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November 13, 2000

Kim Clijsters


Q. When were you told that you were in the tournament?

KIM CLIJSTERS: They called me Thursday evening, that I was the first one out. And then Friday afternoon, they called that I was in the tournament because someone else pulled out.

Q. How difficult is it to concentrate on such a big event when you are not supposed to play it?

KIM CLIJSTERS: My preparation was not great. I mean, I didn't practice for like three or four days, like I wasn't really expecting to play here. So, yeah, it's a good thing. Like it's good -- I played a good year. This is just like a present for me to play here. It's like a present for me to play.

Q. Were you already planning on going back to Belgium (inaudible) --

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, because we've got Fed Cup next week. I was just trying to take like a few days off and then practice.

Q. You've had a great few weeks. You've beaten a lot of Top-10 players. Was there one match when you suddenly felt like your whole game was falling into place?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, when -- probably when I beat Martinez. That was probably my biggest , my most important win. That was when I was more confident in my game and when I was like mentally a lot stronger after that match.

Q. Can you explain your up-and-down today?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, it is probably because I'm still probably in a little bit of a jet-lag. I also woke up at four o'clock this morning so that's really not good preparation for your match, especially when you are playing at eight o'clock in the evening. I was feeling it a little bit in my legs. That was probably one of the reasons, as well. Arantxa, she is a great player. She keeps moving; even if she has match points down, she keeps fighting.

Q. (Inaudible)?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't really look ahead. I focus on every point. No, I don't really look ahead.

Q. There was a similarity about both games that you lost when you were serving at 5-3, because suddenly you didn't look as if you were playing with the same confidence. Were you feeling a bit tense?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Towards the end of the match, and the end of the first set, as well, I probably felt like I was going to get a little more tired, probably in my legs, and in my arms, as well. And I think that was probably why I didn't put enough first serves and why I didn't hit my balls as hard, like in the beginning of the two sets.

Q. And yet, the following, in the second set, the last game you hit a success of wonderful winners to get yourself into position to finish it off?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I just said, "Come on, just get it over with."

Q. At the beginning of the year was it a goal for you to be in the Top-20 by the end of the season?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Not at all. I don't really have a goal. I'm just playing to have fun, and I love being on the Tour. It's just like a hobby for me.

Q. Can you explain your fast start, when you won 12 straight points?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I was really motivated, like to play here and to play against Arantxa. And I always felt like in my matches, that's one of my strongest points, to like get in the match and start off well.

Q. You've beat a lot of Top-10 players in the last tournaments that you've played. Do you feel like you are strong enough to be a Top-10 player?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Maybe not yet. At the moment, I feel like I'm still getting stronger, like in the past two or three months, I feel myself; that I'm getting strong. I'm playing with a lot more confidence, and mentally, I'm getting a lot stronger, as well. I'm Top-20 now, so I'm just trying to take this and see where it ends.

Q. Just beating Arantxa a couple weeks ago, did that give you a lot of confidence?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It did, of course. I beat her two sets there, as well, and it's never like the same. It's a different tournament. Like there's different circumstances. I didn't have the great preparation, and like it was not the same surface. But it helped me a lot to know what her stronger and weaker points are, and that's what I knew today and I didn't know that then.

Q. Could you say anything about the overhead today; it didn't work that well?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not really. Like it's a little bit new for me to play here. The roof is a little bit higher than the normal clubs. Yeah, I mean, I'm happy with my first match today. I'm happy to go through to the second round. So I'm not really worried about any overheads.

Q. Was it a dream of yours to play at Madison Square Garden ever?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I've always dreamed to play here once. So I'm really happy that I could do it this time, this year.

Q. You said that tennis is fun for you, and it clearly is in the way you play and the way we see from you. When did you first decide that you wanted it to be a career, as well?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, it's probably when I saw like all the Grand Slams, all the big tournaments on television. That's when I really loved it. And I loved to see like the players on the court when the crowd was going for them. I like being -- I like being -- like a thing where the people can -- where the people watch and the people enjoy. I think that's what tennis players are.

Q. Can you remember which was the first Grand Slam on TV that gave you this feeling? Was there one match or one player?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't really remember. It was a long time ago.

Q. What age were you; do you remember?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Probably about seven.

Q. Are you prepared for anything in New York (inaudible) -- with the different surface?

KIM CLIJSTERS: That was probably one of my first ones that mentally made me a lot stronger. Like if I would have played my best tennis that I could have beat those top players. Obviously, being like 5-3 up in the third set, but she had more experience than me; so that's what made the difference, I think.

Q. How much do you talk with your dad about tennis or soccer?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Nothing. I don't really know much about soccer, and he doesn't really know much about tennis. Not much.

Q. After the Open, what kind of preparation did you go through to explain your fantastic run?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I didn't really -- I didn't plan to go to Filderstadt. I just got the wild card at the last moment. I just practiced like I always did and practicing.

Q. Nothing special?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No. Nothing special.

Q. Did you practice with Leyton Hewitt?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not that much, because like when he's -- when he's in Europe, it's difficult.

Q. In tennis, especially on the women's side, there are a lot of young stars. Where is it coming from?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I have no idea. I think it's probably because we've got like a very good structure in Belgium tennis, good coaches and we've got a lot of opportunities, nice clubs and good hitting partners. I think it is a great structure in Belgium.

Q. Do you have anybody helping you prepare for the match?

KIM CLIJSTERS: My coach helps me in one way and my dad is -- I really love to have my dad next to the court. He doesn't really say like a lot before the match, but I love to look at him, during the point, after the points. Yeah, my coach helps me before the match.

Q. Did you have a strategy today?

KIM CLIJSTERS: You always have a strategy, but it depends on what kind of player you are playing against. You know, I will have a different strategy than when I'm playing Arantxa Sanchez than when I'm playing against Lindsay Davenport. It is different to every match.

Q. What did your dad say when he learned that you are going to play the Chase? Was he happy or a little bit anxious because maybe you could get tired for next week?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not really. It will probably happen for me. And we've got two other Belgium players, Els Callens and Dominque Van Roost that are playing here, and so it's good that I've got some Belgium friends here.

End of FastScripts….

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