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August 12, 2013

Sloane Stephens


6‑2, 3‑6, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Sloane, please.

Q.  So that was a good third set you put together after a speed bump.  You have to be happy with that, that you reversed the direction it was going.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, I thought I played pretty solid the whole time except for that one game in the second set, so pretty pleased with how I played and glad I just pulled it together at the end.

Q.  How long does it take you to kind of get used to the changing conditions?  Everybody talks about the balls in Cincinnati kind of being more difficult to control and stuff compared to Canada.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, but I think when you're changing balls every week, it's kind of difficult.  So I think for everyone‑‑ I mean, obviously, everyone has the same conditions, so you kind of just have to work with it and do your best.
It's obviously tough, but you've just kind of got to get through it.

Q.  Do you prefer the balls like you were using last week compared to this week?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I mean, it really doesn't matter what ball, just a consistent one would be nice.

Q.  Last year at this time you had a recent coaching change, and obviously you've had a great 12 months since then.  Can you elaborate a little bit on the coaching tactics that you've been able to implement that helped your game.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, David's been great.  We have a really good relationship.  We work really well together.  I think he's just really encouraging.
On the court he's definitely very‑‑ I don't know what the right word is for him.  He's very together.  So that's good.

Q.  From making your way in the right direction up in standings, other than match experience, what would you say is the difference between you and the top 10 players at this point?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  A lot of points, I guess.  I definitely‑‑ I mean, I guess the good thing for me is the fall.  I didn't play fall last year, so I can pick up some points in the fall.
But definitely once you get to the top 20, we're all pretty solid players.  So I think just kind of Serena and Sharapova and Radwanska, they're obviously leading at the top.
But other than that, everyone is pretty solid.  You kind of just work your way through it and up there, I guess.

Q.  How long did it take you to get comfortable playing against them, those big names?  Was it something that you had to develop over a fair amount of time, or did you pretty much have the confidence?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I mean, obviously, the first time you go out and play a top 10 player you're going to be a little bit nervous, but I think now‑‑ I wouldn't say every week I'm playing a top 10 player, but along those lines I'm playing some like tough players.
So it's not just‑‑ I think you just get used to it.  Every week you're playing someone pretty tough.

Q.  Sloane, this is the first week ever that there's no American guys in the top 20.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Ever?  Like ever?

Q.  Since the rankings started in 1973.  Since the dawn of time.

Q.  1973, so like 40 years ago.  This is the first ever week there's no Americans in the top 20.  So obviously you didn't know that.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No, I didn't know that.

Q.  What do you make of that stat?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  That sucks.  I don't know.  I mean, yeah.  I didn't know Isner was out of the top 20.

Q.  He's 22.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Well, at least there's someone in the top 30.  I don't know.  But I think they'll be fine.  Maybe this week‑‑ I mean, someone always has to like do the history thing.  It's like Isner and Sam's fault that they broke the world record or whatever for not being in the top 20.
Who cares?

Q.  Meanwhile, it's been a really good stretch for American women.  There's a lot of you doing well.  Serena is obviously still doing well, Jamie, Madison.  Do you think there's something working right that you can point out why the American women have been so successful?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No, not‑‑ I literally couldn't tell you one thing why.  I wish I could, but I don't even know why.

Q.  Sloane, can you talk about the relationship to the fans and the players of the US Open.  Last year you talked about them just being right there, wanting a piece of you, touching you, licking you.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  They're very hands on and they want to just grab you like you're a sister or a grandchild.  Like I don't know, it's intense.
But I think everything that‑‑ all the fan experience I've had this whole year leading up to the US Open, I think it'll all just come together at the US Open, and then I'll have every fan experience I've had throughout the year at the US Open.

Q.  What's the range of those experiences?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Well, last week‑‑ or, no, not last week.  In D.C. some girl was hitting me with a racquet because I wasn't signing her ball.  Then one mom pulled me by my ponytail.  The other day I got marker all over my arm from some kid.
Just yesterday some kid fell and skinned his whole knee and like the blood on the ground.  It's very intense.

Q.  Trying to get to you?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah.  So, yeah, I think there will be all of that at the US Open and then some.  So I'll let you know.

Q.  Have you talked to the WTA at all about perhaps having a little more extra security for you around the grounds?

Q.  Or anywhere.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I don't plan on going outside because I know that I will probably not make it out alive.  I mean, obviously if I go somewhere I'll need a little bit extra, but I don't know.

Q.  When you're with the fans, are you just sort of trying to survive those moments or are you trying to actually engage with people?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No, it's like more survival.  It's not even‑‑ like even now when I just did the thing on TV, it's more like you don't want to get hit by a ball because people are throwing the balls at you.
Yeah, it's more than just like interaction now.  Like there's no interacting.  It's just like whoever‑‑ it's survival.

Q.  Is it different than you thought it would be when you were coming up, the whole wanting the popularity side of it and that aspect?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I mean, I never wanted to be popular.  Like, oh, I want people to want my autograph.  It's never been like that.  Like I don't mind signing autographs.  It's fine.
But when they just get out of hand it's too much.  They're acting like my brother.  It's just, Calm down.  It's just too much.

Q.  Do you get that vocally too during your matches?  I remember one time Melanie Oudin was complaining like women from the crowds, like moms, would be shouting advice to her like during matches and things.  Do you get kind of that sort of connection with fans?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I do.  I mean, like I said, you get everything, and it's just‑‑ you can't‑‑ what are you going to do?  You just have to kind of go with it and pretend like you're like, Yeah, totally.  I love it.
I don't know.  It's just kind of like what you have to do, and it just comes with the program.

