January 22, 2023
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
J. PEGULA/B. Krejcikova
THE MODERATOR: Jessica, back into the quarterfinals for the third year in a row. Give us your thoughts on your performance and the match.
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, it was a really good match. I thought it was really high level. First set especially. Got a little tricky there trying to close that first set out. Had some set points, a weird point where I, like, probably should have moved in, but I didn't know if she got it or not. I was messing around.
It's tough when you play someone that has a lot of experience, that it can flip a match. I'm glad that I was able to fight and win that first set, then kind of go on a roll from there.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You're the highest seed left in a Grand Slam. I don't think that's ever happened before, has it? What does that feel like?
JESSICA PEGULA: As me being the highest seed left? Probably not, no, since this is my highest seeding, I think.
It's an interesting feeling, I guess. I still don't really feel like that. I mean, I look at the draw and there's still girls, today she won French Open, you have Rybakina who won Wimbledon last year, you have Vika who does really well here, Caroline won the championships. It doesn't really feel like I'm the highest left, even though I guess that's a cool stat.
It feels like there's still a long ways to go, to be honest (smiling).
Q. How do you sort of balance in your mind the accomplishment of reaching the quarterfinals yet again with, I've done this, I'm hungry to take the next step?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I definitely want to obviously reach a semi. It will be my first semi. I mean, I have a great shot here. I think I'm playing probably my, all around throughout the whole tournament, I've been playing the best I have than in any of my other Grand Slam quarterfinals. That I think helps.
I think I feel more experience coming in here. I think my win today will give me a lot of confidence. But, again, it's always a new day, a new match, new conditions, new everything. You never know how you're really going to feel.
I would say I definitely feel very confident going into this quarterfinal, that I'm playing the best tennis, and I have a very good chance of making a semi.
Yeah, I'm excited about that. I'm excited about trying to get through that. To get to a semi would be amazing. I can't believe I've made quarters here three years in a row. It's gone by so fast. It feels like I was just here last year doing all of this.
I'm really proud of myself, how I've been able to take it one match at a time.
Q. On today's match, with Krejcikova, clean striking, a tough thing to solve when she's playing well. What did you tactically feel like you needed to do going into this match, and did that shift at all?
JESSICA PEGULA: I definitely thought what I had to do is what I needed to do, and I thought I did it pretty well throughout the match.
I think the court felt a little bit faster than the other courts, which I think helped me a lot. Tried to not give her a lot of time to set up and angle me off the court, where she can work the court really well. Her court sense is really good.
I've never played her before in singles, I don't think. I can definitely see now how she won French Open, gone on streaks where she's beating a lot of people.
She can serve really well, she takes the ball early. She has a very good all-around court sense that I could tell. I was trying not to let her get a lot of angles, trying to return well, serve smart. I didn't want to give her too many looks at second serves and let her get into a rhythm.
I think I really returned well today. Once I got into the second set, I felt like I was on her serve a lot and it was frustrating her.
Q. What did you think when Iga bowed out today, and how did it affect you going into the match, if at all?
JESSICA PEGULA: I don't think it really affected me at all. I thought Rybakina had a great chance to beat her. To be honest, I wasn't really super surprised. I don't really think it affected me at all.
But, yeah, I guess seeing the top seed go out, you always kind of think, Okay, that's interesting where the draw is going to go. But to be honest, I kind of thought Elena would win, so it didn't really shock me too much.
Q. Is she your biggest threat now?
JESSICA PEGULA: My biggest threat will be the next person that I play, definitely (smiling).
Q. Quarterfinal stage, trying to get past that. You're a favorite in this quarterfinal, which I think is also new. How do you manage that? How does experience of hitting this stage multiple times play into the next round?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, it's weird being a favorite. Again, like I said, I don't really feel like a favorite because I'm going against people that have had more success than me. I guess currently seeding-wise I'm the favorite.
What was your main question?
Q. Is it different this time, playing this quarter? In the past it's been Iga or Ash pretty much.
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I would say it feels different. It's nice that I don't have to play either two of them when they're really hot like right in a quarter. Maybe if I would have played someone else, who knows, maybe I would have already had a semi.
Yeah, I don't know, I guess I feel more confident, I feel more experience being in this position. I will still have a tough match next match no matter what. But I think I definitely feel maybe a little bit more settled than I have in the past in those tournaments.
Q. Ons said something interesting after her first-round match where she was in some trouble and told herself, Be the No. 2 player in the world, go win this. Do you have moments where you say that to yourself, where it's tight and you're at the point where you can tell yourself you're the No. 3 player in the world?
JESSICA PEGULA: I don't know if I exactly tell myself, but I definitely think that as you get ranked higher, you're put in these positions, you play these girls that maybe aren't ranked as high or whatever, you definitely have a sense of, like, that feeling. Like, okay, I'm No. 3, I'm No. 2, I'm No. 1.
I don't know what it is. I don't know if you kind of just start oozing more confidence. I think a little bit of an intimidation factor, too. You kind of know that, Okay, they're still going to make mistakes, still make errors, that you feel confident that you can step up and take control of the match I guess is that feeling.
