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March 14, 2003

Kim Clijsters


MODERATOR: Questions for Kim.

Q. You didn't seem at all baffled by that assortment of stuff she hit you?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, no, I knew that those are -- she's got so much experience. I'm sure, you know, that's the way she's turned already a lot of matches around in her career. And I knew that I had to stay focused and just focus on myself. Whenever she was, you know, taking some more time or waiting to get another ball or whatever, taking a time-out, I knew that I just had to focus on myself and not make those easy mistakes like I did in the first three points, I think. You know, I had to rally and just choose the right ball to finish it off.

Q. Where were you in 1994 when she won Wimbledon?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I was nine (laughter), or I was 11.

Q. Were you watching? Would you have seen it?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I can't remember, no.

Q. It wasn't memorable, in other words?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No. I'm not sure, sorry.

Q. Part of the thing today, playing her, was being very patient, even though sometimes it's tempting to take her balls and try to hit winners?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think I did that really well. I think I found a good balance between defending a few balls as well, like when she was looping them up. Just tried to, you know, hit like a few spin balls back. I tried to open up the court, you know, like not from the first ball, but just work your way into the point. Whenever I was getting a short, higher ball coming in, I'd take it as quick as possible on the rise, just hit it to the corner. When you hit it to the same corner against her, she can really move you around and you can start -- at one stage, you just start defending all the time. You have to make sure that you keep in control of the rallies, that you move well. You have to stand perfectly for every shot, for every spin she hits, for every slice she hits. You have to be in the perfect position every time. I think that was really important today.

Q. She seemed to have some problems with her feet. How much do you think that affected her?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, you know, it's always -- especially when it's so hot and everything, I don't know if it was blisters or I'm not sure what it was. The feet are probably, you know, the two body parts that have to take most of the suffering I think when you're playing in these type of weather conditions. You know, a lot of players in the changing rooms are having problems with their feet, having blisters, callouses, anything. They have to take a lot of things, I think.

Q. You haven't played your best tennis early in the week, early in the tournament you weren't playing your best. You seem to be playing a little bit better, a little bit smarter. Are you pretty satisfied that you've actually gotten to the final?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, definitely. Even the matches I won, I think the one against Chanda, I played well. That was sort of the match where my level changed, I think. But the previous matches, I just had to fight for every rally. You know, it's a lot more fun playing like this at the moment, doing with the ball whatever I want to do. In the previous matches, I didn't have that feeling at all. Yeah, but I feel good. I think, like I said yesterday, I'm the type of player, I raise my level compared to the player I'm playing. For my next match, I'll have to raise it even a little bit higher. I hope I can do that.

Q. When you don't have that feeling, do you start saying, "What's going on here?" Do you worry it will never come back?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, you do, but on the other hand I've been playing so well already for the last few months, you know it cannot keep going. I've been playing, I mean, ever since Filderstadt really well. I've been feeling the ball well, I've been moving well. I knew, you know, while I was playing so well, everything was going so easy, I knew one day, you know, I was going to play worse again. That's the time where you just have to keep working hard, you know, keep fighting. I think your mental strength then plays a big role, as well. You just have to keep working, keep trying to win those matches whether you're playing your best tennis or not.

Q. This is your third straight final now between Antwerp and Scottsdale and here. You lost the last two. Are you going to approach it differently mentally?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I don't think so. I take every match seriously, very seriously. Doesn't matter if it's a final or a first round. I try to win every match I play. Yeah, I mean, I'm not going to do anything differently than what I've been doing. I'm very superstitious, as well. I like to keep everything the same. You know, first I have the doubles tomorrow. That will be fun, too.

Q. What superstitions do you have this tournament?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, anything. I just like to, you know, eat the same things. I like to, you know, go to bed at the same time. The hotel, as well. Yeah, I like to, you know, whatever, you know, sit on the same couch. Just little things. It can get really bad sometimes (laughter). I'll tell myself, "Kim, this is becoming a joke, it's getting that bad." No, you know, I just try to -- yeah, I'm not going to say all the things I do because you'll think I'm crazy otherwise (laughter). Just a few things here and there before the match. I like to have my drinks ready before I go out to practice. I like to be prepared well ahead of time, before my match starts.

Q. What's the current meal that you're eating?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It's broccoli, pasta, but it's all together, a little bit of tomato sauce, not too much, a little bit of garlic.

Q. Not bad.

KIM CLIJSTERS: It's great.

Q. Every day you've eaten that?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. I mean, not just -- I mean, just for lunch, before my match or after my match.

Q. Does that change from tournament to tournament?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yes, it does.

Q. When you get to Miami?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I'll be sick of it after this tournament (smiling).

