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September 6, 2020

Shelby Rogers

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference

S. ROGERS/P. Kvitova

7-6, 3-6, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How does it feel to be in the quarters of the US Open? Go through the thought process which was going through your mind in that tiebreaker.

SHELBY ROGERS: Yeah, it feels amazing. Day 72 in the bubble (laughter). It's been a long time here in New York. I'm happy to be sticking around for some more.

The tiebreaker, the whole match actually, was a little bit of a roller coaster for both of us. The first set, you know, a tiebreak. She upped her level a little bit in the second there. I was up a break in the third, she breaks back. She's just hitting missiles. She served unbelievable.

To get that double-fault there in the breaker, a little luck was on my side today I think. I just kept trying to hang in there and defend her balls, take care of my serve there in the third after I got broken.

Thankfully somehow got it done (smiling).

Q. Can you describe how you felt coming in, and what was your confidence level in regards to the tournament as a whole?

SHELBY ROGERS: Yeah, I felt really, really good coming in. I felt fit and healthy and excited to play, which I think is most important for me. I was happy to be here, happy to have competitive tennis back.

I played in Lexington, had some good matches there. Tough quallies draw for me in Cincinnati, if you will.

It was fun playing with Jessica Pegula in the doubles there. Got some time on these courts which I think was helpful to adjust to the speed. Get some big points in and play.

Coming off quarantine, like I said, I felt fit and ready to go. I guess the perfect storm, and here we are.

Q. Do you feel it's going to help you in your next match that you've already played a Grand Slam quarterfinal? Have you exceeded expectations? Do you now believe that you can win this whole thing?

SHELBY ROGERS: Part one, I mean, it's been a while since I've been in the quarterfinals of a slam, 2016. I think it's nice to have those memories coming back, remember that time. It was a very special moment for me. Less tears this time, so that was good at least.

Maybe it will help me a little bit. I'd like to do one, two better than I did last time at the French Open. It's nice to be back there. I told myself coming back after injury and quarantine, You can get back to where you've been before, you've done it, and go even farther.

As far as exceeding expectations, I don't think so. I knew I could always do it. It was a matter of head down, working hard to get back to that point. Being here, I want to push past it, really see what I'm made of.

Q. You mentioned the other appearance you had at the French. What are you going to take from that experience mentally to prepare yourself?

SHELBY ROGERS: How it felt to lose that one (laughter). It wasn't ideal, so hopefully can change the outcome this time.

It's obviously a lot different situation. The stands were packed there at the French Open. Here it's going to be a much different atmosphere. Just all of the preparation is going to be very different.

Like I said, the good memories are amazing to have. I'm excited to be back in that situation. But it's a whole different match in this quarterfinal, a lot of different things to adapt to. I'll just keep doing what I've been doing the last, what, three weeks I've been here now, try to bring my A game and do what I've been doing.

Q. Can you elaborate? You said just about everything is different. When you say the preparation is going to be different, what are you talking about specifically?

SHELBY ROGERS: Yeah, I mean, you don't have to deal with as many fans. Yes, I have press now, but it's a lot different. You don't have to deal with the packed crowds on-site. You can kind of wander. It's still a ghost town out there.

Every day you see less and less people here on-site. You're even more isolated, if you will. Just different vibes like that preparation for the match.

It's maybe easier to stay kind of out of the spotlight, not make it such a big deal. It's a quarterfinal. I mean, that's a huge deal for me, but at the same time you can just treat it like any other match. It's a little easier to do that. That's the goal anyway.

Q. Naomi could be your next opponent. How would you describe the way she plays and the challenge for you?

SHELBY ROGERS: Yeah, she could. She plays another big hitter, as well. So it's definitely going to be a tough match whoever does win.

Both have a lot of experience in later rounds in tournaments, especially Naomi. She's going to be very comfortable on the court if she does make it through.

Both have big serves, big groundstrokes. I'll definitely have to be ready. I think I got my dose of defending some hardballs today (smiling).

Again, I'll just have to focus on myself, what I can do on the court as well. Hopefully bring my best tennis because I'm going to need it.

Q. There were so many points in the match, along with the four match points, particularly in the first set, 4-5, 30-All, 5-6, 30-All, 5-All in the tiebreak. At those points, especially in the US Open, being American, there would be the crowd trying to push you on during those points. If you had your druthers, your choice, would you have wanted the crowd to push you on during those points, or did you like it more that it was just you and your focus having to deal with those situations?

SHELBY ROGERS: I mean, at the end of the day we're entertainers, right? Most of us love the crowd. We love putting on a show. We love getting feedback. Especially me, I love the cheers. You hear your name, you get a little extra energy from that.

At the same time, at this point I'm really used to there not being a crowd. A lot of the USTA was there. I saw some of my friends there. My coach was there. Maybe like 20 people in the stands. I'm like, All right, here we go, getting a little crowd going. That was fun.

I mean, of course I really miss the fans. I would love a packed stadium. At the same time I'm just as thrilled to get through that match. It was a good mental victory for me today.

I'm happy that those that I care about and are pretty close to me were able to be there in the stands. So I'll take that for sure this tournament.

Q. In terms of the surgery you had in 2018, working back, you started the year 174 in the rankings this year. I know it had been tough for you the last couple years. What was kind of the low moment during that time trying to get everything back, getting your career back where you wanted it to be?

SHELBY ROGERS: Yeah, I think the low moment was six months after my surgery where I didn't think I'd be able to play. I wasn't confident in my knee. I wasn't able to move like I thought I should. Here I am two years later as fit as I've ever been and moving really well.

I think just sticking with it, trusting the team I had around me, telling me I could do it, sticking with it. But, I mean, at the same time, like, that's kind of behind me at this point. Starting the year ranked 174, you said, I thought of myself as a higher-ranked player. When I stepped on the court, I didn't see that number. I felt like I would get back to where I wanted to be if I just kept doing the things that I knew were right, stuck with the process.

Q. During the shutdown, you put a lot of work in on your fitness. Were you working harder, working smarter? Was it nutritional? What can you attribute what looks like you're in the best shape of your career, and you're showing on the court, in the rallies, in your defense? What did you do the last six months?

SHELBY ROGERS: Yeah, I think smarter is a good way to put it. Listening to my body, knowing what works for me. It also helped that I was home cooking all my meals, not traveling. Just less stressed all around.

Honestly, really enjoying my time at home and the time away. I think that all made this perfect package, helped me being really healthy coming into this events.

Q. Specifically about Naomi, what do you consider the biggest differences between the way you play and the way that she does?

SHELBY ROGERS: That's an interesting question actually.

I mean, she likes to play first-strike tennis, for sure. She likes to go for her shots, be in control of the points. Maybe I can be a little crafty at times. She definitely has all the shots as well.

I think you have to respect what she does on the court, especially if she's serving well, she likes to dictate with her serve. I don't know. Is that a good answer (laughter)?

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