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February 19, 2021

Michael Geserer

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Her mental strength, obviously she's had a pretty different prep to Naomi. Her coach was saying they started on November 2, the longest prep they've had. You had that changed with the 14 days. She consistently talked about how she saw it as a positive. How have you viewed it?

MICHAEL GESERER: What was the question?

Q. How have you viewed her strength through this period?

MICHAEL GESERER: I think it was highly unusual, the preparation. When we came here, yeah, we thought of getting the preparation as the others, like five hours a day. We were fine with that. Yeah, once we arrived and we got our result, our test result back, we were super positive.

Yeah, we got the email from Craig saying we will have to stay the 14 - at the end it turned out it was 15 days - in the room. Once we received that, we immediately approached it probably the right way. If we look back, we were saying, Okay, we can't change the situation. There are much more worse situations in the world. It's something we have to adapt, it's something we have to, yeah, think positive.

We try to approach every day positive, or as positive as possible. We were fortunate. We have had two small rooms, but with a connecting door. We were requesting that before we came here with the physio and athletic coach Daniel Pohl. They were working out every day. We turned the mattress on the wall. Daniel threw balls. She could at least feel the ball on the racquet. We just tried to make the best out of the situation.

It helped really that we never thought one second of complaining or something. Just, yeah, approaching that with the right attitude. I think that helped us or helped her.

I mean, we didn't have a master plan because it never happened to us before. Yeah, we just tried to be smooth also like with the start. We had a hit when we came out, like midnight we had two hits on Saturday, just did it easy. Then we had doubles on Sunday, which Ash more or less played, Jen was just there to support her.

So far everything turned out pretty good in the lookback.

Q. The way Jen talks about her tennis before she started working with you, she sounds like she was almost ambivalent about the talent she had. Other people were talking about how talented she was. She didn't even particularly like tennis until she got to college. How together have you turned that around?

MICHAEL GESERER: I think she made a big step with, like, choosing an own coach which she didn't have before. She had coaches with the USTA, which was also great because she reached a certain level. Yeah, she made her decision, yeah, to stand on her own foot, yeah, to go with Daniel and me. That was very brave because she really didn't know us. Yeah, even the recommendation was from Billy Heiser, Alison's coach, but we didn't speak one word.

Q. It was like a blind date.

MICHAEL GESERER: It was like a blind date. He saw looking at me that I could be the right one for her. He wanted to help her, which was nice. Yeah, I didn't know what to expect. At the beginning he didn't even tell me a name. I had to look it up. I thought, No, no, no, here, yeah. I watched a few videos. I liked the style. I thought, This is nice, I can identify myself with that kind of player. Yeah, that's how it started.

I have to give her credits because we meet at one tournament, she plays one tournament with me in China, then we fly back home, then she comes for the pre-season without knowing the athletic coach, without knowing really me.

Yeah, I think the word is 'brave'.

Q. She said the initial meeting in Beijing was awkward. How do you recall it?

MICHAEL GESERER: Interesting, interesting. But immediately, yeah, I felt like she wants to work, she wants to improve. I mean, she played a match and we practiced right after. She didn't complain or anything. She said, Yeah. She finished her match, she won. I said, We have to go on court, I've seen a few things, maybe we just follow that.

It was easy. I thought, Wow, that's really nice working with a girl who is as easy as her.

Q. Obviously you've had great success together. This is the first time Jen is into a Grand Slam singles final. How will you use your experience to help her prepare? How might you try to help her with the occasion and the crowd?

MICHAEL GESERER: I'm not worried about crowd. I think it's exciting. Jen thinks it's exciting. Yeah, she can take a lot of energy even from the crowd. She's not hiding. She loves the crowd.

She was looking forward so much for the Australian tournaments because she said, There is crowd, I want to feel the emotions. Yeah, she just loves to perform.

You're right, it's the first Grand Slam final, but it's a match like everything else. The approach is like a match. There will be, like, in every match, nerves, she will be nervous, she will feel the little pressure. That's healthy, that's good. She also knows how to deal with it. She will perform well.

Yeah, every time she goes on court, she leaves everything on court. I'm not worried about the quality tomorrow. She did just great in practice. We had a great session in the gym. We had a great session on the court. She's ready. She can't wait to step on court tomorrow.