That definitely is something I would agree, like, she's done very well in those types of matches and that I think I've done very well that a lot of the top-10 players do very well in those situations.
I don't know, you just kind of know you belong and you kind of think that they don't, in a way. Whether it works or not, I don't know. Yeah, you get that feeling as you start playing those types of matches.
It's hard to get to that feeling. You hope you always get to that feeling all the time and that it works. I think it's definitely something that comes along from experience and winning big matches.
Q. How did you get ready to try to do something you haven't done before and reach a semi? Will playing doubles tomorrow help take your mind off of it?
JESSICA PEGULA: Probably. Again, I like playing because I think it takes my mind off it. It helps me focus on that match, what I have to do in that match, keeps my brain in the mode of competing and problem-solving.
I think it will be fun. I'm glad I can just come back and play doubles tomorrow. I think that works for me.
It will definitely be better than sitting around all day just kind of finding things to stress out about (smiling).
Q. You were asked about the specific quarterfinal situation. You being in your late 20s, having all the experience, all the challenges you've had in your career, do you feel like that pays dividends when you get to a stage where you are now in a Grand Slam quarterfinal?
JESSICA PEGULA: Definitely. I think it makes me appreciate it a lot more. Gives me a different perspective of how far I've come and all the hard work that I've put in. Being able to do this three years in a row, I mean, it's pretty crazy.
Obviously I want to do more, achieve more. But I think sometimes you kind of have to stop and appreciate it because I feel like it goes by so fast. Like it felt like I was just here. It feels like, okay, 5 years or 10 years when I'm done playing, you're kind of going to be like, I wish I appreciated it. When I'm watching it on TV and you get that feeling of doing well in a tournament, winning a big match, that you're going to miss that feeling.
I think at the same time it's nice to kind of enjoy it. I think you have to find those moments to help you stay present. All the hard work and stuff like that that I put in, this is why I'm here, that's why I did that.
Yeah, I don't want to forget about that at all.
Q. If I remember correctly, a week ago you mentioned watching some of the Bills game.
JESSICA PEGULA: Yes.
Q. It's a little early in the morning tomorrow. Do you have any thoughts of trying to tune in at all or you got to get your sleep?
JESSICA PEGULA: I guess it depends on what time I go to bed. I will try to watch some. Maybe not the start, but at least the second half. Does it start at 5 a.m.?
Q. I think it's 7 our time here.
JESSICA PEGULA: It starts at 7? Okay, yeah, I'll get to watch a lot more of it. Last game was 5 a.m., and I woke up at 7 and watched the second half.
Yeah, I'll definitely try and watch for sure. It's going to be a big game. I'm really excited. Yeah, it will be fun.
Q. Looking ahead obviously to Vika or Zhu Lin. You said on court you weren't surprised by Zhu Lin's success here. What about her makes her a dangerous potential opponent? And two-time champion in Vika?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I played her before. She strikes the ball great. I mean, she hits a good ball. I think she's playing with nothing to lose. At the same time she's gained a lot of confidence from the matches that she's won.
It just seems like she's really enjoying herself and competing for every single point, which is nice to see. People like that can be really dangerous.
I think she has a good game, too, where she can overpower you and hit winners. She's a great baseliner. That's always tough, especially in these conditions, on these courts. Yeah, I think she's definitely a threat.
Then, of course, Vika, I mean, again, just super aggressive baseliner. She loves to play here. I've played her in a couple tough matches. Gone both ways. She's just a great competitor.
I feel like when she's on and she's playing her game, she can just be relentless with her style. She plays very smart as well, returns very well, puts a lot of pressure on you I feel like constantly.
Yeah, it will be interesting to see how they both come out. Yeah, I don't know. That's a weird -- I don't know if they've played. Yeah, it will be kind of weird. I feel like the first few games they'll be feeling each other out. I know Vika has more experience. Yeah, I'm not counting on Zhu Lin out at all.
Q. Everybody is looking at the draw, 'upsets' today in the top half. What do you make of the players that are left? Does it feel open or does it feel like there's a subset of players that are the contenders for this title?
JESSICA PEGULA: I don't know. Like, again, I forgot Ostapenko is a slam champion as well. I mean, there's so many people I think that are playing well and also have big games where they can really kind of take you off the court: Garcia, Sabalenka, Rybakina, Ostapenko. Those are all people that when they're on, it's really tough to beat them.
Yeah, I don't know. There's a lot of interesting matches. I feel like whoever kind of plays their best that day. But everyone has got big, aggressive games. Yeah, I think there's going to be a lot of, I don't know, intense matches the way everyone plays. Everyone is pretty aggressive. They're going to be going for their shots no matter what. Everyone serves pretty big, returns well.
I mean, I don't know. It's weird. I feel like maybe these people should have been deeper in slams maybe more consistently the last couple years. Maybe people seem surprised, but at the same time they're all pretty established. I don't think it's too shocking.
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