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February 17, 2020

Ons Jabeur

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

O. JABEUR/A. Riske

7-6, 1-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Wonderful to watch; was it wonderful to play?
ONS JABEUR: It's tough to play (smiling).

She's such a fighter. We know that all the players who fight like this, it's tough to win against them. She didn't give me any easy balls at the beginning, so I had to go and win my point.

She has such a, like, flat and tricky shots, it was kind of tough for me to really spin little bit and put the ball in.

Q. What do you tell yourself when you just lost a set 6-1?
ONS JABEUR: Let's start good third set, maybe better.

She was playing better. Maybe my concentration was off for some time. She was playing good, but I couldn't find the solution. Probably I couldn't think good.

I tried to call my coach to maybe discuss a little bit with him instead of going inside here crazy (pointing to head).

Q. Were they blisters or what?
ONS JABEUR: Yeah, blisters. I think I was sliding a lot. It wasn't really hot, but kind of like this weather, usually I get blisters. Next time I should really tape them before the match. I really hate to call the physios in the middle of the match. Some players will think I did it on purpose, but I really did not.

Q. Can you talk about bringing on Issam as coach? What is your reasoning behind it, your vision for that?
ONS JABEUR: So many people don't know Issam has been with me for three or four years already. He's been helping me a lot. He was with me during actually Australian Open, sending me tactics every day, telling me how to play and everything. I think it's not new. We're just continuing the work we've been doing a long time.

I also want to mention Othmane Garma, who is a Moroccan that lives in the U.S. I am going to have to both coaching me during the year.

Q. They debuted the rule today where you can actually speak to your coach when he's in the stands. Did you use it at all? Did you remember you could do that?
ONS JABEUR: Yeah, it wasn't me. He was talking. Before the match I told him, Do not use some words because sometimes they drive me crazy. Think twice before saying anything on the court (smiling).

Q. Did you find it useful at all or do you think it's going to be useful moving forward?
ONS JABEUR: Yeah, I think so. Before I find it very, like, really weird to give a code violation or something to coaching. Everyone was talking.

I mean, for me they were talking to me in Arabic. Obviously the chair umpire didn't understand anything. Sometimes they say c'mon and think it's coaching. If it's like this in multi languages, then it's okay.

Q. You've been doing reasonably well for quite a long time. Middle of last year you got to the Eastbourne semis. Kind of went on from there. What changed?
ONS JABEUR: Well, I expect myself to play good since I prove myself so many times against good players. Just sometimes the mind is not in the right place.

If I'm really good in my mind, I think I put a good, like, motivation in my head, then it's good, the results can be good.

I mean, I learned a lot from last year definitely. Coming to this year, 2020, set big goals like I said before. I think even mentally I'm ready to play in the big fields, no?

Q. Sounds like it's tougher to train the mind than the strokes.
ONS JABEUR: Being a tennis player is tough. Honestly, traveling a lot, a lot of sacrifices. Sometimes you have no motivations to play. You have to find the key. You have to find the right motivations to continue, be able to play good.

Q. You were pumped that you might play Halep in the second round. How big of a motivation was that?
ONS JABEUR: I was really pumped from the beginning to see the schedule, the draw and everything. Since I was there, I didn't have the choice.

The second time I'm going to play her. Well, the first time really doesn't count. She was injured. But hopefully it's going to be a great match. She's a great inspiration for many players. I'm lucky enough to play her.

Hopefully now I'm setting up new mentality for myself. Hopefully I go for the win.

Q. The way you dug deep to get the three-set win, does that come from the confidence of winning many big matches this year already? She looked like she had the momentum.
ONS JABEUR: Yeah, I mean, winning some matches, playing on big courts, playing big players actually helped me to be able to win these kind of matches. I knew that she's a tough player. She played incredibly good in Australia. Almost actually made it to the quarters. Yeah, I've seen her playing good at Wimbledon. Everywhere she was killing it.

I'm really happy that I made it through this win. Hopefully I can play better next round and be able to get the win.

Q. It sounded like a football match.
ONS JABEUR: I always do that. I mean, I think it relaxes me when I just shoot the ball with my foot. Reminds me I should be maybe a football player, not a tennis player sometimes (smiling).

Q. The crowd, as well, they were singing as if it was a football match.
ONS JABEUR: Yeah, sometimes bothers me because they didn't really know the rules. They clap on a double-fault. I hope Alison is not really pissed about that. I apologized at the end, I had to.

I mean, Tunisian crowds are known for football. They would think they were in Russia back in the World Cup.

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