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August 23, 2001

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. That was a pretty quick match. You're obviously pretty happy with that?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I'm very happy with the way I played today. It was nice. Like it was like the ideal, like, circumstances - not too much wind, no sun. So that was -- it was good. It was a really nice day to play a match. I'm happy with the way I played. I returned a lot better today than when I played her in LA. And, yeah, so I'm very happy to go through.

Q. It almost looked too easy out there. She just had no answers for you at all today.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, like I said, I mean, it's very important when you play against Nathalie that you try to keep the pressure on. Because she can -- she's got so many tricks in her -- like with her volleys and everything. So she can like turn the match around like in a few points and in a few minutes. So it's very important for me today that I kept focused and that I tried to keep the pressure on her from the first like -- she serves very well. So it was very important for me to keep the pressure on her from the return on. So that was very important. I mean, it's -- and I did that very well today.

Q. You had two or three aces on second serves. You must feel pretty confident about your service game right now.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I did that quite often. I mean, it's -- 'cause all the players, they expect the second serve to go like for a safer second serve. And they always expect to get a kick serve to the backhand, because that's a safer serve. But I mean, sometimes if you're like 30-love up or if it's 40-love or something, it's always good -- like a good timing to try to go like through to the middle or to go for the other side, yeah.

Q. You've really closed the gap between yourself and the top five or so players in the world this year. How far away do you think you are from consistently challenging that group?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I know I can beat those players. I mean, I've beaten Lindsay and I've beaten Martina Hingis this year. So I know that I can -- that I'm able to beat them. But it's just a matter of being consistent, more consistent. And if I'm playing well, and I have to keep working out throughout the whole year and I have to stay fit and I have to work very hard, then I mean, yeah, maybe I can beat them more often. I mean, I've lost to Lindsay five times now and I've beaten her once, I think. So, I mean, I'm happy with the one time I beat her. But it's always nice to be a little bit closer to them. But, no, I'm playing well and I feel that I'm coming closer to those players. I think that's good. I mean, that's what I've been working for since I've been on the tour and even before that while I was playing Juniors. You always work for -- to be able to play those top players and to try to do well and beat them. And, yeah, that's what I've been working for.

Q. Have you seen Lindsay play this week?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No. Yesterday evening she had the night match, and so I went to dinner. So my coach has seen her play a few matches this week. So, yeah... But I know her pretty well. Like I know her game pretty well. I've played her a few times already. So, yeah...

Q. It would be a totally different match from today's though, wouldn't it?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, definitely. Nathalie's one of the players that -- one of the few players that almost plays serve and volley on every first serve. And Lindsay's one of the players that -- with one of the best serves on the tour. And the way -- I saw a few of her match -- a few of her points on TV yesterday. She looked like she was moving very well. She looked very fit. And so, yeah, I mean, she's very, very strong and very -- she hits the ball so easy. But when you see her play, it looks -- everything looks so easy. But, yeah, no, I mean I've always looked up to her. And I'm looking forward to play against her.

Q. When did you beat her?


Q. This year or...?


Q. Last time, wasn't it?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yes. Yes, when was that? Five weeks ago? No, four weeks ago.

THE MODERATOR: About four.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Four weeks ago, yeah.

Q. So what does it take to beat her?

KIM CLIJSTERS: You have to run all the balls back in, and hope that -- I mean, like the top players as well, they don't have it very often but sometimes they can have a few off games. And that's the time that you have to try like to put the pressure on them and like let them work for every point. That's very important against those top players. Once they're winning very easily, or once they get ahead like a few games, they can step up their level and play a little bit better. And that's what you could see against -- like today as well, Capriati against Dokic. I mean, she was struggling a little bit in the first set and then she just -- once she wins the first set, she just gets on top of Jelena. And that's what -- those top players still have a little bit extra in them. So it's very important I think to stay with them from the very, like, first point.

Q. Do you think about what happened at the French Open often, or is that a distant memory?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, that's -- I mean, it's -- it looks like so long ago already. I mean, it's been -- I've been playing so many tournaments after that. So it's -- I've had good memories after that. So, yeah. I mean, it was a good match. And I really enjoyed like the whole two weeks there, so yeah.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about Belgium all of a sudden has a Wimbledon finalist, a French finalist, two young kids. Has it generated excitement in the country?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, it's been very, very hectic in Belgium, very busy. And I think Justine and I, we had to go do a few things together already. We had to go meet the King, we had to go to the government, like all those things. It was very, like, political things. And so it's been very -- it's not easy to -- 'cause once I got home, like I really needed some rest. And so you have to like do a few commitment things. And so you have to go to a few receptions. And so it's been very, very hectic. But it's nice. That's why I was really looking forward to come to America, so it could be a little bit relaxer.

