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March 17, 2001

Kim Clijsters


MODERATOR: Questions for Kim.

Q.. Did the crowd bother you? We know it didn't bother Serena.

KIM CLIJSTERS: No. I mean, it was good for me. I really like it when the crowd is behind me, when there's a lot of noise. I mean, I think it helped me, yeah.

Q.. Were you surprised by how much booing there was against her?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, especially in the beginning. Like yesterday, when I went home, you hear a lot of people saying that they're not happy with it and all this stuff. I mean, we're competitors. I mean, yeah, I didn't focus on all the things that happened before; I just focused on my match, to play against Serena. Yeah, that was all I focused on.

Q.. Could you have played better?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think when you're on the court, you don't really hear it. We're so focused and we're so concentrated that you don't really -- you hear it, but it's not going really into your mind. It goes one ear in, one ear out.

Q.. They were clapping so loud.

KIM CLIJSTERS: If you're a good player, you're supposed to not focus on that.

Q.. Did you lose your concentration in the third set?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I was starting to feel I was getting a bit tired. I mean, I've had some tough matches throughout the week. I mean, I'm still young. Well, yeah, I mean, I had a chance in the second set to break her at 4-3, but she just played like too good a point. I could nothing do about it. I mean, yeah, I was feeling a little bit tired in my legs, especially in the third set. That's tennis.

Q.. Did you feel that she improved her game with more consistency like she did at the US Open?

KIM CLIJSTERS: She definitely did it in the third set. I mean, in the first two sets, especially in the beginning of the second set, she was making more easy mistakes on my serve, like she missed a lot of returns. Throughout the third set, she was playing better, playing more and more consistent, she had more first serves in. That's all the credit to her.

Q.. What was your plan for winning the match, strategy?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, I've almost beaten her before. I just had to believe that I can. I mean, it's hard. I mean, it won't be a match like -- like when we play each other, it's always tough to have very long rallies because we both play sort of similar games. We both try to finish off the point as soon as possible. We play very aggressive tennis. Also that means that we play tennis with more unforced errors. It was hard for me. She just made less errors, and that's why she won.

Q.. Was it hard for you to come back and play today after a big win over Martina two days ago? Any emotional letdown?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not really. I mean, like, I just did all the same things as I did before after I beat Hingis. I just had room service, rest, was ready for my next match, yeah.

Q.. You're saying that you became tired in this match. How much an advantage do you think it was for Serena that she had to play one less match in the tournament than you did?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I mean, I think it was an advantage for sure. I mean, she had a few more days off than me. Yeah, she had a few easier matches than I had. Those are small things, small details that can make a difference like when you're playing at the top level.

Q.. How aware were you of all the controversy swirling around Serena? Were you aware of the contentions that Venus had deliberately pulled out?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I was still having dinner in the restaurant. When I came upstairs, I just heard that she pulled out, that I had to play Serena in the finals. That's all, yeah.

Q.. You've been around loud crowds all your life. Could you comment on whether you think the crowd was fair in their reaction or not fair?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I mean, it's hard. In the beginning, it was probably -- the crowd was very loud, even when she misses like a first serve, they were clapping. So, I mean, it's not her fault, I think. I mean, she's still a tennis player. I think we have to -- I mean, she's a very nice person and everything. I don't think it's up to the crowd to put pressure on her. I mean, it was only in the beginning. In the second set and third set, I think it was equal. There were also people clapping when I missed my second serve. It's the same.

Q.. You reached so far, played so well, do you feel a little cheated because of all the distractions outside of this match, maybe you got lost in the shuffle?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Not really. I'm serious, I only focus on my matches. Like, I didn't look to the other players. I didn't know how they were preparing or what was going on. I was only focusing on my matches and on my tennis.

Q.. It's been a big week, hasn't it, for you?

KIM CLIJSTERS: (Nodding head.)

Q.. What can you take away from this week? Do you see this as a major stepping stone for you for the next level?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I've had good matches here. I've played good tennis. I think this tournament made me have more experience. So for the bigger tournaments, yeah, I'm very happy with this level that I played here and with my final here. I think this will help me for in the future.

Q.. Do you go to Miami next?


Q.. Did she say anything to you, any small talk when you were posing for pictures?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, we were just like talking when we're going to Miami, yeah.

Q.. Very often when a player is still quite young and inexperienced, they do something, have a good result at a tournament like this, it's hard to reproduce it going straight into the next tournament. What are you going to have to do to keep that focus up?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think the most important thing is that I stay with my feet on the ground. That's what all the young girls do. When they beat like a good player, I think that's the first thing we have to do, is that we're not thinking that we're in the Top 10 already or anything. We still have to prove everything. But I think I've been doing that well. Like I'm looking forward to play Miami. I mean, it's a nice tournament. I played the Orange Bowl when I was playing Juniors so I really like it there. First of all, I'll have a few days off. I'll have two days off, I think, then I'll start practicing again. I'll probably leave Monday to go to Miami.

Q.. Could you talk about the emotional aspects of being in a tournament, playing, also watching Lleyton, his matches?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think it's nice. I mean, I also learn a lot. My coach always used to say that I had to look -- watch a lot of men's matches because you can learn a lot out of it. I think it's good. It's not that I only watch Lleyton. I watch the other men's matches, as well. I think it's good to have like more tournaments where the mens and womens are combined.

Q.. By standards of California tennis tournaments and crowds, it was a very loud crowd. How does that compare a soccer crowd when the Belgian team plays?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It's probably worse. When the match is over, there's probably more hitting and fighting than in the tennis (laughter).

Q.. Were you afraid that was going to happen today?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no, no (laughter).

Q.. Have you talked to your dad?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I just saw him quickly. Just said, "Good tournament."

Q.. Would you have preferred to play Venus?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't really care. I mean, wouldn't have mattered for me. If Venus would have beaten Serena, I mean, they're both great players. Yeah, I've got a lot of respect for them, what they did to women's tennis. Yeah, I mean, I had no preference.

Q.. Have you ever withdrawn from a tournament because of an injury?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, never. I've never even asked the trainer on court (smiling).

Q.. Do you think a player has that right, has a right to withdraw?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Of course. Why not? I think that's a silly question. Let's say if I first round, say if I win Miami first round, go outside and run a little bit, I twist my ankle, I can withdraw from a tournament, as well. If you're injured, you're injured. If you can't play like a hundred percent in your next match, you shouldn't play, I think.

Q.. Your forehand was very good today. What is your favorite surface? Do you think you're going to have the same type of game if you play in Roland Garros?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I haven't had that -- like I haven't had my best result on clay. But, I mean, my whole life in the summer, I've always played on clay in Belgium. I'm used to playing on clay, like especially in the summer. Yeah, so I like clay. I don't think I have a preference. If I would choose, I'd prefer the faster courts a little bit, yeah, where the ball bounces like a little bit quicker, yeah. I don't mind. I like the clay courts, as well, yeah. The only stupid thing is that your socks get all red (laughter).

Q.. Years from now, what do you think the one memory that will stand out from your run here at Indian Wells this year?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, for sure, I mean, that I was in the final, that I was a finalist, and that I beat the No. 1 player in the world, and that I had a good match against Serena. I mean, it's hard to tell because all the matches are important for me. The matches I played when I first won, and my second round against Justine Henin, the other Belgian, was a very good match for me to win. It's tough to play against another country player. I mean, I handled it well. I think I'll remember the whole tournament.

End of FastScripts....

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