and compete.
Q.¬† What are you expecting from her?¬† Did you watch her play today?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† No, but she's the No. 1 player in the world and I expect her to play really well.
Q.¬† The last couple of weeks, have you played better overall?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† Yeah.¬† I mean, this last week‑‑ I mean, the last three matches I have played better.¬† I'm happy with that.
Q.¬† With the coach, everything like that, I know it took a little while in January, February, but you seem to look better overall.
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† Yeah, definitely there are ups and downs.¬† I'm happy with the way things are going now and happy to get the wins this week, and hopefully just keep building on that.
Q.¬† More confident overall coming in to Indian Wells?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† You could say that if you want.
Q.¬† You used to be a little bit chummy with Serena, and then after you beat her in the Australian Open 2013 she sort of cut ties with you.¬† I'm just wondering, what's your relationship with her like now?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† She's the No. 1 player in the world and she's a competitor, and that's it.
Q.¬† I'm just like have you mended fences with her?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† No.¬† She's a competitor; she's the No. 1 player in the world.¬† She's ‑‑ what do you call it?¬† She's a ‑‑you know, when you work with someone?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† A colleague.¬† There you go.¬† She's a colleague.¬† (Smiling.)
Q.¬† So I think Nick came out at least once on the court.
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† Yeah.
Q.¬† What kind of things was he saying to you?¬† What's it like hearing that voice in a competitive environment?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† I mean, it's good.¬† He's talking about staying focused, executing my shots, making sure I was doing the things I needed to do, winning points, and things like that.
Like I told Justin in the Tennis Channel booth, Nick's voice is someone you hear even when he's not coaching you.¬† He's someone that you're always like, Ooo, Nick would have said that.¬† I think definitely it's good to have him there; especially nice for him to be able to come on the court.
But definitely just trying to encourage me and keep it going.
Q.¬† Does it mean anything to you that two African‑American women are meeting here in the fourth round after what happened to Serena a long time ago?¬† Does that sort of up the stakes for you or make it more important or interesting or special?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† I think it's always interesting when you play the No. 1 person in the world, and just looking forward to it.
Q.¬† There was a lot made of your relationship with Serena ‑¬† good and bad, I guess‑ in 2013.¬† The three matches you played against her were all very competitive.¬† How do you look back on that time, the attention that was there?¬† A lot of good and bad, I guess, during that stretch.
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† Just, I mean, I felt like every match I played against her I have played well.¬† I mean, it's always an honor to play No. 1 player in the world.¬† Obviously someone of her stature who has won so many titles and the great player she is, I just have to just go out there and play my game and do all I can and just compete.
Q.¬† There has been some players when they play Serena they can't rise up to the occasion, but you have all three times.¬† Why do you think you're able to raise to your level to play to the No. 1 player in the world and maybe other people haven't been able to?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† I don't know.¬† I just get out there and play and compete and make sure I am making the other person across the net from me play a lot of balls and match me.¬† That's all you can really do when you get out on court.
Q.¬† Do you remember when you beat her Aussie Open 13, beat her in the quarterfinals?¬† Were you really, really happy?¬† Do you remember that day?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† Was I happy?
Q.¬† Yeah.¬† Was it the best match you played?¬† You beat Serena in quarters.¬† That was a big win.
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† Yeah, I thought I played well there, but I know I'm not getting old.¬† Like I do remember this, but...
Q.¬† 2013 wasn't that long ago.
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† So much has happened since then.
I remember playing well there, but I think I played better when I played her at the US Open the same year.
So, I don't know.¬† I obviously didn't win, but I thought I played a little more solid in that match.
Q.¬† Every time I have mentioned you on Twitter, which I know you think is a lot...
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† It is a lot.
Q.¬† Anyway, any time I've mentioned you I have all these Serena fans immediately criticizing you out of nowhere.
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† Oh, they hate me.
Q.¬† Why do you think that is?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† I don't know, but they are the first people to get blocked on my Twitter.¬† I am the queen of blocking.¬† Okay?¬† You say one bad thing, block.¬† I ‑‑block.
No.¬† There is no room for negativity.¬† I understand that they are die‑hard fans and I appreciate that.¬† I'm sure she does, too.¬† But some of the comments and some of the things are know so unnecessary.
It comes to the point where you're on Twitter saying mean things about someone else.¬† Like what do you actually doing with your life?¬† Like is this your day job or how does that work?¬† I'm just like ‑‑I don't understand it.¬† But die‑hard fans are die‑hard fans, so...
Q.¬† Just taking some getting used to.¬† It's jarring.¬† You get it more and more directly.
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† Yeah.¬† I mean, some of the things are crazy and outrageous.¬† Like I said, I have gotten really friendly with the block button.¬† One bad thing, block.¬† Block, block, block.¬† So...
Q.¬† If you were to estimate, how many people have you blocked?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† Oh, God, it's not even funny.¬† It's too many.
Q.¬† More than a thousand?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† Oh, I don't know.¬† But I just don't like negativity.¬† And I think if you have something negative to say, think it.¬† You don't have to, you know, express it to me, at me, whatever you want to call it.¬† It is what it is.¬† Like I said, a die‑hard fan is a die‑hard fan.
Q.¬† Are you more protective of yourself on Twitter?¬† You obviously, early on on Twitter, were much more expressive, and now it's maybe a little more stringent.
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† I think Twitter has changed like since I started tweeting and it was fun.¬† It's definitely become ‑‑it's become a source for people to attack other people, and I am ‑‑I'm not really into that.¬† Like if I was a nobody, I wouldn't attack a celebrity and say, Hey, you suck or whatever.
That's not just me.¬† I feel like a lot of that‑‑ there is a lot of abuse like that, and I try to stay away from it.¬† I only tweet positive things and retweet positive things and that's all I can do from my end.
Q.¬† Any idea how this happens?¬† Seems like you get the brunt of it worse than a lot of people?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† I don't know.¬† I don't really care.¬† I don't live my life for Twitter.¬† I have a lot of other things going on.¬† It's okay that people don't like me on Twitter.¬† I will live.
Q.¬† Did you ever get to the point where you would just get off Twitter?¬† What keeps you coming back when there is all this ‑‑and I haven't seen them.¬† I'm just learning about them.
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† It's fun.¬† It's something you can just express yourself and not really have to worry about what other people are saying.¬† I think it's a good tool.¬† I mean, I love Twitter.¬† I have always loved Twitter.
I'm not going to let people who say bad things or negative things about me scare me away from doing what I like to do.¬† At the end of the day, people are saying something bad about me and negative, and they are not people I care about, they're not in my life, they're not people I love, so it doesn't really matter to me.
Q.¬† What will make you happy against Serena in two days?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† If I play a good match and I just go out there and compete and have fun.
Q.¬† And play well, I assume.
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† That too, I would assume.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports