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September 26, 2018

Monica Puig

Wuhan, Hubei, China

M. PUIG/C. Wozniacki

7-6, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You've had a lot of matches and a lot of wins in recent weeks. Do you feel at this point there's a bit of a confidence level that's higher from all that?
MONICA PUIG: Well, it feels really good. I've had a couple difficult months with the injury this year, having to take some time off. It wasn't really exactly the best time, especially missing a Grand Slam. I feel like in a way it helped me reset, refocus, get back to 100% playing physically, tennis-wise, everything.

I just feel like everything is right where it's supposed to be. Now I just want to continue to get better every day.

Q. Two wins over Wozniacki this year. How much confidence do you take out of that Miami match and bring it into this one? Do you feel you know how you need to play against her?
MONICA PUIG: Yeah, I feel like we've played each other several times now. I think it's maybe one of the only players I've played so frequently against on the tour. We definitely have had our fair share of battles throughout the times that we've played.

I feel like we both know each other's game very well. I feel like the difference is who's going to take their opportunities and their chances, who's going to make or miss the shots. I feel like the level is so similar that it's really a matter of a point here and there because it's never going to be easy. I always go into the match expecting that.

I just had to try to stay focused and be really aggressive on those certain key points that I wasn't today at some times, but I was happy I was able to get it out.

Q. Match points coming and going, you looked calm seeing them come and go. Explain that, because that could be very frustrating, especially against her.
MONICA PUIG: Well, that's the one thing I'm trying to work on with my team as much as possible. No matter what's going on in the match, just continue like if nothing ever happened. That's not always easy, especially in moments where you want to really pull your hair out.

Today I didn't really feel that way. I missed a lot of really easy balls. I missed a lot of key points in the match. Honestly, on the match points that I had, I thought she played really aggressive. She really took it to me.

But I just kind of, whenever I lost those points, would go back and go, There's another point to play, still tennis left to be played. Don't get caught up in that one point because that one point, either you're going to let it dictate the rest of the match or you're going to put it in the past and move forward. I felt like I did that really well.

Q. Physically, coming off the injury, at what point did you feel you were close to physically 100% to where you could train the way you wanted to play and play the way you wanted to play?
MONICA PUIG: I think after Wimbledon, the match I played against Goerges, considering the amount of tennis I played since the injury. Coming back, I injured my hip, and while I was coming back I injured my quad. That set me back quite a bit more. I was planning to play more on grass.

I think after Wimbledon, I just really said, Okay, if I'm able to play this way, not having played that much, I'm right there, so I just need to keep focused and pressing on. I really felt like in Montreal, that was the turning point. Even though I did get in as a lucky loser after losing the last round of quallies, the match I played against Sevastova was good. Cincinnati aside, I don't feel I had enough time to adapt, two different courts.

When I went to New Haven, the click just happened (snapping fingers). I just felt like I was starting to come into my own again. Hopefully I can continue this path, continue to win more matches. It's a really good feeling after the rocky road that I've had.

Q. Obviously you've had success at other tournaments, but this is your first quarterfinal at a Premier 5 tournament. Does that on its own feel like a milestone or it doesn't matter?
MONICA PUIG: I mean, every tournament that I go to, I try to see it like another tournament. I know in terms and everything, it's a Premier 5, all of this, a huge tournament of course. But I just try and take it like another one.

It's just a good opportunity to continue playing more matches. Even the qualifying, you know, before I would get a little bit annoyed with playing qualifying, but I realize it has given me a little bit more rhythm, it's definitely helped me work out some of the kinks before getting into the main draw, already starting to have that comfort playing matches. It's been good for me.

And, yeah, I mean, I've been having some good results lately, some really tough matches. I've been playing a lot of them. That was pretty much the goal. I just wanted to play a lot of matches and see how far I could get. This is really a great start.

Q. Talk about your next opponent, playing her here.
MONICA PUIG: I don't think I've played her in a tournament, but we have practiced against each other. She's a very nice girl. Her coach is super, super nice, very funny. I have a lot of respect for her, especially with what she's been doing in the past couple weeks. She won last week in Guangzhou. She's been playing amazing tennis. She has a lot of talent.

Just practicing with her, she hits a big ball. She can do whatever she wants with the ball if you give her the opportunity. She's definitely going to be a tough test for me, especially her playing at home, she's going to have the home-court advantage.

I'm just looking forward to getting out there and continuing to play. I'm having a lot of fun right now. Tomorrow is my birthday, but I just want to enjoy it as much as possible.

Q. The way you were playing today, flashbacks a little bit of Rio in terms of the way that you were playing, very aggressive, the backhand was rolling. Not being able to play necessarily that way as much in the last few months, why do you think that was? Was it because of the injury? Mentally you didn't have the confidence that way?
MONICA PUIG: Well, I feel like since Rio, I think I let the pressure get to me, all the expectation and everything. I was really trying to press a lot, not really feeling comfortable with myself, not really believing in what I had, what I could do out there on the court. Also it was, like, inconsistency a lot of inconsistency. I would play well, then I wouldn't play well.

What I've been trying to work on is having the right intentions day in, day out, doing everything right, including the little things on and off the court, being really disciplined. I feel like the past couple years, my discipline hasn't really been there. Now I'm just trying to take care of all the little stuff, focus on those things to make the big picture seem a little bit easier to manage and better to do. I think I've been doing a really good job of that as of late, and the results are starting to show.

