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September 23, 2019

Monica Puig

Wuhan, Hubei, China

M. PUIG/A. Kerber

7-6, 5-7, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It's a big win for you at this moment of the season. After those match points missed in the second set, how did you recover so well?
MONICA PUIG: I was just trying not to say all the bad words that I was thinking in my head (smiling). It's so tough when you're ahead, then you have match points. Not having such a great season all season, you're so close to winning, then you kind of freak out a little bit...

We've had so many great matches in the past. I have a lot of respect for her. I know it's not over until you go and shake her hand.

In that moment, I just had to regroup and find a way to win in the third set.

Q. The level of tennis was pretty good. You didn't have the greatest season, as you said. Did you feel something was clicking the past few weeks?
MONICA PUIG: Yeah, I mean, this has definitely been the best tennis that I've maybe played all year. I had a great tournament in Charleston this year. That was something. But today it was a level that I've been waiting to see for so long.

Obviously maybe it was a little bit surprising in one way, but I just wanted to keep going, just try not to get super frustrated because it was tough.

Q. Did it feel in the closing moments of that second set, just the weight of everything, could you feel it?
MONICA PUIG: Yeah, you know me to be the type I'm super transparent in everything. It would be a lie to say that I had it all under control, which I really didn't.

Like I said, it's been really hard the past 11 months. Yeah, even the end of last year was tough - besides this tournament, of course. Just to kind of find my footing, to come into the match the way I did...

I've been feeling under the weather the past couple days, as well, dealing with a cold, fever, all these things. Just going to the court, doing me, just trying to play my best tennis, and having it come out like this, it was surprising for me, of course.

But I think I was able to regroup in the third and say I'm going to give it everything I have. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.

It's very encouraging to see this kind of tennis, especially the second tournament with my new coach. It's something that we've been working on and looking forward to. I'm just happy that something clicked today.

Q. He's such a positive guy. He seems to be able to inspire players. What has it been like getting to know Philippe? Has he had any specific gems?
MONICA PUIG: It's tough to describe our player-coach relationship. It's only, what, our third week, and we're already so close. I feel like he understands me very well. He's willing to listen, which is the great thing. Sometimes I feel like I have a lot to say, I need somebody to listen, to kind of guide me through what's going on.

He's been a great support to me, kind of helping me in what has probably been the worst year of my life. 25 has definitely not been the highlight of all the years. He kind of understands that. He understands what I'm going through.

We just try and continue to work and put a lot of work on the court. That's what I really love, that we're able to go to the court four hours a day, five hours a day. All of a sudden we look at the watch, we have to stop for lunch because we could keep going for hours.

He's been a really positive influence on me thus far. He gets along well with my parents already, the rest of my team. I'm just thrilled. Even if it's the end of the season, I'm already looking forward to next year because I know we're going to have a great pre-season ahead.

Q. Doing well here last year, a big win today, is there something specific about the courts or conditions that make things a little bit easier?
MONICA PUIG: I don't know. There are some times where players just play well in a tournament they've done well at several times. You have people winning tournaments two times, getting far in the same tournament.

I don't know what it is about Wuhan. I love the courts, the balls, the atmosphere, everything. That center court is beautiful to play on. I've had some great wins there, some great memories there.

I always seem to play on my birthday here. The goal is to get to the Friday, find some redemption in winning a match on my birthday (smiling).

Yeah, no, I love coming back here. For some reason Asia is always really, really hard for a lot of players. When I get back here to Wuhan, I'm able to kind of relax, unwind.

The hotel is great. The food is amazing. This tournament is so well-organized that it's really a pleasure to come back to.

Q. Coming away from this result, with all you've been through in the last few months, is it relief, vindication?
MONICA PUIG: I think it's extra motivation just to keep believing in myself because at one point in time it's just to keep trying when all you want to do is quit, give up. When your back is really against the wall, you just don't know what to do.

I think today just pushes me in the right direction to say, Okay, it can be done, I can get back. I just need to continue to work and believe in myself because I feel like I need to be my own best friend sometimes. I feel like I'm my own worst enemy with how hard I am on myself.

Philippe helps me with that. He helps bring out the best in me. That's something I'm grateful to see so early.

Q. How did you decide to start working with Philippe? Was it because you saw the work he did with Kasatkina?
MONICA PUIG: The funny story is I actually knew him when I was 14 to 15 years old. He worked in Justine Henin's academy when I went there, when I was young. I knew who he was. When I saw him with Dasha, I put one and two together, I remembered who he was.

Honestly, I didn't really have him in mind initially. All of a sudden my agent came with a list of people, a list of names. He was the first name that I looked at. I was like, This is the guy, let's call him, let's see what we can do.

He was really interested in the project, to dive right in right away. As soon as I got back from New York, we started working. It's been so much fun. That's I think really the key for me, is to start having fun again, to start enjoying tennis. I've invested so many years of my life that I just want to enjoy every moment.

Q. He told me it was important for him to go back to scratch, blank page. That's not easy to do. What is the mental process to forget everything that had been happening before?
MONICA PUIG: Well, it's kind of tough to forget everything because even the best and the worst memories kind of stick with you for a really long time.

I think it's just kind of giving yourself a reset and just say, Okay, I know where I want to go from here. It's just kind of like starting at the starting line all over again, running a different race than you've ran before.

I'm on a new journey. There's going to be new experiences, new memories, new everything. I'm very open to the fact that I need to change things. There are some things that I probably cannot change that I need to deal with myself in order to continue to move forward.

I'm really looking forward to continuing to find out just what I'm capable of because I know there's something hidden in there that needs to come out. I'm really looking forward to that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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