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September 3, 2022

Jessica Pegula

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference


6-2, 6-7, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Three sets. Third set much different than the first two. Your comments on the match.

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah. Well, I thought I was playing really well the first set. Then like from 2-All I think I just stepped up my level and had my patterns down.

Served really well, and then in the third -- I think from 1-4 I played really well. I think the tiebreaker I played a little tight because I wanted to close it out, but I also thought she stepped it up.

From 1-4 I felt really good. Going into the third I was like I feel like I'm winning majority of the games. She only won two games from 1-4 besides the tiebreak. So I felt good going into the tiebreak.

I just wanted to get on her early to kind of ease the nerves. I could tell she was struggling a little bit physically, as well. I just kind of wanted to get on her quick.


Q. It seems increasingly likely you and your friend and doubles partner, Coco Gauff, could compete against one another in a singles final. Could you talk a bit about your friendship and your potential rivalry.

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah. I mean, we haven't really played each other much, so there hasn't really been much of a rivalry. I'm sure if you asked us if we wanted to be playing each other in the finals, that would be great. I think for American tennis, for us it would be super fun. We'd probably be so freaking tight. It would be really fun but there's a long way to go until that could happen and a lot of things could happen, and you never know.

Of course in a perfect world I'm sure we would want that to happen.

Q. Why are so many players who are "older" seem to be playing their best tennis? Tomljanovic, yourself, Ons Jabeur, Danielle Collins, Zheng and Cornet are through, Kvitova is through. Why do you think now that's happening?

JESSICA PEGULA: There are still a lot of young players playing well. Yeah, we're seeing more "older" players play well. "Older" in quotation marks. I think, well, one, some of us have been hurt. Ajla went through a bad shoulder surgery and has come back really, really strong, which is great to see. You know, girls like Shelby Rogers who have had a really good year. Cornet.

I think maybe just because in today's world there are so many more things we have to deal with as far as social media, like there is a lot of, I feel like, maturity that comes with dealing with, like, the world today. I think maybe you're seeing the more mature players -- and I don't mean that in a negative, I just mean because we're older, have been through a lot, have dealt with a lot -- you see us kind of being able to handle a lot of that stuff, maybe not better, but showing the experience shine through. I think that could be one of the reasons.

I think also just sports, nutrition, science, all that stuff has gotten a lot better, and I think players are taking care of their bodies mentally and physically a lot better as well. You're seeing the longevity a lot more.

Q. I wanted to ask you about last night. How much of that match did you watch with Serena and Ajla? From where? What your thoughts are on this apparently being the end for her.

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, it's crazy. I ordered in, and watched it in my hotel room. It's sad, because you see like she said she's playing well, and she was getting better with every match. You feel kind of sad that's how it ends. But, I don't know, like I got a little like sentimental too watching her, how emotional she was getting.

Usually I feel like you don't see her get that emotional, with Venus that was tearing up, and everyone just looked happy but they were still crying.

I just can't believe like the era of Serena is kind of on the tennis court is over. I mean, it's just hard to picture tennis without her. Because, I mean, again, all the achievements she had, but just she's paved the way for a lot of women, women of color, coming from Compton, there are just so many things she kind of checks off the boxes.

Yeah, it's crazy that she's -- I don't know, it's just sad. Happy sad, but it's sad. I know she wants to have more kids. I hope she can focus on her family. Like she said, she wants to do it while she's still young. I think it's just another chapter of her life.

Q. I wanted to ask you about you and what's next. And what maybe you remember from that match a couple years ago here against Petra and sort of what you think that the challenges will be and what's key for you to...

JESSICA PEGULA: Well, Petra is so hard to play, I feel like when she's on she blows you off the court and then sometimes she can be off. I think notoriously she's come back from match point, she's a fighter. When it clicks, it's really difficult. And being a lefty as well.

I think I'm a much better player now than I was when I played her last time. Again, I don't really know -- I mean, I know how she plays but you never really know how she's going to come together. I think she saved a match point today and was down in the third.

It's just going to be a balance of me still going for my shots and putting pressure on her, but at the same time, you know, not getting frustrated if she's serving well or if she's hitting winners. I think I'm just going to have to find the balance between that and do the best I can. Again, another player with a lot of experience and a lot of success. I don't know.

I'm excited, though. It will be a fun match. I really didn't know that I was going to play her when Brad Gilbert told me. I didn't think she was in my section. I didn't care. I just like giving him shit sometimes. I didn't really care that he told me. I had no idea. I thought I was maybe playing the winner of Vika-Petra. So I was, like, Oh, okay. I mean, either match is going to be hard. Any point in the tournament is going to be hard.