Q. You mentioned natural healing the other day. What did you mean by that?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, you know, I really believe in, yeah, like you said, natural healing. I'm not the type of person -- I mean, I don't think I've ever taken, unless when I was younger, like my mom gave me, antibiotics. I'm just completely against all that stuff. Yeah, I read a lot of books about it. I watch a lot of -- I buy a lot of DVDs about all-natural healing and medication and anything. It just keeps me interested, as well. Here in America, there's a lot of stuff on TV about it, as well. So, yeah, I think it's really interesting. And you learn a lot of things out of it. I try to write them down.

Q. Is that like Andrew Weil, that sort of thing?


Q. There's a physician here in the United States who is very popular.

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I haven't heard of her yet. But I try to read books in Belgium about cleaning your body. I'm building a house in Belgium, things to keep everything, you know, whatever, no carpets, for allergies and things like that. It's fun. When you're in the room by yourself, I have a few hours off, I like to read about those things and write them down. Yeah, I mean, something to do.

Q. How many times a day do you wash your hands?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, a lot. Especially now because there's so many viruses going around here and stuff.

Q. 10, 15?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, I have no idea. I don't count. It's not that bad. I'm not that superstitious (laughter). But, yeah, especially now with all the viruses and stuff, I try not to touch the stairs or anything, yeah.

Q. Have you tried to convince Lleyton of some of these things?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I tell him sometimes. Also with food and stuff, I'm pretty healthy. But he likes his hot dogs and hamburgers. I think he's like a pretty average American person.

Q. Australian.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Both, Australia and America. But, you know, he likes the french fries. But he's a lot better. I've sort of gotten him to the good way of eating a little bit healthier.

Q. Have you convinced him to eat the broccoli?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, he eats broccoli. He likes broccoli.

Q. Can you talk about Lindsay and Jennifer both.

KIM CLIJSTERS: I was having fun talking about all this other stuff (laughter).

Q. Sorry. We'll talk about how you think they should change their diets.

KIM CLIJSTERS: I played Lindsay last time in Sydney, I think. I haven't played Jennifer in a while actually. But I don't know. You know, Lindsay is the type of player, if she's on, she can play unbelievable. She can hit the ball so clean. Her weaker point is probably her movement still. You have to try to take advantage of that and return well. From the first point of the rally, you have to really, you know, try to get into an advantage situation, try to, you know, do a little bit more with the return. If I play Jennifer, yeah, you know, also try to be aggressive on the serve, because she can get a little bit shaky I think on the serve. But, you know, she moves well, she hits the ball very clean. You know, but, yeah, I don't know who I prefer to play. I don't know.

Q. You've never beaten Jennifer.


Q. Three times. But last time was 2002 Australia. You think maybe your game has gone up to maybe match her?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think so. I think I'm more consistent than what I was then. But, you know, every match has to be played. But I'd like to play her again. You know, it's been a while. It's always nice to play players that you haven't played for a while. It gets a bit boring if you play them every week and stuff. But, no, I would like to play Jennifer again, yeah. But I would like to play Lindsay, too. Maybe I can play them both.

Q. You seem to be a crowd favorite here. In the final, who do you think will be the crowd favorite? What effect will that have on you?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, sure I'm going to play an American anyway. Of course, we're playing in America. I think, you know, Lindsay, she's always been, you know, I think very, very popular, as well. And even Jennifer, as well. It's not really that I focus about it. When you're playing. Of course, it's nice if you have the crowd support. When I was playing in Antwerp, it was nice to have the support there. For me it really makes me play better and it really makes me, you know, get a few more points and be a little bit sharper, I think. But I assume when I'm playing an American, you know, I think -- I'm playing in America, as well, so I think, you know, the crowd will be going for, yeah, Lindsay or Jennifer.

Q. Wasn't quite that way when you played here in the finals two years ago.

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no, it wasn't.

Q. Can you talk a bit about that, your first final here, how that might have helped your game or confidence.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, it was -- it's never happened to me ever, before that or ever since then. It was an experience. It was definitely an experience, something that I really did not expect. Yeah, I mean, it's something -- at the time, you know, I still remember walking out on the court. It was like, "Whoa, what's happening?" You sort of forget about it, you know, when it's all over. You know, at the time when I'm playing , of course, it was nice for me, but on the other hand I didn't feel very -- it wasn't nice for Serena at the time I think, yeah.

Q. Do you feel that the fans were in a way justified or not justified in terms of their actions?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, you know, it's hard for me to, you know, comment about those things. But if someone's injured, you know, and if you see them compete against each other now, Venus and Serena, they have probably the best matches, if you saw the finals at the Australian Open, they have the best matches I think that we've seen in a while of them. Yeah, but I don't -- I don't really know what happened then either. I don't know, because I wasn't here. I was arriving half an hour later, just assuming I was going to come and watch one of my opponents. Then they said that she retired a little before they had to go out on court. On the other hand, I think for the tournament, it was a very negative thing, I think. On the other hand, you know, players -- things happen. We warm up before a match. If something happens in the warm-up, you never know what happens.

End of FastScripts….

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