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January 24, 2023

Jessica Pegula

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference


6-4, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Jess, a tough match today against a very tough opponent. Just talk through your thoughts on the match.

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, that was a tough match. I think she played at a high level the entire time. I felt like every time I tried to get a little bit of momentum, I just wasn't able to really grab ahold of it.

I don't think I played my best, but I also think she played very well from the start, didn't have too many ups and downs throughout the match.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It's been a while since we've seen Vika play at that level from front to back. What is it like facing that? What is it that she did tonight that prevented you from being able to impose yourself?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I mean, I think she did exactly what she wanted to do. She was just executing it I feel pretty well tonight. Hitting the ball deep, taking it early, changing the direction on the ball, doing things that I usually like to do to people. She was doing it well.

Obviously I think serving and returning well. I think when she's serving well - she always returns well - and she doesn't have too many ups and downs on her serve, that can really make her dangerous.

She was scrambling well tonight, getting a lot of really good depth on her shots. Just made it tough for me to feel like I could really pressure her. Felt like she was pressuring me constantly the whole time.

Q. Beating Iga at the start of the year, a massive statement, made a lot of people think of you as a very strong title contender. Has it felt different, this tournament, from a mental perspective?

JESSICA PEGULA: A little bit. I feel like I had a good chance to go deeper here than I did by losing tonight.

At the same time, again, it's like one match at a time. I had some really good wins at the start of the year and this tournament. I think I can walk away saying it was a successful tournament and a successful trip to Australia.

Yeah, I definitely felt like I was more confident maybe going in that I could go deeper. I wasn't as surprised, I guess, by the results of making quarterfinal or fourth round or second week. It felt more normal I guess for me which is a good thing.

Q. When Vika is inside the baseline, taking the ball early, how do you try to combat it?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I was trying to get the ball deep. I was trying to go deep middle to kind of not let her move me around as much. But if I didn't get it deep enough, she would kind of just punish me for not getting it deep enough.

She does so well at taking balls out of the air, coming in, stuff like that. I think she was just doing that really well tonight. I felt like from the start she just didn't have many letdowns.

I feel like sometimes when I play her, she can go off a little bit because of how she plays. But tonight it doesn't really feel like she went off at all. That just made it super tough. At the same time I feel like I gave her a lot of unforced errors, a lot of mistakes.

I didn't like the conditions tonight. It felt so slow. She's played a lot of late matches at night, so I think she seemed definitely more used to it.

It felt like the first few games, it took me a while to get my rhythm with her ball. When she would hit a high ball, it wasn't really coming through the court like I was used to. That took some time for me to adjust.

I felt like at the same time it just didn't really help because if I hit the ball too short, it was just sitting for her to be aggressive.

Q. You got to hit a little bit on Laver with the roof closed before the match. Did you notice the speed differential during the warmup?

JESSICA PEGULA: Definitely. I mean, I played Sasnovich with the roof closed, but it was more during the day. It didn't feel as different. But I think at night it felt a lot more humid. Sweating quite a bit. It just felt slow. I could kind of tell in the warmup right away, Okay, the ball feels very slow. At the same time it was also kind of flying on me. It was weird.

I couldn't like quite get a grasp on the conditions. The balls are slower and heavier, but at the same time every time I tried to hit out, I felt like I was missing, not by a lot, but a few inches here and there.

I think I started second-guessing myself with hitting out. That kind of rolls into, like, making more mistakes than you want to.

I mean, it is what it is, though. It's different courts, different conditions. I feel like playing on a lot of different courts here, and they've all played differently, I've been able to adjust really well. Just tonight with the way she was playing, I don't think she gave me any time to get any confidence or rhythm with my game.

Q. How much was it on your mind that this was a quarterfinal and you haven't been beyond that round in a slam? Do you think that made any difference tonight?

JESSICA PEGULA: Not really. Once you're out there, it's just another match, another battle. I always know it's going to be tough playing Vika. She's such a good competitor. She plays so well here. We've had some good matches in the past. I don't think I was thinking about that at all.

Of course, you're excited, you're deeper in a tournament, feature match. At the same time once you get out there, you're just trying to win the match.

I don't really think it had much effect on me. Obviously afterwards, now, it sucks because I wish I could have made a semi, but it is what it is.

Q. What do you feel like you can really take out of this experience in Melbourne to kick on and get to those next couple of rounds?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I just think I need to also, like, take a step back and look that I made three quarterfinals in three years. I mean, judging by where I was from the first quarterfinal, I've definitely come a long way.

I think I can be pretty, like I have said before, a perfectionist and really tough on myself. Obviously I'm upset about tonight, but at the same time, I mean, I'm putting myself in these positions to go deep in these tournaments. I think I've proven that.

I've been super consistent. So I think just keeping a good mindset that I'm putting myself in position at all these events. Hopefully it comes together. I definitely want to do better. I want to do more.

I think my takeaway would just be that I'm right there and every match is tough, but I think my mindset and the way I was playing in Sydney and here, I think my level's really high right now.

Q. Can you talk about how you think you'll be able to process tonight's loss, be able to have the right mindset going into the doubles quarterfinal tomorrow?

JESSICA PEGULA: I think it actually helps that I'm playing doubles tomorrow because I don't have so much time to sulk around and kind of be in my feelings.

But, I mean, I saw I played third match tomorrow, so I got to go get racquets strung, book practice courts, figure out what time I'm going warm up. I'll be back here probably by noon. A quick turnaround.

Obviously I'm going to be pretty pissed about my match tonight. But tomorrow is just another chance to get another win, to get a better feeling, to go back and be in a competitive mindset, hopefully do well in the doubles. I still want to win.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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