September 5, 2022
New York, New York, USA
J. PEGULA/P. Kvitova
THE MODERATOR: Straight sets, hour and 13 minutes. Crisp. Your assessment of your performance today.
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I don't know. I feel like I'm always on edge playing Petra just because she can hit winners from anywhere, can get really hot and kind of make you feel like crap, I guess, on the court (smiling).
Obviously haven't beat her as well yet. So happy that I was able to not get frustrated today, to kind of stay in the match, even if I was down a break or just got broken. Thought I returned really well and ended up serving really smart when I had to.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. What have you learned about what it takes for you off the court to make it through to the second week of a slam?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I think it's a tough balance, you know. Especially in New York, everything is so hectic and crazy and you can feel really overwhelmed. I do love the feeling, and when a second week starts it's so quiet and it's an amazing feeling when you're, like, Oh, everyone is gone. That's always a great feeling and motivation.
Yeah, I definitely think just balancing. I think for me sometimes I need to go out and do things, I need to not be stuck in my hotel room and be on my computer, just watching TV all day. I think I need to balance the city, or wherever I am, a little bit, and just allow enough time to rest and recover and not overdo it too much with media or anything, because I have a tendency to say yes to everything. Sometimes I have to like balance that a little bit better.
Q. What are your favorite shows?
JESSICA PEGULA: Favorite shows? Honestly the last few weeks I've been here all I've been watching is "Family Guy." I don't know why. My husband and I are just on this kick. That's kind of what I've been watching.
Q. First of all, keep saying yes (laughter).
JESSICA PEGULA: I was just told I'm very good at interviews. The woman from Amazon. Yeah, it was a nice compliment.
Q. The oddity of what went on with the rain and no roof, you were lucky enough to be playing on one of two courts here with the roof. Was that annoying? How did you spend the time and what were you told about why it hadn't been closed?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, so I don't know. They told me, they said, Oh, we are going to close the roof or we're going to check on it, and then they came out and said, We're not going to close the roof, it looks like it passed.
Petra and I were a little confused because it still looked pretty dark out when we looked up. We were like, Okay, whatever, we'll keep playing. The court dries pretty fast so I think they don't really want to close it unless they really have to.
The court dried up pretty quick and then we were back out there. It was still kind of dark though and I had a feeling that it was going to start raining again, then they ended up closing it. I'm not really sure if it was a mishap with the weather or what happened.
Of course it's a little frustrating. You don't really want to be -- especially at the start of the match when there's no feeling of what's going on. You're just sitting there in limbo, not sure what to do.
Yeah, that can be hard.
Q. You said you would still do things in Manhattan. What kind of balancing act do you do?
JESSICA PEGULA: I just mean like going to dinner, going to see a show. We went to a Mets game, we went to a Yankees game. Just try to not sit in my room and order Uber Eats.
Q. Also you had said your father isn't here yet. Is there a point that he might come at some point? What has he been saying to you as you are now in it?
JESSICA PEGULA: He just tells me, Good job. He likes to give his little, I don't know, recap of the match or what the opponent was doing. Nothing major.
I mean, I think, I don't know, he might enjoy watching at home a little bit to kind of it not be so stressful. Honestly, I have my brother and sister here already. I don't really know if I made it to the final, let's say, if he would come necessarily. But, yeah, I don't know. We'll see.
Q. If I could ask you to look ahead, maybe first talk about Iga, if you were to play her, what can you take away from earlier meetings, including not very long ago in Paris, completely different surface. But do you feel like you can learn some things from how that went and apply them here? What do you think for you would be the key against her?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, of course. I think I maybe would take some more chances this time playing her, especially playing her on a maybe quicker hard court than last time playing her on clay.
Yeah, I think I just have to play within myself and play smart and be present. I think I tried to do that today. Today, I already said, felt like a quarterfinal to me just because I haven't beaten her before, she's been having a good summer.
So I was just, Don't overthink it, don't try to go for too much, don't try to force anything. Just try to play within yourself. I thought I did a great job of that today so I'm really just going to try and replicate that if I happen to play Iga.
Q. She happens to be down against Niemeier. If you do play Jule, what do you know about her game? Have you ever practiced with her?
JESSICA PEGULA: I've never practiced with her, I've never hit with her, but I actually have seen her name quite often sneak in some good wins. I'm familiar with her.
I always thought she was a very good player and she was going to be good when she could string some matches together at some bigger events, which she started to do. At Wimbledon you saw that. I think maybe it wasn't talked about as much because there wasn't any points so it's not like her ranking made a huge jump or anything.
She likes to move forward. Has a really nice game and seems kind of fearless as well. It's going to be an interesting match, especially playing someone with kind of nothing to lose, first time in that situation, especially if she beats Iga she's going to have a lot of confidence.
Either way, it's going to be very tough.
Q. A lot of complaints from players this week, whether humidity, balls, wind. What are you doing to try and manage those things, or are you just completely unbothered by any of them?
JESSICA PEGULA: Oh, no, I definitely don't like when things start feeling weird with my tension. So I'm definitely one of those players where I try to try everything, and actually have gotten much better at that the last year or so, if something doesn't feel right, to have another racquet, try a different tension.
You never know with the balls, weather, sun, shadow, like it doesn't matter that maybe something feels off and you have to make a change. I've definitely gotten better at being less stubborn about that type of stuff.
