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January 18, 2014

Sloane Stephens


S. STEPHENS/E. Svitolina
7‑5, 6‑4

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Started out, had an early break.  You toughed it out.  Getting yourself in sticky situations but finding your way out of them?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, definitely.  I was playing pretty good at the beginning, but it was definitely tricky because the wind was blowing really hard on one side and not really on the other side.
It was a little bit tough.  But after, you know, I got my rhythm and found like what I wanted to do, it was easier.

Q.  What were you most pleased with in your play today?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Just that I figured out which way the wind was blowing (smiling).  That helped out a bit.  No, I stayed consistent and I didn't like overhit or anything like that.
I stayed in the points, and I kind of just focused on the game plan that I had set, so that was good.

Q.  I think it's the fifth slam in a row you made it to second week.  Why?  What's the key for you?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I have no idea.  Everyone ‑‑you guys ask me that every time.  I don't know.  I just play, and then I end up in the second week.  Then I don't know.

Q.  Is there more motivation at the big tournaments?  Seems like you focus better at the big tournaments.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I'm not sure.  I mean, I don't know.  But my goal this year is to do better at the smaller tournaments.

Q.  What's it like playing a player younger than you who is hungry and views you as a statement win.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I don't think there is much to that, because I'm still one of those players when I play someone older than me.  Like it's kind of‑‑ it is what it is.  You got to go out and battle every time.
Most of the time when I'm playing people they are much older than me, so it's kind of ‑‑I know the situation she's in, and I'm in it still plenty of times.  You have to go out and play and battle.
It is what it is.

Q.  Do you enjoy the pressure that comes with when you're expected to win as opposed to being the player that no one knows?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I don't think anyone is expected to win.  Everyone has to go out and play.  Anything can happen when you go out.  Someone could roll their ankle or someone could run into the net post.  Who knows?  It's tennis.
You could be playing really bad; you could be playing really great.  Everyone has to go out and play.  You never know what can happen.

Q.  Andy Murray was saying before the tournament pairing up with a legendary coach is a lot like dating a girl or something, like basically he's trying to impress that person for the first three months.  Do you feel that way at all, like in terms of the pressure or anything with Paul or feeling like you need to impress him with the way you play or fight or practice or anything like that?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No.  That was kind of weird.  I feel like you just said I was dating Paul and that's soooo gross.  Not really.  Not really.  I think it was coming in to working with Paul, I had like a couple of options of coaches.  He's in LA, and I honestly had no idea who he was.
And like the first time we had lunch was like super intense and crazy, but I was like ‑‑it was weird, because it was like an old guy.  I was like, I have never seen this guy before.  It was creepy.
But, no, I think it's better that I came in like open minded and like I just like I want to get better.  I expressed to Paul everything that I, you know, felt and feel on the court and everything.  I think he's very understanding of that.
We did our thing together.  We did pretty good work over the offseason.  I didn't feel like I had to impress him.  I think he treated me like I was his child.  It worked out good.

Q.  What are those things that you told him you felt on the court?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No just like what I feel like, traveling, going week to week if I'm lonely, like just little things that kind of creep into your mind.  Even on the court when you get tight in a match and you're nervous before matches or anything like that.
He definitely helps me with that, and that's a good thing.

Q.  As you probably know by now, you might face Azarenka in the next round.  Can you just talk about your memories from that match last year?  It was controversial not from your end, but talk about your memories of that match.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, definitely.  It was a tough match.  Obviously semis of a Grand Slam it was pretty intense.  Looking forward to getting back on the court again.
You know, I have done well here this week.  I have been playing well.  Just looking forward to it.
And last year has nothing to did with this year.  It's a totally different year.  A lot of things have happened.
So, you know, I'm just looking forward to getting back on the court.

Q.  What do you have to do against her?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Just play my game, focus on myself, and just do what I do well.

Q.  Do you feel like you're mentally stronger now a year later?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, definitely.  I have worked on a lot of things and I've gotten better and I've improved.  I feel a lot better on the court.
Yeah, that's it.

Q.  Do you think too much was made of all the medical timeout controversy and all that stuff from the match last year, or...
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Who knows?  That has nothing to do with this year.  I don't even remember half the stuff that happened.  It's okay.
Like I said, it's a new match.  I mean, it will be Monday hopefully on the big court.  It will be exciting.

Q.  There was a lot of focus on how that match ended in the semis, but also the beginning, I guess it was your first slam.  You came off a big win against Serena, so people may be paying more attention.  Are those things that you also think affected that match back then?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No.  I think obviously he's had more experience.  She's won a Grand Slam; she's been in that position a lot of times.  It's definitely a learning experience for me.
Looking back on it I don't think that affected anything too much, but I definitely now, if I was in the same position, which I am ‑ obviously not in the semis ‑ but I know what I have to do.  I have to play my game and focus on myself and focus on what I do best.

Q.  What have been the things that have really changed in the year's time between Sloane last year and you now?  How are you different?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I'd say I don't get flustered as easily, and something I have worked on.  I don't get overwhelmed and I'm kind of just learning to focus on myself, because that's the only thing I can control, like the things that I do.
That's pretty much it.  Just when you focus on yourself you can control a lot more things, and everything else is just kind of just whatever.

Q.  You are in LA; Victoria has a place in LA now.  You share the same agent.  Have you ever interacted off court?  Have you become besties?  What's your relationship with her?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No.  I have literally never seen her in LA.  So, no.

Q.  So your off‑court relationship with her is like what?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Nonexistent.

Q.  So you got through these first three rounds here when you are expected to win, and so you're going into a match where you'll be the underdog.  Do you need go in that thinking, I can swing freer, I can take more chances?  Is that a good place to be?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No, definitely like I said, I have to play my game and focus on myself.  I'm not thinking about who thinks I'm the underdog or who is going to be talking about or tweeting about it or whatever.
I need to focus on myself and do what I can do.

Q.  At tournaments, especially at the slams, do you go on media lockdown?  Do you not read anything that's being written, ignore the papers and ignore Twitter?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No, yeah, I haven't been on Twitter since last Wednesday, so whenever that is.  Dirk Nowitski wrote me a letter and I haven't written him back because I am on like a very tight‑‑ what do you call it?  Like I was on a no‑shopping thing.  I broke that too.
What's that called when you're on like a... 

Q.  Ban?

Q.  Leash?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No.  It's Pictionary or whatever.
No, like a ‑‑I will remember it later.  Yeah, I just‑‑ yeah, I don't really go on it.  I Instagramed a picture with no caption.  I was like...  (Smiling).

Q.  What did Dirk Nowitski write you?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I can't tell you that, gosh.  But, yeah, no.  When I'm finished I feel like writing him back.  It's so exciting.

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