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February 15, 2021

Jessica Pegula

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

J. PEGULA/E. Svitolina

6-4, 3-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Through to your first Grand Slam quarterfinal. The confidence must be sky high.

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I can't get more confident, it is my best result yet and I'm playing good tennis and today was a hard fought win, so, yeah, feeling pretty good.

Q. You played Elina earlier this year, did you change anything going into this next match with her?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I did change a few things. I played her pretty close earlier this year. Well, one of the only tournaments this year. Yeah, it was also first match that I played, so I felt like I wasn't really kind of grounded a little bit.

But, yeah, I played her pretty close. I just knew that this match I had to take my break chance opportunities when I could just because she doesn't give you a lot.

I know that I had to take chances, but at the same time kind of not overplay, like I kind of did the second set.

I did change a few things, but nothing crazy.

Q. Anything that you're really happy about this game in particular, anything that you want to improve on?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I thought I served really well pretty much the whole time. I think that I kind of got a little tentative in the second set. I played a good game to break her, then I didn't hold serve. That was huge.

I think maybe playing those games a little bit smarter against the better players just to avoid kind of the momentum totally changing, going into a third set.

I'm just happy that I reset at the start of the third. I think that's huge. Obviously you know you're going to go three sets eventually. I think the way I kind of switched the momentum and turned it around was really, really important.

Q. Elina mentioned she couldn't get her focus in the game. How is your mentality going into the game and throughout the match?

JESSICA PEGULA: I think my mentality was just to go out and play my game, then kind of adjust as things went on. I think I did a pretty good job of that.

I definitely, like I said, kind of was a little tentative in the beginning of the second, and was able to kind of play a couple good games at the end of the second to kind of get the momentum into the third, which I think is really important, and something that maybe people don't realize.

I definitely felt like I was sliding off the rails a little bit, had to get that back. But, yeah, I felt good. I mean, it's tough because she makes you play so many balls. Was it the perfect match, like when I won 0-1 the other day? No. I thought I served really well. That was really important.

Q. How much in that third set were you thinking that was your match to finish, and also that Svitolina was on the other side?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I knew that I had to play really smart. I think I was starting to overhit in the second. I know she was staying pretty far back. It's a good matchup for me but it's also tough because she's going to sit back and take my pace fine.

I think I knew it was my match to take. I knew I just had to focus on my service games. I knew if I could just stay in there on her service games, I would get break chances. I think I was really just focusing on that. Just playing smart, not overhitting, just picking when to be aggressive was really big.

Q. On the camera you wrote, 'Hi mom and dad.' How important is the family support you have?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, they've been obviously the main support system my whole life. They're always the first to text me, watch all my matches. Not just my parents, but my brother and my sisters, as well. Obviously their support is good.

I wrote my sister's name last time. My dad was like, When are you going to write my name? They're happy he got a shout-out today. They're really happy.

Q. Near the end of the first set, you set up set point with a 31-shot rally. Was that point a catalyst and portend for things to come? What goes through your mind as you're playing a 31-shot rally?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I mean, that was a huge point. Obviously I would say the longer the rally goes, it probably favors her. I kind of knew winning that point, like, I needed to win it there. I knew we just had a really, really long rally. That's going to favor her. I don't really want to play this game where all of a sudden we're in these super long rallies, it's 5-4, I'm trying to serve it out. That's a big momentum game there. That could have been a huge difference.

For me to stay in that rally and win it was obviously really important. I knew I needed to most likely try and, I need to buckle down and win this game right here on the first try.

It's definitely one of those things where that's when you can feel the momentum. You do the best you can. Yeah, I'm glad that I won that long rally because I needed to take a breath after that (smiling).

Q. You won one career title on tour at the Citi Open in Washington. Do you feel you've improved as a player since then?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, winning D.C. was huge. It was my first pro title ever, like challenger tour, WTA Tour. I've lost in a lot of finals. It was one of those tournaments where I, again, wasn't really playing amazing, won some tough matches, then played lights out in the final.

