How did you spend the many rain delays?
Mertens: Practice wasn’t really an option because of all the rain. If you keep winning then you have to play more matches, so you just wanted to rest a little bit and be prepared for the long days. I didn’t practice indoors. The first time on clay this year, so I’m really happy that it went well. Maybe [not practicing] it kept the energy up, and winning the title with Kirsten gives us a lot of confidence for Fed Cup.
You talked about not feeling confident on clay until last spring, when you won some impressive matches in Fed Cup, and then you went on to make a final in Istanbul. How differently do you feel on clay now, as compared to a year ago?
Mertens: On clay you have to work hard every point, especially at this level. If you feel well and can slide a little bit, you can win if you play aggressively, but not too aggressively sometimes, because the ball is going to come back back a bit more. It’s important to feel confident, I think serve is a big point too, return, and I think all those points that you keep working on in practice.
After strong results in Australia, and now another title – this time on clay – how do you assess your goals, or how you see yourself against the rest of the field?
Mertens: I don’t really have expectations, I see it week by week. If my level is there and I’m mentally and physically ready to play, then I think some great things can happen. Of course you still have to work hard every day and bring the best out of yourself.