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May 26, 2022

Jessica Pegula

Paris, France

Press Conference

J. PEGULA/A. Kalinina

6-1, 5-7, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. You're through to the next round. It was a bit of a roller coaster match in the end. Just talk us through those three sets.

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I think I was serving for it like 6-2, 5-2, 40-15, and then she hit a couple good shots and it felt like the momentum was starting to shift.

But I mean, I thought I did an amazing job to be able to bounce back from that, which I think is also a part of mental toughness as well as being up and losing a lead and then being able to come back.

So, yeah, I'm happy I'm through. As long as I'm through, I'm happy.


Q. How much were the match points missed from the first match in your head when it sort of starts happening?

JESSICA PEGULA: I mean, of course you're sitting there thinking, Gosh, is this seriously happening again? Because it wasn't even just that, it was also both matches you could feel all of a sudden like both girls were playing like way better, like just ripping, going for their shots. They start hitting a couple lines, they start hitting a couple shots that all of a sudden come out of nowhere. You kind of, you don't want to panic but you start thinking like, Okay, you know, I need to still step up here. Like, this girl isn't going to just give it to me you can feel that momentum shift.

I think especially on the clay you don't get as many free points, so you really start to feel it. And yeah, of course I was kind of laughing to myself looking up at my coach like, I cannot believe this is starting to happen again.

But I think that's natural. I think of course you're going to think about it, but at the same time I don't think I was giving away any free points. I wasn't playing any really bad points. They were having to win the point against me and I knew that.

So I knew I'd get my chance to come back, but today was cutting it a little close.

Q. The emotions were pretty huge at the conclusion of the match. Would you say that was because of the situation we just spoke about or is it a little bit about doing this in Paris and getting to the third round?

JESSICA PEGULA: I mean, I think when we're both out there we want to win the match. I don't know whether our situations -- I mean, I guess situations as far as me, yeah, with the match points it's kind of, I don't know, what you want to say about that. I've had 19 match points in the last two matches, so I think that's a record.

But at the same time, I mean, she was playing really well. I think in the third it was, I think you kind of erase -- I at least erased that lead a little bit in my mind, and was just thinking that, okay, we're just going to have to cut this out and whoever is going to be able to do it is going to be able to win.

That last game, yeah, I don't know, honestly I think I was just over it. I was just like, I don't even care any more. I just either miss the shot, hit a winner, I was just kind of over it, to be honest.

But I think in a way that kind of helped because it took the pressure off a little bit. I knew that I had to just not overthink about the situation and just go for my shots.

But even the last point, I was just like, can this just end? Like at some point either me lose or you win, I don't care any more. It was like I just want this to be over. It was so stressful.

Q. I wonder, we have seen a few kind of seeded players drop out of the tournament obviously over the last few days. Pliskova went out today. I wonder, how much do you follow kind of the other results going on around you?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I definitely follow a lot. I like to look and see what's happening. I know some players maybe don't like to do that but I always think it's kind of fun just to see what's going on.

Like, I think it's so interesting when a section of the draw breaks down and you see, at least for us players I feel like maybe we have more insight because we know who -- you can feel kind of who has been playing well, who the matchups are, that kind of thing. So to me it's kind of fun. It's kind of like a game to see what happens.

I haven't really been able to look much about who won today. But yeah, I think it's always interesting and I always love following the scores. And there's been, I think even on the men's side, a lot of top players saving match points and winning in five.

These are the rounds where anything can happen, and that's why I'm even more happy to be through, considering the last few matches.

Q. Sort of along those lines, you're seeded 11th. So far six of the top 10 seeds have been out of the draw.

JESSICA PEGULA: Oh, really? That's a lot.

Q. I'm wondering, as someone in your position, I could see how it might be natural to either think, oh, this is a real opportunity for me. It might also be natural to think, uh-oh, look at what's happening to these players. I've got to make sure it doesn't happen to me. Do either or both of those go through your mind or what's your thought process?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I definitely think I look more as, okay, this is a good opportunity for me to sneak through this section of the draw. Of course you still have to win matches and stuff. But to me, I think I like more playing that game in my head where it's like, oh, this is a great little opportunity. Like, this person loses, I like playing this person. You see it kind of breakdown and then you try to work your way through.

I think that's really important, at least for me. I like looking at it but I don't think I stress myself out about it. I think it's more fun. It's more, it's how kind of I set goals, I guess you would say. I look at it like that. I look at it as like kind of like chess. Like, you're kind of just trying to work your way through and see what happens.

But yeah, I mean, some people don't want to look at it that way. I guess it depends on personal preference.

But as far as seeds dropping out, I mean, I think to me it's not surprising, especially in the women's game. There's so many good players right now that I take every match as being extremely tough.

I thought even my section was extremely tough for -- maybe I wasn't playing with Zidansek coming up. I mean, I know she made semis last year. So I know it's going to be really tough. I knew if I got through, I knew Anhelina today was going to be very tough. She's had a great clay court season and is really starting to kind of solidify herself as a really good player.