Again, I think that was something where I was kind of waiting for that to happen, to have that moment where I could play free in a final. That was really, really big for me.

I think, yeah, I'm playing a lot better now. I think I took a lot of confidence from just competing and fighting my way through that tournament. It definitely gave me a lot of confidence going forward. I mean, I think since I've pretty much done pretty well since then. I think I've constantly been getting a little bit better as the year goes on.

Yeah, I think I'm playing at a higher level now than then, but that was definitely a pivotal moment in my career.

Q. What are your thoughts on having the three of you all in the same half of the draw succeeding in this way? What are the similarities and differences among you?

JESSICA PEGULA: Well, to be honest, we're pretty similar in the way we all hit pretty big, always looking for a forehand. Probably them more than me. Then also they both serve really well. That's something that I've gotten better.

Yeah, I mean, it's pretty awesome to see. I hope we can all push through. I think us and Serena in the quarterfinals, which is pretty cool to see for all of us.

The last, I don't know, year or so, we've really all pushed each other. Maybe we haven't said it to each other, but I think we all can feel it. They made quarters of the US Open and I lost I think in the third round. I think they made quarters, right? Something like that.

It's cool we're really all pushing each other to kind of get to that next level. We're all a little older, too. We're not like all 18, 19, 20. We've all been through the injuries, coming back, playing really well. I just think it's really cool to see because we've all known each other.

Shelby, I played southern designated tournaments, we go way back, playing junior tournaments in South Carolina. It's pretty amazing we came from that, and now we're looking at a quarterfinal here, her fourth round possible, she made quarters of the US Open, too. It's a big deal. It's pretty cool.

Q. As a former Buffalo resident, you've worked with support staff at the Sabres. There would be some crossover between sports. The Bills had a real good year. Josh Allen had some inspirational games. What have you learned from being around that sports environment?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I mean, I think I can relate to it honestly the most probably than anyone in my family, just being at the higher-level type athlete. It's been pretty cool to see what Josh has been able to do. Obviously the team got better around him.

Even last year when he wasn't playing that well, I was like, I like this kid. I loved his competitive spirit. He was a gamer. He just wanted to win. That's something you love to see.

It's definitely something I think I tried to take into my game a little bit, even watching the team getting that grit, that competitive attitude, having that mindset. In tennis, it's like 90% sometimes of the matches.

I think it's been really cool to watch them and kind of channel that energy into how I've been doing. Yeah, I think it does go one in the same a little bit. It goes hand-in-hand.

Q. We don't know yet who will be your opponent. Did you watch any of the next match, Jen against Donna? If it is Jennifer Brady, what do you think that would be like, the two of you on court together in a Grand Slam quarterfinal?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, again, I think it would be awesome. Jen is an awesome person. She's a great person. She was texting me, I'm so happy, I'm so proud. This is awesome.

I would love to see her and play her in the quarterfinals. I think it would just be so fun. I think it would be a really good match. I think, again, it's an opportunity for both of us. I'm just happy I'm here. She's been playing some good tennis, solidifying herself as a top player.

Again, I think it would be super fun to see. We've all been pushing each other. Why not push each other into a quarterfinal, then one of us be in the semis? That's what we're here to do. We're here to have fun and compete. If I can do it against somebody that I like, that I wouldn't mind if they beat me, hopefully not, but if they did, why not?

I'm excited. I hope she wins.

Q. How long have you two known each other?

JESSICA PEGULA: Honestly, we got close when we first played Fed Cup. Before that I didn't really know her, like, that well. Obviously we've been around each other for a while. Yeah, I think when we played Fed Cup, it was both our first time being on the Fed Cup team. We played a dead rubber doubles match. We were so nervous. We were, like, so tight. Like, Oh, my God, freaking out. I think we got close that trip. Since then, we've done pretty well, so...

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