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February 15, 2021

David Witt

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. A lot of hard work goes on off the court as much as on the court. Must be so rewarding to see her go through to the quarterfinals.

DAVID WITT: Yeah, I'm super excited for her. She's put in a lot of hard work in the off-season, we both have, her more than me. I'm just super pumped for her and proud of her.

Q. To get this far, wins over big players, what has been the key?

DAVID WITT: I'd probably say for sure it's believing in herself. I mean, she has the game. She has the strokes. When she was ranked around 80, 90, 100, she's very capable of beating these players. You have to believe in yourself that you can play at the top and beat players inside the top 50.

All it takes is one or two matches. I think she started winning and she started believing in herself more that she belongs up there. I think it's starting to show.

Q. With Jessica, when you first started working with her, from a strategic side, technical side, were there areas where you thought those aspects of her play could improve? If so, where have you seen the most improvement?

DAVID WITT: I think the big thing was on the serve. We worked on the serve through the pandemic a lot to try to work on winning more free points off her serve, whether it was getting a few more aces in or just a service winner so you don't have to work so hard on your service game, can free up her to play the return games a little more loose.

She's got great hands on the return game. Also we've added in a lot of work on the slice backhand. Throughout the matches and throughout the points, she hits that slice, which it can be a defensive shot, a neutralizing shot to get her back into the point.

A lot of players don't have that. She has it. I think she's just more confident using it any time she wants to in a match now.

Q. How much, if at all, do you know her parents? How much talk is there between you and Jessica about that part of her life, the NFL and NHL connections, maybe influences?

DAVID WITT: All that I know is it's a very close family and they're very supportive. As far as what they communicate with, I know them, I've met them a few times and spent time around brothers, sisters, fiancé. Everybody is awesome. That helps when everybody is so supportive for her to go out and play.

Q. What are your thoughts on the significance of all three of these players doing so well here, picking up their game in general at the majors of late? What do you consider to be the similarities and differences among them?

DAVID WITT: Which three players?

Q. Shelby, Jen and Jess.

DAVID WITT: They're very close off the court. They hit a lot. They like to practice with each other a lot. I think it's one of those things where they're pushing each other. They root for each other. They see one do well; they all three want each other to do well. I think it's almost like, for them, a little sister thing where they're kind of pushing each other to do well in tournaments.

When one does well, they're sitting there going, Why can't that be me? Then next tournament, the other one does well, so...

Q. As far as the significance for American tennis?

DAVID WITT: I mean, they're doing unbelievable. Women's tennis, I don't know how many women are in the top hundred in the U.S. It's probably 20, 25. Might be wrong. I think everybody's just pushing everybody. Right now the depth in women's tennis is pretty deep. I think that's why you see so many players every week that a lot of people might not have heard of Jessica Pegula. Now she's on everybody's radar. That's a good thing. I mean, she's believing in herself and she's confident. She's got to go out there and win.

Q. Speaking about belief, when it started to reach another level, when did that happen? Was it a tournament, the title run? Where did you start to see a change?

DAVID WITT: That's a good question because when we started, she wound up winning D.C., Washington, D.C., her first tournament. Played well. That was a super exciting time for her because that was her first tournament win. Maybe it started there, maybe it didn't.

Then down the road, we didn't get to play there for a while, but then she had a good run at beating some top players. They were quality wins. I think just with us talking tennis a lot, watching a lot of matches together on TV, we would sit and watch these matches in the afternoon, at night. We would pick apart what could be a men's or women's match. We both learn, how we're both thinking about matches and patterns, what you should do or not do. I think that helps going into the match with a game plan on what you're supposed to do.

If it's not working, then change it up. But it's been fun going through that type of thing with Jessica and learning.

Q. Playing Jen Brady, who will be the next opponent, talk about the challenges of playing somebody you know so well, is a friend, but also tactically. Jen offers a different set of questions than a lot of players on the tour.

DAVID WITT: Yeah, well, I won't go into how we're going to play Jen. Jen, I mean, she's an awesome person. She comes with a lot of positive energy on the court, has a great game, great serve.

They played in Cincinnati before the Open. Had a great match, really good match for both of them. So I think they both know what they're going into, into the match and it's going to be a dogfight. They just have to compete. We'll see who wins.

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