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March 23, 2003

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: First question for Kim, please.

Q. On a day when the weather looks really ominous, and I think there was even thunder rumbling just now, were you kind of glad you had the first match of the day?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, definitely. And even, you know, if the weather is -- on the other hand, really hot and stuff, I think at 11 o'clock it's not going to be as hot as when you play at 2, 3 o'clock. I'm happy to play at 11 o'clock. At least then, you know, if you can go on at a certain time and you don't have to wait if the match before you goes three sets and stuff. It's easier to time your schedule. Yeah, but I was a bit worried that it was going to take a bit longer for the courts to get ready. I think it was raining pretty hard at the time. But, you know, they did a great job, I think, to get them dry.

Q. Can you talk about that second set? You were the first to hold your serve. It was in the fifth game. You just kept breaking each other.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, it was really hard on the far side of the court because I could hardly see, you know, like when I was serving on the deuce side of the court, like the sun was just -- I couldn't even see my next ball. When I threw up the ball, the ball was right in the middle of the sun. I thought I was going to mis-hit it a few times, even the serve. It's always tough. But then I was playing with a hat, but still with the serve, it's always a little bit tougher to, you know, to get that vision back straightaway after you've been like watching into the sun. I think that was definitely the main problem in the beginning, yeah. I think on the ad side of the court, it was fine. It was better.

Q. She has a sort of an off-speed serve, if you will. You have a tougher serve. In the first set, does it take some time to adjust to not pouncing on the ball, maybe hitting it long because you're just waiting on it?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Sure, but not only the serve, you have to get used to everything in the beginning of the match and you have to sort of read her game a little bit and see what her strenngths and her weaknesses are. I think in the beginning of the match, those first few points, first few games, and once I figure it out, I think you can sort of build your way into the match and work those weaknesses of her. But still, I mean, you still have to focus. You don't want to keep focusing on her all the time, you have to focus on your own as well. Yeah, it's definitely with the serve. I think in the second set, she started making a few double-faults and stuff. Yeah, but it's always, like I said, it's always, you know, in the beginning of the match, it's definitely the case that you have to get used to playing different opponents every day.

Q. You've won, I believe, eight matches in a row now. You're doing, I guess, everything right. Can you talk about your game right now?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, even in the beginning of Indian Wells, I wasn't playing well at all. I had no rhythm or anything. Those are definitely the type of matches where you just have to fight for every point, even when you're not playing your best tennis. You just have to keep hanging in there and trying to win those matches with bad tennis. And even if you, you know, win the matches by not playing well, it does sometimes mean more to me than winning them -- they mean more to me than winning matches 1 and love or love and love. I definitely got a lot of experience and everything out of those beginning, like the first few matches in Indian Wells. They definitely helped me, once I came out to play the stronger players in the quarters against Chanda, against Lindsay in the finals, that definitely helped me.

Q. Again, if you win your next two matches, I believe you'll face Serena. Is it hard not to look ahead at that kind of match?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not at all. I never look ahead. I don't even know who I play next, I think. So, I mean, I mean so many things can happen before you get there. I just, you know, I know every match is tough, you know, because I'm a top player and I know a lot of the girls that I compete against, they're trying really hard to beat us because they get a lot of points and they have nothing to lose when they play top players. I think that's why you see a lot of players now in the beginning of the Grand Slams, beginning of the tournaments where we have a lot tougher matches because the opponents are just playing well. So I really don't look ahead at all. I just focus on my doubles and whatever I have.

Q. Now in your next round you play the winner of Lisa Raymond or... I'm not going to say this right, Pistolesi. Can you talk about these players?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Sure, I've played Anna a few times, lost to her on clay. She's a very, very small girl, but she moves unbelievably well. She gets almost every ball back. She hangs in there. She fights for every shot and she plays with a lot of spin and I think I'll definitely have to attack the serve. I think that's probably one of her weaknesses. I know she's not going to hit me off the court, so she's going to rally me. I hope it's not going to be too hot a day if I have to play her because it will be a long match I think. If I play Lisa, Lisa is probably one of the talented players on the tour. You can see that in her doubles matches, but I think in singles matches, she's proved as well she can definitely compete with the top girls. She serves really well, she likes to come in. She uses her slice. She likes to mix the game up a bit. Either one, it's going to be a tough match.

Q. Were you expecting, you talk about how now that you're No. 3, that girls are coming in and just really playing with nothing to lose against you. Were you expecting to have that bullseye or has that been an eye-opening experience this year?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I mean, I remember when I was, you know, ranked No. 50-something and I had to play against Top 10 or even the Top 20 players. I was so excited to do well and to show that you can compete against them. You know, that made me, you know, win a lot of those matches. Yeah, so you definitely -- you sort of prove a point and you want to, yeah, you just -- you hit, you're more free, you can hit whatever you want and you can go for whatever shots you like. That's definitely how I was feeling when I was younger. But like I said, I don't worry about, you know, who I'm playing. I just try to mostly focus on my side of the court and on my game because I know that I have to play, you know, a high level of tennis in every match now.

Q. You said you don't look forward too much in a tournament. Do you get to the end of the day and look through the results and assess how the other girls have been doing?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I look, like we have the TVs all over the place here, in the locker room and stuff. I look at some scores, men or women. I just like to see the scores. You know, I'm a tennis fan as well and I like to watch other matches. Yeah, so I just, yeah. I mean, that's why I think tennis is so interesting, because we play against other players almost every week. So, yeah, it's fun I think to watch all the other players compete against each other.

Q. You seem to have such a wonderful perspective on the game. I was wondering, have you always had that? I know your mom had some health scares a few years back. Did that get you...?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, those things even more. But even before that, I mean, three or four years ago my mom had the surgery. But even before that, my dad's been sick as well and, I mean, there -- but even with everything now, if you see the war and if you see how many people, you know, I mean, die in the war, I mean, I'm not going to worry about losing a tennis match or if I'm ranked 3, 4, 5, 50, whatever. That's not going to change anything for me. Of course I try to do my best and I give my best in whatever I do, you know, for my tennis. But I also like to have fun and I'm not going to, you know, sit around and cry all day if I lose a tennis match.

Q. Is that harder to not take it too seriously as you are just honing in on those top spots?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. It's not hard for me at all, no.

Q. What do you do to reward yourself after you win?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, it's hard, because if you win a tournament like in Indian Wells, you hardly have any time -- because I was so tired, I played doubles and singles all week. I probably awarded myself to go to bed early because we had to wait around, singles, doubles, I was playing late every night. But, no, I like to go shopping, so, yeah, I'll probably buy myself something when I go shopping.

Q. What did you eat this morning? Are you eating the same thing?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, this morning I haven't. So I think I mixed up my superstition. See, it doesn't help always, no, no. The room service didn't have what I wanted, so...

Q. What did you want?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, doesn't matter. I don't think that matters now.

Q. Also, in your earlier match, the other day, you said that because of the heat it's important to finish off the match as quickly as you can. Is there a mindset you get into to be able to do that?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no. Well, I just mean after the match, it's always nice to say, "I had a short match." But if you -- you're not going to try to hit every winner, if you win your first set and just try to go for those points. But, no, I definitely don't want to think ahead and think, "I'll have to win this set because I want to go and rest" or something. But after the match, of course it's nice to have those short matches because today I have another doubles match as well. So it's nice to have a short singles match.

Q. What will you be doing between now and your doubles match?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I'll probably go and have some lunch and watch -- I think my doubles partner is playing now so I'll probably watch her a little bit. Then, yeah, get ready for my doubles.

End of FastScripts….

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