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September 6, 2017

Coco Vandeweghe

New York, NY, USA


7-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You have had a lot of frustration at this tournament over the years, but here you are in the semi now. What changed?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: I'm a pretty positive person, so I don't really look too much at the negatives of my life. I try to move forward as best I can, and I've always done that. I've always been more of a glass half full. I don't really take too much in previous bad experiences. I take more in the positives and learning curve that you can learn from losses; you can learn from wins.

Q. You said you dreamed about being at this stage since when you were 16 and you won it here. Can you elaborate on that a little?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Yes, I think most every junior player that plays tennis dreams of holding the big Grand Slam trophies at the end of a tournament.

I think the dream still holds as far as, you know, I'm still searching for that trophy at the end of the week.

Q. Just watching you at match point and the collapse on the court, emotions are obviously extremely powerful. Knocking off a top seed along the way, No. 1 in the world. Talk about the match and what it means to you to get to the semifinals here.
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Well, I think it's a lot of validated work. I think what really was going through my mind in that moment was I'm a big believer that my grandparents are still with me. It was more just looking up and feeling the love of everything that was going on.

Really happy with how I was able to close out the match in the fashion that I did and in front of the crowd today.

Q. Certainly three and potentially four American women in there, Venus being one of them. What does that mean to you as an American playing here at the US Open?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Well, like I said on court, Venus last night said it very well that, you know, the younger ones were looking at Lindsay, Jennifer, and Serena and Venus. I think that still holds of, you know, we wanted to be those same players in a later generation or be those. You know, now that we're older, we can put that into words, but we all wanted to be there.

For myself, I mean, it's really nice to have an all-American semi on one side, because for sure there is going to be an American in the final.

But I think it would be even more exciting for you guys to write about if there are two all-American semis.

Q. After the match, you went over and talked to Pat Cash. What has he been able to bring out or help you over the last couple of months? And how big of a difference has that, working with Cash, helped?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: I think the biggest thing is channeling my intensity and tenacity out onto the court and putting it into a singular focus. I think that's probably one of the biggest things he's implemented into my regimen.

Q. Can you tell us how the two of you got together in June?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: It was during the French Open. My coach at the time, Craig, he decided to end our relationship. I still had doubles and mixed to play, so I was a little bit in shambles about that.

Once I was done with the tournament, I went home to California for some much-needed TLC. I had a call from my agent, like, Hey, you kind of need a coach. You just can't go rogue out here, which I was more on the rogue side of things than I was on let's have a coach and get this together.

So they gave me three names, and Pat was one of them. So I said, If he's interested, let me know, I will call him and vice versa. Talked to him on the phone when I was in California. Talked again when I was at the airport going ahead back to Europe, and then he met me in Holland. The rest is what it is (smiling).

Q. You've played Madison a couple of times this year. Tough matches on hard courts. If Madison is your next opponent, what do you think the outcome would depend on?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: I think it depends on me, mostly, because similar to today and the other day against Lucie, Madison is a player that can take control of the points and of the rallies.

I think if I allow her to do that, then she's going to be on the winning side of the coin. Similar to Pliskova today and Lucie the other day.

So I think it's definitely going to depend on me and making sure she's not capable of doing that. But I think the same goes for Kanepi, as well. I think Kanepi is also a big player. She's former top 20. I have played her a couple of times and been blown off the court when I was younger, because, you know, she plays that big.

Q. What's your personal relationship like with Madison?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: It's good. We have had a few Fed Cups together. We have had times off the court together. So we have a good relationship. I just saw her actually go in the locker room, and I was giving Bethanie a piggyback ride. She was giving me some crap about -- well, mostly Bethanie, giving Bethanie crap.

Q. So the juniors are going on now, and you mentioned a bunch of times winning the juniors here. What advice would you give the juniors playing this week?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Well, if it continues to rain, they go indoors, it will be similar to like my junior win. I went into the semis indoors. It was lightning fast there. I actually beat Kiki Mladenovic. So it's nice. It's a whirlwind. But enjoy the moments out there.

It's a great feeling to hold the trophy at the end of the week and be proud of what you throw out there on the court. If you give everything you have, then there is no reason not to be proud. Win, lose, or draw, you have tried as hard as you can, and that's all you can ask from yourself.

Q. Do you like being looked at as a mentor?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Sure, I'm an older sibling. I don't mind the mentorship. I think it's nice to have people that aspire to be like you or have similarities that you do, and hopefully I can conduct myself in a fashion that the parents might be happy to have their kid looking up to me.

Q. You have had the leadership role in the Fed Cup ties this year and everything. I'm wondering if that position has offered you any kind of confidence since it's gone so well and everything, as you've progressed this season.
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Well, that's a very important role that I have wanted for a long time. I worked hard to be in that position. I sacrificed a lot of my schedule to be available for Fed Cup and to be the leader of that team, along with Bethanie.

You know, my tennis has backed it up, where, you know, I'm the leader of that team, but, you know, you have to win and prove that, Hey, guys. This is what I did today. This is what I'm giving out there on the court. Let's have you follow that.

I take that role very seriously in that week, week and a half that we're all together.

So I think it's just -- Fed Cup has brought a lot of positives to my tennis this year. I played it when I was on a high in Hawaii where I was coming off of Australia semifinals and playing well and carried the team through in a really tough match against Petkovic.

And then in Florida where I was going in there playing terribly, I hadn't won a match, and I get the call that it's going to be on clay, I'm, like, Kathy, you have completely screwed me here, because clay is my worst surface.

