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February 16, 2019

Elise Mertens

Doha, Qatar


3-6, 6-4, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. All over the tournament and a lot of places in the city there are big pictures of you with the word "Victory" written across, and I wondered if that gave you unconscious inspiration this week to win the title?
ELISE MERTENS: Maybe, yes. I saw that the first day already. I was like, Oh, I really have to win this first round.

I was really happy the way I played this week, actually. I'm happy about the process that I made. Maybe at the start playing less well and then get better every match.

You know, that's why you do it, beating those top 10 players, getting the victory at the end.

Q. There was a stretch where she won quite a few points in a row. Curious what your mindset was to kind of turn all of that around.
ELISE MERTENS: Of course, I was a set and a break down. Yeah, I mean, she played well at that time. I really had to step in the court, playing better tennis than before. She was really hitting the ball pretty clear and clean.

Yeah, I just kept on fighting. I think holding serve was a big process, especially the first set didn't really go well, but I think the positivity kept me going.

Q. Congratulations. What's happened with your back in the second set? After that, you played better and don't lose the tough points.
ELISE MERTENS: Well, my back was a little bit blocked. Of course after playing so many matches, it could happen sometimes.

So I really needed the physio on court. They did a tape on my back. So that helped for me to rotate better. After that, I didn't really want to keep my mind on my -- well, on my back, not really injury, but the blocked back, so I stepped in the game again and just tried to focus on the points.

Q. You lost to her twice last year. Did you have a different game plan coming in this time? What do you think you did differently? Because it clearly worked.
ELISE MERTENS: Well, I think it's the process of this week, giving me confidence, beating those two top 10 players.

Yeah, I found my way today. Didn't really look good first set. I think it's just the process. She's a great player. I just kept believing that I actually could do it.

Q. Do you mean that you're favorite from the shadow, because you played semifinals in Australian Open and now you're a winner, now to be a serious player?
ELISE MERTENS: Well, I didn't expect to be in a final this week. Of course you work for it, but tennis could go either ways. I mean, they're all amazing players in this draw.

Yeah, I mean, consistency is one of the key things to be a top player. But I think Kiki Bertens already did a good job last year and this year. That was a really tough match for me. I think it was all good matches, the process that I made this week.

Q. Can I just ask if you were nervous during the first set? Because the game started quite slowly with you. You lost the first game on your serve. 6-3. Wondering if you were nervous, because at that point it seemed like it might be a routine victory for Simona.
ELISE MERTENS: I couldn't say I was really nervous, but I think my shots went long. So I really had to accelerate a little bit better to keep it in the court.

But I think she started pretty good, pretty clean on those shots. Pushed me back a little bit. So I think I had to step in the court a little bit more from the beginning, which I didn't do.

Q. During the match when your coach comes on the court, seems like he brings some notes and gives you specific advices. Could you share us what he says and what kind of advices he give?
ELISE MERTENS: Well, first of all, he said, Stay positive, stay in the game, that I deserve to be here, that I deserve to be in the final after this week, you have seen my tennis, and he said that I'm playing well this week.

Yeah, to be aggressive in the court. I think that was the main thing. To not step back, to let her play. That was the main thing, not to get back behind the line.

Q. So does he give you any specific like strategies or techniques? Or does he kind of coach who analyze the match during the match?
ELISE MERTENS: Well, to keep accelerating, to let her run, to come in maybe sometimes with a volley, he said.

So I think that's just like the right mindset was necessary. Yeah, he told me to stay positive. And on the side, also, he kept on cheering for me, even though I was losing, by doing the right way.

Q. I was curious how this moment, winning the biggest title of your career, compares to making the semifinals in Australia for you?
ELISE MERTENS: Well, of course it's a big moment for me, getting that victory. Of course playing in a Grand Slam and getting the semis is really a great achievement, but I wanted a step further to getting this trophy. And especially playing against those top 10 players, which I back to back did this week, I think this one would be, especially also with my tennis I played, the nicest one, nicest victory.

Q. Simona also beat three top 10 players in a row to win this title a couple years ago. It was a pretty big springboard for her. Do you feel like this could be similar for you?
ELISE MERTENS: Yeah, I hope so. I had a pretty good run last year throughout the whole year, so I hope so. I'm really working hard. You have to keep working and both feet on the ground every week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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