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August 25, 2020

Ons Jabeur

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference


6-3, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It was quite quick. How did you feel on the court? How quick was the turnaround for you from late last night and back on court against quite a different player. How did you deal with that, as well?

ONS JABEUR: Actually, I was kind of tired today. And the weather was really heavy. It was humid. So I didn't want to spend a lot of time on court, to be honest.

Yeah, yesterday after the match, you know, it's like completely two different games, but we all know that Maddie didn't play her game last night, but I was able to change the rhythm, didn't give her any opportunities. To be honest, I just went back to the hotel very quick, tried to recover, because I knew I had the match the next day.

Christina plays good. I know she picks up a lot of balls, but I knew I had the game to win. Like even in the first set I had a lot breakpoints, and I didn't want to make the same mistake on the second set, so that's why I was really, like, ready on the serve.

Q. You had spoken about your goals from the start of the season, and even though there was a big interruption, are you surprised that you managed to regain your level, the level that you had before the break so quickly? Do you actually feel that you're not playing as well as you were in the beginning of the year?

ONS JABEUR: I worked a lot, especially mentally, to be back like in a good shape, same level as Doha or Dubai, and yesterday during the match I really felt I was actually playing Doha. The atmosphere was the same. The way I was moving on my legs was kind of the same. I like the way I reacted to some balls.

So I think if you asked me that question like last week, I would say, No, I'm still, like, trying to find my rhythm. But I feel like now I'm moving well on the court. I'm like playing me, and I'm not like worried if I'm going to miss this. I know my level. I feel like I have certain goals that I want to achieve.

Q. The match with Coco in Lexington, I'm wondering what you learned from that match? Because you were really dominant for like a set and a half and it went away from you. What did you think about after that match? What did you change heading into Cincinnati and New York?

ONS JABEUR: Well, it was a good match for me back then. I played like a set and a half really good. Then after probably wasn't really like focused enough.

I kind of put my focus on my knee, which I shouldn't have. Also, Coco started to play much better on that match.

I think it was a good start for me. I didn't really want to get hard on myself for that match, but I know if I play next time like this I know I will be ready. And especially mentally I can be much stronger, and if I have to finish the match, I'll finish it.

Q. I'm sure you're glad that you got your match completed before the rain started coming down?

ONS JABEUR: Yeah, I am.

Q. You played three matches now in a matter of days, and ever since that first set against Leylah, you won six consecutive sets pretty impressively. Has that surprised you at all how well you've come since that very first set of the first match the other day?

ONS JABEUR: Yeah, well, I mean, always the first matches are the most difficult ones. Leylah played really good. She's a teenager. She had nothing to lose against me, obviously.

But I'm glad that I put that win. I'm glad that I was continuing to play better and better each match. That was the goal. I mean, I'm not really surprised. I know what I'm able to do during the matches.

I showed myself so many times, either Australia or Doha, that I could beat top players. I mean, of course I'm not, like, done with improving myself, but there is a lot of good things to work on, but I'm happy that I'm more strong, especially mentally and physically on the court. I think that could really, really help my tennis, because I have different games. Sometimes when we have a lot of choices, then you don't know what to do. I'm really glad that with my new coach that I'm having a good strategy.

Q. Were you surprised by how well you played last night against Madison?

ONS JABEUR: Well, not really. I mean, I played my match. She obviously -- it was her first -- I don't know if she played before or not, but it was her first match coming back.

To be honest, the courts here does not help much, because they are kind of fast. Sometimes they go a different direction.

With me changing the rhythm, I didn't give her like the time to really make her forehand go fast or her serve. I mean, she served pretty well, but I always was there to return.

I mean, I have done my job yesterday. That's why I had to have the score what I should have, I think.

Q. Playing back-to-back tournaments there in New York, and you played three matches and you obviously have another one guaranteed for tomorrow. Does this help you for next week with the US Open, the fact that by now I suspect you're becoming familiar with how the courts play?

ONS JABEUR: Yeah. Well, I was thinking about it, and I feel like even now, the third match, I'm playing much more better. I'm used to the courts. I'm used to the bounce.

I feel it helps a lot, especially when you don't have to change the court. It's the same bounce. I mean, anything, I'm always ready to be myself to play good on the court.

Q. I remember I met you when you were a young baby with an Italian coach, Luca Pino (phonetic). I would like to know if you're still in touch with him, if he's sometimes still calling you and your relationship is still good. Did you expect at that time to be so successful? Because he was very confident on your potential. You had to work harder physically, he said, at that time. Is that true?

ONS JABEUR: Yeah. I mean, I'm not in touch. We are friends on Facebook, so I could see his news from time to time.

I love Luca. He's really good. He helped me a lot in juniors. We won the 2011 Roland Garros. I still have such great memories.

