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January 10, 2006

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. TV said it wasn't as easy as the score. Would you agree?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, definitely. I think I was still a little bit inconsistent. It's my first match in the heat. Hong Kong was all night matches, and it was always in the dark with the lights. So that's always when you have to get used to that. And the heat was definitely -- at the start of the match, I was like -- I feel like I'm moving well in practice, and then when I came out there it was just so hot that it just like hit me. I started to move better in the second set, so that was better. So, yeah, then it's just you have to try to improve. And even when things are not going well, you just have to try to stay focused and try to, you know, improve during the game as well. Just focus on little things, don't start rushing, and just make sure that you take it one thing at a time.

Q. She was making a lot of unforced errors and then coming up with some amazing ground strokes. Was it hard to get a rhythm out there?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It was a little bit. But, like I said, she was hitting the ball really well, especially with her backhand. She had a really good backhand crosscourt, then she would mix it up going down the line. So like I said, in the beginning I felt like I wasn't defending like I normally do. So that was, yeah, it was something that I wasn't too happy about. But I started to get better, got a little more aggressive in the second set. That's when I kept her a little bit on her back foot. That was better for me.

Q. Did you pick up a racquet at all between Los Angeles and now? Have you just been training?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no, no. First three weeks, I probably didn't do much. After LA I had my wisdom teeth taken out as well, so I had about a week and a half, two weeks off where I was like really big and swollen (smiling). So I couldn't do much. And then, yeah, then I just started -- I did sports. Like I went to play squash and badminton just to stay active, running with my dogs. But nothing to do with tennis for a while.

Q. Was Christmas dinner in a blender because of your teeth?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, actually, that was sort of like the second or third meal where I could finally eat again, so I was lucky (smiling) - well, not lucky.

Q. After such a great 2005, what are your targets for this year, your last year on the tour?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, well -- no, next year.

Q. You're not playing a whole schedule in 2007, are you?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like I said, because I depend a lot on my movement and on my physical part, you know, I just want to try to make sure that I stay healthy and that I'm fit, and that's something that for me I definitely noticed a lot last year. Doesn't matter if I'm hitting the ball my best, as long as I'm able to move without having any problems so I can defend well, I can win a lot of matches. For me, that was, you know, a big sign. That's important for me, I think, is starting to stay healthy. So that's sort of my main focus I think for the next couple of years, is starting to make sure that I do everything that I can to stay healthy.

Q. What's the coaching situation? Are you going to search for a coach?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no, no. I have a really good hitting partner here. For me, that's more important. I prefer to just hit lots of balls like that. That's what I did with coaches, too. I know what I do wrong. It's not like when I was 14 (inaudible) and when my coach and I stopped, then I really felt like I needed a coach. Just because you're young and you need so much, you need experience and you need somebody to tell you what to do. Now my cousin, who's my physio, she helps with my exercise and the physical part. My best friend is here; she helps me out on the court. It's a lot of fun. Then I have the hitting partner. That's the most important thing, is just to hit lots of balls, and also lose in practice sometimes. So, no, I mean, if I need it, I would have, you know -- of course I would have taken one. But I don't think it's necessary to take one, to have one.

Q. Why would you be talking about leaving the game now when you're playing so well and have had such a good season?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I said it I don't know when, a couple of months ago, the American summer. It's something that I felt. You know, now I'm playing well, but it's still -- tennis is -- like I've always thought that tennis is important for me, but it's not the most important thing. So I still have lots of other things to look forward to. There's a time for everything. Like I said, I've had more and more injuries these last couple of years as well, so I just want to make sure that I'm still able to do lots of sports when I'm 40 and not having to worry about, you know, having bad knees or a bad back because I played, you know. Now your body can handle it and recover, but when you're older, it won't. So I just want to think a little bit ahead as well.

Q. The Australian summer is traditionally very warm. Is it enjoyable playing in the early part of the day, or you don't have a preference?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It didn't feel like it was early (smiling). I was struggling so much at the start of the set, the first set. It was just -- I think my movement and everything was just like -- my skin was burning. I put lots of sunscreen on before, but it was still like so, so warm. But then the second set was better. I wonder what it's like playing at two o'clock or something. Must be...

Q. On that heat, you obviously have come to Australia a lot. You know how hot it can get. Is it still a shock when you go out to play, though?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, when we're not used to it. I've been taking lots of saunas at home and trying to get used to it a little bit. But there you're just sitting there, reading a little bit. Here you have to actually run around and do physical work. So, yeah, no, it is. I mean, it's definitely very, very hot. Playing in Hong Kong, it was really cold. You come from one extreme to another. Like there we were playing in track suits and we were still freezing. They were giving us hand warmers at changeovers trying to keep our hands warm. It's the complete opposite.

Q. You used saunas as part of your preparation?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I love taking saunas, yeah (smiling).

Q. There have been a lot of different players at the top in the women's game the last few years. Do you see anyone - yourself or anyone - doing what Federer is doing in the men's game in the next year or so, dominating?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I think it's like you said, because women's tennis is so I think interesting at the moment because, like you said, there's so many good players out there, and it's so close anyone can win. I think that's great to see. I think Roger Federer in the men's game is in a different league. Even if he has a bad day, he will probably still win most of his matches against a lot of other players. But with the women, that's not the case I think. I mean, nobody knows. In the men's, if you look, Roger Federer, if he plays his best tennis, he's probably going to win the Australian Open. But in the women's, there's so many girls I think that can do really well and that can go so far. So it's, you know -- I don't think in the women's there's no "Ms. Federer".

Q. Could you see yourself getting a break or anyone else sort of getting a break on the rest of the field, like you did last year?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, my year that I had was nothing compared to the year Roger Federer had so, you know. But it was -- no, I don't think in the women -- I think it's -- I don't think there's anybody like that.

Q. Do you see Martina being a contender for the top 10 or top 5?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I definitely think so. I saw her play a little bit against Justine. I think Justine played a great match. She played really well, she was moving really well. Martina, I think she played good. I think against most of or a lot of other girls, she would have won. And so I do think by, you know -- it takes time. She hasn't played a match for, what, four years or so. It takes time to build up the rhythm and to physically get back into the rhythm. It's not just playing the matches, but practicing, taking care of yourself. You have to get back into that. I'm sure you lose a little bit of that when you're just at home all the time. Just, yeah, it's the experience she had. In the future I think she has to get that feeling back a little bit. I'm sure she will. She's so talented.

Q. Do you feel the crowd was behind you again today?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It was fun. It was fun to get out there. And, you know, I've always enjoyed playing on Rebound Ace as well. Winning here before, singles and doubles, I just feel good here. The people were very supportive today as well, so it was fun to be out there (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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