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January 8, 2018

Sloane Stephens

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

C. GIORGI/S. Stephens

6-3, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Just wanted to actually find out physically how you are, given that your knee prevented you from playing last week in Brisbane. How is that all going?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, everything's good. Tough day today, but all in all, everything is looking up. Looking forward to getting to Melbourne and playing there.

Q. I noticed you weren't wearing any strapping or anything.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, not needed.

Q. How long has it been initially for you?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Since I started playing again.

Q. All right. Okay. So you carried it for a long time?

Q. It was just sort of difficult to get going first match of the year today?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. Obviously I played somebody who's already played three matches in this tournament, so it's not always easy but you've got to start somewhere.

Q. And then doubles? Did that finish, that match?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, we finished.

Q. The scores weren't up.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, we didn't win. Like I said, tough day. But I really enjoyed playing with Jelena. We played a very good match. It's unfortunate we didn't win, but there will be others.

Q. So how does it complete your preparation for the Oz Open?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Just keep practicing. Obviously head over to Melbourne and do what I would normally do before a slam.

Q. How did it feel stepping out on court for the first time in 2018? Same ol', same ol', another match?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, another match. Obviously it was good to get going. Like I said, you have to start somewhere.

It's nice to start here. Obviously good weather, great tournament. Yeah, so not bad. But obviously, you know, it can always get better.

Q. She's not an easy opponent to play when she gets going. Not unlike your doubles partner. How much of today was kind of her zoning a little bit and hitting the lines, getting the ball back deep? How much do you feel where you couldn't pressure her as much as you wanted to?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, like I said before, playing somebody who's already played three matches in the tournament and you're playing your first match in two months, however long it is, it's never going to be easy. She obviously played a good match. She played very well. Can't take that away from her.

Yeah, I mean, not too much to be upset about when you're playing somebody that's playing that well. It's not like I was playing so poorly that I'm so upset. She played a good match. It kind of is what it is.

Q. How did you pair up with Jelena for doubles here? And are you going to pair up again?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I wanted to play here. Obviously being the first tournament of the year, it's nice to just play and get matches and be on the court and feel it out a little bit.

Yeah, I was just looking for someone. And how the doubles works here is kind of now you have to enter before, and now they only take two on-site entries, yada, yada, yada, whatever. So I had to get someone I was going to get in with and perfect person (smiling). So that's kind of how that worked.

I really enjoyed playing with her, and we played well together even though we didn't win, and hopefully we can play again.

Q. Is there anything in particular you feel like you need to improve on with your practice leading into next week to be fully ready for a Grand Slam tournament?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, no. Just playing more and getting out there, being in the heat, you know, the normal stuff.

All the work is done before you get to the tournament, so if I'm out there working on a lot of stuff, that means I'm in trouble.

Q. I was talking to a few players and a bunch of people, players, staff, whoever, around tennis, all saying this year, for some reason, felt like it was two weeks shorter in the offseason, like we have landed and we're already back on. Does it feel that way to you that we are right on, back in this?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. I didn't even play the whole season and I'm already burnt out the first week.

Yeah, I think quite unfortunate, obviously. Playing Fed Cup final, that was, like, a little bit longer than the other girls. It's not easy, and it just keeps getting longer and longer.

It's not fun, and a lot of people I think are still injured from last year, which is also not a good thing. But I think they should probably make some changes, because I think people will get burnt out. And everyone needs a nice break every once in a while. But it was nice to spend the holidays at home, obviously. Christmas, New Year's, that's always nice.

Q. Do you feel like with that as a general concern, you're not the only one, people kind of said they need to remain mentally and physically fresh throughout a grueling season? Will there be affirmative decisions you make with your schedule where you create those pockets, where you can time out?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. Personally, I don't do well when I just play week to week to week and just keep going. I know I need to make time for myself and do the life things that I want to do.

It's not always easy to say no to a tournament and not go, and people get upset often when you don't play and don't do it. I think you have to look out for yourself, because at the end of the day you can get worn out easily and be really unhappy, traveling week to week to week and you get burnt out. That's never fun. It's hard to regroup, getting down on yourself like that.

Q. Did doing knee rehab allow you to do a full offseason, do all the practice you wanted, strength and conditioning?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, considering it was, like, two weeks, yeah. It wasn't very long. I mean, by the time you take your time off that you need and whatever, it's, like, gotta work with what you've got.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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