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August 25, 2020

Maria Sakkari

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference

M. SAKKARI/S. Williams

5-7, 7-6, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What was going through your mind in that third set, especially? It was an odd set, but she saved a lot of match points also during the end. What were you doing just to keep focused in that moment? It could not have been easy.

MARIA SAKKARI: Yeah, it wasn't easy, you know. Obviously there was something going on with her. I mean, I don't know. Maybe she was injured or something.

I tried to not just to make balls and to make it physical. You know, just to -- yeah, just basically to make it physical and fight. That's it.

Q. How does it feel to have beaten Serena?

MARIA SAKKARI: Well, I haven't realized it yet. It feels pretty good, because as I mentioned already, she has been a role model for me growing up, and obviously what she has achieved is huge. So it feels very nice.

Q. A little bit strange at the end, but I have to say your mentality was great and you stuck with it in the first and second sets. What do you think that says about your mentality right now where it's such a crucial time in the season? Is that one of the things that will please you most about this victory?

MARIA SAKKARI: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I knew before coming into this tournament that I'm not going to play, you know, good tennis. You know, I was not feeling good. This first set and a half, I could not feel my shots. You know, there were some I was playing good. So I knew it was going to be ugly.

I'm kind of like proud of myself that I came through, you know, that match just because of my mentality and my fighting spirit.

Q. Did the rain delay that pushed the start of your match back help you at all, or would you have preferred getting out on court earlier in the evening than you did?

MARIA SAKKARI: For sure, like getting on time, because, you know, if I would need more time to rest for tomorrow's match. But a win is a win, and I will just take it any time it is.

Q. It seems like the fact that you were so close to losing the match during the second set, did getting the match to the tiebreaker and then pulling that out give you the incentive to keep pushing forward? Seems like you came out really well in the third set.

MARIA SAKKARI: Yeah, I think the key point was, of course, winning the second set, but then serving the way I did first game of the third set was just like a turning point for me, because it gave me a lot of confidence going into the third set.

Yeah, basically that's it, so of course coming back in the tiebreak from 4-1 down and then, you know, playing first game of the third set like this.

Q. Can you just talk a little bit about what it means for you to, especially after I know the disappointment of Palermo, and then to hit the hard courts and train again to fight back to make the quarterfinals in Cincinnati again? And obviously facing Konta, what do you expect from that match?

MARIA SAKKARI: You know, the more matches I get, the better it is for me. That's for sure, you know. That was one thing I had in my mind, you know, just as many matches at the end of the season.

And, you know, playing Jo, obviously, I mean, I haven't watched her playing this week, but I assume she's playing really good from her results.

It's going to be a tough match. You know, now I just cannot think of the way she plays. I don't remember. It's too early and too soon. I just need a good dinner, good night's sleep, and then figure out how to play her tomorrow after breakfast (smiling).

Q. And now with the off-court coaching, there is no longer on-court coaching so we can't honestly hear what Tom tells you throughout the match. I'm curious if there was anything he offered throughout the match that helped you to pull off that win?

MARIA SAKKARI: Yeah, I mean, you could easily tell that I was missing more, you know, making more mistakes than usual, because, I mean, I'm a solid player. That's a fact.

He just told me to make it physical and play that way. Try to make more balls, you know, on court. And actually it worked.

Q. I know it's a wild match and it's a lot to process right now, but what is the lesson you learned from a match like that? What are the lessons you take from it going forward?

MARIA SAKKARI: Not to overhit, because I was overhitting in the beginning. Because obviously -- I mean, we have played once, but, you know, her timing and her ball comes super heavy. So for me it was a little bit tough to get used to her timing, her serve and everything, her returning position, because it looks like she's covering -- not it looks. She's covering a lot of the court.

So for me it was a little bit -- I was trying to do too much. So next time I will know that going into a match like that I won't have to overhit.

Q. You said that Serena was your idol. Can you just talk about your thoughts about her were as a young person and then now what role is she playing? Obviously at 38 she's not the youngest and is just doing incredible efforts but having some issues. Could you just talk about that.

MARIA SAKKARI: Well, I think beating your role model is something, you know, that has to give me a lot of confidence, because as I have said so many times, I remember myself watching tennis and I remember myself watching Serena. That's the image that I have in my mind.

So beating her gives me a lot of confidence. It shows me that I belong here, once again. I'm actually really happy in the way that I handled the whole situation today.

What else did you ask?

Q. Just the roles that Serena now plays...

MARIA SAKKARI: Like, I mean, obviously she's like the GOAT. I'm not the only one saying that. Having her on the tour still, it's incredible. We are extremely lucky to have her.

Q. Can you tell me a little bit about your relationship with these courts? Everybody is talking about how it's playing fast. Is it working out for you? Are you starting to like it a little bit? How do you feel about it overall?

MARIA SAKKARI: Yeah. I think in my previous press conference I told to Courtney, I think, that I was practicing indoors before coming here in Athens. It was really, really fast there.

So coming here, it didn't seem that quick, but, I mean, I can tell that it's quick. It's not a slow court.

It's quicker than last year. But, you know, after playing three matches and a few practices, I think I'm kind of used to them right now.

Q. Do you think you have your energy in sync with Tom in terms of playing in an empty arena, and it's a little bit weird and you kind of need to find support and having something strong going on emotionally between you guys to get fired up? Do you think you have mastered that, or are you still experimenting how to get your energy high and keep it high in these matches?

MARIA SAKKARI: The only thing that felt weird is that I couldn't celebrate my win the way I wanted to.

Q. How come? You can if you want, right?

MARIA SAKKARI: I can, but it's different when you are having a crowd.

Q. Everybody is watching you on TV.

MARIA SAKKARI: Of course I know it, but it doesn't feel the same. But actually, you know, it's the way you prepare your mind before going into a tournament without spectators.

To be honest, you know, there were certain tournaments that I have played in my career with less people than I played today, so it's fine. It's fine for me.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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