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April 21, 2019

Sloane Stephens

Sofia Kenin

San Antonio, Texas

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, girls. Sonya, if I can start off with you. How did you find out you were going to be playing today? What was your initial reaction when you knew?

SOFIA KENIN: Kathy told me yesterday. Yeah, Kathy told me yesterday that I'm potentially going to play. So I just got ready and, you know, I just wanted to play well and get the win for our team.

Q. And this is now your third tie in a row with the U.S. You got your first win. How did the past experiences help you to pull it out today?
SOFIA KENIN: I think the greatest experience was I was there. And, you know, I didn't get the win, unfortunately, especially in Prague.

But I'm just really happy, and I really left it all out there on the court. Sloane just said, You know what? Just fight. Leave it all out on the court. Be all bloody and stuff.

So I left it all on court.

Yeah. Just amazing support from my teammates, from Maddie, Jenny, and Jessica, and Kathy, of course. And I'm just so thankful and really happy to share this moment with all of them and all of you.

Q. Sonya, you play pretty fast tennis always on the court and that seemed to really be a working style today against Timea. Did you feel like you were not giving her any time?
SOFIA KENIN: Yeah, I mean, I knew I had to play my aggressive game. We had a plan, and I tried to stick with it and I think I did a really good job with.

She's a grinder. She got so many balls back. And I knew that I had to play my best in order to win. And I didn't want to lose obviously, but, you know, if she was going to beat ME, she was going to have to really fight to beat me.

Luckily I won. I'm very happy.

Q. Sloane, you have more experience in Fed Cup, talk about how important it was to actually get back into the World Group for the USA and that responsibility.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, obviously we always want to be in the World Group. We played a really tough team in Australia the first tie. So I think just getting back, I think the format is changing next year so it might be a little bit different.

But just to get back in the World Group is important, and we want to be competing obviously for another Fed Cup title. So yeah, it was really important to get back there.

Q. Sofia, could you talk about that second set, managing the highs and lows and how you got yourself through it?
SOFIA KENIN: Yeah, I mean, I think just the first two games just didn't go my way. I lost it at deuce. The next game, she served amazing. So I just knew I had to play and to fight. I had to change my game plan.

I felt like I wasn't doing what I was supposed to be doing, so Kathy was like, Go back to your game plan. Let's do this and kick ass.

So, yeah, as I started -- you know, when I started winning, the games were close. And, yeah, once it was 3-All, I'm like, Okay, I have a chance, and I actually can kick ass.

Q. Sloane, watching her in that second set and then rushing out to congratulate her, what were you experiencing watching her in that second set?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, I'm not a good watcher. I'm very nervous. I was like, Oh, God, what is happening? I'm a nervous Nancy, so I was very nervous.

I was like, Okay, well, she's got to win. If she wins, we're just going to storm the court. Obviously, a big moment for her winning her first Fed Cup match.

So we just want to give her support, and we're happy not only for Sonya to win but to win the tie and get back in the World Group.

Q. Sonya, you're a junior Fed Cup champion with Kathy as your captain. Talk a little bit about being able to play regular Fed Cup as well and the differences or how that might have helped you.
SOFIA KENIN: Well, I know that being on a team with Kathy is always going to be fun, and she's going to make it exciting and a pleasure. I think Junior Fed Cup helped me and got me prepared for this.

And, yeah, playing an actual Fed Cup, it's just an honor. There's no words. And, you know, you're playing for your country, not just for yourself. You actually feel it out there. Even yesterday I wasn't even playing and I just felt it a lot.

And today, as well, I felt it. And I'm sure everybody saw this, but 6-1 in the second set, the tie-breaker, I literally started crying. I cried and I tried to go back and not cry. I just felt so much emotion. Because Prague I lost -- I was up 5-4, 40-Love, and then I lost and it was heartbreaking. And every time I think about it, it still hurts.

So just happy to get this match win.

Q. Sonya, did that previous experience and the emotions you talked about impact your confidence coming into the match today or how did you approach it mentally?
SOFIA KENIN: I just tried to not overthink it. But, of course, before the match I also cried. I had to get the emotions out. And then I came back in the locker room. Okay, guys, I just cried. I'm okay now.

I tried not to overthink it, and I think I did a really good job starting off well and battling. And then after I won the first set, I'm like, Oh, my God, I won the first set. I might win.

Then I was down 3-Love. I'm like, Oh, my God, this cannot happen. I do not want to lose.

And, yeah, the team, the support from the girls and everyone, it was really incredible. And obviously you can tell by the reactions after the match, they lift me up, and I almost fell, but they caught me.

Q. Sloane, did you have to adjust your game at all today based on the opponent you were playing and her strengths and weaknesses?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Obviously, she's also a little bit different. So, yeah, I just went in with a good game plan and just tried to execute the best I could.

Yeah, this indoor surface is a little bit tricky, and I just had to find a way to get through it and fight through and execute a good game plan.

Q. Late in the match you won a ton of points in a row. Was there anything that you found that was particularly working towards the end there?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. I was just playing well. I got a good rhythm. I got into a little groove and I started playing well, and that's what happens when you get in a groove like that.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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