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August 4, 2019

Jessica Pegula

Washington D.C.

J. PEGULA/C. Giorgi

6-2, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Jessica, after all of the injuries you have dealt with, all that you have kind of worked for in your tennis career, how gratifying was this entire week for you and obviously winning the trophy today?
JESSICA PEGULA: Oh, yeah, it's been extremely gratifying. I mean, this is, like, what you work for, to win tournaments and to just win, basically.

But, you know, the journey -- it sounds cliche. The journey makes it all that much sweeter. I've worked really hard. So to kind of push through this week and really push myself to the limit to -- you know, stronger than I kind of almost thought I was at times, really makes it -- it's amazing, yeah. I'm excited.

Q. Is that a miniature Australian Shepherd?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, it's a miniature Australian Shepherd.

Q. Best dogs ever. At the beginning of the match, your depth of shot, your return -- anyway, throughout the match, your depth of shot, your return of serve, early on it looked like you were trying to end points rather quickly.

Q. Was that your plan today?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, for sure. She plays so fast and quick, I didn't want to let her dictate the points. So I just tried to, you know, really use my legs, be ready for every single shot to come back fast and hard, but also kind of try to do that to her, as well, almost kind of not give her time to dictate points.

Because, I mean, I'm aggressive as well. I have no problem with people who are hitting fast and hard at me. So it was definitely part of my game plan not to give her too much time to think out there and not let her get into timing, and also first serve, for sure.

Q. How are you going to celebrate today?
JESSICA PEGULA: I'm actually flying home tonight, so I don't know. Maddie and I will have a party, I guess. (Laughing.) Pop the champagne bottle I got. Right; Mads?

Q. Two questions. One is a factual. When was the last time at any level you won a singles title?

Q. At any level?
JESSICA PEGULA: No, at any level.

Q. Junior?
JESSICA PEGULA: No. Well, yeah, juniors I won like a Grade 3 or something. It was a long time ago.

Q. It's been a while.

Q. Along the way, when you had injuries, et cetera, I would think it's human nature at some point to wonder, but you tell me. Did you wonder? Did you think this would come?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I mean, you're thinking about it. There was definitely a point where I was thinking about it. I lost in the finals of Newport. I lost in the finals of the 100 this year. I lost in the finals of Quebec last year. It was always -- I've lost in the finals singles a couple of Challengers when I was younger. So it's definitely always been in the back of my mind for sure.

But I don't know. This week, though, it felt different. This final, I felt like I was just ready. I was like, You know what? You're going to go out there and you're going to go win. And I felt confident in that.

But it's definitely something that I had to fight through. I would say even after Quebec hurt a lot because I really wanted it to be -- like, you know, I was in the finals of a WTA. I was like, Wow, my first title can be a WTA tournament, which would be pretty cool. So it kind of came full circle. I'm really proud of that.

But it's just something that you have to fight through mentally and you can't really overthink it.

Q. I noticed that you were hitting to the line very often, which I could see was normal for you, but also to keep her off balance; right? Because she seems to need to charge into the ball to get those big points.

Q. And she can't vary pace like you can; is that correct?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I was trying to hit hard and fast to the middle to kind of jam her up and then, whenever I had my chances, to change the direction of the ball quick to not let her again get in any rallies or get in any rhythm where she can get really dangerous. So that was definitely a part of my strategy.

Q. How were the crowds? Could you hear them? The stadium was not full, it wasn't packed, but did they help you? Did they inspire you in any way?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I mean, it's always nice to have them backing you, for sure, especially when you're in the U.S. Yeah, I thought they were great today. I definitely felt their presence on big moments and big chances.

But I was also, I felt like, pretty focused. So I wasn't too hyped up or, you know, too, like, calm, I guess. I was just kind of in a good zone today, which is kind of what you always want to get in. It's just hard to do.

But, yeah, when I won, I could definitely feel their presence, and especially on the match point.

Q. Back to the dog. Does she have a credential?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah. The volunteers -- or I don't know. They made her one. After one of my matches, she had one. And then they changed it and put "Canine Champion" on it after I won.

Q. Did you know that she was going to come on court, your dog?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I actually requested it. I was like, Can someone get my dog, please?

Q. You referenced a few minutes ago it felt different this week. I know coaching change, et cetera, but why -- what made this week feel potentially different for you?
JESSICA PEGULA: I think I just have had a really good mindset the last few weeks. I was just kind of just trying to work on getting better every single day in practice and every one of these matches.

I like the hard courts. I like playing here, which also gives you a little bit of extra confidence.

