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September 4, 2017

Kaia Kanepi

New York, NY, USA

K. KANEPI/D. Kasatkina

6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Another great win. Another quarterfinal. How do you put this all into context, given everything that's happened for the last couple years?
KAIA KANEPI: I didn't expect that. I hope to qualify and keep going, see what happens with my tennis. Yeah, it's pretty amazing where I am now compared to where I was few months ago.

It's great.

Q. What were you doing 12 months ago? Like, if it was this time of last year, do you remember what you were doing in early September?
KAIA KANEPI: Probably walking with my dog or reading books (smiling). Figuring out what I want to do in my life.

Q. You say figuring out what you wanted to do. How close did you come to not returning to tennis?
KAIA KANEPI: Started playing tennis in January again, and I stopped in June last year.

Q. Were you thinking about not continuing with the career and retiring?
KAIA KANEPI: I wasn't sure, actually. I didn't set any time for myself what will I decide at the end. I just tried to live normal life and enjoy it and slowly figuring out.

Q. You come from Estonia, and then there are some people from Latvia, some others from Ukraine. How do you explain all this? Surprising? Is normal? It's not a great tradition until 10 years ago, maybe, or 15. Why all these good players, players like you, come from these small countries where maybe you don't have that much help when you start your career? Or maybe you have. I don't know.
KAIA KANEPI: I have really good coach when I was growing up, so I think I was a bit lucky with this.

Q. At home? You had a good coach at home?
KAIA KANEPI: Yeah, at home. I think tennis is really popular all over the world, so it's normal that players are coming from different countries. Estonia and (indiscernible) and Russia, we want to fight and we like sports. So maybe that's why.

Q. But 10 years ago it didn't exist almost. I'm not talking about Russia, but I'm talking about Latvia. Now we have Sevastova, Ostapenko, Gulbis, and all this. And there is Svitolina and all these others. Do you think it's normal?

Q. You said that you're surprised at what's happened. What's your feeling? What's it mean to you that you're this far at the US Open?
KAIA KANEPI: I'm really happy (smiling). I don't know what else to say. And also amazed that I'm that good.

Q. Why?

Q. Why are you amazed?
KAIA KANEPI: Well, compared to where I was a few months ago, I didn't play that well, and I didn't expect me to play that well so fast after starting my comeback.

Q. Still, a few years ago you had five match points versus Kvitova in Wimbledon. There, then, you had reason to dream to become a great, great tennis player, no? Yes or no?
KAIA KANEPI: Yeah, I dreamed to be a great tennis player when I was very young.

Q. And now you don't dream it anymore?
KAIA KANEPI: Well, I think now I am a great tennis player (smiling).

Q. When you were away from the game, you said you were trying to figure things out. I had read that you went to Hawaii for a while and you went to Finland and drove on icy roads and, like, some sort of professional driving school? What happened that made you say, It's time to go back? I think I belong in tennis.
KAIA KANEPI: I started doing fitness in December with a discus thrower. Then I did it for a few months already and my feet got better. I didn't feel pain anymore. And then I thought I have already done some training. Then why not try to come back.

Q. What is it that you missed about tennis? Did you miss anything about being on tour, about having to play professionally, playing at the slams, or was it more just like I want to go try and do this because I want to try and do it? How did you react?
KAIA KANEPI: I missed adrenaline when I am at the tournaments. I missed winning. And I missed that feeling when you play well.

Q. Do you have that feeling today?
KAIA KANEPI: Yeah, I have.

Q. Are you playing pain-free? Are you 100% now, or is it on and off?
KAIA KANEPI: It's 100% now. I don't feel any pain.

Q. We don't know who your next opponent will be, so if it would be all right, I'd like to ask you about each of the possibilities. If you were to play Madison and you have only played her once and it was a long time ago, so things are a lot different for both of you, what do you think the key to a match with Keys would be?
KAIA KANEPI: I think making less errors than she is, because we are both aggressive players.

Q. How would you describe her game, if you could elaborate, and how it matches with yours?
KAIA KANEPI: As I said, she's aggressive. It's really tough to say more, because she hits hard and she wants to win points fast. And I'm the same.

Q. How about Svitolina?
KAIA KANEPI: She plays more. She makes less mistakes. But I haven't played her for a long time, and I haven't played top players for a very long time. I don't know yet what to expect.

Q. What's it like to be in that mix now and playing the top players? What feeling does that give you?
KAIA KANEPI: I'm just very proud to be that far and to be able to play those important matches again.

Q. What do you think is the biggest reason of playing this good in this tournament? You get better techniques or you have done a lot of fitness or you enjoy playing the tennis?
KAIA KANEPI: I have always loved being in New York. Even after I went to Hawaii, I came two days to New York just to stay in the city, because I didn't play US Open last year. I wanted to be in the city.

I like the atmosphere. I like being here. I love the courts and the climate, and I think that the courts suit my game really well.

Q. Did you ever pick another place where to stay, where to live apart from your home country? I understand you don't like to elaborate too much, but if you could try.
KAIA KANEPI: I love Hawaii (smiling). I like Estonia, but it's tough to say where I would like to live except Estonia.

Q. Making the quarterfinals here after everything that's happened, what do you think that this says about your character and your game that you can come two years after playing a Grand Slam and come through qualifying and make a quarterfinal?
KAIA KANEPI: I think it says I don't like to give up.

Q. What does it say about your game?
KAIA KANEPI: It's still the same, good, as it was before.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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