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September 3, 2011

Sloane Stephens


A. IVANOVIC/S. Stephens
6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You had plenty of opportunities, breakpoints, pushed her to the edge. Tell us your assessment of the match.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I went on the court extremely nervous obviously. Couldn't hit the ball past the service line. I was like, Oh, my God, what am I doing?
But, I mean, I'm upset because obviously I lost, but I had so many chances. I knew exactly what I had to do, and I just didn't execute properly. But I think for a first time I'm glad I got it out of the way. So next time, you know, hopefully it will be a little better.

Q. You said you didn't want to skip a step. They made you skip a step. What was your thought when you saw you had to play on Arthur Ashe?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I was excited. Unfortunately I didn't get to play on Louis. Maybe next year. I hit on Ashe this morning. It was completely empty. It was definitely different than all those people out there today. I didn't expect that many people to be there because I was like first match and nobody was going to come. But I was wrong. It was completely different than this morning.
But, you know, I went out and I played. I did the best that I could to fight nerves. You know, it wasn't my day. I didn't play as well as I would have liked obviously. But it's okay.

Q. Was it the venue? What made you so nervous?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I think it was just everything. Everything kind of got to me at the end. I tried to fight it as best I could. But at some point it catches up to you.
Definitely playing on Ashe is a big stage. You know, it's a big place. I mean, your first time, it's always tough. So I think, like I said at French Open when I qualified and I played my first main-draw match, it was tough. It was a first timer. Glad I got it out of the way. Then I played my next slam and won a match. I'm glad I got it out of the way. Maybe next year I'll get the opportunity to play on Ashe again.

Q. Did you watch Jack play?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. I love Jack. He's awesome. Such a nice kid. I watched his whole match. I didn't want to go to dinner because I was watching him. You know, awesome. It was awesome. I'm sad obviously he didn't win, but he played Andy Roddick, so that's not bad at all.

Q. Could you tell if he was nervous?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Definitely not. I think the first point he hit like a forehand winner or something. I don't know. He was playing pretty loose. He was hitting the ball good, and I was hitting the ball not past the service line so there was definitely a difference in play there. You know, next time.

Q. Which part of your game were you most disappointed in?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I was most disappointed in my serve. Uhm, if you look at any of my stats, I rarely double-fault, like rarely. And I just -- that -- I don't know.

Q. So when you double-fault to get broken, what's going through your mind?
SLOANE STEPHENS: What are you doing? Like, I mean, I don't know. My serve is something that I usually can always count on, and today it wasn't there. You know, that's the big part of tennis. Some days it's going to be there; some days it's not.
You know, I tried to push through it, but it wasn't really happening for me. I had so many opportunities, so many chances on serve, but it wasn't falling for me. It happens that way sometimes.

Q. You had great presence on the court against Shahar. You were dictating. Ana is a great opponent, former No. 1. Were you mystified by yourself, I guess?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. I was so caught up in being tight and nervous and not really handling the situation well to just freaking out, like, What are you doing? Honestly, I was thinking like a 10-year-old, things that my brother would think, just weird stuff.
You know, I'm disappointed in myself obviously that I couldn't take the opportunities that were given to me. But, like I said, it happens that way sometimes. Hopefully next time I'll be better prepared and ready for it.

Q. Nobody really can prepare you for walking onto a stadium with 23,000 people. Give us one or two of those weird thoughts that you were having.
SLOANE STEPHENS: My mom would probably be disappointed if I told you, so I'm gonna keep them to myself if you don't mind. But, yeah.

Q. Your brother has taken a beating from you this week.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, he can't defend himself. That's unfortunate. I know he was up there. Actually, I don't know if he was up there. I'm sure he was watching somewhere.

Q. Do you go home from this? How do you come down from the high this was?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Actually, believe it or not, it wasn't that much of a high. It was only third round. So you can't boost it up that much. Then I'm going to be like, Oh, my God, I'm a star, and I'm not. You know, I'll just go home. I'm going to China next week. It will be short-lived because nobody in China is going to know who I am.
It's going to be normal. Get back home, get in my bed, sleep a little bit, see what happens from there.

Q. Does your brother read the papers so he knows what you say?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, my mom sent it to him. I'm sure he's thinking to himself, This girl is crazy. He's probably just waiting till -- now, probably, now that I'm out of the tournament, he's probably going to say something.

Q. What kind of revenge can you expect?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't know. We always like trip each other and stuff. He'll probably like embarrass me in front of someone or something. You know, it's a 12-year-old and 18-year-old thing.

Q. You probably anticipated the atmosphere would be crazy. Were there specific things that were different from what you expected?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, definitely not. I think playing on Ashe is definitely really boosted up, as if, Oh, my God, you're playing on Ashe, you're American, you're playing at night, you're playing prime time, you're this and that. I think that really got boosted up way more than it was, because every court is the same size no matter how many people are there.
You know, I kind of got caught up in that, Oh, my God, I'm playing on Ashe at night, playing a former Grand Slam champion. I just kind of got lost in it.
I mean, there's no defense to that. I mean, that's totally obviously my fault. But I'm just going to say that I'm 18 and I'm not that disappointed in myself because I think I did -- I could have easily lost 0-0, but I didn't. So at least you guys got to see some tennis.

Q. Was there anything that you enjoyed tonight or was it just stressful?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. Actually, believe it or not, I had some fun. I'm not going to lie. That one challenge that was like this far out, that was pretty entertaining. You know, there was moments out there where I was pretty pleased at some of the things that I was doing.
It wasn't like it was quick so I missed every point of it. But I think, you know, I played some good points and I was happy with that. I did a couple 'c'mons,' obviously not as many as she did because she was winning way more points than I was. But it was fun.

Q. She's a former Grand Slam champion. What does that tell you about where you're at and what you need to do next?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I definitely think I've improved a lot over the last couple of weeks, and I'm really proud of myself, no matter what, even though this is the end of the tournament for me.
I think over the last few weeks, I've really stepped up my game. Mentally I've done pretty well for myself.
I think just going forward, I'll probably just try and keep the same rhythm and momentum going into the last few tournaments of the year and just keep working with it and trying to improve and get better.

Q. I hear you're going to break into the top 100. Are you going to do anything to celebrate?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. My mom said beginning of the year if I broke top 100, she'd get me a car. So obviously I'm going to get a car. I don't know which car I'll get yet. I don't know. I'll probably tweet a picture when I get it. It probably won't be at home with a bow on it. I'll probably get a surprise.

Q. Who were some of the tennis player crushes when you were growing up?
SLOANE STEPHENS: So that would be men, right?

Q. Right.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I mean, I don't know.

Q. Anybody you looked up to?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Okay. Oh, when I was playing juniors, my first US Open, I was 14, I think, and I was in love with Gaƫl Monfils. Like he was it. Like I was going to marry him. That was it. Never talked to me. Never even spoke to the guy in my life.
Two days ago, whenever I played Shahar, we rode back in the van together to the hotel. He is "the" nicest person in the world, but I'm definitely not going to marry him.

Q. Are you going to date him?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I'm not going to date him. I'm following him on Twitter, but that's as far as I'm going to go with that.

Q. What caught your eye with that?
SLOANE STEPHENS: He's amazing to watch. He runs, he does everything. He's just someone when you're watching him, you're like, Wow, I can't believe he just did that. He keeps going. He fights for everything. He fights for every point.
It's nice to watch, like, a really good athlete play and do something really nice on the court in their own sport. That's what I enjoy most about watching him play.

Q. Did your run here change your mind or expand or advance how you can do in this sport?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, not really. From the start of the summer, I kind of made up my mind, like this is it, I'm either going to play or I'm just going to flop. I think I stepped up.
For me mentally I stepped up the most. For me, that's what I'm most proud of. I always felt like I could do it. I just wasn't executing properly. Mentally I wasn't always there, because I was like a 10-year-old in the brain. It was difficult to be playing a match, kind of lose it for a couple of games and come back.
I think that mentally I'm going to try to capitalize on the concentration and focus now.

Q. The mental part of it, what were you not doing before and what mentally now are you doing better than you were?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I just had some brain farts, and I just kind of would lose it for a couple of games, a couple of points. It would be important points. I wouldn't be focusing. It wouldn't be all there. Now I made a conscious effort to be, Okay, this point, I got to focus, I got to execute. I think that's helped me a lot.

Q. In your life outside of tennis, are you like that, too?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Not really, because I'm like -- I have to have everything in order. I don't know how on the court I'm kind of just like butts up. I don't know.
But, I mean, in life, everyday life, I just kind of go with the flow, but I try to keep everything in order because I hate when people aren't on time. So, you know, it is what it is. Tennis and life are totally two different things, but...

Q. Having played Ana Ivanovic, what are your thoughts on her upcoming match against Serena? Do you think you'll watch?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Uhm, I'm not sure. I'll probably watch. Obviously, I love Serena. Ana, she's such a great girl. I'll watch. But I don't know. I will probably just watch on my phone and have some fun. They'll play Monday, right?

Q. Monday.
SLOANE STEPHENS: So wherever I am, maybe I'll watch; maybe I won't. I don't know.

Q. Can you talk about the decision processes that you faced as a junior, whether it was about school or training, where you were going to live, compared to some of the decisions you've been facing recently and your career trajectory? Are you coming into your own, whereas when you're younger you get guided by adults? Where are you there?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I definitely -- decisions are obviously not easy in life. And even with a career, it's very hard to make choices, you know, and be on top of things. I think that my mom has always, you know, helped me with making the right decision and the right choice for me, obviously because I'm still young, I just turned 18, so...
With the help of my mom, I think we've made some pretty good decisions based on whatever. I'll always ask for help. My mom and my uncle are always there for me no matter what.
I think the decisions up to this point have been pretty well sorted out. From this point on, it will stay the same because I really trust them, and I think they know what they're talking about.
If it's a personal issue, then I'm probably going to deal with it. If it has anything to do with career, like kind of some general life choices, I'll probably consult with my mom.

Q. Did she have any thoughts about going to college, trying to improve your game in college?

Q. Were you thinking about going to college at all and improving your game?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I turned pro in 2009, so I was going to be a junior -- or I was a junior in high school. So, uhm, I never really thought about playing college in tennis -- I mean, tennis in college. I'll take online classes, but I'll never be able to play at a school on a team. So that's not an option for me.

Q. You were saying you felt like tonight got built up in the sense you were on Ashe, night match. Do you think maybe you took an approach where you were paying attention to all that outside chatter a little bit too much? What have you learned from tonight going into this big atmosphere that you might change next time around?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Uhm, definitely I probably wouldn't change much. I think it was just that it was a first-timer and like I just needed to get it out of the way. Probably when I first got out there, I don't even -- I just was so tense and tight.
And I'm not even like that as a person. So it was definitely difficult for me to kind of figure out what was going on.
But I think I kind of adjusted well, better than most, honestly. But it got away from me, it really did. No excuse for that. But it happened.

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