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March 15, 2015

Sloane Stephens


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?

Q.  Colleague.
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.

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?

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

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