January 8, 2003
THE MODERATOR: First question for Kim, please.
Q. What did you think about the conditions out there today?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, very hot. Yeah, definitely. After playing in the Hopman Cup last week, playing indoors with air conditioning and stuff, it's something that you have to get used to, so that's why it's great to have these type of matches in this tournament, to get ready before Melbourne.
Q. Do you think the fact that you've been down here a little while will help you get used to the heat?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, maybe a little bit. I think, you know, if you get used to -- it was pretty hot when I was practicing in Adelaide. We had a few 39, 40 degrees out there. So it's hot. I definitely felt more comfortable now than when I was practicing in Adelaide, so, you know, I think it definitely helped myself to get used to it. Maybe I'll have a little bit of an advantage there compared to players that are still coming from Europe. Yeah, it's definitely been, you know, a good thing for me to be able to do that.
Q. Do you find yourself trying to finish the points quicker in these conditions?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, you really try to. Then you try to keep your first serve percentage really high so you don't -- so you get like an advantage straightaway, and you try to get an easy shot straight after that. So, yeah, I really try to. Especially against Patty, it's not easy because she hits the ball with so much spin. I really have to put all my body in the ball and try to put a little bit extra behind the ball.
Q. If you were forced into a long rally, though, would you fancy your chances? Are you fit enough?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I feel fit. We had a few long rallies out there. It's always, you know -- they're always tougher when it's that hot. Especially breathing, my lungs felt like they were boiling. So it was definitely, you know -- after the long rallies, I really felt like I had to take a little bit more time than what I usually do. I felt pretty good, like recovered, straight after for the next point. So I think I was, yeah, I felt pretty good.
Q. Have you brought your own fitness trainer with you?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I have my physio with me now. I've got my coach and physio. She's been for my shoulder and stuff, so she's been really good. I haven't had any problems with it so far, so it's working out good.
Q. Just for the record, what are their names, and are they from Belgium?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yes, they're both from Belgium. I actually worked with the coach -- I worked with him, he came to the Australian Open, to the Australian Open trip in 2000 with me. That's when I won Hobart. The coach, his name is Marc Dehous, and my physio is Eveline Coppens.
Q. Your physical problem during the last month, is it over now?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I had some problems at the beginning of 2002, so about a year ago, straight after the Australian Open. I had a stress reaction in my upper arm and some problems in my shoulder. So I think, you know, so far it's all recovered, and let's hope it's not gonna come back (knocking on wood).
Q. Some of the women players here don't seem to take this tournament very seriously.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Why (smiling)?
Q. After Jennifer lost, she said she'd be just as happy practicing in Melbourne. How do you feel about it? Are you here to give the tournament everything?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, yeah, for sure. Doesn't matter if I'm playing the Hopman Cup or here, you know, I always try to do my best and I always try to win every match. I think if that's the way you think about the tournament, then you've got no chance of doing well and performing well. I think, you know, you have to be -- it doesn't matter how big the tournament is. Of course, I know with a lot of players, like the Williams sisters, they really focus on the big Grand Slams. For me, these are still, you know -- these are big tournaments for me as well, so I really, really enjoy playing these. I really enjoy working hard and putting all my effort into each match I play.
Q. Do you think Justine is the same?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, I think so. I mean, I don't want to speak for her. I think she thinks the same. I think she's got a very good mentality and she looks very, you know, very fit. She always tries to win every match she plays, as much as I've seen her play, yeah.
Q. Do you have empathy with the Australian crowd?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Really, yeah. It was really good out there. Really got a very warm welcome when I walked on the court. I actually played a few weeks ago, I played at the Starlight Foundation here in Sydney. It was really nice to come back and, you know, see some people that I remembered from them. So it was, yeah, it was really nice to be back here.
Q. Do you feel as if Australia is your second home?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, definitely, yeah. I almost spend more time here than in Belgium. But I'm building a house at the moment, so as soon as my house in Belgium is ready, I'll maybe get to go home a little bit more. Definitely, because I've been spending all my Christmases here with Lleyton's family. It's definitely starting to feel like my second home.