My lesson from Rio has been learned. I'm not going to let this get to me in any way. I'm just going to continue to put my head down, continue to work, do those little things and big things right, focus on the process. I'm not going to get wrapped up in the results or anything. At the end of the day I just want to be a good tennis player and a good person. The rest will take care of itself.

Q. So many players struggle with consistency, long season, surface changes. What are the tricks mentally for you? What are you telling yourself?
MONICA PUIG: Well, it's tough. It still is tough for me. Sometimes I need my coaches to remind me of that when I lose sight. I do have a great support system. They're really nice with me when I deserve it, they're really hard with me when I deserve it, as well.

Sometimes I lose sight of the narrow, I start focusing on the results. They're pretty much, you know, putting you back in line, saying, Hey, don't look over there, we have to go this way, keep going this way. I think it's really good because it keeps me in check.

The good thing about Asia this year is I'm not alone. I brought my mom with me, which has been a great change. I'm in my room, I have somebody to talk to, have fun with. I think when you start getting towards the end of the year when you've been on your own for so long, it's nice to have somebody keep you company. Especially I'm playing a few more tournaments. You obviously want to go home, but you want to do well. You have to kind of find that balance to keep yourself focused and stay here, but also have a little bit of distraction when you're back.

Q. When you talk about focusing on the little things on and off the court, can you give concrete examples?
MONICA PUIG: Well, I think managing my time wisely. I'm reading a lot more now. I bought a Kindle last year. I never used to like to read, but then I got my Kindle and I'm in love with it. I just read books. Not necessarily anything to do with tennis, but my coaches ask me to. I'm managing that between fiction and all that stuff. I'm trying to do that. I am studying.

Just being disciplined with the things, I have deadlines I have to meet with the school. I have to be disciplined, know when I can work, when I can't work. Eating right, going to bed early. That used to be a thing because I wanted to stay up till the time that everybody was waking up. Now it's like 9:30, I have to go to bed.

A big thing for me actually is, like, putting my clothes away as soon as I get to the hotel, unpacking, packing, all that stuff. Just the little things because that creates a discipline in me. Every time I take off a shirt, I have to fold it and put it away. It might be a little bit manic, a little bit crazy, but those kind of things, they help me stay level and just disciplined. That will help me on the court because if I'm disciplined off the court, that will carry itself onward.

Q. Are you studying IU East?

Q. What are you studying?
MONICA PUIG: Psychology. I started with communications. I veered into psychology just because of the tennis aspect of it. I was like really interested, so...

Q. What are you reading?
MONICA PUIG: Right now I'm reading a book called The Four Agreements. My coach told me to read it. It's actually really interesting because I can feel like a lot of it relates to me. Like the book is speaking to me, saying you need to do these things better this, and that. I'm also reading When Life Gives You Lemons on the side. I did read the series I was in love with, Crazy Rich Asians. I read the three books in a week and a half. I was hooked. I can't wait to see the movie.

Q. The little things, is that stuff you are learning yourself or did a psychologist tell you these little tricks?
MONICA PUIG: I do work with somebody back home. The time where I was injured, I was really sad and going through a lot of stuff. They really helped me kind of just look at the big picture, put a lot of perspective in things. Life isn't all about tennis, but if you want to do well at something, you have to commit to it and give your 100% each and every day.

Yeah, the psychology for me, the studying, I would get into the room, I would literally have nothing to do. Also getting a degree was also something very big for me. I did finish high school, and I needed to give myself a break before starting college. But I definitely did want my degree.

I'm really happy with doing it. I'm taking my time, for sure. The workload, I can't manage that much with tennis. I feel really happy and proud. Also making my parents proud because it's important to them, as well.

But, yeah, I'm just happy that I can juggle both at the moment.

Q. You mentioned you were taking the game a point at a time. The first set tiebreaker, that was one moment where there was tension. How did you manage your focus during that period? You mentioned your goal is to be a good person and tennis player. Other tennis players have a certain definition of what a good tennis player looks like. What is that definition for you?
MONICA PUIG: The first one, obviously in the tiebreaker I was up 6-3. I did have a lot of opportunities, like, the entire match. I felt like in the tiebreaker, I had it in my hands, and I would lose it, then I would have it back, then lose it.

In those moments when I would lose it completely, I felt like all hope is lost. I continued to try to stick to my game plan pretty much, just force her to hit another ball, try and be aggressive, go for my shots, all that stuff.

I feel like I played the points really smart, especially when I was down. Then to get back the set points, I just tried to continue to play my game, not really drop the intensity. I feel like the little window of opportunity opened up, I was able to win the set.

Pretty much I didn't try to focus on the points that I was losing, rather I tried to put my attention on what do I have to do to win the next point. So it was always, like, just wipe off the chalkboard and start over kind of thing.

The second one, I feel like for me being a good person is always staying humble, acknowledging people, treating everybody with the same respect that you would want to be treated with. My family has definitely instilled some really good values in me, how to treat others, how to be respectful.

Sometimes a smile goes a long way. Even if it's just a smile at somebody, you can easily make their day. Just a 'good morning'. I feel like everybody deserves that. It's just who I am. It was how I was raised. The Latin community is very bubbly. I'm just really happy with the type of person that I am. People tell me, You're so nice, this and that. I was like, Well, I just don't know how to be any other way.

I don't want to change. I don't want to let tennis or fame or anything get to me. At the end of the day I like how I was raised, what my parents have done with me, what they continue to do, what they continue to show me. That's the legacy I want to leave.

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