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August 3, 2019

Jessica Pegula

Washington D.C.

J. PEGULA/A. Kalinskaya

6-3, 3-6, 6-1

Q. As far as the heat rule that went into effect, today didn't feel like the worst day out there this week. I'm sure you might agree with me there. Were you surprised that there was a heat timeout, and did you benefit from it?
JESSICA PEGULA: It definitely felt pretty hot out there today, although there was more cloud coverage. Yesterday was pretty hot, too. Maybe today with the nerves and stuff, it kind of felt a little more draining to me, and just because it's the end of the week, from playing all that tennis.

But yeah, it definitely helped. I was able to go in and reset, put some ice bags on me and kind of refocus and come out strong.

Q. This is your first final here. She was injured; I mean, I had the thought that she's going to retire. It didn't seem to bother you, but I know that it's a very tricky situation when players get into like watching somebody else who's hurt. Did that come into your thinking at all? Did it bother your game? Were you distracted at all from her injury, her back problem?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I definitely was for sure at the end of the first set. I didn't really notice it until she -- like right before she called the trainer, I noticed she wasn't even trying to reach for any returns, and I definitely started thinking about it for sure because -- she was still playing pretty well, though. She wasn't moving great, but she was still going for her shots.

It's definitely tricky when you play someone like that to keep your focus, especially in like a more high-pressure situation like today when it's hot. But then she started yelling "come on" a few times or something, and I knew she wasn't going to give up. It seemed like she started moving a lot better as the second set went on and even in the third. So I was just trying to keep my focus, but yeah, it is tough, and you never know what's going to happen. They could pull out or they could be fine. You've just got to keep your focus every point.

Q. You were unseeded at this tournament, and only one seed I think made the quarters here and then none in the semifinals. I'm curious, obviously you take it match by match and all those good clichés, but does your mindset at all change at a tournament when you come in here thinking, oh, just hope to do well, when suddenly you find yourself at the business end of a tournament like looking around thinking, hey, there's no reason I can't win this title?
JESSICA PEGULA: I mean, to stick to the cliché, you really do kind of just take it one match at a time. I would say there's kind of like more confidence that comes with you, maybe before every match you -- I don't know what it is. You kind of just feel more confident. Especially as you keep winning matches for sure.

But I've been playing pretty well, and even last year I had some good results and the beginning of this year, so it doesn't feel as big of a deal to me as it used to. But yeah, it really is just competing like one point at a time, one game at a time until you win the match, and that's really kind of the only thing you can focus on because you never know what's going to happen, and you never know how you're going to play. But I had some good wins here, so that definitely helped, and come-from-behind wins, which helps your confidence.

Q. It seems like on paper obviously things are going well so far with David and this partnership, first final together. How has it been for you so far? What's it been like going through this week with him?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, it's been great. It's nice to get a feel for his experience. He's been through the biggest situations possible. But yeah, we really just started like the week before. I literally practiced with him for like four days, and we came here. It wasn't -- it was just kind of going to be a trial for here and Toronto. Obviously I didn't go to Toronto for good reason, but it's been going pretty well. I like his mindset and his attitude, and he's kind of just telling me to compete for every point and just focus on the simple things that you can control like serving first ball, playing a little smarter for sure.

Q. How would you describe your game or where did you start developing how you play now? Did you model it after someone, or did you kind of develop your own game when you were young?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I would say that I honestly don't think I really knew how to play tennis until I was like 17 or 18. I always hit the ball really well. I didn't move that great. But I would say when I started working with Michael Joyce, he kind of gave me like the frame of how I should play, like take the ball early and move forward, and I never really, as crazy as that sounds, had someone to like teach me like those fundamentals.

And then I would say now within the past year or two after my hip surgery, I've just gotten so much faster, my movement is so much better. So in return, my defense has gotten a lot better, and it's been able to keep me in points, and it's I think just made me tougher to beat because now I feel like I can attack and I can also defend.

Q. Did it matter to you that you were first on court as opposed to being slotted second? And regarding being in the final tomorrow, does it matter to you whom your opponent will be?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I didn't mind playing first today. Caty had doubles anyway, so I think technically she would have had to play second. I've been playing in the heat every day, so I was just like, fine, I'll go again. Like bring it on. I'm going to melt one of these days, but that's okay, I live in Florida.

No, I -- tomorrow it doesn't really matter who I play. I've played both of them before. I haven't played Camila in a long time. I lost to Caty earlier this year. It would be nice to get a rematch against her. But no, it doesn't matter. Every match, you never really know, and you just go out there and do the best you can.

Q. With such a successful week with David, have you come to any agreement that he'll work with you for, I don't know, maybe three the end of the US Open or through the end of the year? Have you formalized a relationship?
JESSICA PEGULA: No. Literally have talked about it zero percent, I think.

Q. Do you think you will?
JESSICA PEGULA: Oh, yeah, of course. I think once the tournament is over. I don't think that's really something we're going to discuss right now, but it was supposed to be Toronto -- like here and Toronto, and because I'm not playing Toronto, we've kind of just been focusing on this week, so I'm sure we'll talk about it after, and I'm sure I did well this week, so I'm sure as long as he's okay with it, maybe we'll try to go through the US Open if possible, but just see how it goes.

Q. Your serving looked particularly strong in this match. You had multiple aces over the course of the match, and I'm curious kind of what do you think made your serving so successful?
JESSICA PEGULA: I think I was really tired, and I knew if I could serve well and get a good first serve in that I could control the point, especially against someone like her where once you got into the point she could be really difficult and start dictating. Yeah, but I think I was just -- I didn't start off serving very well, and it kind of got better throughout the match, but in the third set -- I was winning my service games pretty easy in the second set besides when I got broken and lost the set. So I knew if I could just focus on my first serve, I would get a chance to break her, so I think that was probably my main focus. That's probably why I served well.

Q. Was serving your main focus?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, it was. It was -- yeah, like one or two on the list for sure.

Q. You've often been a fairly sort of I guess under the radar player in the big picture of American tennis. I know you played Fed Cup or were on the team for the first time this year, but I'm curious where you see yourself fitting into the sort of scope of things. There's all these youngsters like Caty, Coco Gauff coming up behind you, and there's the more established top-20 players, Serena, Sloane, Madison, and you're sort of doing your thing somewhere in between, I guess. Does that matter to you where you fit in?
JESSICA PEGULA: I mean, no, I don't really -- I mean, of course I want to do well. I don't really think I look at myself compared to them. I've said this before, but I don't really -- I know I'm 25, and like right now that seems like apparently a veteran because there's girls like 15 beating people, which is amazing, but I don't really feel like one because I was out for like consecutive years like multiple times when I was doing really well when I was younger like early 20s. So right now it just feels like I'm hitting the stride that maybe I could have hit a few years ago.

So no, I'm just -- I have goals, top 50 would be nice. I don't really compare myself to the other American girls. But yeah, I've just -- it's good to see them doing well because it definitely gives you confidence that we're all on the same team and we're all playing for the U.S., and practicing with them and playing Fed Cup with them really helped because I got to see the other side of them, too, and what makes them champions, Sloane, Maddie, great players. It was cool to get that experience to get to know them and seeing how they are on the tennis court definitely gave me some confidence.

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