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January 23, 2018

Elise Mertens

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

E. MERTENS/E. Svitolina

6-4, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How does it feel to be in the semis of a major?
ELISE MERTENS: It's amazing. I mean, not expected, especially today. I played against her last year. Really tough match.

But, yeah, I was in the zone today. It was a really great match. I played really well, so I'm really happy (smiling).

Q. Would you say it's the biggest win of your career?
ELISE MERTENS: Yeah, I think so. Especially against her. She's a great mover. She can do great things, defense but also offensive. I guess this is one of my greater wins, yeah.

Q. You seem to be growing in confidence as the tournament progresses compared to your last matches.
ELISE MERTENS: Yeah. Well, today was a really good day. Tried to still progress in a lot of things. Also tomorrow try to do that one more hour of practice just to try to be better.

Q. This is your first Australian Open. What were your expectations when you started?
ELISE MERTENS: I guess -- well, I played Hobart, defended my title, so I was kind of happy about that, too. Didn't really have a lot of expectations here.

I played a qualifier first round, so I was expected to win. Not always easy, but yeah, as it moved forward, first round, second round, I didn't really expect to be in the semis.

Q. If someone had said to you last Monday that this is where you'd be, what would you have said to them?
ELISE MERTENS: I'd laugh a little bit (smiling). But of course everything is possible in tennis. I mean, if you believe in yourself, then anything can happen. But of course semis is "Wow."

Q. Can you describe the first time you saw Kim Clijsters play, where you were and what you thought?
ELISE MERTENS: I was really young, really young.

Well, of course on TV. But, well, first time I don't really remember anymore because I was, I think, five years old.

Q. Did you grow up idolizing her?
ELISE MERTENS: Yeah, of course, of course. Her and Justine Henin, the two big favorites in Belgium at that time. I mean, what they achieved was amazing, and of course I looked up to them.

Q. What is the secret of Belgian tennis, especially with women?
ELISE MERTENS: Yeah, I don't know. That's a difficult one.

I practice at the Kim Clijsters Academy. We have a really good structure. Also, when I started working with my coach, really good structure, good team.

Also, when I come home I feel like I'm home. Also, at the academy, I feel like very at home, actually. So I feel really good there.

Q. I think, if I remember, that Kim's mother was taking her always, when she was a kid, back and forth to practice and so on. What about you? You live next to the academy, someone has been taking you, driving you, or you are spoiled in a way or not?
ELISE MERTENS: Well, of course at the beginning -- well, actually live 15 minutes away from the academy so I can stay at home, which is really nice, because I'm not really home that often.

Well, I have my own driver's license, so I'm lucky I can drive wherever I want to.

Q. You said on court you had a text message from Kim last night. Have you heard from her since?
ELISE MERTENS: I didn't really put my phone on yet (smiling). I will do that later. But I think I will have a message, yes.

Q. How much have you been communicating with her during the tournament?
ELISE MERTENS: Yeah, of course, a lot of time. She has been here before. She has the experience, so it's always nice to talk to her. And also, for the emotions, to see what she has to tell me or can, yeah, communicate.

Q. How would you describe your playing style?
ELISE MERTENS: My playing style? I try to be -- well, of course offensive was really important today. She's a great mover. She gets a lot of balls back. So I tried to step forward and come to the net a bit more.

Q. She was in here earlier talking about the hip injury that really seemed to affect her today. Did you have a sense of that during the match?
ELISE MERTENS: Not really. I just tried to focus on myself, on my game. I don't really look at my opponent. So try to stay in my bubble.

Q. Can you sleep normally when you go back at night or you start thinking about the next day?
ELISE MERTENS: I'm pretty relaxed. I mean, tomorrow I have a day for recovery. So, no, I'm pretty relaxed about that.

Q. So last night, for instance, you...
ELISE MERTENS: Totally fine.

Q. What is your relationship with the Belgian press? Do they always underline that Clijsters and Henin were a dream, impossible to reach, or they are supporting you?
ELISE MERTENS: No, they are supporting me. They are saying a lot of positive things in the newspaper, so I'm really thankful for that. Of course you have David Goffin also, amazing player and doing so well these past years.

Q. Have you thought ahead to the next match, Wozniacki or Suarez Navarro?
ELISE MERTENS: I played both of them once before, all three-setters. So it's going to be a tough match. Semifinal, anything can happen.

I just have to believe in myself and still have energy left to do great stuff.

Q. What is it about Australia? You have won Hobart twice now and you're doing so well in this tournament. Is it because you train particularly hard in the offseason or you just enjoy being here?
ELISE MERTENS: I think both. Of course I did preseason at home in Belgium, six weeks. That really helped me, practicing on the stuff that I had to improve.

But also just being here, I feel like it's -- of course it's sunny, and in Belgium it rains a lot. It was snowing. It's a different atmosphere, and I just love to be here.

Q. Are you prepared that you will have to answer a lot of different questions? What are your hobbies, what do you do off court, if you have a boyfriend, those kind of things? Are you ready for that?
ELISE MERTENS: I am. Totally ready (smiling).

Q. Tell us something about outside, your personality outside of the tennis court. What kind of girl are you? Do you like dancing? Do you like to listen to music?
ELISE MERTENS: I think I'm kind of a quiet girl. I'm not really in the spotlight, I guess. Just trying to be normal. I think I'm just normal.

Yeah, when I'm at home, I like to be at home. I have dogs. That relaxes me a lot.

Q. Is it your own dog?
ELISE MERTENS: No, it's my parents', but also for me a little bit. Yeah, that just relaxes me.

Q. There have been a lot of surprises in women's tennis in the last couple of years. Does that help someone like you when you come into a tournament like this to know that basically anything is possible?
ELISE MERTENS: Yeah, I think so. Women's tennis has evolved a lot, but I think everyone plays decent level, really good level. I think it's very close.

You have to play aggressive; that's for sure. That's what I try to improve my game to. But I think, well, if you're seeded or not these days, I think women's tennis is, like, very close.

Q. What would you like to have of Kim Clijsters as a shot and of Justine Henin?
ELISE MERTENS: The shot? Well, yeah, of course Kim, her talent was amazing. She's a very hard worker. But the shot? Well, she's famous for the sliding. Yeah, maybe that one.

Justine Henin, her backhand was amazing. Yeah, it's one-handed but still a great shot.

Q. How will you approach the semifinals? Do you sort of feel like you've got nothing to lose or you actually feel like you can go all the way?
ELISE MERTENS: Well, I've got nothing to lose, that's for sure. I have no points to defend. I guess I'm a bit, well, the underdog, as today.

But I'm ready for it. I mean, I have a lot of energy left. Mentally/physically good. I'm just going to give it all and see where it ends.

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