November 8, 2002
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Q. Is that the best match you have ever played against her?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I think the most solid one. I think I was consistent throughout the whole match. I didn't have a period where I started to make a little more errors. I think that was the main key today.
Q. You had a lot of deuce games. Did you sort of fight harder?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I think in the deuce games if you serve, I think it's very important you put a first serve in so you keep her a little under pressure from the beginning. She returns really well and she likes to put pressure on your second serve. It's very important, I think, against her and everyone, it's very important to have a high percentage of serves. When it comes close in those situations, that's the most important part of trying to win that game.
Q. Are you peaking right now, just the best you've played all year?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. I enjoy the indoor tournaments. That's a bit different. I get to travel by car, you know, drive to the ones in Germany and the ones in Switzerland and in Luxembourg. I feel more comfortable playing indoors. I think that's why I enjoy even here as well. I'm not driving here, but I've always did pretty well at the championships at the end of the year, and I really enjoy playing. I think it's also a matter of, you know, it's your last week of the tournaments, your last few matches you play. I think I'm really motivated to try to finish the year on a good note.
Q. Do you have more motivation to beat a country woman?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's never nice to beat them. It's nice for me. On the other hand, you feel, you know, if it would have been me, you know what it feels like, and it's, you know, never nice to play them. Of course, it would be nice to play each other in the semi or final in the second round. That's tennis and we cannot choose how the draw is made. I mean, yeah, I just try to block it out, I think. I just try. When I saw the draw, I knew I had a chance if I won our first match to play her. Those matches are never easy. There is always a little bit of tension, and they're different because I know her so well. It's a matter of trying to block it out who is standing in front of you.
Q. Once you've gotten the victory, does it feel sweeter to beat a Belgian? Is it more satisfying?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's always nice if you can be in the semifinals of the championship. They're always nice, even if it's playing against Monica or playing against Dokic. They're always nice, but it's hard to say for me. The victory feels the same as against other players.
Q. Justine said she was a little tired. Several players have said that. You seem to be full of energy.
KIM CLIJSTERS: I feel fine. Like I said before, it's the last tournament of the year. I know I need it this way. Maybe some of the other players are looking forward to going home. Maybe that's why they're getting tired. I want the year to end well, and there is at least four or five matches you can play here. It's nothing, four matches, so you try to really focus, be very professional, make sure you have enough rest. I think that's what helps. I know next week that I have some days off. I have to do a few sponsor things in Belgium but it's out of tennis. Within a few days I'll have some time off.
Q. On the court your level seems high enough to challenge Venus, but mentally do you feel you can do that?
KIM CLIJSTERS: That's the most important thing against everyone, also against Justine today. The mental part is so important, and, you know, it's hard for me to say, you know, how Venus will be, what she thinks on the court. I know I have to go out there and fight for every ball. Not only like you said on the tennis part, but also mentally I have to be ready for every shot, and I have to know when she's on, I have to not worry about it. You have to turn it around, and I think Monica, if she plays the way she did today -- sorry -- two days ago, then if she plays well, I think she beat her at the Australian Open I think it was, so there is always a lot of chances once you get to the quarters and semifinals, and a lot of players have chances against everyone. Of course, the chances are a bit bigger with some players than the others. I'm not going to say I'll play Venus for sure. Of course, the chance is bigger.
Q. This is the third time you played in California, and you played Venus and you were close, especially in San Diego. What was the difference here and what are you going to do differently to play her this time?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Not that much. I played a really good match there. I fought until the end. My first serve percentage I wasn't happy about. In the beginning of the first set I got broken pretty early. Even if you win that second set, you're out of concentration a little bit. You have to be ready from the beginning, because that's where they can really finish a match off in the beginning if they feel you're not as focused or aggressive, and that's what I learned out of that match.
Q. If you can return well against Venus, do you have a good chance of beating her, if you can shake her serve up some?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I'll try. I'll do my best. Everyone is always talking about Venus. She still has to play. It's hard, but like I said, every match is tough, even if you play Venus. I've beaten her before, so I don't have to be afraid, and I can rally with her and hit her return serves, but if she's on, it's always tough.
Q. Just about every match in this tournament has been pretty one-sided.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. I don't know why.
Q. Is there a reason?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I've noticed as well. I think the only three-set match was Lindsay against Monica. I told my coach, it's so weird they've got the top 16 playing against each other and there's hardly been even a 7-5. It's only been very short sets. It's strange. I've got no idea.