I also don't hit a lot of spin so I tend to feel when the tension is a little different or the ball is flying a little bit more, I definitely feel that a lot. But at the same time, I think it's important not to let it frustrate you too much.
That was like today. I actually ended up switching tension when the roof closed because I knew it was going to be a bit heavier. I went and got a couple more racquets strung on the break. Actually, I think you saw me, I was changing racquets at the beginning and found one that felt really good luckily and was able to reel off like the next five, six games. Glad I picked the right racquet.
I definitely can get annoyed, but I maybe took a little inspiration from Ons because there has been a lot of talk about the ball change. She was like, I just adapt to whatever. I was, like, That's a good mindset. I need to think like that more often.
Q. The humidity similar to Florida?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, the humidity is similar to Florida, not as humid as Florida. At least it feels like the last couple of weeks actually hasn't been too hot, at least when I played. But with the balls and some of the courts maybe play a little bit different, it can feel different every single day.
Q. You spoke a couple of days ago about Derek Jeter and talked about Serena Williams. What mantras or examples of prominent athletes in your experience have meant the most to you as you have developed your career?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I love learning about all kind of the greatest in their fields and taking things from them and seeing what sticks and what I like and what I can relate to.
I think it's important also to be your own person but at the same time I love finding inspiration. I think one of the best things I have read actually was from Ronda Rousey when I read her book. She said, My mom always told me you have to be the best in the world on your worst day.
I thought that's just, to a T, what champions do. I think I have really tried to adapt that mindset, because I can be kind of a perfectionist. So even talking about tension, I'm always like, It doesn't feel right, nothing is going right. And I can get kind of hard on myself.
I think I've done a really good job the last few years of realizing that, and winning a lot of matches where I'm like, Oh, my gosh, I played horrible. I don't mean that in a disrespectful way to the opponent, but just you're feeling like everything, forehand feels terrible, serve feels terrible, but to be the best, you have to figure it out.
That's something I have tried to take from all of the GOATs in all of their fields, and I think they all do that. That's something that I like to find inspiration from.
Q. Because of your family background in sports, is it very different playing a tournament in America where you are known partly for your family background as opposed to overseas where you're just Jessica Pegula, tennis player?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, it's definitely different playing overseas, I feel people don't make the connection as often as they do here.
For me, I mean, there is a lot of people from Buffalo that are kind of all over the place, you always find somebody that's a Bills and Sabres fan. And to me I think I have more embraced it and find it kind of fun and cool that these people, because there's not a lot of tennis in Buffalo, know nothing about tennis but they will come and watch the match in Cincinnati or here or wherever, just because they are like a fan of the teams.
So I think it's cool that way that I can kind of embrace and show tennis maybe a little bit more to Buffalo and give them something to root for because they definitely like getting behind their sports team. It's been a fun experience.
Q. I had a player council-based question. Victoria Azarenka came in here yesterday and said that the No. 1 thing that she was concerned about was exploitive, manipulative coaches. Can you give us more context of what prompted that focus and what the goal was from the player council on that.
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, that's something we're definitely -- well, I mean, obviously we represent the players and we want to protect everyone as much as possible. I think someone like Vika who has had so much experience and been on tour for so long she can definitely attest to maybe when she sees something that's not right or weird behavior or something like that, and I think shining a light on it earlier nowadays is much easier to do than it was maybe 20 years ago when things weren't as talked about and wasn't as open about things.
I think from a player council point of view, we just want to put emphasis on that and want to put emphasis on what situations aren't right, has someone talked to this girl, to this coach? Does someone want to explain X, Y, Z, or why the situation looks so weird? I heard from a couple girls this happened.
I think it's more even just following up and checking up on, you know, whether you hear a story or see something or you see behavior, not kind of letting it go. It's almost like the see something, say something. Being a woman in today's world, I've had someone come up to me and be like, That guy came up and talked to you, are you okay?
I think it's a lot of little things of doing that. And we're very hope about that on the player council, and I think having experienced players, I think all of us are a little older as well so we, I think, get that protective mindset of seeing all the young girls come up and wanting to make sure they are protected in the best way.
We're always trying to do that, always try to put a focus on it, and hopefully get more and more, I don't know what the word, processes in place for things that, I don't know, make us question what's going on.
Q. You went back on the roof delay, tighter-strung racquet from what to what?
JESSICA PEGULA: I got one strung looser, one strung tighter, but I'm weird because the tighter ones tend to feel looser to me. It doesn't make any sense. My coach is, like, I don't understand why, that's not how it works.
But for some reason in my brain, that's how I think. I actually ended up using a racquet from last night that got strung.
Q. Strung at?
JESSICA PEGULA: The tension, I'm sure, dropped. It was strung at 51.
Q. Early in the second set she began to assert herself. How did you manage that situation?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I was just, Okay, don't get frustrated, she hit a couple good shots. Stick to your patterns.
I think for me, my placement on my serve was very important. She can really hit it so early so out in front and hit her spots so well. That makes it really hard to defend. Even if you get back the first ball of a return you're probably going to lose the point.
I was just trying to focus on hitting my spots on my serve. I knew what those were. I just had to focus on that and not get frustrated if she was going to hit a winner or something.
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