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August 19, 2017

Sloane Stephens

Cincinnati, Ohio

S. HALEP/S. Stephens

6-2, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It looked like she had a pretty good read on your serve. What did you find to be a struggle out there? How much did yesterday's double-header kind of impact things today?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I mean, three matches in 24 hours is never easy, so gonna go with that. I actually didn't think I played that badly. I think she's just a little bit fresher and just wasn't a great day.

Q. Overall, how are you feeling with your US Open leadup? Two back-to-back really great weeks for you. Outside 900 to top 100 in the rankings. How does it feel to be you right now?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't know. When you saw me in D.C., what did you think?

Q. I didn't think you were going to make back-to-back semis.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Me, neither (smiling).

No, not too bad. I mean, obviously I couldn't have -- if I said to you, Oh, yeah, I'm going to make back-to-back semis, you would have been, like, Bullshit.

I think I'm in a good place, in a good position. I'm actually playing really well. I'm just happy that my foot is okay and that I can run and things are good.

So I don't have much to complain about. I just gotta go out there and compete and just play the best that I can.

Q. Just curious about the foot. Do you feel like with the two tournaments that you had in with Wimbledon and D.C., do you think the last couple of weeks you finally kind of like trusted it, having run around a little bit and testing it in match play?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. I think Wimbledon was a little bit unfair. First tournament back. I was so nervous. I was, like, Am I going to break my foot and fall? Like, I didn't know what was going on. It was a tough time. But I didn't play poorly in that match, either. I played a really great grass court player.

I think Wimbledon, D.C., I played two really good players. I was, like, Dang, hopefully I get an easier draw, and I didn't (smiling).

No, I think it was just, like, a matter of being on the court again and, like, competing and kind of, like, finding a way. Once I got comfortable, it was not smooth sailing but easier sails.

Q. What did you miss most about being away?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Getting to see you lovely people. I mean, come on.

No, I think a just missed competing, being out on court. Obviously there are some really great things about playing tennis and there are some really sucky things. Yeah, just being able to travel every week and go to cities that I love.

Like, here I love going to Cracker Barrel. Like, yeah, every city, every place you go to, there is one thing you absolutely love.

For here, super excited to get to Cracker Barrel and super excited to stay at The Hyatt Place. You have little things you like in each city.

Q. Your next city on your schedule New Haven. Are you feeling good about playing there? Are you thinking about rest before the Open?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, definitely have to think about rest, but I don't like to make decisions right after I play, because sometimes they are very emotional. I like to pull the village together and everyone go sit in a corner and make your own vote, and then we can rendezvous at whatever time and figure it out.

I think we're in the everyone is taking their vote and is in a corner now.

Q. Are you looking forward to being, like, the most dangerous floater in this draw?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, yeah, of course. I'm so excited (smiling).

Yeah, no, I have never -- this is a really, like, weird position to be in. Like, obviously starting at 900, like, a month ago, whatever it was, three weeks ago, I think everyone is a little bit scared, no? I'm scared. I'm, like, Whoa, how did I do that?

I think it's a good place to be in. I think for my tennis, like, my rank, it's kind of matching. It's not bad.

Q. What was your favorite moment from this week, achievement-wise?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't know. That I played two matches in a day and that I, like, didn't absolutely lose my mind. So, yeah, I think that was pretty good.

Q. Do you like talking to us?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Some days. Like today isn't bad. Then there are some days, like, Really? Come on. Like, You guys can't be serious.

Q. Your loss, does it not hurt as bad today because you're kind of playing with house money, that whole thing?
SLOANE STEPHENS: House money? I like that (smiling).

No, it still stinks, but I think from where I started at Wimbledon and from where I was in D.C. till now, I have beaten some really good players. I have played some really great tennis. If someone said, You're going to make back-to-back semis and you're going to beat Kvitova and Safarova and all these players, I would have been, like, You sound crazy.

I think for me, now in this position, it sucks, but it's not nearly as bad as it could have been.

Q. Do you feel like in any ways you'd do anything better than whatever your previous peaks were? You didn't always put together back-to-back tournaments quite this good.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Thank you for that reminder (smiling).

I'd say it's a little bit more consistent, but I'm going to have to back it up. There are a lot more tournaments to play. The end of the year is always really tough. But obviously this is, like, the beginning of the year for me. If I can keep this going through the US Open and in Asia, then, yeah, it will be good.

Obviously I have, like, I don't know, like 10 -- not 10; 6 or 7, something like that. If I can get through those with the same consistency that I did these last two weeks, I'll say I will be a pretty happy camper.

Q. Earlier in the week playing Kvitova, your backhand was flowing very well. Did you feel you were playing especially well in that match early on?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I honestly don't even remember playing her. I can't even tell you. So much has happened since then.

I can say that I did play well in that match, and I think my backhand has just been really good the last two weeks. I played so many lefties. All they do is hit to your backhand. I have to say I'm proud of the way my backhand held up.

Q. A lot of unknowns. We've seen it this year with Sharapova, Kvitova, Azarenka, different things shaking out with them. How happy are you with getting sort of past uncertainties and coming back on court? Now you seem to be in a good place.
SLOANE STEPHENS: You just never know what to expect when you come back, because obviously you can reinjure yourself, you can do really great, consistent results, and then first round, first round, first round. There are so many different directions you can go.

I think, for me, I have just been lucky that I have had two great weeks back to back leading no the US Open, my home slam. My situation, my circumstances, whatever, are looking pretty good for me. Same for Kvitova. She came back and won a grass court tournament. It just kind of depends on the person, the situation, or whatever.

Q. Could you talk about your coaches a little bit? You stuck with Kamau during the injury. Just the role they have played in helping you when you were hurt and now you're back and you're playing.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I mean, they have been great. Not much to really say. They're the coaches, so they just tell me what to do and I do it. Not really much to it.

Q. So it's kind of like a boss relationship for a player?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, I'm their boss.

Q. You said they tell you what to do.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, coaching-wise. That's what you hire them for. So they do.

But, yeah, they have been great. Obviously we have had some good weeks. I mean, I can't complain. They have been doing their jobs, obviously.

Q. A lot of players this week had to play, in one day, four sets or five sets or whatever it was. How would you feel if you were playing best three out of five sets at a Grand Slam? You have one day off and then you might play a five-set match, a day off and a five-set match? How would you feel? How would WTA players feel about that?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Honestly, I have never even thought about it, and I have no feelings towards it. If they were to tell you that you have to play three out of five now, I'd say, Okay, great.

Q. Do you feel like you'd be strong to stay in the fifth set?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I mean, sure. If that's your only option, then yep.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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