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May 13, 2018

Jelena Ostapenko

Rome, Italy


THE MODERATOR: All right. Questions, please.

Q. Jelena, welcome to Rome. Just how have the practices been here, and how often have you been able to hit the courts in preparation for the tournament?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: Yeah, I've been practicing well. And just arrived couple of days ago and still haven't hit on site. But I'll have one practice today, and hopefully it will be a good one.

Q. Given that this clay season, obviously, a lot of eyes are on you because of French Open champion. What's your mentality when you're starting the clay? What did you tell yourself to say, I'm just going to focus on it like it's any other season? Or is it in your mind that you do have a title defense coming up soon in Paris?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: Actually, when I first played on clay, it was before Fed Cup in Russia. And my feeling was like, Oh, finally, I'm playing on something that I really love to. And the feeling was like, Great, that the clay season just began.

Q. Last year during the French Open you said that, when you were younger, you didn't like clay. At what point did that change?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: Actually, depends which clay because clay can be very different. It can be fast. It can be very, very slow.

The one that is very slow I, of course, didn't like because the rallies were so long and it was very hard to hit winners.

But now I think clay got much better. And especially at the French Open, it's very fast. And I think it fits my game pretty well.

Q. Do you feel that once you started to get back on clay and you were practicing on it and playing matches on it, did it come back a little bit? Did you feel a level of comfort on it, separate from loving it? But like, did you feel immediately comfortable on the surface?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: Actually, yeah. I feel playing quite comfortably, especially like you can also slide and you have sometimes more time for your shots.

So, I feel more comfortable.

Q. And just does it feel like you're about to head to Paris, you know, as a defending champion? Does it feel different, I guess, this year for you, this section of the season, than it felt like last year?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: I mean, it's changed a lot off court this season.

But at the beginning of the year, it was very tough for me to start the year because I was the favorite in almost all the matches. But now I got used to that.

And after playing the final in Miami, I think I'm doing much better.

And I'm still not thinking about that I have to defend a title. I'm just thinking to go there and have like two great weeks and just to enjoy the time there.

Q. Would you like to see Serena return for Paris, maybe that could take some of the attention off of you? And, if she does return, where do you think she should be seeded?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: I mean, of course, it's great if she plays the tournaments because she's someone who the tour was missing because she's a great champion.

And, I mean, she was my idol since I was growing up. And, yeah, it's gonna be great to see if she's back.

Q. It's been a while now that you are usually one of the top eight seeds at the tournament. And there's a lot that comes with it, a lot of pre-tournament press to do and all of these things. How comfortable are you now with that status?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: Actually, during the year, I think I got already a little bit used to it since I finished the top 10 last year.

But also there are some good things like you have byes, but also sometimes when you don't have enough matches maybe it's better to play another match. So, there are good and bad sides of that.

Q. As a big hitter on clay, what's the best part of the surface for you? Is it that, as you said before, that you have more time?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: Actually for me I think I just love sliding so much. So, probably sliding on clay. Because you cannot really slide on hard court or grass. But on clay you can slide as much as you want, and you can sometimes get the balls that probably your opponent was not thinking that you'll get it.

So, I think sliding is the good part of clay.

Q. Obviously, you are still very young. What do you think has improved the most in your game over the past, let's say, six months or a year?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: I think probably my mentality, and I got more confident after playing the final in Miami.

Because, as I said, the beginning of the year was very tough for me. And, yeah, probably my mentality because I think mentality is more than 50% of tennis players.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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