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An Interview With: Bethanie Mattek-Sands (Round 3)

Friday, September 04, 2015

Q. Good effort. In your own mind, what happened second set?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: She stepped up. Serena played good. She broke me and I was able to break back, so I don't know. Pretty tired. (Smiling.)

Q. What do you think it is about her that enables her to come back so often? Tonight was emblematic of so many matches during this great run of hers.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I mean, she's a great closer. She always has been. I think she gains momentum and gets pumped up, pumps herself up, and I think that's why she's able to close matches out really well.

Q. Is there anything watching her across the net that you see and feel when she's on this sort of comeback roll having been down and being able to turn it around, that being across from her you can see in a way nobody else does?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You can see when she's really confident in her shots. Obviously she starts ripping the ball really hard and timing it well and taking balls on the rise. I think you can feel the pressure.

Q. You didn't seem at all intimidated. Nobody goes out there wanting to be intimidated, but sometimes you can see the body language. You didn't seem that way. There are times in a match when she gets rolling and she starts to yell loud. What is going on in your mind at that point?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: No, it's competition. I mean, we're both getting pumped up. When you hit a good shot, some people react a little bit more than others with their C'mons or fist pumps. It's all sports; it's all competition.

You know, I'm a competitor, as well. I think it's fun when you play someone that's on their A game. You get to see what your game's all about.

Q. At what point would you say you realized that this is what everybody is talking about with Serena, when the momentum changes and when you felt it slipping away?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Tough question. I don't know.

Q. What did you say to her at the net?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I said I'll be cheering for her. Obviously I know she's going for the record. I thought she was playing awesome. I mean, I like Serena a lot. We're friends off the court, and I think she's not only a great competitor but a good person.

I just wished her the best of luck.

Q. Were you able to leave all that out of your head when you were on the court?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: What do you mean?

Q. That you wanted her to go on and win it.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Definitely. Again, I did my best today to try and stop her, and it wasn't quite enough.

So, you know, I wish her the best.

Q. You talked about you're feeling pretty fresh, injury-free, still motivated. A match like that, does that give you a little bit of extra kick going forward?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Definitely. I feel like this year I've just gotten better and better each match. You know, I've gained a lot of momentum. I've played a lot of matches. For me that's great.

There were so many years when I didn't play a lot of tournaments. I didn't compete. I think I'm a natural competitor. Even if it's not in tennis, I'm pretty competitive.

Just ask Justin. (Smiling.)

But, no, it's giving me a lot of confidence. Obviously the year's not over. I'm still in the mixed doubles with Sam tomorrow. There's a lot of tournaments left. So I'm really happy.

Q. Do expectations change between believing you can go out and do something and win before the match and then being there in the second set tied 5-All? Is that a realization that this could actually happen?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: No, I think you need to know you're going to win before you're in that situation. I give myself a chance to win every single match I step on the court. Whether I win or not, I always think I can.

You know, I feel like most athletes go out on the court or field with that mentality. You're not just going to be all of a sudden tied with the No. 1 player in the world and think you might have a chance.

Q. How much fun was it tonight?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I mean, the atmosphere out there was awesome. It's so cool playing on Arthur Ashe, night match. I mean, that's just the best atmosphere you could dream of. It was awesome out there.

Q. How has your success in doubles shaped your thinking going into tonight's match? How has it shaped your thinking?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: No, I've gained a lot of confidence from my dubs. Obviously I've had a great year with Lucie. Unfortunately couldn't play here, but I've played so many doubles matches.

I've been in tight situations. I've been up, I've been down, and had to close out matches. I've been down some in the finals. French Open down a set, had to come back.

So you're in those pressure moments. I feel like, you know, coming out on top and just going through it has given me a lot of confidence, even in my singles. Even my game, I come to net, I play aggressive. That's how I play in singles. Doubles has really helped me a lot this year.

Q. Seemed like the crowd was really rooting for Serena but your body language was still really good. How do you manage that?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You know what? You can't really control who everyone's cheering for. Obviously it's tough when there's two Americans out there. You hope people are cheering for good tennis.

But I'm out there for myself. I'm playing tennis for me. You know, as much as you want the whole stadium to be behind you, and it's a really great feeling when they are, it's not something you can always control.

Q. What were you particularly pleased with what you did today? How did you bother her? Also, were there other points that run through your head even now that you think if you did this or that maybe the outcome changes?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I haven't really gone over with my coach kind of the ins-and-outs of the matches. There were some great points when we were both at net, lobs, winners. It felt like the crowd really got into some of those points.

I was really happy with how many times I broke her today. I know she serves big. I was ready for it. I like to think that returning is one of my favorite shots. I was really happy with how I did that.

Q. You knew going in that a high number of women had gone three sets with her and had her on the ropes. There you are, second set, pretty late, you have her on the ropes. When it starts to get away from you, does there come a point when you think you knew this would happen, you knew this could happen and now it's happening to me?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: No. I was just sticking to my plan of attack, my game plan. Again, when she's on fire and she's ripping the ball, it's just out of reach. I mean, there's not much you can do except play the next point and do your best. So that's all I was really staying focused on.

Q. What are the mental and physical aspects of the way she plays that you consider the biggest challenges not just for you but for anybody?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You know, when she's feeling really confident she's ripping the ball and she's hitting her targets. You know, she got ahold of some of my serves on the return and ripped them for clean winners.

As fast as you want to be to just get a racquet on it, you know, I wasn't able to. When she's feeling good like that, I mean, you really got to figure out a way to make her uncomfortable, because when she's in the zone she can hit her targets.

Q. She plays Madison next. What are your thoughts on that matchup?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I think it will be a great match. Madison has a big serve; she has a big forehand; she's going to go for it.

Again, Madison will probably go into that match with nothing to lose. She's a big power player. I think it will be a really good match.

Q. How proud are you of your year at slams?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Very proud. I love the big moments in the big tournaments. I'm really happy. Obviously bummed to be out of the singles, but, again, overall I'm very happy with this year.

Q. We're one match away from another Serena versus Venus matchup. What are your thoughts on that rivalry and maybe any memories that you have of seeing these two sisters go against each other on the tennis court?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I think it's always a tough one. I think they're a little bit more subdued, which is understandable with a sibling. You know, you don't fist pump in anyone's face or anything.

It has to be hard. I didn't have a sibling that played professional tennis so it's hard for me to relate, but I'm sure it's a difficult moment just because they are so close.

Q. You mentioned that you and Sam play mixed tomorrow. Talk about how you teamed up and what you expect.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You know, it was actually really last minute because I was playing mixed this year with Mike Bryan. Last minute he actually said he wasn't going to be able to play mixed. I was actually kind of searching.

I think I found Sam 30 minutes before signing closed. We just kind of winged it. We won our first match. It was his first mixed win. We were pretty pumped.

Q. Did Mike say why he couldn't play?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I think he was feeling a little bit injured. Obviously they had done really well in the couple tournaments leading up to the US Open. Both Bryans played a lot of tennis.

I know Bob didn't play mixed either. I think they were just playing a lot of tennis and wants to focus on the men's doubles.

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