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August 26, 2013

Sloane Stephens


S. STEPHENS/M. Minella
4‑6, 6‑3, 7‑6

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Kind of hairy.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Hairy?  I never heard that term before.  What does 'hairy' mean?

Q.  Tough to get through, complicated and difficult.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yes, it was hairy (smiling).  But I was happy to get the win, so, you know, it's all good.

Q.  Can you talk about the match, what was going on with the different sets.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I got off to a really slow start, was nervous, tight, hands were shaking, couldn't find rhythm.  I thought she played pretty well the first set.
Second set I tried to get off to a good start, but obviously you're thinking, Somebody can't play this well the whole time, but she did.  So I just kind of had to fight and battle.
Third set we both played really well.  I came out with the win.  But, I mean, I thought she played some awesome tennis the whole time.  All credit to her.  I thought it was a pretty good match.

Q.  You had a lot of unforced errors.  Was that the key, cutting down on those?  I think you had more than 50.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Hmm, that's not good.  I never want to have that.  That many, that's horrible.
But I think I was just so nervous, I was so tight, and I couldn't really get a grip.
But I thought I managed to play some good points and kind of like get loose.  I thought that's what helped me the most.

Q.  Were you more nervous than at any of the other slams this year?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No.  I think just the whole being here at the US Open is a bit overwhelming.  Literally everywhere you go every single person knows who you are, as opposed to when you're at the French Open or when you're at Wimbledon.  It's, Okay, like, you're a tennis player.  That's great.  Here every person knows who you are.
It's definitely overwhelming, but it comes with the package.  It's exciting to play at a home slam.  It's exciting to be on the court and competing.  I think I have to take advantage of the opportunity that was given to me, and I thought I did that well today.

Q.  You anticipated some points.  Are you going to get comfortable with it, these big tournaments?  You do pretty well at them.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, definitely.  I think normally I'm okay.  But I just think here, more expectations here being seeded, as opposed to last year when I was not seeded.  I was like 40 in the world, whatever I was ranked.
I think now there's more eyes on me.  Some little things that go with it.  But I think overall it's not that bad.
But you definitely want to perform well first round of a Grand Slam, especially at home.

Q.  When you said you wanted to play free, what does that mean to you?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, just play my game, hit out, not be afraid to swing the racquet.  Just play my game and just be relaxed and not have to every point be like, Oh, my God, I'm holding the racquet and my hand's shaking.  No.  I just want to be able to swing out, swing free.

Q.  How did you pull that out in the third‑set tiebreaker?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I don't know.  I think it was brain power.  I'm not sure.

Q.  You were down 4‑2 in the third set, and then immediately broke her serve, winning four straight points.  What changed in your mindset at that point?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Uhm, I just told myself I need to be really aggressive.  The match is going to get away from me if you don't pull yourself together.  I think when I give myself a reality check, most of the time it works.  I'm just going to go with that.
I mean, I just had to find a way, and I did, so that was good.

Q.  What are your thoughts on James Blake's retirement and what his example has meant to young players who have been coming up, such as yourself?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I'm going to miss James.  Uhm, I just found out today.  Actually, I was getting ready to play my match and somebody tweeted it or something.  I had no idea.
I mean, James is awesome.  He's one of the nicest guys I've met on tour.  He's been so sweet to me.  Like I said, I'm going to miss him.
When he was playing and when he was at his best, like when he was playing really great tennis, I've never seen him ‑‑ like the whole dreads things, what he's known for, his legacy.  I don't know.  I just wasn't old enough maybe.  Like, I don't know.
But, uhm, I know he's an awesome person.  I know he's an awesome dad, awesome husband.  I am honored to, you know, have known him and have him be so nice to him while I was on tour.  I'm definitely going to miss him in that regard.

Q.  Do you get less nervous as the rounds go on?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I think just in the first round of a tournament always is pretty tough.  Being at home at a slam I think has made it a little bit tougher.
But I got through it, and now I can relax a little bit and be a little bit more at ease.  So it's good.

Q.  You've already built a reputation for playing your best at big moments.  Today continued that.  What is it about the big stage when a match is on the line that allows you to persevere?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I don't know.  I think I just, like I said, reality checks; they work really well.  I just tell myself, you know, Pull it together.  You can do it.  This is what competing is all about.  When it's time to get tough, I get tougher.  That's all I can really think in my head.

Q.  Were you more nervous today than you've been in a very long time, since you were a little kid perhaps?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I mean, I wasn't that nervous.  I think I was more, uhm‑‑ I don't think that's the right term maybe.  But probably more nervous than I've been, let's say, this year.

Q.  Late in the match on one side of Armstrong the crowd was cheering with one chant, and on the other side was a competition of a Sloane Stephens chant.  Can you translate that in terms of performance and how it affects you?  Is it all positive?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I think it's all positive.  I mean, like being at home, it's definitely a completely different feeling than being at any other tournament.  Like, well, for a slam.  I think people, they really get behind you.
It helps.  It does help.  Like today it helped me tremendously.  But I think, like, we're talking today, I have 75 different coaches out there because people are screaming like, Hit the ball; Hit it to her forehand; Serve to her backhand; Come to the net.  You're just like, Oh, goodness.
I mean, it's tricky, but I think most of the time it's all positive.  So that's good.

Q.  What is the best piece of advice you've ever gotten on court during a match?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Uhm, I'm not sure, but today someone yelled to me, If you don't get it together, this lady is going to take your second‑round prize money.  I was like, Oh, God (laughter).  I thought that was a good one.
In a moment that's so serious, you're just like, Oh, my God.  I think that was a pretty good one today.

Q.  At 4‑2 in the third set, looked like you took a break.  Did you say anything to yourself that helped?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Reality check.  Pull yourself together.  You can do this.  Just the normal.  I never really deviate from the whole reality check thing, so...
It works well for me.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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