November 10, 2002
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Q. Kim, what were you told about why Venus retired? What did they tell you?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I don't know what was the problem, but I assume there was something where she had the tape. I think that's the problem, but that's not really my business. You know, I didn't even know before the match that she was a little bit injured. I saw her once we started playing the match. I saw she was not moving as well as she normally does.
Q. You looked a little surprised when she stopped?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I was. It's not like this is a small tournament, and you know, she must have a pretty serious injury. She's playing here at home and in front of a lot of people today, so yeah, I was surprised.
Q. What did you say to her?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I just said bad luck, I wish you all the best, and she said thanks.
Q. Kim, you looked kind of disappointed the match was over. You stayed afterwards hitting balls to the fans.
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's never nice beating a player who has to retire. I think for the tennis, I think the crowd was here to see two singles matches here. It's never nice, I think, for the players and for the crowd, but yes, it happens. You know, they play a lot of matches, and like every event they play, they almost get into the semis and finals. That's taking its toll.
Q. How do you stay focused?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's tough. I was telling myself, just focus on the ball. Don't look at who's standing on the other side and if she's moving or not. I told myself to try to hit them to the lines and serve well and try not to make easy unforced errors.
Q. Are you going to have to go practice this afternoon?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I'll try. It's going to be too late to hit after the last doubles, but I'll try; otherwise, I might go to the hangar if there is still a court out there. There might be some players out there now. I'll see if it's not too late.
Q. You can go to a park or someplace.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, but I don't really want to hit outdoors.
Q. Obviously, it's a big success for you being in the finals here.
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's hard for me to realize I'm in the championships at the moment. I was really looking forward to going out there and enjoying the atmosphere. It's a little bit sad that I missed that out there. Even if I would have lost today, I still would have enjoyed it. It's not my choice.
Q. Last year you were almost in the finals but you lost. It's strange.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Maybe it's because of me. Every time someone plays me -- yeah, I think Lindsay, I think it happened it was 6-all in the first set. She hurt her knee then and then she pulled out. Like I said, it's, I think, mostly for the crowd, it's hard. They're really looking forward to seeing, like, some tennis.
Q. The way you played in the last two, three, weeks, you deserve to be in the finals.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Thank you. I feel comfortable out there. I feel like I'm playing a lot better than I was during the season. I think I have been showing that here in my first few matches.
Q. How confident were you today before you knew she was injured about winning the match?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I was confident. I know, on my own game, I knew I was playing well. The only thing I was missing a little bit was my serve. Out there today I felt like I was serving pretty well. It was a positive thing.
Q. You hit one serve that was pretty big, I think 112 or 111.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Strong shoulder.
Q. Have you hit many faster than that?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I have no idea. I don't really look at the radar.
Q. Kim, just talk about playing either Jennifer or Serena.
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, of course, Serena is going to be the favorite. You never know. Jennifer has caused so many upsets in women's tennis already. It's going to be an interesting match. Jennifer ended really well against Maleeva, and she looks like she's playing better than what she was in the first few tournaments. That's definitely a positive thing for her. It gave her a lot of confidence. I think Serena really played well the first match she started here. Yesterday in the first set played against Maleeva, she made a lot of unforced errors. I don't know how she's feeling.
Q. But what about for you playing either Jennifer or Serena?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I did all that stuff for nothing?
Q. It was good pregame analysis.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I've played Jennifer twice, once in Philadelphia and once at the French Open. I practiced with her a lot. I think we have sort of similar games. We both move well, hit the ball aggressive, so I would like to play her again, actually to try to get a revenge from the French Open. If I play Serena, I played Serena in Tokyo, I think two weeks after the US Open, and I lost in three sets, so against both players, I have to play my best tennis if I want to be capable of beating them. You're never going to get any easy matches anymore.
Q. So many players have come here tired or injured. You seem to be not injured and actually wanting to play and not tired.
KIM CLIJSTERS: For once this year, I'm not injured. I have had my shoulder injury for a while. Because of that, I think I had to pull out for a few tournaments, and maybe that's sort of helped me to sort of relax a little bit as well. I didn't do that well at the French and Wimbledon, and so I had a lot of time off there. I think that's what makes me feel like playing a little bit better at the end of the year. I'm the type of player that feels confident if I have a lot of matches. That's what I had the last few weeks.
Q. How exciting is it for you to reach the final of this tournament?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I was really excited. Like I said, I think it's still hard to realize that I'm there at the moment. I'm sure once I step on the court tomorrow that I'll really enjoy it.
Q. You're projected to finish 4th in the rankings now. What are you going to say to Justine about that at her wedding next week?
KIM CLIJSTERS: That's not really a goal. To end first in Belgium, it's always nice, but if you're 4 or 5, I don't think one spot is going to make the difference.
Q. Has it occurred to you that should you have to play Serena, you would be playing the same player you played in the final at Indian Wells after Venus made her 11th-hour withdrawal?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I forgot about it. You made me think about it now.
Q. I imagine it was very uncomfortable.
KIM CLIJSTERS: It was an experience, I have to say. It was something I didn't think I would ever have to go through in my career. Yeah, I don't know. It was, like I said, it was really an experience that I went through.
Q. You two are pretty friendly. Have you ever talked about that?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not really.
Q. Kim, what do you attribute to the success of Belgium right now? What do you attribute to a small country producing such great players?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Almost every press conference I have to answer that question, and every time I answer the same. It's not that we both have the same coach, same tennis school, same Federation. I think we both were pretty lucky. She's a year older. When went through the juniors, we started going up through the rankings again. We both got our first Gland Slam final, me at the French and she at the Wimbledon. It's pretty amazing. I'm very happy for her after everything she's been through. Yeah, it's great, I think, for Belgium tennis, but I cannot give you one good reason how we got there.
Q. Kim, what would it mean to you to win the final? What would it mean?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, well, what would it mean? I don't know. It would be unbelievable. It's not really something I want to think about at the moment. I'll tell you if I win tomorrow, then I'll tell you what it feels like. It's hard for me just to answer that now.
Q. Kim, even though Venus' movement was compromised, is this the best you played this year?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Definitely this year. I feel like I'm definitely playing a lot better than in the middle of the season. Also, I played well at the Australian Open this year, and I lost in the semis to Jennifer where I didn't really play that great I thought, and so it's nice to end a year on a positive note. It's always nice to know when you relax, you can relax a little bit more and you can enjoy it a little bit more. That's what I'm really happy about, is that I know tomorrow night I won't have any other matches to play anywhere or worry about tournaments or traveling.
Q. You had a lot of success indoors. Is that your favorite surface?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I enjoy playing indoors. It's definitely one of my favorites. It doesn't matter if it's on clay or whatever. I enjoy playing indoors. It's definitely no wind, no sun, so that makes it a lot easier for my game.
Q. Kim, you've lost to Jennifer twice now. Is that because she's mentally stronger, has more experience, has a better physical edge?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I think experience is definitely an advantage for her. Yeah, I mean, after winning the Australian Open and the French Open the year before, I think she was so motivated and on a roll to try to keep it all up, so yeah, I give her all the credit for everything she's done in her career. I think it's incredible.
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