So I definitely saw that my section wasn't easy. I think there was a lot of, I think there still is, players under the radar. But I also see that if I can break through, like, okay, if Pliskova is the seed in my section and she lost, that's a great opportunity for me as well as a seeded player.

But it's easier said than done, one match at a time. One point at a time. One match point at time.

Q. I wonder if you saw yesterday Bruno Soares, who is on the ATP player council, he said that the players would be open to kind of a reversal of the points decision, depending on how conversations go with Wimbledon. I just wondered if that's how you see things as a member of the WTA player council.

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I didn't hear about that and I have no idea as far as the men what they decide to do. So I don't really know if I can comment on that because I don't even -- are you talking about the no points at Wimbledon or the ranking points falling off?

Q. The ranking points falling off.

JESSICA PEGULA: Oh, okay. Yeah, we haven't even made our decision yet. So we're still kind of looking. I have no idea. I know the men said that the ranking was all falling off. So I mean, of course that's an option for us but I think we're taking more time to look at it, and we still haven't announced it.

So as far as that, we haven't even really honestly talked about it, talked about which option we're heading towards.

Q. Big picture you've been blossoming for a couple seasons now, and I'm curious about clay versus hard court. Are there things that have made you successful on faster surfaces the same things that are making you successful here or are there some differences?

JESSICA PEGULA: Well, I think that I definitely wanted to be a little bit more physical, work on my sliding this year on the clay, get more comfortable sliding up to short balls, sliding into my shots. Because, I mean, I didn't grow up on red clay but I grew up on green clay. So I wasn't afraid to slide, I think it was just more figuring out how to slide with my game. And kind of as a, I don't know what the word is, as a positive thing, not as an American slide on clay, sometimes we kind of look a little ridiculous out there, but I guess make it a weapon.

A lot of little things. I mean, I've tried to work on getting the ball a little heavier because I play very flat. I tried to work on incorporating, you know, dropshots more, which I've always liked a dropshot I just never really thought about incorporating it as part of my game on clay. So those are things that we've really, really worked on, I mean, even in going back to Charleston and stuff like that, I mean we would sit there and work on dropshots and stuff like that and so it's really nice to see that that's been a very good thing that's started to come for my game on clay and I'm glad, even today, I hit a lot of really good dropshots, so little stuff like that I think you just have to adjust as far as surfaces and again be a little bit more creative on the clay so I think I've just been embracing that.

Q. Just on the player council stuff, I'm just wondering how you find being on the player council and kind of why you wanted to be on there. Obviously tennis is such an individual sport but when you're doing that you're representing a sort of larger body, how do you find it?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, it's been very interesting. I've learned a lot. I have much more respect for the council whether I'm on it continuing after this year or not. I think before I had no idea really what it entailed and I was a little nervous because I was, like, I don't know if I'm really even know what's going on or what I'm talking about. And I honestly didn't even know who the reps were, which is kind of not great on my part.

But I think I have much more respect of, we've spent, now that we're back to in-person meetings as well, I kind of missed when they were doing a lot of COVID stuff and they said they were just having Zoom calls like a million times a week for hours. So now that we're back in-person meetings, in Madrid we had meetings for three straight days for like three hours each on different subjects.

So we spend a lot of time and from, you know, what other people have said is that this group seems to be the most open and most willing to talk about anything and talk about whether it's change or whether it's good, whether it's bad, so that's been really special that I guess I've been a part of that type of group.

But, yeah, I think I just have a lot more respect and I really didn't know how much time goes into it. And you really do learn a lot about tour sponsors, how everything works and I think it's been really interesting and I think it's a great thing to be a part of and to learn.

Q. Just one more, you mentioned there about how some of the top men's seeds have had really tough matches and we have seen Tsitsipas come back from two sets down, Zverev, Alcaraz saved a match point, whereas a lot of the women's top seeds have gone out. Do you ever think about the kind of imbalance at the fact that Tsitsipas falls two sets down, he's still got time to come back in the match. Whereas, Sakkari doesn't get that opportunity because of the best-of five, best-of-three imbalance. Do you ever think that it would be good for you to play best-of five as well?

JESSICA PEGULA: I have not, not after today (laughing). I can't even get it done in three. No, I mean, yeah, it's totally different and I think that they play so physical and, yeah, instead of focusing for two sets thinking, Okay, I have to beat 'em in two, you're like you win two and you're like, I got to win one more set.

And I think physically and mentally there's going to be letdowns, especially playing against those guys that are so high level that they're, they have so much time to turn their game around, which gets really dangerous, but yeah, I think it's just totally different, I mean, I don't know, I think women, we've been playing two out of three for awhile, I don't, I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't want to play three out of five. I think that would just kind of draw things out. That's just my personal opinion, but yeah, it's definitely different when you're looking at, you know, you have to win more sets against those top players than in the women and I think you see those momentum changes a lot more.

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