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October 26, 2019

Belinda Bencic

Shenzhen, China

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. We all saw the video when you reacted to qualifying. Talk us through that, how you feel about being here.
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, I also saw the video. They showed me after. I think it's the most excited I've ever been for a match celebration.

No, I mean, it's just my real feelings. I was just so relieved, like, the moment I converted the match point and realized I made it to here last minute possible.

Yeah, at some point it has become a big goal for me. Just super relieved. I tried to qualify in China and Linz. It didn't go well. Then I kind of stopped believing in it. I thought I would be in Zhuhai. I just took my last chance in Moscow. Somehow it paid off. I'm super happy.

I think Kuznetsova was my idol on this.

Q. At what point in the season did you start to think that Shenzhen could be a possibility for you? When did you make it your goal?
BELINDA BENCIC: Well, kind of when I started doing well, so like from Dubai on. Then I played Indian Wells semifinal, Madrid semifinal. I saw myself always in the top eight of the race. I was like, Oh, it would be nice if I could keep this up until the end of the season.

Then finally after US Open I kind of thought, Okay, there's real chances of making it. I've been since Dubai like in the top eight of the race all the time. I kind of aimed for that.

I think after US Open I started to get a little bit tight.

Q. As you reflect on 2019, what is the most meaningful accomplishment to you of your season?
BELINDA BENCIC: To be honest, it's to make this tournament, to make the WTA Finals. I think most meaningful of course is the tournaments I won and I played. For me personally is that I've been consistent throughout the year. I think this is kind of the reward for being consistent.

You are top eight from your points from your season, so you are in the top eight from this season. I think this is the most rewarding.

Q. Seems like over the years there have been more and more tournaments in China. You played in Wuhan and Beijing this year. The Finals are now here. Is it easier for players or tougher to finish out the year in this part of the market?
BELINDA BENCIC: I don't know. We kind of, like, count already with it. We have the Wimbledon season, the grass court season, then the U.S. season, then we are prepared to go to Asia. There's a lot of tournaments in China now.

I think everyone enjoys so many opportunities to play, not like the premier events but even more international. I feel like for the players it's a great opportunity to get points, just to keep the ranking up.

For me, it's good. I mean, I've been really excited flying here, so I guess that's good. We enjoy it.

Q. Going into Moscow, you had a very specific goal. Did you enjoying being under that specific pressure? How easy or difficult is it to leave that all behind and reset mentally and physically for this week?
BELINDA BENCIC: I know Billie Jean King said pressure is a privilege. But it's still a very difficult moment to play under pressure, under so much pressure.

I think when I went into Moscow, after losing in Linz, I was already being prepared to play Zhuhai. Then I told myself, Look, this is my last tournament, you never know what's going to happen. Like Kuznetsova, she also did it this way.

I was supposed to play quallies at first, so I was prepared to play three matches in quallies, then have to make the finals. That made it also difficult.

When I arrived there, they announced that I can have the main draw wild card. Obviously that saved me four matches, which is great. It made it a little bit easier to reach the finals or less matches.

Q. How easy or difficult is it to reset, prepare for this week?
BELINDA BENCIC: I don't know, it's kind of easy because I'm just so grateful to be here. I have a very good mood. We made it here. Obviously in practice and in the matches, I'm trying hard to play my best. I still get frustrated when something isn't work.

I have to say when we were starting the season and we would say we would be top 30 in the end of the year, we would be pretty happy about it. So I think this season went even better than we planned, more consistent. This is really like a bonus for me.

I just really want to enjoy my first WTA Finals, just make the best out of it.

Q. You got to face Bianca in quite an important match this year. What stands out to you the most in her on the court and off the court?
BELINDA BENCIC: I think on the court it stands out that she has a really, like, understanding of the game. I feel like she's playing a bit different than maybe other players that are just hitting the ball very hard. I feel like she can play all the shots. She has this ability to go to the net but also play from behind.

Off the court, I think she's really confident, yeah. I don't know her well, but this is, like, what I saw or what I think.

Q. Talk about the player party last night. A rare occasion for you girls to dress up, appear in makeup. You looked stunning in your beautiful dress.
BELINDA BENCIC: What was the last thing?

Q. You looked stunning.
BELINDA BENCIC: Sorry, I didn't hear.

Yeah, I think it was really cool experience for me. First of all, the iconic photo shoot on this beautiful view, that was pretty special for me to have this picture. Then, of course, the evening was also very nice.

I was a little bit naïve. I thought it was like a normal players party, there's the draw and then you leave. It was like from 1:30 to 8:00. I feel like it was a pretty big deal.

Everything here is even more special than on the normal tournaments. I definitely feel that. Being my first time, I think even more. It was very nice yesterday.

And thanks again (smiling).

Q. One of the beauties here is the round-robin format. What are your thoughts on the fact that you could lose and make it through to the knockout stages?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, I was thinking about that earlier. Normally we tennis players are not used to this. You lose, you're so sad and you fly away (laughter). Now you can lose, but you can still maybe potentially win or advance to the semifinal. I think that's pretty special. I think only in Hopman Cup I had this form of the round-robin.

It will definitely, like, be a rare experience for me. I'm curious how it's going to feel.

Q. Back to the gala yesterday. You got to spend a lot of time with the other seven players which maybe perhaps isn't something you do often. Is there anyone you spoke to yesterday that you hadn't interacted with much? How did you spend all the hours?
BELINDA BENCIC: Well, it's not like everyone is saying the WTA players are not talking to each other because that's not true.

Definitely I know Petra and Karolina a little bit better than the others. Yesterday also I talked with Halep and Svitolina. Halep was really nice. She congratulated me for making Moscow. It meant a lot to me. Also Kiki Bertens, she sent me a nice text after making it. She obviously told me she hoped me to lose, but she still congratulated me and said I deserve it (laughter). This also meant a lot for me because it shows like the sportsmanship and the class she has as a champion.

It's nice to see these interactions. Still end of the season I feel like everyone is a little bit more friendly with each other.

Q. There's been a lot of discussion about young versus old. Do you consider yourself, because you've been on tour for so long, a part of the older generation? You're this bridge player between the two generations.
BELINDA BENCIC: I'm clearly the old (smiling). I'm 22 years old, I'm a veteran.

I mean, we are also discussing this yesterday with Petra. She made also this funny comment. Yeah, you're like here forever. You kind of, like, are. She was making fun she was the oldest player, then Simona, also Pliskova, she's not that old but she's already veteran.

I feel like the average has definitely come down with younger players. I definitely feel that's because the tour is changing, like everyone is fighting to take the lead. The older players are, like, slowly retiring and just everything is changing. I think that's pretty natural.

Maybe in some years there will be, again, clearly someone dominating or not. We don't know. I think everyone wants to take this spot of being the top girls that are leading the tour.

For me, I don't know, I feel like I'm here long time, but still I don't feel like I'm one of the older players. I still feel like I have a lot of time. Maybe it's good I'm one of the younger ones but with more experience.

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