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October 27, 2018

Sloane Stephens

Kallang, Singapore

S. STEPHENS/K. Pliskova

0-6, 6-4, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What was going through your head at 6-Love, 2-Love? What were you thinking?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I was thinking, Shit. I made it all the way to the semifinal, and I'm going to lose? Oh, no. It's, like, this is so embarrassing.

Yeah, that was it, basically. I was, like, I'm going to lose 0-0. It's like I'm trying so hard. Nothing's working. But then I won one game. Then you know the rest.

Q. What was it about Karolina's game at the start that was so perplexing for you?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think she was just playing really well. Like I didn't think I was playing that badly. Like I was making a lot of shots in the court, but she was just reading everything that I was putting back.

I mean, I just wasn't aggressive enough. She was serving really well, so obviously if she's serving well, that makes it a little bit difficult. So she was serving well, and I just wasn't being aggressive enough. I wasn't making her play enough balls.

Obviously at 6-Love, 2-Love, you don't have anything to lose, so you can kind of do whatever at that point and hope for the best. I think that's what I did. I was, like, I gotta win a game. I cannot be embarrassed. I've played so well this whole week, and I cannot let this be the last match of the season, like, it can't end like that. I just tried my best, and, yeah, it ended up okay.

Q. Was that the trigger for you? Not wanting to lose 0-0? What was the turning point for you?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It's not like I didn't want to lose 0-0. Like at 6-0, 2-0, it was just not an option to win a game. I was, like, Okay, I've got to try to do something, and I think I just made a couple extra plays on the ball. Tried something a little different. I'd just try anything just to try to get back in the match. When I did that, it worked. Obviously sometimes it doesn't work.

But, I mean, it was 6-0, 2-0, and she was serving 40-15. If it was 6-0, 3-0, it probably would have made a difference and blah, blah, blah. It was just kind of the luck of the draw, I guess.

Q. How does this comeback compare to others that you have had in your career?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't think I have had very many comebacks. Yeah, not that I can, like, remember. But I don't remember a lot of things that happened.

Yeah, I think obviously today was a great comeback. 6-0, 2-Love is very -- that's a dent. Like, that's something that most people don't come back from when you think of it that way. But 6-Love, 2-Love, you also say, Whatever, you're just down a break in the second. It's not that bad. But losing eight games in a row, you think of it like that, you're, like, Yeah, there is no way she's gonna do anything.

But I think that just being able to, like I said, get that game at 2-1 was like crucial, and then I just kind of worked my way back from that. Comeback-wise, I think that was the best comeback of my career, if that's...

Q. Do you feel like this kind of match might help you in future situations? Maybe you're down but not down as starkly as you were today?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, down but not down and out type of thing (smiling). Wow, that was a cute wink.

Yeah, I think so, definitely. You never know what can happen. Obviously there's been situations where I've been down like 5-2, 4-1, you come back, whatever. But in this situation on this stage, like the semifinal, trying to make the finals, like, my first year-end that I have ever played, there was a lot on the line. I think I just, from the very first match here, I gave it my absolute all, like even the battles to three sets, whatever, I was just going out there and trying to play my butt off.

That's what I did today. I didn't really think about it too much. Yeah, I was bummed that I wasn't playing well at the beginning, but once I kind of got going, I felt obviously a lot better.

Q. So obviously you've got Elina Svitolina. I don't know whether you saw any of her match, but I expect a big, tough battle again. How do you pick yourself up from something like this that seems to have sort of set you back? You're not as ebullient as you normally are when you come into press. How are you feeling and where is your head at right now?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, my head is fine. I'm actually quite hungry. Like they ate up all the sushi earlier, like before the match, so I didn't have enough time. I'm totally fine. I just need to get some food. As you guys know, I'm always talking about food, so that's very important to me.

Yeah, I feel fine. Obviously that was a long match today, a lot more emotionally draining than obviously my other ones. I think tomorrow will be a great match obviously. Get to the final, last match of the year, just give it your absolute all and just see what happens.

