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September 6, 2005

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions in English for Kim, please.

Q. Well done, Kim.


Q. Quite a fight back. After everything that happened last year, where do you rank this victory in terms of your career?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, since my injury, I think every win is -- just means a lot more, I think. If I can compare the feeling, it's probably the same feeling than winning the championships or winning doubles, you know, at the Grand Slams. Then, you know, just this is especially, you know, after not knowing if I was going to be able to play this type of level again, you know, that definitely means so much more than, yeah, than what it used to.

Q. Did you feel you were like discovering things about yourself during the match in terms of the level you can play?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I just kept hanging in there. I don't think I was playing, you know, the same level in the first set as I did in the third set. But, you know, as long as you end, you know, on a good level, that's the most important thing I think. And that's what I did today. So even though I wasn't playing -- probably wasn't playing my best tennis at all, for a set and a half, I was still -- still kept fighting. I was defending well. I think that's kept me in a lot of the games. A lot of the points I came back. I got her tired, I think, as well, you know, the first and second set. We had a lot of long rallies, and I think that got her tired.

Q. Winning the way you did, what kind of confidence does that give you going into the match against Sharapova?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know, you know. I just try not to think about -- you know, I'm thinking about it, but first I'm thinking about trying to recover. And, you know, things what I have to do to be ready to have, you know, a nice and relaxed practice tomorrow. So I'm not really thinking too much about what it's going to do for my confidence. I'm just going to go out there and do the same as I did today - fight for each point, and then we'll see.

Q. In the first few games of the second set you looked so angry. Just talk about what was going through your mind. You were frustrated.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, no, my forehand was just letting me down a couple of times. Especially on important points where I felt like, you know, I was missing some shorter shots and, you know, I think also you play Venus, she hits the ball so hard and deep. I think, you know, you stand back a little further. Then when you get a shorter ball, I think you're trying to rush forward a little bit. That's what I was feeling, like I was trying to run towards the ball a bit too quickly. Yeah, just made a couple of easy mistakes on those. Of course it's a little frustrating at the time but, you know, again, just tried to just put that sort of out of my head straightaway and, yeah... Third set, everything went pretty good.

Q. When did it turn for you confidence-wise in the second set?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Gradually. It's not like it just came (snapping). I also started noticing that she wasn't, you know, running as well as she used to, I think. And not moving as well. You know, that definitely -- you know, I knew that if I would win that second set, you know, I was gonna have a good chance to win because I felt fine. You know, I felt I could -- I had no problems physically.

Q. Mentally, how important is it for you to come back against Venus Williams at a Grand Slam the way you did?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, it's always great to come back against players like this. And, you know, this victory means a lot, you know. But it's not over. You just have to, you know, refocus and just, you know, do the same things as I have been doing every day and, you know, don't change the routine.

Q. Just the way you've been playing over the last few weeks, would you have to say you're the favorite?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. Still a lot of people have been saying that, I know, and I know from day one that I came here they've been giving me that name. Like I said before, I think it's a compliment but, you know, I've got a tough match ahead of me. I'm not really thinking too much about being the favorite because I know what I have to do out there to win my matches. And, you know, it takes a lot, it's a lot of work. You just have to fight for each point. I know Maria is going to try to do the same thing, so...

Q. Have you ever played better than this?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Uhm, I don't think I, you know -- I played well in the third set, but I don't think I played my best tennis in the beginning, no. So yes (smiling).

Q. The 6-5 game in the second set, a whole string of breaks, you hit a couple double-faults in that game, what was going through your mind at that point to get it back together?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think sometimes I get the tendency to not finish my serve, you know. Like I serve and then because I want to recover quickly because I know she's a good returner and she is aggressive, I think I try to prepare myself for the return to come back. And I think that's -- sometimes I don't finish my serve. Like I don't jump into the court as much. And when I'm serving well, I think that's something that I'm automatically, you know -- you want to be ready for that next shot. But, you know, you're already thinking a step ahead and I should first think about my serve. I think that's, a couple of times, when I hit that double-fault, it just wasn't, you know, falling into the court enough. So, yeah, next time I'll try and do it again.