Q.  Sloane, you come from two very athletic parents.  What do you think you've gotten from each of them to kind of help you get to where you are now?  And do you think that gives you an advantage?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I'm very athletic, so I got that from each of them.  But it doesn't really help me now because my mom's a swimmer and my dad played football.  So not really sure they helped me.
My mom helped me by putting me in tennis, so that's good.

Q.  Before your father passed you were developing a relationship with him.  What can you tell us about the time you spent with him?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  It was all good.  All good memories.  I'm glad I had the time to get to know him and I'm glad we became friends.

Q.  Any advice on being a professional athlete?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  From him?  No, just enjoy myself.  At the time I wasn't that good at tennis, so it kind of wasn't‑‑ that wasn't really relevant.

Q.  How would you cap the year going from here to the US Open?  Do you have some sort of grand plan in your mind how you'd like to progress the rest of the year?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No, I have kind of ‑‑ I know that I want to improve my ranking, I want to get better, and I want to end the year off with a bang.  But I definitely don't want to put that extra pressure on myself to make quarters at the Open or make semis or something like that because I know, obviously, at a home slam, it's definitely really tough.
So I kind of want to go out and enjoy myself and not stress myself out too much about the whole situation.  Just kind of play and have fun, because even after the US Open I have a couple of tournaments‑‑ well, a lot of tournaments.
So obviously a slam is very important, and a home slam at that.  But I just want to be able to play and like enjoy myself.

Q.  The more successful you get, the more the fans are going to be right up on you too.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Like I said, it comes with the program.

Q.  Sloane, it sounds like last year you enjoyed that contact and this year you're kind of bracing for it; is that fair to say?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Because it's way more intense than last year.  Last year it was, Oh, my God, I love you.  Me and my mom watched you on TV.
Now it's parents pushing their kids, like, Go.  The other day this girl was on crutches, and the mom was like, Run!  I was like, Are you serious?  That's how crazy it is.
So it's definitely‑‑ it was like a lot more mellow and sweeter.  Like, Oh, I'm your favorite player?  That's so cute.  Now it's like people are elbowing each other and it's way more intense.

Q.  And New York is ten times that.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, like aunts and uncles and grandparents, wheelchairs.  It's crazy.

Q.  One of the things that's kind of disappeared from tennis is the serve and volley game.  Growing up, did you run into many true serve and volleyers?  Do you see them out there?  If not, what happened?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I've never really played a serve and volleyer, I don't think, like ever.  I mean, like maybe the doubles girls will occasionally throw in a serve and volley, which is fine.
But no one does it twice a game or anything like that.

Q.  Why do you suppose it's disappeared?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I think it's just like‑‑ well, on the women's side it's definitely become more of a power game, so serve and volley isn't really necessary.  I don't know.  People just don't do it as much anymore.

Q.  Did people ever try to get you to serve and volley?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, but not my thing.

Q.  How come?  You weren't comfortable with it?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No, I'm very comfortable.  I love the net, so I'm fine with it.  But it's just not something that ‑‑ when I was growing up, it's not something that my coach installed in me like you need to serve and volley or this or that.
So just kind of grew up without it.

Q.  Could you talk about your whole Wimbledon experience, what you took away from that the most, please.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  It was good.  It was awesome.  Obviously, I‑‑ before Wimbledon I hadn't played since the French Open.  I didn't play a warmup tournament, so it was nice to just get in.
I obviously had a pretty tough draw first round playing Jamie.  I think to get through that was good.  I hadn't played really at all.  I hadn't served until like two days before Wimbledon, so I kind of was just winging it.
To make quarters was really good.  Obviously making quarters is good.  So I was happy with that.  Obviously not expected, but it was awesome.

Q.  Sloane, this year you have been playing so well in the US Open and in Australia you did very well, similar surface, but it's in America.  I know you talk about a lot of the pressure with the fans.  How do you feel about it?  Is that something‑‑ have you had a dream like maybe winning the US Open?  Bartoli, she had a dream to win Wimbledon.  Would the US Open be like kind of a dream for you?  You're on the top of your game.  It's a matter of time to have the trophy.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Obviously US Open would be awesome.  It's a home slam.  I'm American.  It's awesome.  It's what everyone dreams about.
But I think at this point in anyone's career, I think winning any Grand Slam is equally as important as the next one.  So, I mean, obviously I'd love to win the US Open, but nothing's guaranteed.  I might win like next year's French Open.  Who knows?

Q.  Would not complain?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Would not complain at all.  Would not matter at all.

Q.  Sloane, do you take any extra notice when a couple players from like your generation face off against each other?  Like I know later today Monica Puig and Genie Bouchard are playing each other.  Does that make your eyes light up when you see those kinds of matches?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I try to look them up online or something, but obviously I don't have a life if I'm looking at matches online.
I definitely do, because obviously growing up with Genie and Monica.  If Laura is playing someone, like Pliskova, I'm going to go and watch because I'm more connected to people of like my age bracket.  Kuznetsova and Stosur were playing today and I'm like, Not so much.

Q.  Are you going to go get popcorn?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I'll probably watch it at the hotel.  Oh, is it on TV?

Q.  No TV for that one.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Then I'll be watching it on my computer.

Q.  One question:  At the US Open, if you had to walk out to one song, what would it be?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus.

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