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February 18, 2021

Sam Stosur

Matthew Ebden

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference


6-3, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Your perspective on the match itself, what it feels like to be in an Australian Open semifinal.

SAM STOSUR: Yeah, I thought we played great again. We played three really good matches. We're combining really well. We're enjoying it. We're having some fun.

Yeah, today was even better with some people in the stands making it exciting. I think mixed doubles is about having fun, enjoying it. When there's people there trying to entertain, it's much better than playing in front of no one. I think we both enjoyed being out there this morning.

MATTHEW EBDEN: Yes, same thing. Just excited to come out with the crowds and the fans after lockdown for the people of Melbourne. Also to get out on Rod Laver Arena, we were pumped to go out there and warm up this morning, get out on our best court in Australia, best court in the world maybe. One of the best, that's for sure. To come here and do it in front of some fans, play well with Sam, it's just a joy really.

Yeah, that's why we fight hard, try our best, give ourselves another chance tomorrow.

Q. Talk about your partnership, how you decided to play together.

MATTHEW EBDEN: Yeah, I probably asked Sam first back maybe last month. A couple weeks ago she came back and said, Yeah, do you want to play?

I said, Yeah, still looking for a partner. Yes, I'd love to play.

Here we are.

We had a couple of practices even before our first match together, which was great, just to get on the court, get familiar with what we're doing, what side we're playing and that.

I think obviously we know we're both accomplished players, singles, doubles, mixed doubles, had a lot of experience. We sort of know what we're doing out there. Now we know how to do it together. So far so good. One by one. Go again tomorrow.

Q. Sam, clearly you have plenty of tennis left in you. When will you know that enough is enough and you're ready to move on to the next chapter?

SAM STOSUR: Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, I hear other people, other players retired, a lot of them just know when it's time. There's been some matches where I'm like, Oh, geez, do I want to do that again? Then you have a day like today, playing mixed. It's like, Yeah, absolutely I want to do it again.

Yeah, I'd like to still see out at least this year. I haven't got any plans to stop yet. Obviously with COVID and all of that, it makes things really difficult. I'm playing, kind of taking it week by week. Yeah, just enjoying every chance that I get to step out on court at the moment.

Q. Sam, obviously the last year has worked out for you in particular with the baby. Once you start traveling again, how will that work out? Are you going to wait till the baby goes to university and then retire?

SAM STOSUR: I'll keep playing like when Martina played till (laughter).

No, look, it certainly makes things a whole lot more difficult. The plan was to travel all together this year and do that as much as what we could, kind of give and take a bit of the schedule, come home a little bit. So obviously now that's all out the window. I think it's going to be pretty hard for them to travel with me.

I think for all the Australians, actually everyone that I've spoken to, none of us really know what kind of schedule we're playing yet because once you go you're kind of gone for the year. I'm not in a position to do that, pack my bags next week and not come home till after US Open. That's not for me any more. I'm still kind of working it out.

Chances are I'm not probably going to go anywhere till the clay season. Enjoy the time we have left in Australia here, have a week or two off, keep training. Wherever that makes sense to go away and start my schedule, I'll do that.

It's really hard for every single player out there at the moment. There's probably a bunch that think, Okay, every tournament that is on right now, I'm going to play, play and play, until maybe things become a little bit more normal. Some are, I'm already sick of this, I don't want to live in a bubble, not so into it.

I think it's really tough for everyone. There's so many different scenarios and options that you could do. It's really hard to plan. You kind of just got to go day by day.

Q. As an American I'm curious about the collective Australian mindset toward Margaret Court's singles record and Serena challenging it. People in this country love their sports so much. Are people really wanting Margaret Court's record to stand this test? Do you think if Serena were to be in the final, people would be conflicted?

SAM STOSUR: Look, to me it's never actually even been about what the downside of that happening as far as Margaret losing that title. It's all about Serena potentially equaling it, being the greatest player I guess with that number next to her name. I think she's the greatest player anyway. I think many players would already think that and argue that fact regardless, whether she gets this 24th title or not.