Q. How would you approach the match if you were to play Monica, any differently?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I might, you know, try to hit with a left hand and things like that, but mentally, I would just take it the same as if I were playing Venus. I always do. Even if you play a higher-ranked player, you are always a little bit more motivated, but I'm always ready for every match I play. I always try to do the same things. I'm pretty superstitious about that.
Q. What's your record against Monica? Excuse me for not knowing it.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Excuse me that I don't know. I've got no idea. I played her twice in Oppenheimer and once in Miami, and I lost.
Q. Kim, switching subjects a little, how important is it for Lleyton to finish the year,
KIM CLIJSTERS: I have no idea. I don't know. I'm sure if I would be in that position, it would be important. Of course, it's always nice to end on the top of the game. I think that's what everyone works for. It happened last year for him. He can say I've been there once. It's always nice to have that in your career book.
Q. How nice would it be for you two to go back to back?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I think that would be nicer if it was both in the same facilities, then you would notice a little bit more. Now he's so far away. I hope that he does and that he will get it.
Q. Describe your relationship with Justine. Are you friends?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I thought you were going to say with Lleyton. I mean, we grew up together. I started traveling with her from the age of 9, 10, so, always sharing rooms together, sharing coaches, hitting together, playing doubles together, I got to know her really well. Once we started playing juniors and we went to the seniors, it sort of broke off. She lives in the south and I in the north. We weren't practicing together. We had different tournaments and different schedules. We've always kept in contact and we've grown up together, went from juniors to the seniors together, and it's pretty amazing how we started at the same thing and ended sort of always around the same ranking. I'm really happy for her. With everything she's been through in her private life already, I'm happy it all went her way.
Q. That being said, are you invited to her wedding?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yes.
Q. Is your dad traveling with you?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Sometimes, yeah. He's here now.
Q. Do you talk to him any about what's going on or do you try to keep away from tennis?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, he doesn't really know that much about tennis. That's why I've got my coach. If he would know a lot about tennis, I wouldn't have my coach. He knows a lot about the mental part and being in a tough sport and stretching and those things, but I don't think he would ever help me changing my forehand grip or my backhand grip. It's great to have him here. It's really mental support for me.
Q. Are you in the wedding or going as a guest?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Going as a guest.
Q. Where is it?
KIM CLIJSTERS: In the South of France next week.
Q. Are you taking Lleyton?
KIM CLIJSTERS: He will be playing, I think.
Q. Who are you taking?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No one.
Q. What are you getting her for a wedding present?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I've got no idea. I have been asking her. She's moving into a new apartment. Probably something for her house. We have to play an exhibition next week. I'll probably have to get it then. I don't want all the attention.
Q. You're playing an exhibition against her?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yes, next week in Belgium. We did one last year in the North of Belgium. Next week it's in the South. It's a very weird thing in that country. If one thing happens in the north, then it has to happen in the south.
Q. You have had some pretty decent results in doubles this year. Are you going to keep up playing doubles next year?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I'll definitely try as much as I can. If I feel my shoulder is getting tired, then I won't. You know, even last year, playing with Ai Sugiyama, we had a great summer and we played finals at Wimbledon. I enjoy playing doubles. It's more relaxing than singles. You can make jokes and have fun on the court. It helps with my singles as well, working on your return game and serve.
Q. Do you think the top players probably need to do that? It's probably a big debate in the current state of doubles.
KIM CLIJSTERS: I think so. I think it would be great if more higher single players played doubles. I think it would be great for women's tennis to see them play singles and doubles. It can be tough because the top players get to the end of the tournament, and if she has to play both, it can be a little bit too much, maybe. I think it's a matter of planning your schedule and I think it's all possible.
Q. Is your shoulder a good deal less trouble for you now than when you played in San Diego?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I think so. A few weeks before San Diego, I started practicing a lot more. That definitely made me raise my game, and made me feel more comfortable playing on the court and made me serve better as well. Yeah, I think I feel a little bit fitter than what I was out there, because I didn't play that many matches. I didn't play that well at the French and at Wimbledon, so I think I have that. It's something a little bit more than I had then.
Q. On a regular practice day, training day, how many hours do you put in on the court?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's hard to put a specific. It all depends on how my body feels, I think, and what my coach wants me to do, I think, as well. I think most of the time, if I practice a week before I have a tournament, I'll try to hit maybe an hour, two sessions of an hour and a half a day, maybe three hours a day, and go to the gym. It all depends. One day, maybe three hours and then in another day just two, and then in December I'll maybe practice four to five hours a day to see how I'm feeling and how hungry I am to play.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.