Q. Do you see a rivalry developing between you and Justine?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, definitely not. I mean, it's not because we're both ranked in the like Top 10, now that we're gonna be rivals. Justine and I have always been good friends. And I've traveled with her for so -- like since I'm like ten or something. We've been travelling together. So I played doubles with her in under-14 tournaments. We've always been good friends, so I don't think it's gonna change because we're both ranked higher now. I think we're even a lot closer now than we used to be. I mean, I speak better French than I did then, so, yeah...

Q. What was it like meeting the King? Was that your first time?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, that was the first time. My dad had met him before, 'cause of the soccer. And so, yeah, it was a bit weird because you sort of don't know what to expect. But he was a very, very nice person. (Inaudible.) And, you expect him to be like stiff and like, you know, but it was very nice. He started talking about his Harley Davidson and about his motorcycle. So that was very nice, yeah.

Q. Can you give us a little handicap on tonight's match? Justine's playing Venus. How do you see that match?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I haven't seen either of them play today. But Justine, I mean, Justine has got a great backhand and she has improved that very much, and she can defend very well. But it all, like, depends. If Venus has a little bit of an off day, she, I mean Justine, has a good chance I think. I mean, the way she played in Wimbledon against her as well. Justine didn't start -- like didn't start very well at Wimbledon in the first set. But then like in the second set you could see that she was feeling comfortable on the court. She was feeling comfortable out there and then she won that set. Then Venus just like raised her level a little bit, started serving bombs and aces. I mean, you sort of have to take the chances you get against those top players. And if you're going to be able to do that, you can win a set; maybe two.

Q. There are a bunch of 18 -, 19-year-old players up and coming just outside the Top 5 or Top 10. Are there any that impress you?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Of course. I mean, they're all -- I mean, Elena Dementieva, Jelena Dokic. I mean, they've all -- I've always -- I've grown up with those girls and we played Juniors together. And Jelena and I, we won the French Open doubles together. So, yeah, I mean, we're all close, and that's nice. I mean, it's good to -- it feels like the Juniors tour again up here. So it's very nice. I mean, and with Justine as well, we get along well. And I'm gonna try to play with -- some doubles with Jelena. I mean with -- I would like to play with her again because I'm playing with Ai Sugiyama now. She's a great doubles partner. But I think I'm going to ask Jelena to go and play with her again in Leipzig because Ai Sugiyama is not coming there. But it's great, I think, for women's tennis to see some older players that have been on the top for so long and then some newcomers that are coming up, young players. Yeah, and then see those sometimes beat the top players. I think that's great for women's tennis to see some new faces up there, yeah.

Q. How much of a problem is this doubles/singles issue, playing two tournaments at the same time? A lot of the players say it hurts you; others say it helps your game.

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think it's positive. I mean, I think it definitely helps my game a lot. The way -- I wasn't a very good doubles player before, and I never like really came to the net a lot when I was playing singles. And but now I -- yeah, no, I feel since I've been playing more doubles, last year I was playing with Laurence Courtois, and I started to play more doubles. I had a few good results. And you sort of feel more comfortable when you're playing at the net in singles. So that's great. And my doubles final in Wimbledon this year with Ai Sugiyama, I really enjoy playing doubles. It's a little bit more relaxing. You can make some jokes sometimes on the court, so it makes it more fun, yeah.

Q. Have you ever played Justine on tour?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. I played her the French Open semifinal and Indian Wells second round, played her in Rosmalen. So we've played about three times I think this year, yeah.

Q. After the match, do you go out to dinner together?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I mean, it's not like that. Definitely not after a match. But, no, I mean, Justine and I, we're close. But it's not like we're best friends. I mean, of course like we get along very well and like we're closer compared to other players because like we grew up together. But it's not like -- sometimes we go to dinner, yeah. But she has her boyfriend, I have my boyfriend so we like to go to dinner with them sometimes as well.

End of FastScripts....

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