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March 25, 2003

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I don't know what was better tonight: Your offense or your defense. You made so many great retrievals in the corner tonight. It seemed to really fluster her and upset her. She made a lot of unforced errors.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think, definitely, against players like Jelena, you have to just try to make every ball. When they're on, they can play unbelievable tennis. If you take them a little bit off balance and surprise them with a few shots, I think it's, you know, you can surprise them and then they get maybe a little bit more careful about, you know, not driving to the balls, hitting more to the lines and stuff. They make more mistakes. But I felt really good today. I was seeing the ball very well and moving well.

Q. You split so many times, I thought you were on clay.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I grew up on clay. So I probably sometimes think I'm playing on clay too.

Q. Is this your best stretch ever, the last few weeks? Have you ever played as well for this long a time?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I feel like I'm a lot more consistent than what I was about a year ago, maybe two years ago. I knew then that my best level was the same as what it is now, but it just, you know, if I went a little bit under my best level, when I was younger, like, I dropped a whole lot and I could never sort of stay good enough to, you know, win those matches. Now I feel like I'm consistent throughout. Even if I'm not playing my best tennis, I still feel that I'm capable of playing well enough to beat a lot of girls. I think that's the most important thing is, you know, being, you know, focused and being comfortable by yourself.

Q. Any thought at all, any reaction to not having to beat both Williamses to win the tournament?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, no. No. I never... Well, I never, also, I don't really look at draws, you know, far ahead, you know. I know I have Serena now. But I never really, in the beginning, when I won my first match, I didn't even know who I was playing in the second round. I just try to focus one match at a time. I tell my coaches, "Well, you know, you don't have to tell me, you know, which is the seed in my section" or whatever, because I want to stay focused on each match. Yeah, so...

Q. You haven't conceded any more than two games in any of the eight sets you've played so far. Do you think the semi against Serena is going to be your first real test?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I hope I'll get more than two games against her. No, but it's, you know, these are the matches you really look forward to. These are the matches, when you're younger and you're practicing and you're working hard, these are the matches you dream of. I mean, I do. I love playing these big matches. I'm sure there will be a good atmosphere. So, yeah, I look forward to those type of matches. You know, when there's a lot of atmosphere from the crowd, I play better. Yeah, I really enjoy those matches.

Q. Surely, you knew that with the top of the draw today, with Serena playing the other match, that you were on target to play her in the semifinals. How did you keep your mind from -- off worrying about the semifinal and focused on this match today?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, I don't at all. I never -- like I said, I mean, for me it's really easy not to think ahead and just to focus on the match that I'm playing. You know, even tomorrow, I have a day off tomorrow of singles. I won't be thinking at all about the singles match. I have doubles tomorrow. Yeah, so I'll just be focusing about that. But of course, you know, as soon as that match is over, I have to do everything well, I have to focus on my next match. That will be the one against Serena.

Q. If there's one thing mental that you can take back from the Australian Open semifinal in the third set, what would it be?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I don't think I did anything wrong. I don't think I -- you know, it's not that I made more mistakes than, you know, when I went 5-1 up. I think she just raised her level. That's what those top players have. You know, that's why she's, you know, No. 1 in the world. That's why she's won so many Grand Slams already, is because when she's in trouble, she can raise her level, you know, when she's unbeatable even. Even, you know, I know, like, in the beginning of that match, she didn't play well. She was making more mistakes. I was forcing her to make the mistakes a lot of times. You know, from 5-1 on, I don't think she hardly made an unforced error.

Q. When you go on to playing her again, will it be helpful to think about what happened in Melbourne or block it out?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, every match is different. We're playing in different circumstances. Every match is different. You know, I mean, for me, it's really easy, I think, to block it all out. We're in a different country, different stadium, so it's a completely different match. I think in tennis, you know, it doesn't matter. You can beat a player, you know, one day. Then the next day, you can lose to them. That's what's the fun part about this sport. Otherwise, it would get really boring, I think, if you would keep it the same player would win all the time. So, it's, yeah, I hope it's gonna be a great match.

Q. Did any of your supporters watch the Williams match today against Bartoli in order to give you some input on how well she played?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, it's -- I mean, I'm pretty, you know, I've been on the tour a few years now. I've seen her play a few matches, I've played her enough times. I watched a lot of the matches that were on today, even the men's I watched, just in the locker room. No, I don't think my coach watched any of the match.

Q. Even if you don't look ahead to your next match, when you go into a tournament like this, obviously, you're aware that it's been an awful long time since anyone has beaten both Williamses in the same tournament. So the fact that one of them is now out of the way...

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I really don't think that. Not at all.

Q. You don't even think about that?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not at all. I know for myself that a lot of things can happen before you get there. Maybe, you know, definitely for me, I mean, I think on the other hand, everyone sort of expects Venus and Serena to make it to the semis, to the finals. For me, I feel for myself that I have to, you know, work hard. And, you know, I mean, last week in Indian Wells, everyone was, you know, already sure that I was going to make it to the final. You know, I was playing, you know, bad tennis in the beginning of the week. I really was struggling. I know for myself how hard it can get. Even if you play good one day, it can really change the next day.