But, yeah, I have worked on my fitness. I hope he's glad (smiling). Yeah, I mean, a lot of coaches before told me like I could be really good in the pro, I can really disturb a lot of players. So I'm happy that I got this level finally. I struggled for so many years, but I'm happy that I'm here now.

Q. What about the next match? What do you expect? How do you know your chances? What do you feel?

ONS JABEUR: Well, I mean, Azarenka is such a great player. She's obviously coming back. She's playing really good right now, I hope.

It's going to be a good match. I mean, she's a champion. It's an honor for me to play against her.

I think my game could really make a difference here. Changing the rhythm is going to be tough to bother her. I mean, I'm ready for this challenge. It's one of the steps to complete my goals.

Q. In Tunisia you are an idol. I have met many Tunisians who say you are the best ever. I wish you the best for the future.

ONS JABEUR: Thank you.

Q. In Lexington you were talking about how the schedule that you had played and the decision-making that you had in terms of your coming back on the restart had a lot to do with wanting to break in the top 20, if I remember correctly, right?


Q. So obviously these results are very helpful in that. But I guess how did you come to that decision of this is going to be the thing that motivates me on my restart?

ONS JABEUR: Well, the decision already started from last year. Like I said, I had kind of like a meeting with my team, and I said, Listen, I'm sick of staying in this level. I know I have the level to be top 20, top 10. So I'm going to put this in my head. I'm going to tell the whole universe that I want to be in top 20. And I know if you say that, everything is going to be possible.

Honestly, since I started believing in that, I feel like my way was getting easier. I have been practicing better. I have been less injured. I had like gathered such an amazing team with me. I have been having more fun on the courts.

So I think I'm going really through with this. And like I said, coming back here, because this was the best, I mean, to play three tournaments on hard than to play clay and come back. So it was the best decision for me to come.

I knew it was going to be very difficult, especially mentally, especially for me. I'm such a player who wants to be more free, you know. So I'm still managing with that.

Q. Also, before you were saying that one of the big things that you were working on during the stoppage was mental, the mental side of the game. There is no mental gym. You can't do pushups for the brain. So what did you do to work on the mental side of the game?

ONS JABEUR: Well, you know, obviously I had the capacity to win a lot of matches, to be able to achieve anything. Even in my personal life, you know.

So I had that, so I just had to work on that muscle, you know, and be better. So I start to believe more in myself, because I know if I'm relaxed, I am believing I'm more confident that I'm good on the court.

To be honest, I want to achieve a lot of things. I know that I'm representing Tunisia, the Arab world, the African world, which is huge. I want to really do good. I want to show that nothing is impossible for myself and for everyone else, you know.

Having such an amazing team behind me, even when I'm feeling low sometimes, they are always, like, trying to push me and help me. Of course I didn't do this alone. I had a whole team behind me, and I'm really glad that they are here.

Q. Could you just take what you just said a little further? Pretty strong, important statement that you're representing Tunisia, the Muslim world, and Africa. What does that mean to you?

ONS JABEUR: I mean, it means a lot. It's just responsibility for me to show a good example. Even playing on the court I try to have the best behavior. You know, I know a lot of, like, teens are watching me. They want to be here one day. They are wondering how I did it.

For me, to be able to win some matches and go as far as I can, it's a good example and a great message to send them.

Like I'm trying my best, to be honest. I hope one day I can share my experience with them.

Q. Do you get feedback from kids who want to do well, who have been inspired by you? Do you hear that?

ONS JABEUR: I do, I do. Especially when I'm back in Tunisia. Sometimes I go to practice in some clubs and I see some kids. They are always curious. They ask me some questions. For example, how I manage the stress before the match. Some different questions I try to answer.

I'm trying to give some motivation speeches. Actually, I use them sometimes, which is good for me, you know.

Q. How are you as a motivational speaker?

ONS JABEUR: Believe in yourself. If you put something in your head, you will achieve it. Only you and you can do that.

I'm trying to take a little bit from my experience. I want to share it with them. I hope they could listen to me, and I hope they can be here one day.

Q. I just want to follow up on the fact that you believe in yourself more. I'm wondering, what do you think was holding you back before from having that belief? What is that invisible line between not believing and believing?

ONS JABEUR: Each year was different for me. One year was like I played, I had no goals, to be honest. I was playing, wanted to win, but I didn't have any goal to achieve.

Some other year I was, like, like the fear was holding me. I knew that I could be one of -- obviously a lot of coaches and players, they tell me you have such an amazing game. And at the time I was tired of hearing that and not being able to perform well on the court.

So it was kind of frustrated at certain times that I couldn't really achieve it. So of course the confidence go down a little bit.

So it was like different times. And I knew that I had to face my fear. I had to face this, like people talking about my talent, and I had to of course work harder and smarter in certain way to become the person I am today.

Q. How many languages do you speak?

ONS JABEUR: Three languages: Arabic, English, and French.

Q. Any Italian?

ONS JABEUR: No, I eat Italian food. I don't speak the language (smiling).

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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