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An Interview With: Bethanie Mattek-Sands (Round 2)

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Q. Your 14th appearance at the US Open. First time in the third round. Feels like a synopsis of the perseverance you've had to put in. Talk about that a little bit.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Definitely, no. After my second hip surgery last year I was out most of the year. I started this year out not sure how much tennis I'd be able to play, things like that. It's really been a great year for me. Obviously I've done well in doubles, but I feel well on the singles court. Moving well, my body feels great, so feeling healthy feels awesome. It's so much more fun to actually feel good on the court, so I'm real happy.

Q. How had you gotten healthy? Seems like there are times you're held together by athletic tape.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah, I probably felt that way. (Laughter.) I think the surgery last year really helped me a lot just because I think some of my other injuries were kind of stemming from that. It was an issue that I've been dealing with for a few years. We finally figured out what it was. No, again, this is the best year I've had as far as feeling healthy playing tournament after tournament. I couldn't be more happy.

Q. It's been a while since you played Serena. Is it hard going into a match like that not to be intimidated?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You know what? She's playing great. I mean, right now she's on a mission to get a record, and I'm here playing my game. I think it's going to be a battle out there. I'm going to do my best. Right now I'm giving myself the best chance I can to play well. That's all I can ask for.

Q. It took you a very long time to actually get to this point at the US Open. What seems to have been holding you back year to year to year? Thirteen years to get to the third round.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You know what? I don't know. I wish there was a magical thing that happened this year. Again, I'm feeling really great. I think I'm in a really good place mentally, physically, emotionally. I think there's a lot of things that came together. I'm really staying in the present and enjoying myself out there, so I think that's a big thing.

Q. After her match Serena said your game was very aggressive. She thought she would have to adjust her game accordingly. How can you use that aggression to your benefit?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Well, I mean, that's a game style that I've played with since I've been little. That's how I'm going to go out there and play. Obviously Serena's pretty aggressive. She's going to rip some balls, hit some big serves. I think it's going to be a good match. That's obviously going to be the clash there. I'm excited for it.

Q. Will you have any special outfit for such a match?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I always have special outfits I feel like. I'll have to see what I got packed in my bag. (Laughter.)

Q. How good does it feel to start a match as well as you did today? Do you take satisfaction when she obliterated her racquet?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I was laughing when she was doing it. I saw her break her racquet. I thought she was done and she just kept going. I was like, Go big or go home. You might as well destroy it. You already cracked it. I mean, CoCo, she'll rip the ball. The next two games she played after that she played pretty free, hit some winners. Sometimes that's all it takes to help you feel better - for her anyways. But, no, I was cracking up on the sideline there.

Q. What kind of impact has your husband had as far as being on the tour for as long as you have been, having a built-in companion? Has it prolonged your career in ways?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: He's here so I can't say anything too bad. (Smiling.) It's been great. When you first start playing on the tour you travel by yourself. It's a little bit of a grind. I'm really lucky that he's been able to kind of put his life on hold a little bit and really travel with me and be with me. It's a big deal having someone like that through the wins, through the losses, through the injuries. I don't think I would still be playing if he wasn't traveling with me.

Q. Your personality seems to suit New York. Was it ever really frustrating that you couldn't make that push through the draw here? Seemed like this was going to be a slam where things were going to be...

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah, for sure. I love New York. I love coming here. Maybe I put pressure on myself in years past. I had some tough draws as well. I played some great players, too. I'm not going to take anything away from anyone who has beaten me over the years. No, I love it here. The crowds here, whether it's a night match, day match, it's really one of my favorite events. Obviously being an American makes it special playing here. I'm really happy to keep going.

Q. Is there a reason for the Decepticon hat?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Actually I just got handed this hat today so I figured I'd wear it into press.

Q. Do you like being the spoiler? You like to play that role?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Sure. That's a fun role to play. Mess up the draw a little bit. No, you know what? I go into each match giving myself the best chance, I mean, knowing I can win any match I go into. Whether you're going to get it done or not, your opponent has something to do with that, too. I'll always feel confident in my game, confident in myself, and go out there and give my best. Every time I step on the court, that's what I'll give.

