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January 15, 2006

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What's the state of the injury at this stage?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I had my first hit this morning. I'm not doing any serves yet because that's the movement where -- it pinches a little bit, the fluid and the inflammation. So I'm just going to try to hold that off as long as possible. I'm just trying to let it recover. It's, you know -- luckily there's no tear in any of the muscles. But I had a down flip or something they call it here in Australia. My hip sort of being rotated forward or backwards, it dropped, which caused a lot of my muscles to be out of position. So I guess I'll have to keep the sliding for special occasions (smiling).

Q. Is it sore?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yes, it is.

Q. How much is it going to sort of hinder you?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, hopefully it will get better. I mean, it's a lot better than what it was when it happened. When it happened, I only really felt it serving. But as I -- as it got cold, as it cooled down, it really got stiffer and stiffer. Just walking up the stairs was very painful in Sydney. So I've seen a lot of doctors, saw a few in Sydney, saw a couple here already, just trying to get lots of different opinions. So I just have to make sure that I keep the small muscles around my hip and around my joints, you know, they have to work. The main group of my muscles are very strong and they take over all the work so that the small muscles, they're not strong enough to keep the hip in position when I do my slides. I guess it's just a little wear and tear, I guess, from over the years.

Q. What's the reality though? As you're running for a ball, you're probably not going to be thinking, "I shouldn't be sliding"?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No. When you play, when you go for it and when you're really into the match, I'm definitely going to go for all my shots. Otherwise, I don't want to play. If I'm not able to play like that, there's no use for me being out on the court, just let's say playing 80%. Just the attitude just changes a lot then. But that's why I'm -- you know, normally I'm not very big on taking antiinflammatories or painkillers, but that's definitely something I'll do this tournament, and then I'm sure I'll just have a body cleanse when I get back home.

Q. Is there a feeling that you could do further damage to it?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no. That's definitely something that I asked. And, you know, they said if there was a tear, yes, or if it was a small rupture or something, you know, of course. Then I would have, you know, would have been in Belgium by now. But there's none. So just have to, you know -- what causes the pain is the inflammation. So that's what causes the pain at the moment.

Q. How long did you practice for this morning? Were you able to do everything you wanted to do in practice?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I hit for about 40 minutes. It was still, like I said, for a first practice just to feel the ball again. And, you know, no, I haven't, you know -- I wasn't really doing a lot of side-to-side running and no serves yet. That's definitely something I'll try to keep off as long as I can.

Q. A lot of people have picked you to win the tournament. How do you think your injury is going to affect your chances?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I just -- you know, hopefully when I start, you know, I'm sure it will take some time to get used to playing with pain a little bit as well. So that's something I'll have to get used to. Just a mental part, I think, more. I have to make sure that when I feel it a little bit, you know, I just have to make sure that in my mind I'm ready for being able to play with the pain. That's all, I guess.

Q. How much pain are you in? Does it hurt to walk or run? When does it hurt the most?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It depends. It depends. I can walk here. No, I don't feel anything. But it's a different type of walking just out here or out on the court. When I run, I'm stopping. Sometimes I feel it. I don't feel it every shot, so it will get better. Like I said, if I take some more antiinflammatories, I'm sure it will over the next two days... I'm very happy I got a Tuesday start. I felt very lucky there. That just helped me out a little bit more.

Q. Did you request a Tuesday start?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I asked if it would be possible. Obviously in Grand Slams, I'm not the only player who has a few aches and pains, so you never know.

Q. What kind of work will you do on it tomorrow?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I'll just try to, you know, increase the intensity a little bit tomorrow. I'm not going to go out there and hit two hours in a row. I'm just maybe, if I'm allowed to, and if the doctors say and physios say it's okay to do some serves, I'll probably do some serves just to see how it feels. Just try to, yeah, make sure I do rotate a little bit more, maybe have a more intense workout on my groundstrokes, and that's about it. You have to do a lot more exercises now for my hips and for my lower back as well. That's something that I'm putting most of my time in now, is making sure I do my exercises.

Q. Have the doctors warned you at all about the prospect of sliding again, that it's something that could keep recurring?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, yes. I had a hip problem on the right, actually, on the clay season, clay court season last year, which was also a little bit from sliding. So I'm sure it's, you know -- it's definitely not a natural movement, I think, for the human body to make. It's something two more years, I'll try to put up with it and hopefully it will last that long.

Q. What do you think of your first round? Do you know about your opponent?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I don't know her. That's something, when I was injured for my wrist and I was home for so long, that was definitely the biggest -- you know, the biggest change was so many girls that I don't know any more that I see the draw. I'm like, "Who's that?" A lot of young girls come up. That, again, will be another -- when I start on Tuesday, at the start of the match, will be something that I have to get used to and just try to read your opponent a little bit. I'll have a few things on my mind then (smiling).

Q. You mentioned two more years. Is that what you're giving yourself?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yep, yep. Two more years, if I can last. I mean, if I keep building up all these injuries, then it might be sooner.

Q. How do you choose that figure as a figure?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, when I hurt my wrist, when I was home for so long, it was very frustrating I think doing all the exercises that I have to do. Even now there's more and more adding up, and I am just going to try to give everything I have for two more years, two more seasons. I'm sure at the end, by then, you know, that's something that I'll say I had enough of it. Tennis is important for me but it's definitely not the most important thing in my life. I look forward to doing other things, too.

Q. Does that give you a different insight into the way you approach it, thinking you're only going to be here another two more times, this being one of them?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No. No, for me, it doesn't change anything. I'm looking forward to still playing and hopefully playing well and get back -- get my body back into shape. But, no. But I do look forward to ending my career as well, so it's a win in both situations.

Q. Do you think actually making the decision helped you in New York to a certain degree?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, because, I mean, I said it but I'm not thinking about it when I'm out on the court. No, I don't think it -- I mean, it doesn't have any influence on me whatsoever when I'm practicing or when I'm working out or whatever. Not yet. Not yet. Maybe next year it will when I have my last year.

Q. Do you enjoy the Australian crowd? Are you looking forward to playing in front of them? They kind of made you one of yours.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, in Sydney it was fun. I felt bad that I only got the chance to play one match there, but it was fun. It was just nice to be back. Also not just being on the court but also just walking around here, seeing so many people that I know really well. It's just nice to see so many faces again. That was great.

Q. Do you have to pass a fitness test or anything like that tomorrow? Is there something you're looking forward to be able to do tomorrow before you feel confident going out there on Tuesday?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Just gradually I'm just going to build it up. I'm going to have a practice match and see how it feels. Just gradually I'm going to see how it feels. So, no, not really. I'm just going to make sure -- obviously, I'm going to see how it reacts after today's practice. If it flares up again, that will be disappointing, of course. But hopefully it won't. And just make sure that I rest well and just, yeah, that's going to be very important now these next few days, is make sure I rest well and that I do everything I can to be ready for Tuesday.

Q. As it stands now, do you have any doubt on whether you'll play?

KIM CLIJSTERS: That's what I'm saying. It all depends how it reacts. If I start to work on the intensity of my game, you know, it could. It could definitely, you know, get worse. So that's something that hopefully it won't happen, but just have to wait and see and sort of see. That's sort of the first thing I do when I wake up now, is rotate the hip a little bit, feel the lower back, see how it feels.

End of FastScripts….

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