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January 17, 2022

Belinda Bencic

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

B. BENCIC/K. Mladenovic

6-4, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Take me through the match.

BELINDA BENCIC: I mean, tough first round. I think we know each other well with Kristina, so we are reading each other's game very well. It was kind of tricky, but I'm happy I kind of stayed solid.

I don't think I played my best tennis. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm very happy with how I managed to kind of stay in the match in the important moments.

Q. What did you take out of the match today moving forward?

BELINDA BENCIC: Well, I mean, a first-round win, it's definitely good. It gives you confidence. You've made the first step into the tournament, which is good. I'm the first winner on Kia Arena. It was good. Yeah, taking confidence.

Q. Just on what you said before about your game is not there, where you want it to be yet. Obviously you're playing yourself into form, but where are you feeling like there's still a little bit of work to do? Is it just getting comfortable playing matches again? Is it stuff that's not translating from practice court to on court? What do you think?

BELINDA BENCIC: I definitely think with COVID, which I had over Christmas, it didn't help much, so I'm still looking for this kind of confidence. And for kind of -- really just playing the balls without even thinking about missing. Like really this confidence on the court. I think you just get that with a lot of practice or a lot of match play.

So I definitely think Sydney helped me a lot. I'm happy I played three matches there. I played better than expected there, as well.

I just think, yeah, with playing matches and practicing again and everything, it will come. I know when I'm playing well, this kind of level will come.

I'm not too worried about this, but it's just the start of the season and a little bit of a deficit in the practice.

Q. Did you feel as though in terms of having to recover from COVID, was it more of an impact on the disruption to your practice and not being able to practice as much, or was it fitness issues coming back? Where was the biggest impact?

BELINDA BENCIC: I think a little bit of both. Definitely for my tennis, it's more the thing that I didn't practice for 14 days in the middle of the preseason. But for my fitness, it's actually worse after because I don't want to say I had it very bad. Obviously not compared to people getting hospitalized and having worse symptoms, but it wasn't easy.

I was very -- like my fitness definitely was very off, and I had to take it very slow getting back because obviously you have to do all the tests on the heart, lungs, everything, and you cannot start too quickly to just avoid any risks.

I mean, my pulse was getting very up in the practices and even after Sydney, after the Badosa match, I was very, very tired, and the breathing and everything.

I think it's getting better day by day.

Q. I'm curious after Abu Dhabi there were so many positive tests coming out of there. Was it stressful for you just wondering from a mental perspective knowing that you need to get on a plane soon, go to Australia, stuff like that? How did you handle that and what was that like?

BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, it was very unfortunate because it was a normal tournament like here so we had testing, everything. It was not like even I saw the other players, so it must have been someone from the staff maybe or someone giving it to us, I guess. Yeah, it was very unfortunate.

But I think in this time today, it's very tough not to get it, so I think eventually we all have to get through it.

Yeah, it was a little bit stressful obviously because I was hoping to test negative soon and kind of be able to fly, but I knew after 14 days, I think on the 15th day you are fine anyway, you are not infectious.

I think that was the most important thing. Also to kind of feel better, to slowly take walks with the dog, then try to run a little bit. Just this kind of process.

I was a little bit concerned if I could play Sydney, as well, I mean fitness wise and everything. I was happy I kind of went there and started to build and go from there.

Q. You get to play Anisimova next. She obviously just won a tournament. How do you look ahead to that matchup? It's kind of early in the tournament to face someone that in-form, I guess.

BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, it's a tough second round, that's for sure. But I think if you look at the draw, there's also very tough first rounds, so I think there's nothing to choose here, and I'll definitely try to be on top of my game.

I see every match is different, even for her. For sure she's in form, but I think maybe I will try to stop her.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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