Obviously I have done qualifying for my first final here, beating some amazing players, playing four really great matches. You know, I'm happy with that. I just got one more to go. I'm just going to give it my all and see what happens.

Q. You're saying the last match of the year. Have you discounted a Fed Cup final?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, well, I just mean tournament-wise.

Q. Just checking.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, tournament-wise, like, yeah, this is the last points or whatever for the year.

Obviously it's important. You want to do well. Like I said, just do my absolute best tomorrow. Nothing to lose. Just go out and have fun.

Q. So Fed Cup is still a possible option?

Q. Win or lose, how do you feel like this week will change how you look back on your season? Qualifying was a big goal, but coming here and doing as well as you have thus far, how will it change for you?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think my biggest thing was obviously after the US Open last year, everyone was, like, Oh, she's a one-hit wonder, she'll never do anything again, it was just lucky, no one was playing, blah, blah, blah, and I think this season I was just like I really want to play a little more consistent, I want to have some better results in the bigger tournaments and just do better and show that I'm, you know, I'm a top-10 player or top whatever player.

I think I did that throughout the year. Obviously winning Miami, finals of another Grand Slam, finals in Montreal, quarters of the US Open defending a title. Could I have done better? Yeah. Could I have done better in smaller tournaments? Could I have done some things differently, schedule changes, whatever? Yeah, I could have.

But I think off of not playing tennis for 11 months and having surgery and having to reset my whole life and career and kind of figure out what was really important to me tennis-wise, I think that this year I have done extremely well. I don't think anyone can say that I had a bad season.

So I think from what I did this year, I want to continue to build obviously for next year, and I think obviously ending this tournament here, win or finals, I think will help me going into 2019.

Q. Elina has talked this week about hearing things people have said about her, be it her results, whether she deserves to be here, even her physique. You have talked in the past about hearing things. How have you learned to cut that stuff out or use it as a motivating force, or do you just not hear it anymore?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I think obviously a lot of the top girls who have up-and-down results or shaky results, a win here and then they lose and whatever, we all kind of deal with the same thing. I definitely know what she's talking about.

I think that you just have to put out of your mind, because at the end of the day, no one can play for you. It's not like they can go out there and play the match for you or take -- you can't change your legs with them and they run for you. That's not how it works.

I think that a lot of people, whether it be on Twitter or commentators, whatever, they're always, like, Well, in my day, or if I had the chance to do it, if I was competing, yeah, but you're not. That kind of changes things.

I think even in her position, like, she's a great player. Obviously she's had an amazing year whether, whoever -- if anybody says anything, she's had a great year. This year I have had a great year. People from the outside looking in who are not tennis whatever, this is our job. And for anybody who looks in and looks at us, we're like the 1% or whatever you call it, people in the top 10. What's the percent? I don't know. You guys are going to be, That's not true.

What are we? People in the top 10 are the what percent? Like when you do the tax bracket? It's like the 1%. But I don't know the exact -- whatever. We might be the .5, whatever, 12%. I don't know. Whatever.

But like the little number of people who do really well and make over $3 million or whatever it is, like, you're gonna get judged are harshly. I think if you're okay with what you're doing and you're happy with it and you're fine with the way your results are going and the way you look and how your hair is, whatever, then -- I was going to say something inappropriate.

But be happy with it, yeah. Because the only thing that matters is if you're happy and if inside you feel good about yourself, and that's it.

Q. You and Elina are both undefeated here so far, but you have beaten her twice on hard court. Do you think that gives you an advantage?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. We're playing obviously in a final, which is really important. We both have played really great this week.

I think that will be a great match tomorrow, but it doesn't matter what's happened in the past. Obviously this is a completely different surface. We are playing indoor hard. It's completely different. And there is a lot on the line. I think we are just going to both go out and play as hard as we can, and I think it will be a great match.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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