But I think it's just I really embraced some of the changes I've had to make the last few weeks. I've tried to look at it with the most positive mindset. I read a lot of books, and I write in a journal, and I just try to keep the right mindset going forward. I think doing that every single day the last few weeks really helped it all come together today.

Q. And another new career high ranking off this. Is Cincinnati next and how do you build off this moving forward here towards, I guess, the US Open and into the end of the year?
JESSICA PEGULA: Oh, yeah, I think this is a great confidence booster, for sure, just in general. Hopefully I can keep the momentum and keep riding it.

I think win or lose, though, you just have to take it with some confidence and take the momentum into Cincinnati, and then, obviously, peak for the Open, which is what everyone is kind of working towards.

But this definitely helps and gives me a lot of confidence, especially going to a few big tournaments the next few weeks.

Q. What sort of input did David have? I mean, it's only been a short time that you have worked together. But how would you say he might have helped you in this time?
JESSICA PEGULA: I think we've worked on a -- not big changes, but a couple little things to focus on the week before we came here and the practices we had here.

Yeah, I think he's helped me with that and just kind of helped me realize, you know, just to compete for every single point and, you know, not really take off any games, take off any points, and just keep that mindset the whole time, which has really helped me get through some tough matches this week. And then, luckily today, it was kind of all working, which was nice.

But, yeah, I would say just a few little things. There hasn't been any big changes. It's been subtle things to focus on. But, you know, in return, focusing on those things helped me play my best tennis today.

Q. Is that aspect of your play something you either knew or now realize maybe was something you could improve, that idea of the -- what you said he helped you with in terms of the --
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I mean, I think the idea is something -- the general idea of, you know, playing aggressive, playing smart has always been -- I've been told that before. It wasn't anything surprising or new. It was just kind of focusing on the details within that that kind of helped, you know, have it all come together.

Again, it wasn't anything crazy. It wasn't any big changes. It's really was just focusing on the details of some things and then just going out and competing hard.

Q. When you were rehabbing from that hip injury in 2017 for those months you weren't playing, what did you spend your time doing? Did you go home and re-collect yourself or how did you pass those months?
JESSICA PEGULA: It was hard to hear you. You were asking me about my rehab? What I did.

Q. Yeah, after your hip surgery in 2017.
JESSICA PEGULA: Well, I had my surgery, and I don't think I played for about three months. And it was just literally going to rehab, like, five times a week. It was pretty boring, pretty -- you know, it's just horrible. You don't want to do it.

But I would say I went through with a pretty good mindset, though. Watching a lot of the tennis, seeing girls do well kind of, you know, made me want to get hungry and get back out there, for sure.

But three months it was just rehab, and then I slowly started back into hitting just maybe like once or twice a week. And then I think it was about six to seven months after my surgery I actually, I think, went to a tournament and competed.

So it took some time, but I got to, you know, focus on other things for once. And I've been out before with a surgery on my knee, so I just knew I had to take advantage of the time. I had to have a little fun. But, you know, I was hungry to get back out there.

Q. Congratulations on your victory this afternoon. I happened to notice after you secured match point you dropped down to one knee for a moment. And it looked like -- based on what I saw on the highlights on Tennis Channel, it looked like you started to cry. Very normal emotion. In something like this where you're winning a championship for the first time, did you think about that ahead of time, how you might react once you have won?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I think a lot of players would say they visualize the moments that they're winning. I don't know if that actually -- they do exactly what they visualize.

But, yeah, I definitely, of course, visualized what it would be like to win a big tournament, even big matches, you know. That's kind of -- those moments, that's what you're really playing for.

So, yeah, I mean, I got a little emotional. I was more, like, almost relief again because it was kind of another final that, you know, I really wanted to get this time.

You know, and then being up a set and 5-2 with a couple of match points on your racket, serving for it, you know, it adds a little pressure, too, because you want to get it over with. So I really wanted that ace at the end, because I really didn't want to play the point.

Q. Congratulations, Jessica.

Q. I think we talked about yesterday how this tournament there was a lot of focus on younger players with Coco, Caty, and how does it help to kind of maybe be under the radar a little bit, and does it help?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, it's great what they're doing. I mean, with Coco and Caty, it's incredible. Obviously, Coco at Wimbledon, and then Caty just in general has had a really, really strong year. She's beat a lot of really, really good top players.

So, yeah, I definitely have flown under the radar a little bit, but I don't mind it. I just was kind of doing my work, keeping my head down, one match at a time, one point at a time.

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