Q. The real estate is pretty good here.
KIM CLIJSTERS: A lot cheaper than Belgium (smiling).
Q. Are you thinking of making an investment here at all?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, I don't know.
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know, because I don't -- I hardly ever get to come here so, you know, it would be empty for a whole year until the end of the year. So I don't really want to,, you know, waste more money. Maybe when I stop playing or - I don't know. It's still far away, I hope (laughing).
Q. How do you think she played today? Do you think the heat was getting to her?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I don't know where she's been training or, you know, if she came from Europe. I think she played a tournament. I think she played in Gold Coast. I assume the weather was pretty hot there as well. So, yeah, I mean, I don't know. She looked like, you know, during the change of ends she looked like she was breathing a little bit harder than myself, because I could hear her. It was definitely a sign that I felt a little bit fitter than her.
Q. Speaking of the Williamses, how important is it to you, personally, to up the level of your fitness?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, it's very important because, you know, fitness -- doesn't matter who you play, against everyone, because everyone hits the ball harder and everyone's getting fitter so you have to be, you know, you have to be the fittest as possible to try to be able to compete and on a top level. And also, you know, from the moment when you have the tougher matches, you'll -- like in the Grand Slams, you already played maybe three, four matches when you get to play, you know, the quarterfinals, semifinals. Those are the matches where you have to be still as fit as the first match. So you have to be very -- yeah, I mean, I really worked hard in December to try to get my average fitness level really up there so I could, you know, try to be -- have an injury-free and a pretty easy 2003, like fitness-wise.
Q. You've always been very determined and ambitious. What did the win over Serena do for you? Has it given you further incentive? What can you carry over from that into this year?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's really, you know, like you're saying, it still sounds amazing to me, like to hear that I won it. Yeah, so, it feels so long ago as well because I went -- I mean, it's not long ago, but it feels like it's so far away. It really helped me a lot, you know. I'd never beaten her before that. I beat Venus once in Hamburg on clay, but I never had any matchpoints against Serena or anything. But it was really, yeah -- I mean, it's always nice to have that one win so you know that you're capable of doing it. And it's just a matter of, you know, like staying consistent like throughout the whole match. I think in Hopman Cup I was a little bit inconsistent. But, you know, I think consistency is probably the biggest problem on my side when I play against those girls.
Q. Do you think after a win like that, you were able to sit back and say, "Yes, look, I can do it and I'm going to do it more often"? Does it give you an automatic lift for the months ahead?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I mean, it's -- I didn't really have a lot of time to think about it because I went home and played an exhibition, came here, played the Starlight Foundation. I really didn't have a lot of time to sort of, you know...
Q. For it to sink in?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, to think about everything that happened, especially at the end of the year, because I didn't have a great middle of the year. Then winning a few tournaments at the end of the year was really pretty amazing. I was on a roll, everything came to -- like so quick as well. It didn't really, yeah, sink in I think.
Q. That beautiful necklace you're wearing, can I ask, was that a Christmas present?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I've had this actually for two years. Funny you haven't noticed (laughing).
Q. What did you get for Christmas?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I got golf clubs, and I got some earrings, but not these (indicating her earrings). A necklace, but not this one. So I was very, very spoiled, yes.
Q. Can you beat Lleyton at golf?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no. I think he's a six or seven or something, so I just started...
Q. Given time?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I'll have to practice a lot. But I'm not really -- I think a lot of the guys on the ATP Tour, they play a lot of golf - not as many on the women, I think. I think it's just too much walking. It takes too long. I think you have to walk around for five hours or something. I'd rather go shopping for five hours (laughing).
Q. If you get to the semis or the final here, do you hope that Lleyton will come out?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, he'll be in Melbourne then, so, getting ready for the Aussie Open, so, yeah...
Q. In the women's media guide, Serena lists her weight as being nine kilograms less than you. Do you think that's accurate?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. Do you think?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No (laughing).
Q. How do you think you're compared?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. She's taller than me. I don't know how tall she is. She's a bit taller than me. I don't know, I don't really care what she writes in her media guide (laughing).
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.