January 25, 2022
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
A. BARTY/J. Pegula
THE MODERATOR: It was a tough game tonight. Do you want to start by talking us through it and how you're feeling postmatch.
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, not feeling too bad, honestly. It was just too good tonight from Ash. I think we've seen her do that to a lot of people. Unfortunately I was a victim tonight to that. She played a great match. There's wasn't much I could do.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. What does it feel like when you're in that moment when she's...
JESSICA PEGULA: You feel pretty helpless. I think that she really, when she gets into a rhythm, she can kind of run away where she really starts -- her game just kind of picks you apart a little bit, and it can be really frustrating because you don't feel like you can get a lot of free points, there's really not much you can do.
I think with her you have to take your chances when you can, and when you don't she definitely tends to run away with the match a little bit.
Yeah, it doesn't feel good. It feels kind of helpless (smiling). I didn't feel there was a lot I could do and then even games where I was up really easy I still didn't win the games. She just doesn't give you any free points.
Q. I think in the first four games she actually hit quite a lot of unforced errors. I think she hit 12 or something by the 3-1 game. How did you feel the match shifted from that point? Was it more about you or more about her?
JESSICA PEGULA: That's kind of what I was saying in the last question. I think it takes her maybe time to kind of feel -- she has so much feel and there's so much -- she has so many intangible things she does well that I think if you let her get in that rhythm then it can kind of run away.
Like you said, I only had one breakpoint but at the same time if I could have just kept helding or put some more pressure on her serve then I think I would have been able to get my teeth into the match and maybe not let her play that well. But, you know, easier said than done.
I did feel like she was making some errors in the first set where, again, if I could have taken advantage of that, maybe it would have been a different story and maybe I wouldn't have won but would have had a better chance.
But I wasn't able to do that and she was able to kind of really string things together pretty quickly and run away with it.
Q. You've been able to back up a quarterfinal appearance last year and doing so again. Tonight was difficult. How pleased are you with that, given the points and some of the pressure that comes with that?
JESSICA PEGULA: I'm really proud of myself to be able to back up a quarterfinal, my first quarterfinal, and to back that up is pretty special for me, a milestone for me and a really awesome thing.
So I don't want to take away from what happened tonight because of that. It wasn't my goal to back it up, but I'm really happy that I was able to and get a really good win the last match and kind of play my way into this tournament. I definitely feel much better about my game now than I did at the start of the year.
Q. Madison Keys has Ash next. How do you see that unfolding?
JESSICA PEGULA: I think Madison will play her pretty close. I think their game matches up a little bit differently. Ash obviously can beat anybody but so can Maddie. I think if Maddie is serving really well, really using her kick serve and looking for her forehands, that's something I -- I'm not as tall or my serve isn't as big of a weapon for me as it is for Maddie. I think if she can do those two things she can really make it a tougher match.
So I think that matchup will be interesting. I mean, Maddie is playing really well, but again, so is Ash. I think it's going to be a really great semi.
Q. A tough one tonight. Throughout the week, listening to all the players kind of when they get asked about Ash, there is a lot of, it's very complimentary. You talked about her, her technique and tactical brain. Naomi, all these people talking about how she's a great No. 1, et cetera, et cetera. Is there any sense that she kind of occupies a little bit of real estate in the tour's heads in terms of how good she can be, how dominant she has been, holding the No. 1, all that sort of stuff at this point?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yes, of course. I mean, I think she just does everything really well. Honestly, she just does everything I think a little bit better than everybody (smiling).
Just for like women's tennis as well, she kind of plays more like a guy, maybe a different kind of style that we're not used to playing day in and day out. So it's really hard to come from someone that hits the ball really hard to someone that's giving you all these different shots that you don't normally see.
So if you're not really playing that all the time, it's really hard to go out and kind of play that way with her and figure it out.
I think she just does everything better honestly than most people. And just for her size, the fact that she serves so well I think is a big difference. I just think her intangibles, like her defensive play -- I think her defense and her serve are probably her best kind of assets.
Definitely, I think definitely she figured it out a little bit mentally and physically with her game where she kind of has the confidence right now where she I think feels like she can go out there and kind of chop anybody up when she's playing really well.
Just to do it two out of three sets for somebody to beat her is tough because she just makes you play so much and does everything so well.
Yeah, I think she's definitely living in everyone's head a little bit. I don't think anyone is going to feel great going out to play her because they know they have to play really well.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports