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AUSTRALIAN OPEN


January 21, 2013


Sloane Stephens


MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

S. STEPHENS/B. Jovanovski
6‑1, 3‑6, 7‑5


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  How does it feel?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  It's nice.  Now my picture's going to be on that thing when you first walk in.  Like, you know, that thing, I don't know what they call that, but that's pretty cool.

Q.  Did you have your hands full kind of with your own psyche today out there?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, a bit.  But she played well.  She played very well.  First set I came out, I was playing good, not missing much.  She was making a few errors.
Then she brought it full force second, third set.  I just had to find a way.  I think mentally it was pretty tough.  I was thinking, Oh, my God, this is for the quarters of a Grand Slam and I'm completely just like not here right now.  I was like, I need to refocus.  I was playing my own self, I guess you could say.  But I managed to get through, so that was good.

Q.  There was a lot of commentary on television about the grunting.  Did it get to you?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No.  I mean, honestly sometimes like things happen and you're really aware.  But I think just the circumstance, honestly I didn't even think about it, not even once.

Q.  Did you feel yourself having to force yourself to go for more as the match went on in the third?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No, I obviously didn't feel like I had to go for more because I was hitting the ball in the service line every time.  At one point I was just like, Okay, I didn't want to stay out there all day, you got to hit the ball or go home.
I'm going to change racquets, go for a little bit more on my serve.¬† Hopefully win my service game.¬† I won my service game at 4‑5 or whatever with an ace‑‑ I know you saw that‑‑ and then just from there, I'm just like, You got to go for it.

Q.  So you were very effective at the net the first couple sets.  Did you think you ought to be doing that more or was she not letting you do that?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† No, honestly I've never played someone who literally, if‑‑ if any of you guys play tennis, do tennis drills, one person goes cross‑court, one person goes down the line.¬† I was going cross‑court on all my shots.¬† That was safe.¬† Can't lose with that.
She was going down the line on every shot.  That's hard to run back and forth and go down the line.  She's hitting it with everything she has, every muscle in her body, and hitting it unbelievable.
I mean, I couldn't do anything.  The first balls are coming back extremely hard.  I couldn't find a rhythm, couldn't find anything.  But sometimes you just kind of got to stick it out, and hopefully she comes down off her throne.

Q.  Serena, totally different story.  How do you see that?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  She has to win first.

Q.  Assuming she does.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Good match.  It will be fun.  Same thing.  Just go out there, another match, another day.  Obviously, it's quarters of a Grand Slam, so you've just got to do your best.

Q.  What did you learn in your matches with her recently?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Obviously every match is a learning experience.  But, I mean, you've just got to go and treat it like another match.  It wasn't like, Oh, my God, I played Serena, I'm going to be so great at all these other things because she just taught me so much.
It was just another match, regular match.  Little things that you just take and move on.

Q.  It seemed like in that match there were some things that annoyed you a little bit about playing Serena.  How do you get over that to play her the next time?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I mean, move on.  Just another match.  If you dwell on what happened...  I mean, that was two weeks ago now, three weeks ago.  I don't know how long ago that was.  I mean, I played seven other matches or eight other matches, so I'm kind of past what happened then.
But I think definitely just treat it as another match.  You just go out and do your best.

Q.  There's a lot of buzz now, you're enjoying this potential top 10.  Does that kind of stuff make you happy, make you nervous?  How do you feel about hearing that stuff?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† It really just kind of‑‑ I don't know.¬† It's kind of like whatever.¬† Me and Sam Querrey share a coach, we share David.
At the end of the year I was 38, Sam was almost top 20, something like that.  He's just like, Yeah, we'll bet on who is going to be in the top 20 first, all this other stuff.  I'm like, I'm not even going to be seeded in Australia.  I could get there's the No.1 seed.  There's no hope for me.  It will be tough.
So ended up getting seeded here.¬† Kind of got close to him at 25.¬† He's 20‑something.¬† He's never been in the quarters of a Grand Slam, so...¬† I got him.

Q.  What is the bet?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  It was just to see who ends up better at the end of the year.

Q.  What are the stakes?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Well, we were just saying, because I don't have the fall to defend, because I didn't play fall.  He just racked up so many points at the end of the fall.  Well, there's no really bet.  I think it's just for pride.
But obviously egos are big.  This is tennis, so...  Somebody's going to win.

Q.  You played a lot of matches this month.  How is your body holding up?  How are things feeling?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† Things are good actually.¬† That's very crazy because I was just thinking, I don't have‑‑ like nothing's hurting.¬† I'm just going to get a flush.¬† I'm not going to get treatment on anything.¬† I'm just like, I don't know.¬† Maybe it's the beds are good or something in Australia because I feel fine.

Q.  Is it better to have played her so recently than to not have?  Is it to your advantage because you learned stuff?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, I mean, it will be tough obviously.  It's quarters of a Grand Slam.  There won't be that like first time, Oh, my God, I'm playing Serena.  That's kind of out of the window now.  So that's good.
And then it will feel more of like a regular match instead of all the other like things to think about.

Q.  You have a contest on your Twitter.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah.

Q.  What gave you that idea?  Was that for this match?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, that was for this match.  We'll probably do it for the next match, too.

Q.  Where did you get that idea?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  That man right there (laughter).
We were just like talking.  Well, I think it came up because my mom's not here obviously.  It's just me and my coach, and my agents obviously.

Q.  A few extra tickets?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  A few, yeah.  You get 16 tickets.  I had one person.  I think we could manage to give a few away.

Q.¬† Do you think there's more pressure on you to get the first‑ever quarterfinal being the favorite in this match, being the seeded player versus an unseeded player?¬† Do you feel there's more expectation on you than there might have been like against Stosur at the French?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† I don't know if I really felt like I'm the seed or like whatever.¬† I felt kind of like I was just‑‑ I mean, I didn't feel like, Oh, my God, I'm the better player.¬† None of that.
It was more like, Can I keep myself together so I can win the match.  Like it was more of like myself mentally just trying to keep it together.

Q.  This is your first run to a quarterfinal at a major.  Serena, presuming you played her, has won 15 titles.  It must be difficult to go into a match like that.
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† Uhm, yeah.¬† But, I mean, that's just kind of like playing‑‑ I mean, that would be if I was playing Sharapova, she's won Grand Slams.¬† If I was playing Venus, she's won Grand Slams.
It just happens to be Serena.  She's obviously one of the greatest players to ever play the game.  Without all that, it's still a tennis match.  You have to go out and play your game, no matter what.  Without the titles, with the titles, it's still a tennis match.  The court's the same size.  You're still playing a regular person across the net.  You've just got to go out and play.

Q.  What is your relationship with her like?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Normal.  Just talk whenever we see each other.  Yesterday she told me I was too quiet on the court.  I don't know.  Then today I was thinking to myself, I'm really loud.  Should I tone it down a little bit.
But, I mean, no, just normal.  Just friendly stuff.

Q.  So what happens with the Jimmy Choo picture?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Oh, my God, I can't believe I didn't send that to you.  I'll tweet that.  My grandma was like, Are you sure you're going to get those shoes?  I'm like, Grandma, stop.
I want all of you guys to know that last year, at the end of last year, I hadn't played any matches, right, coming into Australia, and my agent, John Tobias, bet me that if I made it to the quarters of a Grand Slam, in Australia, he would travel exclusively with my Under Armour bags, and they're all pink and purple and yellow.  You guys can write that in your blogs.  Very good colors.  He'll be exclusively with them.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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