Q. Throughout the time you have spent with her, what do you think is the biggest progress she made? What is the biggest talent she has as a tennis player?

MICHAEL GESERER: Yeah, I just can say overall she improved in many aspects. She's a great person. I don't know if she improved there because she was already a great person when I met her.

She clearly understands her qualities. Yeah, she knows how dangerous her game can be. She knows, yeah, how tough she can be on court. So she understands her qualities. That's important.

Yeah, she improved in all aspects of her game definitely. Also in terms of the athletic part, yeah, she is working great with Daniel. Both are doing a really super job on that. So if you see her run and slide on hard court, it's normally a joy to watch, yeah.

Q. What do you think the final game yesterday against Muchova showed you of what you've been working on in the last 16 months?

MICHAEL GESERER: Yeah, probably the outcome, the outcome. She was able to survive that situation, she was able to win. She wanted it. She wanted it bad. Yeah, she did great. First thing I said to her, I'm proud of you because you did great. Yeah, you won the match.

That's how I feel about the last game. It was 40-15, then it was deuce, there were a few breakpoints, a few match points, close balls. Yeah, she fought through and, yeah, won it.

Q. I asked her yesterday about the US Open semis against Naomi when there was the backhand that was in but called out. You were trying to get her to challenge it. She said no. Even after she double downed, I didn't need to do that. What aspect of year personality does that personify or embody? Is she stubborn?

MICHAEL GESERER: I think she was already into, How do I come back from that situation? She accepts. That's also why she did well in the quarantine. She accepts things as they are. She doesn't think bad things happen to her.

There are some rules, and she goes with the rules. If they say, Don't leave the room, don't open the door, like in quarantine, she doesn't break the rules. She's not the one. She accepted that situation. She was already, yeah, thinking of, How can I come back from that situation? It's unfortunate that I got that break, but yeah, where do I have to stand? Where is my next return position? How do I have to approach that? She's not the one complaining. That's the explanation pretty much.

Q. It's Jen's first major final. For you and Daniel it also is, I believe.


Q. Which one?

MICHAEL GESERER: Wimbledon, Kevin Anderson against Novak. Three sets (smiling).

Q. What is this experience like for you in terms of coaching into the final weekend, trying to maintain normalcy?

MICHAEL GESERER: Yeah, as I say before, for me it's a match. It doesn't matter. I approach the first round the same as the last round. It's about, yeah, going out there, finding the right game, adjusting maybe here and there, yeah, finding a way to win.

I'm really looking forward to the match. There was maybe even more joy than a first round. But everything else, yeah, will be the same. Jen will be fired up. Motivational words, I don't need to say any. No, it's purely like we will be talking about tactics, lots of things. It's a high motivation to be in there.

I'm pretty sure that, yeah, Jen will do well.

Q. Naomi said, comparing what might happen on Saturday compared to the semifinal in New York, she knows obviously Jen is a good player, but she said, I'm a different player now. What are the things for Jen that make her a different player now than New York?

MICHAEL GESERER: As a fun fact, she survived the hard quarantine.

Yeah, when we had the pre-season, we thought, We are on the right way. The pre-season looked super strong and super good. I think she's coming back to that level. Yeah, I'm pretty positive. I mean, yeah, we will see tomorrow.

Naomi is a good player, no doubt. We respect her as an opponent. She did great winning the US Open, her last major. But we are there to, yeah, go for the trophy definitely.

Q. Going into the semifinal in New York she went out and played the best match probably of her career in the biggest match. She knows how to handle nerves, the occasion. Do you think it will be a different situation on Saturday? When she played Muchova, the last game was probably the first time I'd seen Jen get ahead of herself and wobble. Do you think that's something that will carry over to Saturday, risk carrying over to Saturday?

MICHAEL GESERER: The benefit we have from Saturday, we know how Naomi is playing in big situations, right? We know what she's doing on the court. Jen will not be surprised by any of her shots. I personally think the more often she plays against her, the more likely it will be that the outcome is positive. She doesn't need to hold back with serve, volley, forehand, backhand. I'm not afraid of the weapons of anybody.

I think, yeah, Jen will deal pretty well tomorrow.

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