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March 15, 2001

Kim Clijsters


MODERATOR: Questions for Kim.

Q. How exciting was that?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I'm very excited. I mean, this is probably my greatest tournament -- my greatest victory probably. Yeah, I played a good match today, especially in the first and in the third set, yeah.

Q. You break in the third set. It looks like you're going all right. Then you lose your serve right away. Was there any self-doubt there?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not really. I mean, I felt that I was playing better level than I was playing in the first set. I was quite confident, not that I was going to win, but, I mean, it was good that I broke her in the first game. That's probably what makes her a little bit unconfident, as well. I lost my serve at the end of that second game in the third set. Even though, I was still focused, yeah, trying to get the break back.

Q. You talked on TV about losing your temper in the second set. How did you get it back together?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I think the mistake that I did in the second set was that I was a little bit too far behind my line and I wasn't playing that aggressive anymore. Then like when I was 5-Love down, I said, "I'll just go for it, just forget about everything, just forget that you're 5-Love down in the second." I won two games. Yeah, I mean, in the third set I just went for it again.

Q. What was the difference between this win today and the three other losses to her? What did you do differently?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I think I was more consistent today, like especially in the first and in the third set. My other matches, I've had some chances. The last time I played her, it was in Sydney. I had some chances there, but I couldn't take them. I made some easy mistakes still. I think today that was perfect.

Q. She said that you were not afraid of winning. Could you comment on that and do you think some players are afraid of winning against the top players?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't think they're afraid of winning. I think they're probably more nervous, like when they come close to beating like a seeded player. Especially with the young players. I mean, I've had that against -- when I played Serena Williams at the US Open a few years ago, it's the same feeling. And that's experience. That's why the top players have got more experience. They can probably do a little bit more when they're down. They can play a little bit better, yeah.

Q. Do many of the girls when they're going up against a really great big name like Hingis or Davenport, do they go into it with not enough self-confidence to really win the match?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, probably a few players. I've been closer and closer every time I've played her. I mean, I can beat those players. Yeah, I mean, I know that Martina didn't play her best tennis today. But, I mean, those are the chances that I have to take, yeah.

Q. Were you surprised and thrilled that the crowd seemed to get behind you there in the third set?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, that help a lot for me, as well. I really like to play for a big crowd. Yeah, that really pumps me up, as well.

Q. Do you think it was important that you could win those games at the end of the second set to give you momentum into the third set?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think that was -- it was probably good that I won those two games and that I broke her, even in the second set. But, yeah, I mean, like even when I lost that second set, I just forgot about anything, just said, "This is the start of the match, just go for it now."

Q. Seemed like you were locked in on her serve. Can you talk about your return game against her, especially late?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I was returning quite well, like not in the second set, but in the first set that's what probably make a big difference for winning those serve games. Yeah, I mean, I've kept the pressure on her serve every time, so I think that was good.

Q. Do you feel like can you pretty much dominate the court with your forehand when you're playing well?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I mean, my forehand is probably one of my most aggressive shots, and I think with my backhand I can open up my court, and with my forehand I can finish it off. I think it's good, yeah. I can hit like sort of winners around everywhere on the court with my forehand.

Q. Do you feel it was the culmination of a dream to beat the No. 1 player like you did today? What was going through your mind?

KIM CLIJSTERS: You're not really thinking that she's No. 1 in the world. I mean, like I don't really think about who I'm playing when I'm standing. Like every match, you have to play, you have to win, even if I'm playing a player like 120 in the world. This is more special. Even afterwards, it's like all the people are telling you that you beat No. 1 in the world. I mean, I think I have to stay with my feet on the ground. I'm looking forward to my next match.

Q. Martina was talking about the importance of breakthrough matches in her career. Do you think this could be a breakthrough match for you in terms of your confidence?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I mean, I think last year, at the end of last year, I've had some good matches that improved my game, especially like when I beat a few Top-10 players in Filderstadt and in Leipzig. I went to play the Chase Championships, and I think that was a big step in my career, more experience for me. Yeah, I think even this now, I think it's good for my confidence. I know that I'll have to stay with my feet on the ground.

Q. It sounds like what you're saying is that, although this victory is very important, the real important thing here is to actually win the title?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, yeah. I mean, you always try. I know that it's going to be very hard. I mean, I'm playing against Serena, against Venus. It's going to be very hard for me. I'm just trying to do the same things. I'm just trying to rest. I'm going to go out there and I'm trying to be fit. We'll see what happens.

Q. Who do you match up with better, Venus or Serena?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I've never played Venus in singles. I've only played Serena once - twice, actually. I mean, I've got no idea. Watch the match tonight. I don't really care who I'm playing. I'll have fun out there tomorrow.

Q. Can you recap those two times you've played Serena, how things went?

KIM CLIJSTERS: The last time I played her was here last year in the fourth round, I think, and I lost 4-4, I think. The first time I played against her was at US Open two years ago. I was 5-3 up there in the third set. Yeah, I mean, I was still a rookie. Yeah, I was actually quite nervous then. I mean, I've got that little bit more now. Last year, I mean, she played a great match here. She just overpowered me.

Q. Do you think that US Open match was a breakthrough? You say you were a rookie. You almost beat the player who eventually became the champion. Was today more of a breakthrough?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It all helps. It's probably because of then that I can be in the final here now. It's like little steps in your career that makes it like a career good. I mean, it's hard. I mean, it's hard to say. But, I mean, I don't know.

Q. Do you feel like a Top 5 player now?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not really. I mean it's not because I beat No. 1, the No. 1 player in the world, that I'm going to be Top 5. I mean, I'm still ranked 19 in the world. Yeah, of course, I'll try. I'll try to get as high as possible. When I go out there on the court, I'll try to win every match. We'll see where I end up.

Q. Belgium has had some nice players. It's not exactly a tennis powerhouse. Do you take pride in coming from such a small country?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, well, it means a lot to me. Belgium is so small, you can actually drive like three hours from one side of the country to the other. A lot of players look up to the tennis players. Even when the men now, we have the Rochus brothers. A lot of players are looking up to the tennis players. I think Dominique Van Roost and Sabine Appelmans did a great job for Belgian tennis. As soon as they retired, it's good that we have two new players there.

Q. Sabine was obviously a very big star in Belgium. Are you a big star in Belgium already?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It's hard because I think a lot of people still see me as the daughter of the soccer player in Belgium. Maybe not anymore now. No, I mean, I've won some sportswoman of the year. I don't think I'm as famous as Sabine was. I mean, she was like Top 20 for like ten years. But, I mean, it's hard to tell. Probably with the younger kids, I'll probably be -- they know me better because I'm more recent.

Q. Do people recognize you on the street?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Belgium is not that big, so, yeah, they do.

Q. How do you deal with that? Is that okay with you?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, sometimes it can be a little bit -- sometimes when I'm going out shopping or something, I'm trying some clothes on, and people are trying to see what I'm wearing. That's sometimes a little bit annoying. But, I mean, that's what I chose for. That's why I play tennis. Yeah, I'm happy with that.

Q. Does your father being a star help you sort of understand what it's going to be like?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, he helped me out a lot. I really looked up to him. We have always like worked well around pressure, around media and everything. I mean, I think that's what helped me a lot, as well.

Q. Did you speak to Lleyton this morning? If so, what did you say about playing in this match?

KIM CLIJSTERS: He just said like, "Go out there and have fun." That's what I said to him.

End of FastScripts....

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