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February 19, 2021

Elise Mertens

Aryna Sabalenka

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference


6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. This is your second major, both on hard courts. Take us through the match. How do you think you played?

ELISE MERTENS: I mean, was very special match.

ARYNA SABALENKA: I would say a little bit weird match. I think like in the semis we played much better. Today wasn't like level which I expect. But we tried really hard no matter what. Yeah, we happy just that we got it.

Q. A bit nerve-wracking towards the end serving it out.

ELISE MERTENS: I know she can do it with her serve, it's like I'll just stand at the net.

We had a really good couple of weeks. We had a tough draw actually in doubles, so we really happy that we pulled through.

Some days, yeah, like today, we just kept on fighting.

ARYNA SABALENKA: Just survive.

ELISE MERTENS: Just survive and keep each other motivated.

Q. You seem to have a lot of fun. Is that one of the keys to your success?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I think so, yeah.

ELISE MERTENS: I think it's good not to be all stressy all the time. We have singles, and that is pretty stressy already. Then we have doubles, so we try to make it fun. But, of course, when we're on court, we want to win.

Q. What was the experience like this tournament, with stressful singles tournaments, then carry on in the doubles after the singles? Was it different transitioning your focus?

ARYNA SABALENKA: From my side, I would say I was pretty relaxed on doubles. I was doing whatever I want to. I didn't care about winning or losing.

ELISE MERTENS: She didn't care about me (laughter).

ARYNA SABALENKA: So, yeah, I try to make it as easier as I can. I think for me this was the difference, that I was kind of, yeah, didn't care about result. I was just doing my thing. Yeah, it works really well. I think this is the key from my side of our success.

Elise, she's always good.

Q. Aryna, you mentioned before you were planning to focus a little bit more on singles than doubles. Does this trophy change any of that? What is the doubles game plan going forward?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I think the same for this year. Like together we're not going to play Grand Slams, maybe a little bit of Premier tournaments. But Elise is still planning to play doubles. I will make sure it's not going to happen (laughter). I'm joking.

For this year, I want to put more focus on singles, so a little bit less doubles, see what happens.

Q. What makes you think playing less doubles is going to help your singles? Both seem to be going pretty well.

ARYNA SABALENKA: I just want to manage my energy. Still when you go out for doubles, you're still, like, there for competing, to put everything you have. Sometimes it's not really work well with me.

So, yeah, I'm just trying to put my whole focus on singles. Yeah, I mean, I know that doubles, it's not that hard, you're not moving that much than on singles. It still takes a lot of energy. Yeah, I just want to save it for singles. I just want to try something different this year and see what happens on the Grand Slams, yeah.

Q. Making it back to a fourth round in singles after a few years, did that feel like a big step for you? How do you look back at that now?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, it was a great match against Serena. I'm not really happy with the end of first and third set. I think I could do it better. But I think it was great experience. It was great lesson. I'm going to just take it and move forward.

But, yeah, I mean, I think I'm getting better on the Grand Slams side of the results. I just want to keep it up. I just want to try to do something else to make sure I improve my singles.

Q. Did you talk to Aryna, try to convince her to stay together as a team?

ELISE MERTENS: No, I mean, it's her decision. I really respect that. Doubles takes some energy away, that's true. On the other hand, for me, I just like to play matches.

But, yeah, I mean, she can definitely try and we'll see. If she still likes to play doubles, I'm here.

ARYNA SABALENKA: For sure I like to play doubles. I just want to try something else. But I hope if one day I make a decision to come back in doubles, I have this girl over here for me.

Q. Your start of the season, Australian Open, now here, how are you feeling?

ELISE MERTENS: In Abu Dhabi I struggled a little bit with my shoulder. That's totally off. My shoulder is good. I'm really happy about that. I think that was the first thing to get your body in line to be able to compete at the highest level.

Yeah, I didn't expect to win the title. I just expect to get the matches back in. Since the tournament was going, I was feeling well. Also Australian Open fourth round, of course I wanted to go further. Muchova played a really good match.

After that I just try to focus on doubles and gave everything we still have left. I'm really happy about the result, of course.

Q. To clarify, you guys are not going to play doubles any or only at the slams and Premiers?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, we are not going to play doubles on the Grand Slams, and maybe just a few tournaments like Premier tournaments. For example, Dubai I think we are playing, Miami.

ELISE MERTENS: Yes, we are (smiling).

ARYNA SABALENKA: We are playing Dubai and Miami. I feel like it's a little bit more stress on the Grand Slams. I just want to make it -- what I want to make it? Yeah, focus on singles and manage my energy.

Q. You've had a successful run. What do you remember of the initial conversations two years ago, what you could have expected from that initial decision?

ELISE MERTENS: We started playing here actually. We played Siniakova and Krejcikova in three sets, we lost.


ELISE MERTENS: No, we lost in three sets.


ELISE MERTENS: We had Miami, Indian Wells, US Open. We didn't expect it to go that good.

ARYNA SABALENKA: We just tried. Yeah, we were speaking to focus more on singles again.

ELISE MERTENS: Then we just played a lot of doubles.

ARYNA SABALENKA: We won a lot of doubles titles that year.

ELISE MERTENS: It's difficult to play with a singles players. The focus from singles players is on singles, and doubles on doubles. You can make a little bit more fun if you're playing with a singles player.

Q. It seems like it took a lot of work to get the jump perfect today with the trophy. How did the jump tradition start? Were you nervous about that?

ELISE MERTENS: We were nervous, I think. When did it start? I think US Open.

ARYNA SABALENKA: US Open. We started to do it at the US Open.

Q. You felt safe jumping today?

ELISE MERTENS: She's strong. She can handle it.

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