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October 22, 2018

Sloane Stephens

Kallang, Singapore


7-5, 4-6, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What did you make of your first experience out there at the WTA Finals?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I thought I played a really good match. I played solid from start to finish. Obviously playing someone with a lot of confidence is always a tough task, but I think that I played well and I kept a good attitude. So I was pleased with that.

Q. Are there any changes you feel you made in the third set to kind of move things back in your direction?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I kept playing positive and strong. I mean, I didn't play bad in the second. Just kind of got away from me. I tried to regroup as best I could and played just like I was playing before.

Q. On Saturday you said you don't play your best in Asia. Has that assessment changed after tonight's match?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It's been one match (smiling). We'll see. Obviously getting those two wins in Beijing was good for me. I'm just trying to build on that. Now I have three wins in Asia this season. Pleased with that. I'm just going to keep building on that.

Q. It looked at the start like both of you were maybe a little bit edgy, nervous. Was that how it felt to you?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I thought we both -- the court's a little bit different. It's tough to play on. I think we both had the same conditions, and we were just doing our best from the very beginning. I mean, I thought we played a good match throughout.

Q. When you say the court's a bit different, what are the elements that are challenging to you?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Just the bounces are different. Obviously, playing indoors, it's really humid like inside the stadium, so it plays a little bit different. Like I said, the conditions are the same for everybody. You just have to play, and whatever happens happens.

Q. What's the story with Kamau not being here? And how did you pick Sly to come?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, Kamau had something planned for a long time this year, and obviously my goal was to get to Singapore. I knew for a while that he wasn't going to be able to come.

I have worked with Sly since I was 12 years old, and he lives in Asia, so it was just the right fit. Obviously we knew if I did make it here, qualify here, we knew what the situation was going to be.

Yeah, just happy to be playing, excited to be playing, happy to be with a good coach, someone that I'm comfortable with. Yeah.

Q. In our All Access Hour, Naomi said you'd been really nice to her and had talked to her a lot during the gala night. How do you kind of put aside those sort of friendly feelings if you really like a person and to get that match done?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, so before the -- like, we were in the gala and sitting next to each other, like, I'd never really spoken to her before, so I was, like, okay, maybe I should talk to her. She's sitting right next to me.

Yeah, we took some selfies. It's different when you don't see a person that much, don't speak to them that much. We were sitting next to each other. I was, like, okay, well, I should probably speak to her, get to know her. And obviously we end up in the same group, which we didn't know was going to happen.

Yeah, obviously she's a great girl, a really nice person, and I'm glad we got that little seven minutes or so to kind of chitchat.

Yeah, obviously the topic, the girls -- we all know each other pretty well. I'd say Naomi, out of everyone, is like the quietest. So to just chitchat, talk about some stuff, I thought we had a good little talk.

Q. Is that a role you maybe are looking forward to or kind of enjoy kind of taking maybe a new person under your wing, not really necessarily like a mentor role, but welcoming them into the group like that?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I mean, no. It was my first time here, so I was just, like -- I'm pretty friendly with everyone. I was just, like, I have literally never spoken to her or had a conversation with her. So I was, like, okay, this is a good time. We were sitting next to each other.

I don't really go out of my way to be besties with everyone. Obviously there is only eight people here, eight players, so if one of them is sitting next to you, it's probably a good time to have a little talk.

Q. What do you think about today Naomi's play? I think you dominated rally, especially long rally. How do you look at that?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I knew from the very beginning it was obviously going to be a tough match, so I was going to have to stay in a lot of long points and make sure that I made a lot of plays on the ball, which I did. I thought when she was hitting good shots, I got my racquet on a lot of the balls and I just made her play an extra ball.

Yeah, I mean, I can't be upset with how I played. I think it's just that she -- yeah, we played a lot of great long rallies, and she played a lot of great short points. I think all around we played a good match. Yeah, I mean, the highlights that I saw were pretty good.

Q. Naomi played Tokyo tournament right after she won the US Open, and she said she has never felt that tired after she won the tournament, US Open. Maybe you are kind of in the same situation last year. Could you recall a little bit what you have gone through after the US Open title?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I mean, I can definitely relate. After the US Open I probably shouldn't have played the entire rest of the season, because I was so exhausted.

I think our situations are a little different. I played like four tournaments after not having played for 11 months, so it was a little different so I was probably more tired than she was. But I think I totally understand, and I think that to go play at home in Tokyo was really important for her or her fans, for her country. You can only applaud that.

But definitely can relate on being tired and needing to regroup and play -- you know, I think she took the next week off. She did what was best for her. But I think obviously playing in your home country the only tournament of the year I think is important, and I thought that she did a great job.

Q. Looking ahead to potentially Angie or Kiki, just some thoughts on the differences between them and how you feel about those matchups.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, they are both good players. I don't know if I have every played Kiki before. Have I played Kiki before? Once? Where have I played her? Where? Like when? Okay.

Well, yeah, so I don't remember. Obviously Kerber, I have played some really great matches against her, so looking forward to that. But obviously her having won Wimbledon this year, semis in Australia, she's had a great, will be a tough match, but obviously Kiki, she's been playing well too. Either way, obviously we are playing the top eight players in the world, so it's going to be tough all around. Just got to compete from the first point and just enjoy it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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