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January 22, 2003

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: First question for Kim, please.

Q. Myskina said she thinks you are the best player in the world right now. What is your reaction to that?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think that's -- I think I have a different feeling about that, you know. There's a lot of tough girls out there at the moment and, you know, it's not because I, you know, won a tournament last week and, you know, I'm I think -- still think Serena and Venus are always, you know, the toughest girls to play. Whenever, you know, you get into big tournaments and big matches, they can play even better than what they have been in that same tournament. So, you know, I think that's what makes them really champions, because they play even better when they have to.

Q. Do you feel the gap is closing?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. You know, I've been getting closer every time I've played them. Before the stage where I beat Venus once in Hamburg and beat Serena for the first time in LA, sort of that gave me a lot of confidence also to play against the other players. It really helped me to feel more comfortable and play well in situations where I was down or had a few breakpoints down. So I definitely feel like I'm capable of competing with them since I've beaten them, you know, in the past.

Q. Do you think your game now is at the stage, though, where you're starting to get to where you could beat them again? How good are you feeling at the moment?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I don't think it just depends on myself. It depends on a lot of things: the way they're playing I think, the way I'm feeling. Like if Serena wins, she looks like she will, she's playing very, very well at the moment, it's gonna be -- I'll try just to focus on my game and I know that I have to play my best if I want to be capable of beating her. That's the onlyy thing I'm going to focus on. You know, I'll try to grab every chance that I get. I'll have to serve a lot better than what I did today I think.

Q. How physically fit are you?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I feel well. I have no shoulder problems compared to last year, so that's definitely a big relief for me. Yeah, for the rest, I feel good. Yeah, no big worries.

Q. How much do you think you have to improve on your serve then?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, well, you know, you always, playing against Venus Serena, you'll always have to hit it a bit harder and place it a little bit better, compared to some other girls who don't have the power and running facilities that they have. Everything just has to be a little more precise, you have to move the ball around a little bit better, you have to move better yourself. That's what makes it fun I think as well for me to see that challenge and to get up there.

Q. Is this the best tournament you've ever had from -wise?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, well, it's definitely the one where I've lost, you know, hardly -- well, I didn't lose that many games. But it's nice, you know, because I'm sitting here in the semifinal and I haven't lost a set. I'm feeling very fresh still. So compared to other Grand Slams where sometimes you really start to, you know, get a bit tired, once you get to the quarters and the semis. Also because I played doubles here as well. That didn't make me feel tired at all. It's a good sign I think.

Q. Which areas of your game specifically do you think you've taken on in the last few years?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't think it's one particular, you know, shot or anything. I just think it's consistency that I've -- I don't know. It's not that I've been working on it. I think just by getting older and having more experience and playing a lot of matches it's sort of made me, you know, more consistent. It's a great feeling to be out there on the court and not getting frustrated, you know, where in the past I was making a lot of unforced errors in matches. Now I know I'm not doing that anymore.

Q. It's been gradual; there wasn't one match where you really felt like you arrived?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no, no. No, not that I could remember.

Q. As you said before, you've gone through without dropping a set, probably minimal court time. Is that an ideal preparation moving into a semifinal now do you think?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think for my energy, it's good, because, you know, against Venus or like Serena or anyone, against the top girls in a semifinals, you'll have to run a lot. I think that's definitely, you know, in that case it's a very good sign to not have that many matches and that, you know, much time on the court, yeah.

Q. How does it help your tennis, the support you have from the Hewitts court-side? Today you had Lleyton as well.

KIM CLIJSTERS: It's always nice, especially if you're playing so far away from home as well, and to have a full box supporting you, it's always great. My mom is here and a friend is here, a few Belgian Juniors came to watch me today as well. It's always great to have that support. Especially Lleyton being there made it even nicer.

Q. Does he give you advice at all?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no. I think we both have our own coaches. We have our own team around us. Whenever it comes to the tennis part, you know, we just let all the other people handle it for us.

Q. Myskina was saying it's like you playing at home here. Do you feel that way?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, definitely I feel very comfortable. I really enjoy playing, you know, in this tournament. I've played well here last year as well. You know, the crowd really, you know, even in the doubles yesterday, there was a great atmosphere. I really enjoy playing in those facilities, where the crowd is really getting into it. It makes me play better. I think it's also a lot more fun for the plays.

Q. What about away from the tennis, do people come up to you in the street and give you support more than you might get elsewhere?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think the rest of the time when we're at big tournaments, a lot of the people know that there's a big event going on in the tournament. Whenever we're in London or New York or Paris, people are going to be likely to come up to you because they know there's a big Grand Slam going on. Definitely here in Australia the people are a lot more relaxed and cool about it. They say, "Well done," or they say, "Good luck."

Q. Could you talk about your win over Serena in Los Angeles, how you approached that, what you did differently maybe to beat her?

KIM CLIJSTERS: All the other times I played her, I came close a few times to beating her once at the US Open and the other time in Indian Wells once. It's just a matter of I think believing in yourself and trying to grab every chance you get. You have these moments. If they play their best tennis, it's going to be very hard to beat them. On the other hand, they'll have these moments where they're maybe not as consistent or maybe making a few errors. Those are really the chances that you have to grab against them, especially against Venus and Serena and all the other girls, against Lindsay, they all serve so well. You have to grab every chance you get to break them or whatever.

Q. Just following on that, do you believe now that your best is very much capable of beating Serena's best? Do you think it's maybe more a case of waiting for them to drop off?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think it's a matter of sort of staying with them in the beginning of the match. Then whenever they're, you know, maybe, I don't know, maybe losing a little bit of concentration, because it's happened before where like in Hamburg I lost my first set 6-1. I got killed against Venus. I didn't have a chance in the first set. In the beginning of the second set, she played a very loose first service game. I was up a break. I held my serve and, you know... Those are the chances you have to grab. Like you shouldn't worry about if they're -- you know, even if they win the first set 6-love, you still have to believe in yourself. In any match it can turn around very quickly. If it doesn't, then they were just too good that day.

End of FastScripts….

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