Q. Is that something you sort out in your mind instantly?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. I mean, you know, I know that I have to do that but it's just your body just does it (snapping). You want to be ready and you focus so much on that next shot that you want to be ready for it. But I know that I have to do it, and that's not something that you can practice and, you know -- or that you can, yeah, practice in the practice session. That's something that comes in matches. So I just have to, yeah, just take your time and just focus very good on the serve.

Q. How well do you think you played when you beat her in Miami?


Q. In Miami.

THE MODERATOR: Against Maria.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Maria, I'm sorry. There it was just hard. You know, the weather conditions were just very tough. It was almost like here a few days ago. It was very windy. You know, it was very tough I think for both of us to play our best tennis. It was just, you know, I think we were just rallying a lot and hitting with a lot of spin, just trying to keep the ball in the court. So it's going to be, if the conditions are normal or like they have been for the last few days, I think it's going to be a completely different match. It's very hard to compare that, I think.

Q. Do you think having come back from the injury the way you did, you may not be thinking about it during the match, but it kind of gives you a strength to come back for individual games and individual sets like you did tonight, that same mentality you had while rehabbing?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, well, you know, that's definitely something that maybe, you know, that's a part of maturing, I think on the court as well. In a way, at the time, when I got injured, it was very frustrating. Maybe now I'm starting to see that it was a very good thing that happened to me. Yeah, I think it's definitely helped in a lot of ways. But, yeah, I think it has, yeah.

Q. You said so many times about the Williamses that sometimes they're just too good, and when they're just hitting so hard there's nothing you can do. Are you at the point now where you can be too good?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Gee, uhm, I don't know, no. I don't think so. I just have to -- there's a lot of tough players out there. You know, it was, you know -- my next match is going to be very tough, too. It's not going to be -- there's not going to be any easy matches anymore. So, you know, I think Roger Federer, he's too good, I think, you know (smiling). I don't know.

Q. But defensively, Venus is talking about she thought her defense was a little bit better than yours. But now the last two times it might be clear that yours is right there with hers at least.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think today especially because I think, you know, I think defending is something that has to be consistent throughout the whole match. I think that's where maybe physically she -- I don't know, she let herself down maybe a little bit physically-wise. It's a good thing for me to know, because that's something -- I know when I started the third set, that's something I didn't have to worry about because I knew I was ready to go and I could hit rallies like that every day, or every point I could hit long rallies and I wouldn't get tired. So that's a good thing to have. That's a good thing to not have to worry about. But I feel like especially on hard court, you know, I think I feel like I move well and I'm defending well. You know, I'm sure she, you know, on a grass court, I think she's a very good mover. I think the surface makes a difference, too.

Q. There's a certain similarities in the stories we're telling between you and James Blake, injuries, you've been through some things in your life. Have you seen him around at all?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I've been a very -- over the last -- I mean, over the last few years I've been a very great admirer of his game. You know, I think he's a very -- he's a really nice guy as well and, you know, he just brings something to the court, I think, whenever he plays. You know, it's fun. It's a lot of, yeah, like stamina when he plays. And, you know, after what he's been through, I think it's been, you know -- it's terrible. But I've read some of his interviews as well. He thinks that some of the things that happened also happened for a reason and he takes a lot of good things out of it as well. It's, in a way -- I mean, like I said, he's lost his father and, you know, so my wrist injury is nothing to what, you know, what he's been through. But maybe in a way, just being out for so long and, you know, maybe in a way it is a little similar. But I think it's amazing that he's back and that he's playing so well, yeah.

Q. Is the key against Maria sort of like Venus, to make the match as physical as possible, extend the rallies, make sure you get her moving?

KIM CLIJSTERS: If I can make it a little quicker, that would be nice, too (smiling). Just going to have to see. Just go out there, give myself each point and I'll know that I'll have to be fit. Again, I'll have to be running well, I'll have to be moving well. Make sure I play aggressive tennis because, you know, she probably hits the ball a little flatter, too, than Venus does. So, yeah, I'll have to make sure that I, you know, stand on the baseline and make sure that I keep hitting aggressive.

End of FastScripts….

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