Q. Do you think it would detract from your focus to even think about the tournament as a whole? You don't do that because you think it would distract you?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I've never -- I mean, I've never tried thinking. I don't know what it would -- if it would distract me or not. But, yeah, I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it. I don't know, I would not.

Q. Thinking about the tournament as a whole?


Q. This match seemed to turn in the sixth game of the first set, six breakpoints. They just kept coming. What do you remember about that game and how difficult it was to finally break?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think against Jelena, you know, you have to be there for every point and you have to show that you're fighting. Once she gets ahead, I think she can really dominate and overpower you, I think, with her type of tennis. I definitely, you know, I served well today. I think that was really important. I think that sixth game was, you know, really important to go up 4-2 there. Then, you know, win my own serve game after I broke her. I think that sort of made her, you know, try to do more things and change her game a little bit to get back into the match. But as long as -- you have to really try against Jelena to not let her get back into the match and not let her play her best tennis.

Q. Your backhand down the line today, particularly strong?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think so. You definitely have to use that shot, I think. Because, you know, the players, I mean, it's a surprising shot from anyone. Even if you're maybe a meter behind the line or a little bit outside the court, you can go down the line and sort of the opponents, it's an automatic thing, I think, when they move automatically to the backhand. Down the line court is open a lot. Yeah, it worked really well today.

Q. Any problems or concerns about any aspect of your game tonight?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No. I was -- I think, overall, I was pretty pleased with everything. Of course, everything can still get better and I'll work for that. But, yeah...

Q. Does it seem astonishing to you that against a player who hits the ball as hard as Jelena, she had only six winning ground strokes against you tonight?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I think the thing I did really well is hit the ball deep. I sort of didn't give her a lot of chances to come into the court and go for the winners. You know, I really, like I said before, I felt like I was moving really well and I wasn't, you know -- yeah, moving really well and not letting her, you know, get those easy shots.

Q. Do you have a feeling for a situation that the other player is, did you follow how she feels at a particular time, or are you concentrating on your game and you don't look?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, you know, in every match, I've mainly focused on my own tennis. You know, because that's the most important thing. It all depends on how you play and, you know, the way you feel. I never really focus, you know, about the opponent, how they're feeling, no. I just, you know, tactic-wise, you know, I know what their strengths and weaknesses are. But from the game from your opponent, but I never, yeah, like I know for myself, I have to play good tennis to win every match.

Q. Are you afraid you might get injured with your spread eagles?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. You know, a lot of people have asked me that question. You know, I know every time I come back into the locker room, the physios are really worried. They almost packed their bags a few times, ready to go on the court. I don't know, it comes automatically. I don't know, yeah, I don't know. I think it's because I grew up on clay that I still do it on the hard court. But, yeah...

Q. Are you following what your sister does?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I do, yeah. Yeah.

Q. Is she capable of doing same things?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. It's tough. Because I think it's always tougher, I think, for the younger player, because she has to sort of follow into my footsteps and a lot of people, you know, sort of expect her to do the same things as I did. But she, you know, she's having fun. She studies very well, too, so I think at the moment, she's still -- she has to decide whether she wants to keep going in tennis or whether she wants to study and go to school.

Q. Do your parents have any say in that?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, yeah, sure. Of course my parents, they've always come with the point that they always said, "We want you to be happy, whether it's playing tennis or going to school or doing whatever, working, whatever, we want you to be happy." My parents still say that now, you know. They never put pressure on me. They say, "From the moment you're sick of the tennis or sick of the traveling and the flying, then don't do it. You can find something else."

Q. Against Serena Williams, no player can afford to have a weak second serve. The way you served your second serve tonight, would it be strong enough to -- that you would be okay against Serena?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I think against any of those Top 10 players, you have to get a high first-serve percentage, especially against Serena. You need a very high first-serve percentage. You know, you have to hit your first serve as well because she even attacks your first serve. But that's her type of game. She can make some errors on that as well, you know, she tries sometimes to hit it so hard that she hits some errors on those shots. But, you know, I'll definitely have to hit my second serve really well tomorrow, yeah.

Q. How good was your second serve tonight?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't even remember that. Well, I think, like, my first serve was good, but I still felt I had double-faults today and I'll definitely have to try to keep those out tomorrow, yeah.

Q. Next day?


Q. The weather's changed quite a bit. It's fresher, less humid. It's cooler. Does that change what you can or can't do on the court? Does it make you feel better?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I think, you know, health-wise, it's a lot better for the opponents. I've seen a few girls come into the locker room with some problems and some cramps and stuff. So, in that case, it's, you know, a lot more enjoyable, I think, to play tennis in. But the first few days, you know, when I was practicing, coming back from Indian Wells, I was really struggling. I could hardly breathe. So it was really hot. I think it was even broke record in eight years or something, the hottest day. But, no, it's definitely a lot more enjoyable to play it, I think, when it's not as hot.

Q. Does it change what you do?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no, it wouldn't really change a lot. Maybe take a little bit more time between the points because you need a little bit more time to recover. But for the rest, I don't think it really changes anything about the game, no.

End of FastScripts….

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