Q. Has the success you've had with Lucie in doubles this year translated to your singles?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: For sure. I think playing a lot of doubles has helped my singles over the years. It's sometimes great. Instead of practicing so many times you're playing doubles matches, you're competing. I love coming to net. I love the strategy of doubles. I mean, you're obviously playing with a teammate out there, so I talk a little bit more. But, no, doubles I think is crucial to me playing well in singles. I mean, you work on returns, you work on serves, strategy. It's a big part of it.

Q. Is orange a lucky color for you?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I feel like today's color was electric melon, not so much orange. (Smiling.) A player asked me in the locker room if I purposely match my hair to my outfit, which I didn't. I almost didn't wear the outfit because I was like, Maybe it's too much orange. But orange is probably one of my favorite colors. This I would call is coral/electric melon. I like that color.

Q. CoCo said she kind of got caught looking ahead to Serena. I assume you did not do that. Would that account for the difference in the match?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I mean, if she's saying that, I don't know. I know a lot of players, I think we talked about this in my last press conference, don't look ahead in the draw. We don't really talk about it. You have to play the match you're given. There's upsets. Anything can kind of happen. So really the only thing you can control is kind of how you go out for your match that day.

Q. Would you think maybe at this US Open, so long into your career, you might be together physically and mentally as good as you've ever been?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Am I right now?

Q. Yes.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yes, for sure. I think this is the best I've ever physically felt, mentally. I mean, all parts are really coming together. I think the time off last year really helped me appreciate being on the court. I'm really enjoying myself out there. Obviously I'm a competitor. I'm a gamer. I love being out on the court competing. Being away from the game last year was tough for me, so I'm really appreciating every moment I have out there.

Q. In the context of Mardy retiring here, the issues he's dealt with, can you relate to him? Have you ever felt those sort of issues? Maybe not panic attacks, but anxiety holding you back?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I don't think so. I don't think so.

Q. In a weird way, the injuries you've had over the course of your career, has it prolonged it in a way because you haven't been able to play as many tournaments?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah, it's funny you say that, because we've talked about it. It's like I've been saving all my matches and tournaments for the back end of my career. You're right, I have missed a lot of tournaments. I think I only averaged like eight to nine tournaments a year just with my injuries. You know, I think players retire because either they mentally don't want to do it anymore or physically stop doing it. Right now mentally I'm right there and physically I'm feeling great, so I'm happy to keep playing.

Q. What do you think it would be like to be a character in the big spotlight that Serena's in right now? Feels like her tournament. Now you're going to be on court with her, possibly the one to stop all this.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You know, I mean, I have nothing to lose. Again, I'm focused on me and how I play. I know how Serena's going to come. She plays aggressive. I mean, she plays big. You know, I'm just going to go out with my game plan. That's really all I'm kind of thinking about now.

Q. Can you clarify what the situation is with doubles with Lucie?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah, unfortunately Lucie had to withdraw. She strained her ab. She did it in New Haven, and it kind of continually got worse. She played her singles match the other day. It just was hurting her obviously on her serve and a little bit on her backhand. Unfortunately she had to withdraw. So I'm out of the doubles.

Q. So just singles and mixed?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Singles and mixed with Sam Querrey.

Q. How did that come about with Sam?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: It was really last minute. Obviously me and Mike had been playing the last couple slams. It was a last-minute thing where Mike decided not to play mixed. I was just seeing who was around kind of during sign-in. Sam stepped up. So I think we'll have a blast. We'll be ripping the ball.

Q. When you have such a roll going with doubles and your partner withdraws, how do you adjust?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You know, it is a bummer obviously. We've had a great year. We've already qualified for Singapore. Obviously I have a lot of fun playing with Lucie. I've been in her shoes where you have an injury and you have to make the smart decision. She's a tough competitor. She played through a lot of stuff, as every player has. I know if she's saying she really can't get out there and play some doubles it's something that needs to be taken care of. She's being smart about it. She wants to finish the year strong. We still have other tournaments after this. It's a bummer because it is a slam, but, again, it's all about staying healthy. You know, one week here, does it take off a few weeks at the end of the year? That's what you have to think about. I think she's being smart.

Q. With all the talk about Serena's record, has there been much in the locker room as well? Have the players been talking about it?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I don't think so. It's funny because this is our job. Every week we come and we play our matches. Obviously we're all tuning in to the TVs when people are playing, if there's an upset in the works. Everyone is getting their treatment, whether they have injuries, whether they're trying to recover for tomorrow's match, get ready for their match today. It's a pretty professional atmosphere. Everyone kind of has their thing that they're doing.

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