Yeah, to me I think it's more about Serena being able to accomplish that. If she can get that, then will she go one more? Obviously she's been close a number of times now. Yeah, I think it's more about that, Serena really showing that she has been the greatest player.

MATTHEW EBDEN: Yeah, look, I obviously follow the women's game and the men's game. I think like what Sam says. Obviously Margaret doesn't play any more so there's nothing she can do about it. Just watch and see what Serena does. Obviously she's such a great champion, Serena. She's won so many titles. Obviously Margaret won so many way back when, as well.

Yeah, I mean, Serena is the only one playing now so she's the only one we're going to watch and see what happens. I think, yeah, if you're a Serena fan. Who does Serena play next?

Q. Naomi.

MATTHEW EBDEN: Osaka. If you're a Williams fan, you're sporting her. If you're an Osaka fan, you're supporting Osaka. Obviously in the final as well.

Obviously, lots of good young girls and older women playing really well. The depth and quality is there. Unfortunate for Ash to lose. I think as Aussies, if we were being biased for someone, we'd probably be wanting Ash to get through and win it.

But, yeah, I think good for tennis that all these champions are coming up. Obviously Serena is still there, still trying to get more. Good for tennis I think, yeah.

Q. You used the word 'greatest of all time' or the term. Is that really possible to have that with one person? I'm not trying to put you on a spot or anything. It becomes such a fascinating topic for discussion. She wasn't playing Margaret in the same period, or Martina or Chrissie. Things, as we know, change with technology, with training, all that sort of stuff. Steffi, another one.

SAM STOSUR: Steffi is my ultimate idol, so...

Look, I think it's an argument that you could have for days and days and days. I don't think there's a right answer. There's not a definitive, This is the person. You can look at Roger and Rafa, Roger and anyone in the past. How do you separate any of those guys really? They've all got arguments for being the greatest ever.

MATTHEW EBDEN: Arguments, yeah.

SAM STOSUR: I guess it's a good debate to have really. Obviously you can look at numbers, but obviously you can't compare the game now back 30, 40, 50 years ago. You can't compare even 10 years ago. Like you said, technology has changed. There's so many different factors that go into it. I think there's a handful that you would put kind of in the same sentence and be like, Okay, who do you like better? That's your answer (smiling).

Q. How much are you enjoying playing matches after practicing?

MATTHEW EBDEN: Yeah, a lot. Started only in this last January. I went to Doha for singles qualifying, so it was great to start up and play matches. Lost that one. Came here, played the tour event, won some matches in singles, doubles, now mixed. It's great.

Both of us decided not to go away during COVID when it was all a bit messy and start up in the new season, which is now. It's great that it's in Australia, January, February. Now it takes us basically till March. Now it kind of gets messy again.

Like we were saying with the schedule, me and my wife would probably go to Singapore after this. You kind of just cannot not play forever in my position. Either you're going to play or not going to play. Being out and having time off last year, I really love what I do, I really like being a tennis player, it's what I do.

So, yeah, got to go and get amongst it week by week and bubbles and strange travel conditions. Yeah, I try not to think six, nine months ahead. I try to just go a few weeks or a month at a time and see what happens. If we want to come back after a few months and quarantine once or twice during the year, if we have to bite the bullet, we'll do it.

Matches, yeah, they've been important. Obviously we know starting from any off-season, first matches of the year are important. Obviously we've had an extended nine-month off-season really. This last two months has been awesome to get all sorts of matches, singles, doubles, mixed doubles. Yeah, we'll see what the rest of the year holds.

But, yeah, it's really week by week, month by month at the moment.

Q. Last year with no play for so many months, could it extend careers for a few players?

MATTHEW EBDEN: And shorten them, as well?

