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March 27, 2018

Sloane Stephens

Miami, Florida


6-1, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. A great performance today with the tricky conditions. When you were talking about the match going out there, game plan-wise, was the key like big targets, not to go for the lines too much?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, obviously when you play a player like Angie, a really good player, you have to execute your game well, and then you have to kind of make sure that when you are executing your game you stick with it.

Like a lot of times you can venture off and start, you know, doing other things. I think for me the most important thing was just staying with that game plan the whole time and making sure that I didn't venture off.

Q. That you don't start imagining new points and different ways to play?

Q. What's it mean for you to make a semifinal here, first premier mandatory semi and a really awesome run?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I did this before, didn't I?

Q. Not a mandatory.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Had to have been.

Q. Not Indian Wells.
SLOANE STEPHENS: At Indian Wells, didn't I play, like, Pennetta in the semis? I lost to her? Was that the semis or was that a quarterfinal maybe?

Q. I remember that match now. It could have been a quarterfinal. How does it feel to make a premier semifinal?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It's great. Obviously still, like, coming back last year and, like, I wanted to get back to where I was. And obviously playing well in Toronto and Cincinnati and US Open, that was all great, but, like, to do it over time and keep it going, that's obviously the hardest part.

So I think that I'm in a little bit better shape, a little bit better place. I'm just excited to be back on the court again. It's nice to have -- like, last week I didn't play poorly, but obviously tough result. I lost to the person who made the finals, which isn't bad.

And then here, like, I was still playing decent. So I'm just glad that I was able to push through, you know, some of those tough matches.

Q. How good are you at that in terms of being able to recognize, results aside, that your game is there or, like, last week, like you said, you played somebody who had a great tournament. You didn't play badly. Are you pretty good at not letting the result bog down the fact that you're playing well?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, exactly. You can either look at it like that or you can be, like, Oh, my God, I played so badly, whatever.

But I didn't play badly last week. I just played someone that was playing better than me. I mean, I play a sport where I play against someone else. That happens sometimes.

Yeah, she made the finals. She was playing great tennis, whatever. So it's good. I had to come in this week and try and do the same thing. Yeah, that's pretty much all you can really do, like, week to week.

Q. You have been returning quite well this tournament. Just in terms of the return games won, you're getting through those. Do you recognize a difference how you're approaching your return games here, or just kind of how the cookie has crumbled? What do you think?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, no, I haven't put any extra emphasis on it. Just kind of how it's gone.

Q. Then on Monday you'll make your debut into the top 10.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Finally. Oh, my God. I'm so tired of them being, like, career-high ranking, No. 11. Like, finally I can move in there. That's really exciting.

Q. What does it mean for you to kind of just get that, crack that milestone?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It's awesome. Obviously something I have wanted to do for a while, and I think it's just -- it's not easy. It's really not easy. Getting to 11 was hard, and so getting into the top 10 is pretty special. I'm super excited about that. Something I have worked hard for for a long time. I couldn't really be any happier.

Q. Just in terms of getting the two great wins over Muguruza and then Kerber today, do you think a lot of it just has to do with -- we know you as being a big-match player, playing these multiple major champions on center court and all that. Do you think that helps you at all or boosts you at all in terms of finding your best tennis against them?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I think where the work is done is when you're, like, on Court 75 and you're playing Niculescu, and she's slicing and dicing you to Beijing, basically, and you're, like, having to really fight and struggle. I think those are where you kind of -- you fight your tail off in those to be able to get to center court and play girls like that.

Q. How big was that match? She's a tough player to play. But your composure in that match was really good in terms of just digging in and battling for every point. How big was that?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I mean, obviously it's tough when you play someone like that. She plays like nobody else on tour. It's always going to be a tough match.

My coach told me, You just have to be patient. I kind of, just, All right. Let me just go ahead and settle down and make a lot of balls and be out here forever.

It worked out, but that's kind of where you have to get out of your comfort zone, I'd say, and just make sure you're able to stick with it.

