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November 6, 2002

Kim Clijsters


Q. Kim, you're an awfully big name to be playing here with few people because they're just getting started. How did you motive yourself?

KIM CLIJSTERS: You know, it's pretty easy to motive yourself for such a big event like this one, especially playing in the Staples Center. I came here a few times to watch the Lakers play. It's a dream to be playing tennis here. It was pretty easy to motivate myself.

Q. How are you feeling right now?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I feel fine. You know, I had a few days off before I came here, and I'm used to the jetlag by now. I'm feeling better than what I was a few days ago.

Q. You say you motivate yourself having to play in a big place like The Staples Center but when the Lakers played, there was 20,000. Today there was 300 or 500.

KIM CLISTERS: It's true. We don't get to play a lot in these type of arenas, and that's what makes it even more special. I think, of course, there was about six Belgium people sitting a little bit up in the stands. They were more vocal than all the people together. It's the beginning of the tournament. I think that's the case in most of the tournaments. I think once it comes to the big matches, like I'm sure tonight, I think a lot of people have to work during the day. I'm sure tonight when Monica and Lindsay are playing, I think or hope there will be a lot of people.

Q. Normally, when you play someone like Chanda Rubin, I would expect there would be longer points. I was a bit surprised how one-sided the match was today.

KIM CLIJSTERS: I felt like I had to show in the beginning of the match I was very competitive out there, and I was, you know, trying to be very aggressive and keeping her under pressure. She was starting a little bit -- with the serve, she was giving me a few breaks in the beginning of the first seven, so I felt even more comfortable. Even if I lost a break, I felt like I was dictating most of the points. I wasn't really worried out there.

Q. To play Anna in the second round, does it mean anything?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Of course, it's always nice in one way and a pity in another way. It would be nice if we could play each other in a semi or final, but the other way, I don't think I've played her that many times this year. Last year I played her a few more times. I think I played her in Sidney, Australia. It's nice we play an exhibition next week as well. We can prepare ourselves for that one.

Q. What advice would you give someone who wants to start playing tennis?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Just to enjoy it. That's the most important thing. That's what I did. I think it's very important. When I'm in my own club in Belgium now, and I see these young kids playing, some of them are happy to be out there and running to every ball, but there is a lot of kids looking at their mom and dad thinking, why am I out there. I think that's a pity. The parents are pushing them. I think that's the wrong challenge for the kids. They really have to be willing to be out there and enjoy playing tennis because it's a fun sport.

Q. When did you start playing?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I started when I was six. It's been a while.

Q. Do your parents support you?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Of course they do. They didn't push me to keep going, though. They said the moment you're sick of it, you can always stay home and go back to school or try to do something else, not that I want to go back to school. That's been great for me. I think I have been very lucky with my parents.

Q. Kim, are you 100 percent physically?


Q. Is that why you have been playing so well this fall?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think so. I think that's definitely something to do with it. I also felt a lot more motivated. At the moment I can practice a lot more, when the doctors gave me the all-clear to practice as much as I wanted to, that was really, you know, a really happy moment for me to hear that.

Q. You seem a little more motivated than some of the other players are towards the end of the year. Is that because you didn't have some of the results that you wanted earlier in the year?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think so. Even if you see last year, I felt like I played better at the end of the last year as well. It's not that I had such a bad middle of the year last year, so I just like the end tournaments. A lot of them are close to home so I'm driving there with a car. It's a different feeling than being far away.

Q. Do you think Justine gets a little more nervous playing you than you do playing her?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I have no idea. I think you have to ask her what she's feeling. On my side, I don't focus on the player standing in front of me. I remember the first time I played Steffi Graff in Whimbledon, my coach was telling me, don't worry about who's standing there. It's not easy to say that when you're there for the first time. Now, I've got experience and I know now I've got to play my best tennis if I want to be able to beat the opponents.

Q. Does it matter to you who the best player in Belgium is or is it okay if it's her?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No. I would be happy for her. I don't care at all. I think it's great for Belgium to have Justine and myself. I think that's how Belgium feels as well. They always compare us. I'm really happy after everything Justine has gone through, I'm really happy if she becomes No. 1 in Belgium. I'll be really happy for her.

Q. What do you think about playing on this court in comparison to other courts?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I like the surface. I really like it.

Q. Do you have any relatives?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I have a sister who travels as well and plays tennis. She's two years younger than me. She's in Australia at the moment playing in some 10,000 or $25,000 tournaments. Maybe in the future we can play doubles or singles against each other. There's still a long way to go. I hope so.

Q. Kim, to what do you ascribe the reason for the rise in tennis in Belgium?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I have no idea. A lot of people have asked me that, and you know, it's really tough to give, you know, a very clear answer. I think it's just luck that we have. If you see Justine, it's not like we come from the same club or federation or coach. Each of us went our separate ways. Obviously, we travel together but we each travel with a coach. I don't know. I think it's just luck.

Q. Every country is trying to figure out the formula right now.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I don't know.

Q. You're saying it's luck?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, America is not doing too bad either, I think.

Q. How do you see this tournament? Is this a good way to end the year? Is it a good way to end on a high note?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Definitely, I think so. If you were playing one of the smaller tournaments at the end of the year, a lot of players wouldn't be motivated or that aggressive or not looking forward to playing, but I think everyone who's here knows it's the last tournament and they're going to give theirself 100 percent before they can have a few weeks off. That's how I feel. I feel like I'm going to give it another week and then, you know, be very disciplined and very professional. I know next week that I can eat whatever I like, I can do whatever I like. Yeah, that's the positive thing as well.

Q. Justine said before that she had some kind of wedding plans ahead. What about you?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Not yet. You will know when it's come this far.

Q. Close or no?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no, we just started going out. I think we have -- almost three years, but we still have time. We're still young. Thanks.

End of FastScripts….

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