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February 9, 2021

Jessica Pegula

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

J. PEGULA/V. Azarenka

7-5, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You played a player that knows this court very well. Talk us through your match today.

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, no, I mean, she's obviously played really well here. I knew it was going to be a tough match. I know maybe she wasn't feeling great. Also coming out of the strict quarantine, that's always a factor. I really didn't want to think about it too much.

It was my first time playing on Margaret Court. I really like the court. When I warmed up, it was the first time I hit on it, that was kind of fun. I liked it.

Yeah, I thought I played really well throughout the whole match.

Q. You played well at the US Open last year. What made the difference from the last few months compared to previously?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I think I'm serving a little bit better. I mean, I've said this before, I think my fitness and my movement is a lot better. Now that I'm moving better, I'm also kind of learning how to win points on the defense and changing it into offense, which I thought I did pretty well today.

Yeah, I think it's a different element of my game that I've learned to incorporate and use and win matches that way. It wasn't something I could do a few years ago. Also staying healthy, that's huge. Definitely been the biggest factor since I've done considerably better since last year.

Q. How did you weather the storm in the first set?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I mean, I knew I had to settle in a little bit. I knew it was going to be tough. I didn't know if I was going to come out feeling super nervous, if she was going to be playing well or not.

I just kept fighting to kind of just hold serve. I knew she was serving really well. I knew I would get chances at the end of the first set, like I did. Maybe a little lucky here and there.

Yeah, I think I just tried to weather the storm. I ended up settling in and ended up playing pretty well to close the first set out. I'm really proud that I stayed in there.

Q. At what point did you realize she was maybe physically struggling? How do you use that?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I mean, it makes it really tough. I think I noticed it right when she started serving at 4-2 I think, or I was up 4-2. Yeah, I could tell she was kind of grabbing her chest, she was breathing heavy. I could tell she wasn't feeling well. That makes it honestly just as hard to close out the match because you see it happen all the time where someone maybe isn't feeling well, is injured, they kind of play with nothing to lose, which she kind of did for a few games there.

I just tried to not focus on it, just keep playing my game, not let her dictate, not let her get the first ball. Yeah, I guess I just tried to focus on me.

Q. Was the Super Bowl ruined for you after the AFC championship game or did you watch any of it?

JESSICA PEGULA: No, I did. I hit early yesterday morning to get back to our place to watch the Super Bowl. Obviously disappointing. I wanted the Bills to win. I was rooting for the Buccaneers because my soon-to-be husband is friends with Rob Gronkowski. I'm always kind of rooting for him. It makes it difficult because he obviously played for the Patriots. In that kind of situation, we were rooting for him and Tom to win.

Yeah, it was fun to watch.

Q. You said after the match on court you felt like you've been playing well, your game is at a certain level. Are you setting new expectations and goals for yourself?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I mean, like last week I played against Sonia, I was up a set and 4-1 and I lost. That kind of sucked. I know my level is there. I've been playing really well. I played Elina Svitolina pretty close in Abu Dhabi. I've had a couple tough draws here and there, too. I've been playing really well the last few weeks, hitting the ball well, moving well. I just knew I just had to stay in there today.

Yeah, it definitely gives me a lot of confidence getting a big win. She's been in good form, obviously considering the situation here. She's been in good form, she did well last year. I'm definitely going to take the confidence with me.

I think, too, the next match is going to be just as hard because I'm going to have to back up a win like that, which is I think something that the big players, you kind of have to get used to doing, backing up big wins like that.

Yeah, I mean, I'm happy today. Yeah, next match I'm going to focus and go out there and try to do the same thing.

Q. Did you know that Rob Gronkowski went on Venus' coach's video?

JESSICA PEGULA: I saw them doing something together. I'm not super close with him. Yeah, I saw that. He's a funny guy. I've hung out with him a few times. He's a character. He's pretty much the same as you see, like, on TV and everything. He's a goof ball. It was pretty funny.

Q. How does your fiancé know him?

JESSICA PEGULA: He's from Buffalo, Rob is, and my fiancé. Yeah, small world.

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