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September 2, 2019

Belinda Bencic

New York, NY, USA

B. BENCIC/N. Osaka

7-5, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You knew you could do it, because you have beaten her before. How different was it to try to do it in this stadium and this situation against her today?
BELINDA BENCIC: Before the match, I didn't think it was different. After the match, it definitely felt different. I just came with the same mentality like I played her before and just really focused on the game and not about the hype or the occasion, the stadium and the round.

After the match, it feels definitely different. It feels like this was the most important one.

Q. What is it you're able to do against her that makes you so effective against her?
BELINDA BENCIC: I don't know. I really just, you know, tried to play my game. I don't change anything very specific. Obviously I always adapt to my opponent. That's just how I play. I don't have the biggest power, don't have the most winners or most aces. But I think I can really read the opponent's game well. I definitely try to do that against anyone, not only against her.

And, yeah, I think just taking the ball early and anticipating her, and I think just my game probably matches up well against hers.

Q. Your father said that you and the team probably weren't too unhappy that the match was going to be played indoors. Wondering about your take on that?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, I wished it was going to rain, so it rained (smiling).

No, obviously I wouldn't have any problem playing outdoors as well because the big stadiums are almost indoors. I played on the outside courts, and it's just so different.

Obviously I prefer playing indoors. I don't know why. It just feels more comfortable and good for me. But definitely such a big stadium and so close, it feels almost as indoors.

Q. I think the last time you were in the quarterfinals here was 2014 when you had that breakthrough run. The last five years you have had so many different challenges in your career. What do you speak to the way you have been able to persevere and now come back into the quarterfinals here at the US Open versus the 18-year-old that did it in 2014?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, it's been a long way since then, for sure. People always think I'm a little bit older than I actually am, because I've been here since 16, 17. I think definitely it was a good time. I learned so many things. I think it was -- everyone expected to go just up. That's not how tennis goes. I think all true athletes have to overcome obstacles, injuries, just tough times. I think it made me a stronger person, better player.

Yeah, I hope it's going to be like this.

Q. What skill set have you improved in the last couple of months?
BELINDA BENCIC: I think I definitely improved my serve. I think, as well, I added a little bit of power on my forehand.

I think just generally I think the mental part is just really important. In these top-50 players, everyone can play very good tennis, so it's not about who can hit a better backhand or who can hit a better forehand. I think it's definitely about the mentality, how you go to the court, how you approach, if you have fear or if you're playing freely.

Q. The way you described your game and the way you read opponents is very similar to another young Swiss player that I know you worked with.
BELINDA BENCIC: Who? (Laughter.)

Q. Other than working with her and obviously learning so much from Melanie, did you study Martina and watch her matches and try to model your game after hers?
BELINDA BENCIC: No, definitely not. I was really young when she was playing. Obviously I knew who she was and what she has achieved. I think it was not necessary to study her game. I did everything on the practice the way I should.

But I think with Melanie we didn't try to, like, copy Martina's game. We tried to make my own game. And obviously know there are similarities because that's the way Melanie teaches, but it was about to make my own strengths and my own game style.

I think I play, of course, a little bit different than Martina. I think she was even more skilled and smarter on the court and playing more chess. I think I have a little bit less maybe talent and touch than her but maybe a little bit more power.

Q. During that time since 2014, did you ever feel that, you know, you weren't going to get back here? How did you keep going?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, of course, there were times when you're injured you ever wonder if you can play at this level again. Then I also believed if I'm going to get back and healthy, I can play on this level, because I proved it so many times. It was just about being consistent and if it was going to be enough.

Yeah, I think it helps when the belief is there, when you know you can be top 10. So when you have been there, you know that your way is working. So I think that helped me a lot through these injuries.

Q. How aware were you of the moment that happened between Naomi and Coco Gauff a couple days ago? What are your overall impressions of who Naomi Osaka is as a person?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, I mean, I was definitely aware of it. I was in the stadium watching them, actually. I got a retirement. So I came here anyway.

I thought it was an amazing match, amazing story obviously from Coco. I practiced with her, and she's just really, really good. Obviously what Naomi did is what a true champion would do. I already said it on court.

Definitely I think it showed it was big, you know, and social media, the Internet, I think it showed woman's tennis in great, and just the fair play that it's beyond the competition.

Q. You and Naomi are same age. Did you remember meeting with Naomi? What information did you have about her tennis-wise, character-wise?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, the first time we met was in Pelham on the 25,000 tournament, and she totally killed me. Like, I didn't know her before but she had so much power already back then and me, like, none. It was just on clay.

I was just really surprised that she played so well. But then obviously she made her rise in the rankings, as well as me. We met in Hopman Cup, and then from then you all know her.

Q. Could you talk about you'll play Donna obviously next and you guys are good friends and have known each other quite some time. Could you talk about what it would mean for both of you. You have gone through a lot, both former teenage prodigies, which is a word that comes up a lot this week. What does it mean to play her in the quarterfinal?
BELINDA BENCIC: I think it means a lot, because, yeah, as you said, she was also very good with 16, 17 won her first WTA title. Then it was, you know, the pressure and some injuries, some difficult times. Now we're both back. It feels very nice. I'm very happy for her. But definitely I want to win.

But still I think it will be great that one of us will be in semifinal.

Q. You had the walkover in the third round and a big gap in the tournament. How did you spend those days? How did it affect your preparation and rhythm heading into today?
BELINDA BENCIC: It didn't affect at all. I think I had three days off, but still, you know, I was practicing and getting ready. I think I had enough match play already this season. I have played so many matches, I wasn't going to lose this in three days. I felt great today on the court and felt in the rhythm, I feel like our practicing are working.

Q. The message that Naomi sent the other night obviously had an impact on tennis. What about sports as a whole?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, of course. Not only tennis, just sports, and women's sports in general. I think it was huge.

You saw, I mean, on Twitter how many, like personalities was retweeting this and seeing this. I think that was huge. Yeah, not only in tennis.

Q. In Naomi's case, can you explain what it is you actually see? The way she sets up, the way she's going to go, patterns? Can you talk about that?
BELINDA BENCIC: I think it's difficult. I think my game is very much on instinct, so I kind of -- you know, I see it, as well. You have to react to it in seconds. I don't know. It's maybe just a feeling inside me.

It's not like I watch her games and I see, like, She's going crosscourt all the time. It's just where she stands, the angle of the ball, how fast is it, how much spin is there. I think you need to decide all this in seconds. I think it's not the brain but it's just instinct.

I think with her, it's just very difficult because she obviously has a lot of power on her serves, as well. It's not that easy, you know, to read her game.

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