Q. Yes.

MATTHEW EBDEN: Probably both, yeah. I think for some people that extra time out might make them go, Yeah, you know, I really enjoy home life, which I personally do, but I do miss playing and being a player. I'm like, Hang on, I'm a player, a performer, entertainer, what Sam said. I'm a competitor. I want to be out there playing. That's just what I do.

Even if I love being at home, it's hard to travel, all that, it wouldn't last forever, let's face it. One, two, five, 10 years, at some point we're not going to play any more. Kind of just make the most of it for now.

Yes, I think some people probably had those extra months last year time out, which are quite welcomed. Over the years on tour, it's rare you get more than a few weeks off with the schedule. Especially being from Australia, we're always traveling. Time to regenerate and refresh, then get the passion and the appreciation for the sport back, which is what I feel.

I think on the flipside, probably some people who were maybe a bit injured or maybe not enjoying it, sort of got used to life without a bit of tennis, used to life at home, doing other things, they might be going, You know what, maybe I'm good. I'd rather be at home and not play tennis any more.

That's not me. Can't really comment for them. Probably works both ways, I guess.

Q. What's the plan for Roland Garros, Wimbledon, U.S. for the two of you playing mixed?

MATTHEW EBDEN: I was going to say, mixed doubles every single slam (smiling).

SAM STOSUR: Yeah, why not?

MATTHEW EBDEN: We have to make sure my rankings are high enough. My doubles ranking is climbing. Hopefully my singles is going up.

SAM STOSUR: We got to get in first. We're a wild card here.

MATTHEW EBDEN: Got to try to get in first. But first of all, yeah, I hope those events go ahead, French and Wimbledon. We missed Wimbledon last year. French was at the end of the year. Neither of us went.

Yeah, that's what I'm playing for a bit I suppose these next few months, to get rankings up, lead into the slams, which is special. I suppose us being in our 30s now, you savor all the tournaments and slams, all that.

But, yeah, schedule is going to be tricky and demanding, a bit messy. Try and just week by week remain in the present, not think too far ahead. Yeah, just one thing at a time.

Yeah, to play the slams, I want to play singles, too. Hopefully I can get high enough to get into qualifying. It would be good to get into main draw, but schedule is limited to points-earning opportunities for me to get enough points by the middle of the year. Maybe by US Open, if I have a good run in five, six months of tournaments. Yeah, it's limited. Even challengers, tour events, cuts are hard.

In the meantime I've got doubles as well. That's kind of hedging my bets, being able to play doubles and singles quallies, some challengers as well. That's probably how it looks for me.

I don't know, you said you might start up clay season?


Q. Sam, Serena hasn't won a Grand Slam since Australian Open 2017. There's a sense that people's admiration of her has somehow grown. Is there any way in which you respect or appreciate her more now than you did in 2015, '16, '17?

MATTHEW EBDEN: What about 2010 when you chopped her (laughter)? I'm joking.

SAM STOSUR: Well, I mean, maybe a little bit more. I think she's a player that's always been very well respected. She won slams at a very early age, continued that. Obviously she's battled back from multiple injuries.

Now having a child of my own, I didn't carry her, I think it's absolutely incredible what Serena, Vika, Tatiana, all the women who have had babies and been able to come back so fast, so well, so competitively. Yeah, absolute total new respect for that dynamic, for all of those players.

Yes, obviously Serena is leading the charge as far as that goes. I think there's, yeah, probably a little bit more respect I guess. I personally would like to see her get this. She's come close many times, losing a bunch of Grand Slam finals in recent years.

Actually, I didn't realize it was 2017 Aussie Open was her last one. You don't really think of Serena not winning a slam within that timeframe.

But, yeah, whether it's grown or not, I think it's always been there from everyone.

Q. Paris, New York, traveling with Olympia, everything that that entails, it adds a new layer to the complications of getting through two weeks.

SAM STOSUR: Sure. I probably won't have the amount of people helping, but it's still incredible.

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