Whatever, I will go out there and give it my best shot. I went out there and won two very important singles matches and teamed up with Bethanie to clinch the tie into the finals.

Q. I know you have mostly been in California but you have spent some of your formative years in the New York area. Does this tournament, besides just being the US Open, at all have a home feel for you?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: It was the first tournament I ever went to was the US Open. I remember watching James Blake on Ashe. That was the match that I watched. It was so fun and exciting to watch James play. I knew nothing about tennis. I wasn't even playing tennis yet.

As far as who James Blake was, I had no idea. I was just more, like, summertime, you're a kid, you go to the US Open. There I was watching James, and it was really nice and fun and exciting and a great time.

Q. You still lived here, though?

Q. You said that Pat helped you channel your intensity. Could you go into that a bit more? How does that work? You seem to be a lot more calm on the court.
COCO VANDEWEGHE: You will have to ask him how he's been able to do that. I don't really know. Maybe it's like some Jedi mind trick. I don't know how he's doing it.

Q. And also, you did some mental training with others. Could you talk about that? Did that help you in addition to your work with Pat and the Fed Cup? Did that help you, as well?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: I wasn't doing it during the Fed Cup matches. I just started it after Wimbledon when I was really disappointed on how I went out and played in my quarterfinal.

I was very overwhelmed by the moment, and I wasn't able to get myself together in order to play correctly.

But all credit to Magdalena. She took the match from me, played it very well, and played a very great grass court season. You have to be a player that comes out and wins, and that day I wasn't.

Q. Over the years, I feel like you have been the sort of player who's not afraid of engaging the crowd. Do you feel this tournament in particular you've gotten better of feeding off their energy? They have been so behind you over your matches.
COCO VANDEWEGHE: I think that starts from Australia. The Australian crowd was one of the first crowds that really kind of enjoyed my tennis and enjoyed my personality. I had a really great experience at Wimbledon playing Sharapova where I was the underdog, and the Wimbledon crowd really wanted the underdog to, you know, push that match a little bit further than straight sets. Maybe even have the underdog win.

But Australia, they really enjoyed my fight out there on the court, like Aussies do. They love to see passion and fight and fire. I definitely bring that out onto the tennis court.

So when I started to play some Fed Cup matches, the crowd got behind me there, also. The more you get used to it, the better I think you get at channeling what you want the crowd to do for you, whether it's to pump you up, to calm you down, to kind of make you think that, okay, I have been on the other side of this coin. My opponent's definitely feeling the noise, the pressure, the moment of this match.

So I think definitely the New York crowd has stepped up in that fashion for me and really given a big positive push to my tennis this week.

Q. And feeling that appreciation, do you feel like in years past or matches in the past maybe you felt misunderstood by a crowd or...
COCO VANDEWEGHE: I think everyone has their favorite, and everyone has their least-favorite player. Whatever I am to any person out there, doesn't really affect me personally. I mean, I have my favorites in every sport and in general. You know, I even have my favorite tennis players.

So it comes with sports. I think there's going to be lots of players misunderstood. There's going to be players that are thought of one way but really they are another way. I think it's just sports. You grow and you learn and you adjust to the moments.

Q. You were very focused today. Would you say consistency was your biggest asset today?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Yes and no. I think there were moments where I was really tough in the big points, and I think my best asset today was making her continually play on her service games. Whether it was not a great return that just got over the net, I know as a big server it's really annoying when your serve keeps coming back.

I know that's what my main focus was, was just to get it back, not have her have a free point too easily.

So I think that was a big pressure moment for her with me hustling down a serve or hustling down her next ball to make her hit a volley, if possible, or hit another groundstroke.

I think that was more of the pivotal moment today than consistency.

Q. Who may those favorite tennis players be?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Growing up, my two favorites were Lindsay and Jennifer. Those were my two favorites. When I got more into tennis, Lindsay was still playing, and I love Kim Clijsters. Those were my favorites.

Q. From a writer's perspective, there are some comeback stories. What does it say about women competing at this level with all those stories?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Unfortunately, I don't have any compelling comeback stories. I think I'm out of that narrative a little bit. Sorry. Sorry I can't help there.

Q. When you're on the sideline, changeover, eyes closed, are you visualizing? Are you focused on your breathing? What are you doing there?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: All the above. I think it's routines. I go to routines when things are sticky, when things are going well, and I think that just settles me emotionally, and that's what's most important about my tennis is being settled.

Q. A racquet sort of hit the dust in the first set, and in the second set, you were broken after getting a break. But do you think you're doing a very good job of just dismissing frustration and getting right back into the point, the job at hand?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Sure. I think it shows in the results of how well I'm adjusting to different moments out there on the court, whether it's my opponent's good play, my bad play.

I mean, it's tennis. It's not going to be smooth sailing the whole time. That's why we have no clock at the end. You have to win the last point to be game, set, and match at the end and hopefully have your name called along with it.

Q. Great divide in the tennis world for the last decade at all. Are you a Federer person or a Nadal person?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: This is going to give me crap but I'm a Federer person.

Q. Why?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: I think it was more I liked how he played. He was more of an aggressive player, while Nadal, in the early stages of his career, was more of a grinder, grinded opponents down. Similar to like Agassi and Sampras, I liked Sampras more than I liked Agassi, even though Agassi threw in haymakers and was an unbelievable player.

But my game was modeled off of Sampras, at least my serve. So I think I have spent more time watching Sampras than I did Agassi. So I will probably get some crap for that one.

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