Looking forward to, yeah, a rematch with her.

Q. You kind of mentioned that it feels like an end of an era in tennis. I know you get this question all the time, but do you feel like in the kind of pressure cooker level of depth you're seeing in the WTA right now there could emerge one or two people who create that really big rivalry again? What do you think about that environment and what it might create next?

JESSICA PEGULA: Rivalry of who, Serena and...

Q. Just like one or two top... Stuff like that.

JESSICA PEGULA: Well, like I know tennis likes to see rivalries or see like a couple of people. There has been so much depth and it seems like everyone is just breaking through, every week is having some sort of breakthrough.

That's tough to say who that person could be. I think Iga has definitely established herself a bit as being, especially on clay or the slower hard courts, as definitely being, you know, a top player where, like, someone has to beat her. She's winning most of the matches.

I don't know who like the next few people are. Obviously Ons has done really well on grass and on clay as well. She had a really great run.

I don't know. It's open for someone to step up. As women's tennis has shown, it's been hard to be dominant. That's why you look at someone like Serena, dominant over several eras. It's pretty crazy. Besides Ash, I guess, it's open. It's open for rivalries.

Yeah, I hope we can get some rivalries. Those are fun. I think those are fun for the fans as well.

Nobody is like consistent enough and playing each other in the same section to kind of get that going. So, yeah, I don't know.

Q. Going back to your thoughts on facing Petra, what do you remember from 2011 and 2014 when she won Wimbledon? How, in your mind, is she a different player today than when that happened?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I mean, I feel like I just remember her being really, really good on grass, her loving the grass.

I think what surprised -- I feel like a lot of people don't give her credit. She serves and volleys, she comes in. Her volleys are really good, her hands are really good. She has a good serve, she returns really well. I mean, she has a lot of more intangibles I feel like than maybe people recognize.

You know, I don't know if maybe those have gotten better like now compared to back then. I guess she's probably become more of a complete player, because I remember too she was kind of only doing really, really well on the grass. So I don't know. Maybe becoming a more complete player, I guess, has probably changed.

I don't remember what she did really well for those Wimbledons. I just remember her winning. But I just know when I played her, I was surprised at how good her hands were and her volleys and her ability to serve and volley and kind of change it up and stuff like that.

She's pretty tall and has a long reach. I think she actually plays defense maybe a little bit better than people give her credit for.

Q. In terms of making the second week, handling business pretty cleanly in the first week, do you ever stop to think about how good of a season you've actually been able to put together? Thinking about potentially finishing the year top 5, all this sort of stuff because of how the points will shift over the next few months. Do you ever give yourself a second to kind of reflect on that?

JESSICA PEGULA: It's hard when you're going week to week and you're playing so much. I feel like maybe at the end of the year I'll be able to reflect more on the year that I've had.

Really, the last couple of years, I feel they've kind of blended into one or it just feels like one kind of all coming together where I just feel like I've been playing consistent week in, week out.

I think obviously a little bit more success at the slams this year throughout the different surfaces, which has been great. Yeah, just feels like it's kind of all rolled into one big clump of, I don't know, consistency, I guess. So I don't know.

It's great. I just, yeah, haven't had too much time to reflect. It's hard when you're just going week to week. You know, you have a bad loss next week and you kind of forget about everything good that happened because you're just upset you lost, or you didn't do well. You want to do more, at least that's how I am.

It's tough, but I think hopefully in the offseason when I have some time to like relax. Or even after this when we have two to three more weeks before we finish the year, I think I'll reflect more going into hopefully the year-end championships or Fed Cup finals topping off the year. Maybe go on a vacation and I'll think about it.

It's tough with the world we live in to kind of reflect on that. I don't know if it's good or bad. I just watched the Jeter documentary, and it was all he thought about, like Tom Brady says, is the next one. He said he always fought himself trying to be present but then trying to always be hungry.

So I feel like the top athletes, they're always kind of like that. I don't know if it's good or bad. I don't know what that is. But, yeah, I guess I just balance that, as well. Yeah, I think when I get some downtime and I'm not training, I think I'll reflect a little bit better.

Q. How old were you when you started playing? Who or what inspired you to start playing?

JESSICA PEGULA: I was around six or seven years old when I started taking lessons after school, and the reason I really did was because my older sister Laura played tennis. She played tennis in juniors and college, so I was always around the tennis courts, watching her matches, watching her practice. I remember thinking to myself, Oh, my God, I'm never going to be able to hit as hard or be as good as them.

But I stuck with it, and I started taking lessons after school three, four days a week, doing some of the tennis camps. That's really how I started.

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