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January 14, 2014

Sloane Stephens


S. STEPHENS/Y. Shvedova
7‑6, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Not the start you would have wanted, but you rescued it pretty quickly there.  How relieved are you to get the first one here under your belt?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, it was a little rusty start.  But I didn't panic, which is good.  You know, I just kind of got it back together and played some good tennis after that.
So it was good.

Q.  How much of the start was maybe rust of not having too much matchplay coming into here and how much was maybe nerves coming back?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, definitely I think it was probably a combination of the two, not just playing last week and kind of a little bit of a little worried.  It's the first slam of the year.  I think it was a little bit of everything combined.
Then I pulled it together, so that was good.  It didn't last too long, which is good.

Q.  Does it feel like the same environment, the same tournament?  Your last match here was like a semifinal on Rod Laver and this was a fairly empty Court 6 match.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I know, Court 6.  No, it was okay.  It didn't matter.  On Court 6 they didn't have like any gate people.  So anyone can just like walk through when they want.  So it was interesting.
But, uhm, got through it well.  Handled all the obstacles well, the court change and everything, so that was good.

Q.  Has there been much chatter in the locker room today about the heat and wind, especially out on Court 6, the outer courts?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, no, I saw it this morning at breakfast.  I was like, Can't be windy outside.  I just expected it would be hot.
But, I mean, I kept looking at my phone.  Mine is in Fahrenheit.  I'm like 108 Fahrenheit, why is that happening?  Then I kind of like Googled 45 Centigrade like just to see what's happening.
I think the heat was more in my mind than anything.  When I got there it wasn't that bad for me.  Obviously I played later, so it was okay.

Q.  We don't have to ask Siri about the Celsius conversion?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, just ask me, because I've been looking at it all day (smiling).

Q.  Talk about what it's like to be back here, what you expect of yourself for this coming season.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  It's always good to be back here.  I love being in Australia.  I think the most disappointing part of my trip so far has been that I went to Pizza Napoli and they have changed into the Vietnamese restaurant.  I think that was the most disappointing thing.

Q.  Did you still eat there?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No.  They were like renovating.  They changed the entire inside.  They're open on Monday, but I'm devastated about that.
But other than that, everything has been good.  No complaints.
Paul is here, so that's good.  Andrew and Christian.  We've been having a good time.  So it's been good so far.

Q.  Talk about Paul.  He's onboard now.  What is it like working with him?  What kind of things are you hearing?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, no, I love Paul.  He's such a good guy.  He's so funny.  We have a good time together, all of us.  He knows a lot.  He has a lot up here.  It's good to hear everything he has to say.  Obviously he's a great coach.
Just working on things, you know, keep improving.  Hopefully, you know, we'll get some good wins together, I guess you can say.

Q.  Paul is a great storyteller.  Does he tell any stories of Roger or Sampras?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Not really, no.

Q.  It was reported that he told you to think, Okay, it's five degrees less hot than it actually is.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I'm like, No.  My phone says 108.  He says, No, it can't be.  No, I'm pretty sure.

Q.  When you were coming up the ranks, did you have any encounters with Henry Talbert?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I saw he passed away today.

Q.  Do you have any thoughts what he meant to the game and the players?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  He was always so nice to me.  I always used to see him at UCLA.  He always used to come up to me, So, how is your day going?  He was so nice and friendly.  I'll miss seeing him at UCLA.
Great guy.  Obviously he's done a lot for the game, so he'll definitely be missed.

Q.  Special man to have around?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  He was really sweet.

Q.  Coming back mentally, how different is it to be defending semifinalist?  Does it feel like a different tournament than other tournaments that you've been in?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No.  Paul says we're starting from zero, so we're just going to go with that.  Not much I can do about the whole defending the points thing.  Not too much stress I'm putting on myself, because in the end it's just a whole bunch of pressure that I don't need.
We're going with what Paul says.  We're going with we're starting from zero, so...

Q.  Does your mind work that way?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Well, it's working that way now.  We'll see how that goes.  I'll let you know.

Q.  Were there any nerves today going back out on the court?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, definitely nervous first slam of the year.  I did well here last year.  Probably one of my favorite tournaments.  Not having played that many matches, like I said, a lot of things go into being nervous and going out there for your first match, your first round of a slam, is always a little tricky.
Like I said, I was happy I got through it.  Started out a little rusty, but pulled it together, so that was good.

Q.  How does the wrist feel?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Feels good.  Better than Perth on Friday, whatever that was.  Just going to take care of it.  Still taping, taking precautions and everything.  Hopefully it holds up for me.

Q.  It's not pain‑free, though?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  It is pain‑free, but I feel like I have like an old person's hand.  In the morning when I wake up tomorrow it might be a little stiff.  Other than that it's okay.

Q.  How much did you actually practice coming into the tournament?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I just took a couple days off.  I went to Sydney obviously and I didn't play.  I took a couple days off there and I started practicing here on Wednesday, yeah.

Q.  What do you know about Tomaljanovic?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Did she win?

Q.  Yes.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I've known her for a while.  We both went to Evert together.  I think she's the same age as me.  I think it will be a good match.  I know she's just coming back.  She was a little sick or had an injury or something.  I think it will be a good match.
I haven't seen her play in a while.  I'll have to do my research.  I'm excited to get back on the court.

Q.  What do you remember about her from the kid days?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I just remember she hit really hard.  I remember she beat me at Eddie Herr, I remember that.

Q.  The big question is now that your pizza place is no longer in play, how can come up with another go‑to place?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I found another go‑to place.  It's called ‑‑ I don't even know what it's called.  It's called Cecconi's, something like that.  It's so good.  I found a replacement, don't you worry.

Q.  What kind of cuisine are we talking?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Italian.  They have great gnocchi.  But it's a ragu sauce this time.  You should try it.  I'll get you the exact name and maybe you can try it out.  But don't go when I go because you'll be like creeping on me.

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