Q. You mentioned comfort zone on court. Can you talk about that concept a little bit? What does it look like or feel like when you're playing in your comfort zone versus what it's like when you're forcing yourself out of it?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I just meant today, like, obviously it's super windy. I don't want to play in wind. She doesn't want to play in wind. It's uncomfortable for both of us, and like I said, a little adversity -- I mean, here and there there is going to be things that you can't control whatsoever and you've just got to go with it.

Sometimes it's not a bad thing because you kind of push yourself to places that you really would not normally go if, like, the conditions were perfect and we were both playing great and whatever.

Yeah, I have just kind of learned to embrace it, because totally out of my control.

Q. Obviously next match, either Vika or Karolina Pliskova. Big-named opponent regardless for the next one. Are they two very different matchups in your head, or...
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I mean, once you get to a semifinal or quarterfinal, you're playing someone who is playing good tennis. You've just got to go out and play your game and execute like you would any other match, because you're not going to be given the match. You're going to have to go out and really play your game.

Either way, either person I play, I'm looking forward to it.

Q. All the statistics are going to basically say over the next 48 hours or so that your propensity for playing on home soil in North America is, like, off the charts in terms of...
SLOANE STEPHENS: I saw that the other day. I was, like, Oh, my God, that's embarrassing.

Q. What's your reaction to that? Do you think there is something to it or is it just a luck thing?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I don't think so, honestly. I just -- the stat is so, just so -- have you seen it? It's, like, 21-5, and then the rest of the world, I'm, like, 0-10 or something.

Q. 9.
SLOANE STEPHENS: 0-9? That's insane. Obviously if that wasn't said, I would never have any idea. I would never even think about it. It's quite interesting.

Q. Do you feel more comfortable, like, playing in Miami?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. I think it's just the circumstances, like, how it happened, like, after US Open I went to China and whatever. In Australia I wasn't playing bad, either. I played Giorgi and I played Shuai, like, the last person to be seeded.

It was tough matches. So I think I kind of got unlucky with that stat, and the fact they are telling everyone is not ideal. Yeah, it's not too bad.

Q. A random question for you. Because it was so windy for you, do you ever think tennis needs a wind rule? Yeah, we have certain, like, a heat rule.

Q. It gets to a certain index and you guys don't play.
SLOANE STEPHENS: The thing about wind, it's not, like, consistent, I feel like. There is gusts of wind, but it's not ever, like, consistent enough to be, like, Oh, you've got to stop now.

Like one point is super windy and then for four points there is no wind at all, so you kinda can't really stop. But there should be a cold rule. If it's too cold out, you can't really play.

Q. It didn't seem that long ago where all the negative questions were coming at you about, Oh, you haven't won a match here, haven't won a match there, et cetera, et cetera, since the Open. And you outwardly were making the point: Just be patient. Obviously that patience for yourself also has come to fruition over these last couple of weeks now. Can you just address that point, getting the runs on the board now?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I mean, obviously if you don't win, people are super upset and they're, like, You're never going to be the same. All the things that you guys write about, I don't know, it's rather insane to me.

But I think that patience will outdo anything, hard work will outdo anything, and sometimes life happens and things happen and you have to kind of just go with it. Like I said, I didn't plan to win the US Open. That wasn't, like, in my brain, like, I'm going to win the US Open and then everything is going to be great and whatever.

I think winning the US Open was an amazing experience, and everything that came after that. And I think now, after Australia, I knew what I had to do to get myself back in shape and back ready to be playing, and I just stayed patient with myself.

Like I said before, last week, I didn't play badly. This week I wasn't playing badly. Just kind of had to work with what I was given, and I think I have done pretty well with that the last couple of months.

Q. You certainly, I would think, wouldn't have expected a scoreline the way it was today. What were your expectations going into the match? I know you have just touched on the conditions, but bearing in mind the conditions and how difficult it was out there.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I mean, the score -- maybe the first set, but the second set, I thought we played a pretty tough second set. I don't think the score was reflective of some of the good points that we played.

But the score is the score.

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