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March 12, 2018

Danielle Collins

Indian Wells, California


6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. A tricky match because it was a rematch of a match you played a couple weeks ago.

Q. Talk about just the match a little bit and how tricky it was playing.
DANIELLE COLLINS: You know, I'm obviously very familiar with her. We even train at the same place in Florida, IMG. And we have had a lot of great battles.

I think the biggest thing going into today is I knew her strengths and weaknesses. I tried not to play into her strengths too much. I knew I was going to have to fight for every point. She's a really tough competitor and doesn't give you any free opportunities.

So I had to just keep my foot on the gas and play very smart the entire way through.

Q. You had said the other day it was important for you to kind of remind yourself to take your opportunities when those opportunities came and not, you know, be I wuss in those moments. Did you feel that was a similar thing today?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Yeah, I think that's a similar theme. Sometimes especially when you get up in the score, I think sometimes we have a tendency to maybe back off a little bit.

And I had a moment there when I was up 2-0 in the second, and she got it to 3-2, and I realized that I needed to start taking a couple more chances and opportunities that she was giving me, and just be brave and not think about it twice.

Q. Does it feel kind of a whirlwind? You get here as a wildcard and now you're on a roll?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Yeah, I mean, luckily I had the experience last year playing this tournament. And, you know, it didn't go the way that I wanted it to. I kind of got crushed in the first round last year.

And now, you know, I know what to expect. I'm more confident. I'm more familiar with the players. I'm just learning more and more, and I think that, you know, you can see that when I'm on the court.

Q. What is it about this tournament, this venue, what have you, that's particularly challenging?
DANIELLE COLLINS: That's challenging?

Q. Yeah.
DANIELLE COLLINS: You know, I don't really -- like, this year I feel so comfortable playing here. All of the fans are incredible. I mean, we're in the desert. It's so beautiful here.

I don't really feel like I have any challenges right now playing here. I think last year I just had a little bit of a lack of experience and didn't really know what to expect when I played Puig first round. So that was an eye-opener.

This year I'm so much more comfortable and I'm really embracing this environment, playing in front of a lot of people, being on a big stage. This is what we work so hard for.

Q. Would you say you were overwhelmed last year?
DANIELLE COLLINS: A little bit, yeah. I think so. I think that was the second time I had played in a stadium that big. You know, sometimes you have to get used to that a little bit. It takes a little bit of experience.

Q. Could you talk about the role of the funding you got last year? How has that helped you?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Yeah, I think Oracle stepping up to the plate and prioritizing college tennis and making college tennis important, that's so special to me since I went the college route. So many players on tour, you're seeing more and more going the college route. Really, there's not a lot compared to the people that turn pro when they are, like, 14, 15, 16.

And so college tennis does need to have the recognition. And I think by, you know, stepping up, making a big financial commitment to me and Mackenzie McDonald, I think it takes a lot of the financial burden off of us when we're out on the court.

Because that's such a big thing when you're getting started. It's so expensive. Things add up really fast when you're playing, like, 30 tournaments a year or more. I think the biggest thing was just being able to go out on the court and play freely and know that Oracle had my back and that they were going to help me for the entire year.

I think I actually started performing a lot better once I had that kind of financial security.

Q. Did you spend the money just all over the place, or did you focus on coaching?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Well, you know, we spent money in different areas, so coaching was one of the big ones that I wanted. I wanted to have a coach on the road with me all the time that was dedicated to just working with me.

You know, we put some money into really working on my strength and conditioning and making sure I was working with the best people. You know, doctors, sports psychologists, everything. So every area has kind of been attended to, and that wouldn't have been really possible without their support.

Q. When we first met and talked, it was at the Oracle Challenger Series, and there you did tell me that your first time or last time at the BNP you were struggling and you hoped for a better run this year. Do you feel that Oracle helped prepare you for this?
DANIELLE COLLINS: I really do. I think they gave me a lot of confidence. It really made me feel important being a part of such a huge inaugural grant. I think that support has gone a long way.

Q. Speaking of the financial burden, what's the most absurd thing you have had to do to kind of save money within tennis?
DANIELLE COLLINS: The most absurd thing?

Q. When you look back on it now and it seems absurd.
DANIELLE COLLINS: I mean, sometimes, you know, we did housing. I don't know if there has been anything too absurd. I think when I was younger, like, before I went to college, one time I took a Greyhound bus when I was, like, 16, and that was very terrifying.

Q. From where to where?
DANIELLE COLLINS: I wouldn't really recommend that for most young girls. It was pretty scary. It was, you know, either an $80 bus ride or a $600 flight. It was kind of a no-brainer at the time.

Q. From where to where did you take the bus?
DANIELLE COLLINS: I think it was from -- I think it was from maybe Tampa to Miami. Yeah, the flights were kind of expensive, so I took the bus (smiling).

Q. So this experience of making the round of 16 at a premier mandatory, it's a pretty big deal. Does it feel like a big deal to you, or what's your reaction?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Yeah, it definitely feels like a big deal, because I have never gone this far in a tournament. So this is pretty special. But at the same time, I have worked really hard for this, and I know in my heart that I really deserve it and all of my hard work is really paying off. I'm just really fortunate to have had the success here.

Q. Next up you play Carla Suarez Navarro. How much do you know about her and what do you anticipate there?
DANIELLE COLLINS: I don't really know a lot about her, but I know my coaches will give me a good game plan, and we'll try to execute. We will execute.

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