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August 20, 2005

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Kim.

Q. How happy are you with the match?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I'm very happy. I'm happy. You know, so far, this has been my best match of the tournament. Like I said, I felt like I started to improve every match that I've played. Against Razzano, I just had to get into it well, had to refocus and mentally get myself up for it again. Today, I was ready. I mean, I knew it was going to be a tough one because we've had some tough matches in the past. And so I knew I had to play better than I was playing before if I wanted to win today.

Q. Were you surprised to see Anastasia moving that well, especially the first set?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I watched her play against Gisela, the match before. She seemed to be moving really good from side to side. Maybe forward she was struggling a little bit. But from side to side, she was moving really well. Today against me as well. She does it really well. Even when she's on the run, she can hit it so hard and flat. That's definitely one of her, you know, strengths. No matter how far she has to go on the ran, she can still smack like a winner almost. I had to really be on top of my feet and keep expecting every ball back.

Q. You're good friends. Had you talked to her before the match at all about the ankle?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no, not about the ankle, no. We were talking like even when we were walking on the court. We were still talking. It was fun, yeah (smiling).

Q. Looking ahead to tomorrow's final, talk about what you need to do against both these players, if you look ahead, not who you'd rather play, but how you need to play?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, if Justine wins, I mean, Justine, you know, she's probably the best defending player out there at the moment. She's very fit. You know, she just has this incredible touch, you know, with her hands, especially with her slice. I mean, she can just keep getting those balls back. They're very low, as well. It's not like they float up. You have to be always there expecting every ball back against her. You know, she's improved a lot on her strength as well. She hits the ball harder than what she used to maybe two years ago. You always have to -- you know, always have to refocus and always have to -- if I compare, I think Justine is a little bit more aggressive player than Amélie, I think. Amélie is more of a player who plays with more spin I think on both shots. Amélie probably has a little bit of a better serve, I'd say. So, you know, it's going to be a close match. I don't know what their head to head is, but I think it's pretty close. So, you know, I think it's going to be a fun one to watch, too.

Q. Did you see any of the Justine's match against Vaidisova last night?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No. I was watching a movie. I watched Million Dollar Baby last night. I hadn't seen that before. I was actually crying. "Oh, my God, this is terrible." I didn't know anything about the movie. I knew it won the Oscar. I decided to watch it last night. You know, another good show. It was a great movie, but I didn't think it was going to end like that (smiling).

Q. So far you have fantastic results on hard courts. At this point of the season, do you consider yourself the No. 1 player on this surface?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I don't think like that at all. You know, that's not in my mind. The whole year I've been looking forward to playing on hard court. You know, whenever I was on clay, I mean, it was just -- I couldn't wait to just, you know, get those tournaments over and to just, you know, get to the grass. That was sort of a little bit closer to hard court. From the day that I started hitting in Stanford on hard court, I went to New Jersey first for two weeks, and the day I got there, I got off the plane and I had a few days off and then I started hitting. Everything just fell into place (snapping fingers). The first practice, I was moving well, my movement was good. I was just very happy to be back, you know, playing on hard court. I just feel so much more comfortable. But I don't think like that. You know, I've had a lot of good results here, over the last few weeks as well. But I don't think -- I don't see myself, you know, "I'm the No. 1." Not at all.

Q. When you were last playing a couple weeks ago, she played an unbelievable match.

KIM CLIJSTERS: I didn't even play that bad. I felt like I was moving incredibly well that day, as well. I just felt like I was running everywhere. I broke two pairs of shoes. I was just sliding so much. She just kept doing everything right. I just kept hanging in there hoping she would maybe lose her focus a little bit or maybe get a little bit nervous, then I could sort of grab my chances. But she didn't. She kept playing really well. Even on first serves, you know, she was like everywhere. She was hitting winners on a lot of shots. So, you know, afterwards as well, I was frustrated. But, I mean, I couldn't do anything about it. I just gave everything I had and I felt like I was moving well, running well. But, you know, she just played too good that day. It happens.

Q. Heading into a Grand Slam event, does momentum mean anything? Everybody's concerned with physical health, everybody's tired. If you come here and you play well and you play against some good opponents, start feeling good about your game mentally, is that an old-fashioned notion to think that that might be very important heading into a Grand Slam event?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, for me personally, I don't really think that it changes that much because, I mean, during tournaments I've had it happen as well that, you know, I play really well, you know, a couple of matches and the next day I couldn't hit the ball on the court. It doesn't promise you that if you have a great summer here that you're not going to do well at the US Open. There's so many things that can change. There's little details that can change. It's a different tournament. You know, a lot of things can happen. But for your personal confidence, it helps, of course. I feel like I'm hitting the ball well. Physically I feel healthy. For me that's the most important thing. That makes me ready to go to the US Open. But that doesn't mean that I'm ready, that I'm going to win it. I'm going to give my best shot. If I'm ready, I'm going to go for it 200% and give it my best shot. That doesn't promise me. If it were that easy, you win these tournaments, win the US Open.

Q. Do you feel better off? Everybody has something wrong with them at this time. Might you have a bit of a heads up on somebody?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I'm sure all the players that are injured are going to be there. I'm pretty sure. I think we're going to have an incredible US Open this year. I think almost all the players are there. I think probably not Jennifer. I don't think she'll be there. But I think everybody else will be there. So it will be a very tough US Open.

Q. You talked about how you and Anastasia were chatting before you got on to the court. Is it difficult to switch that friendship off and start playing someone as a stranger across the net? Do you do that?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, it's not that -- you know, I mean, we're both not the type of girls -- you know, we don't hate our opponents when we play them. We hate the ball and we hit against the ball. It's not like you -- you try -- yeah, I mean, even out there today, I wasn't thinking about, you know, playing Anastasia, I have to be nice. I'm playing against the ball, and you just go for it. Even when we practice together, that's what makes it fun, is the competition. We both -- you know, we're both mature enough and good enough of friends that we know what we do on the court happens on the court. Afterwards, in the locker room, like now as well we were chatting, talking. You know, that's how it should be, I think. It should be a little bit more I think with a lot of other players.

Q. You said Justine is such a good defensive player. Are you not too bad yourself?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I didn't say that.

Q. You said she's the best, though.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, you know, she's got the natural touch. I think I have -- I don't know. With her it just looks a little more natural, I think. I feel like I have to just put so much more effort into it. No, she's got the slice, which I don't really use that much. She's got the great hands. She's always had the great hands, you know, with her volleys. She's just naturally a lot of touch in her game.

Q. In the match you just played, it seemed at one point, it was a winning dropshot, you almost seemed to shrug apologetically. Do you think you have to become a meaner person or player to get that one level further up?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no, no. You know, I don't think -- these last few years, a lot of people -- you know, when you do well, a lot of people always look at the things you don't have. A lot of people have been talking about, especially with Amélie and I, "They both haven't won a Grand Slam yet." Let's be honest, I haven't done too bad. I'm still working very hard. Every tournament I play, I give my best shot. I'm working very hard on what I do. I'm sure Amélie is, as well. I'm not going to become a meaner person. I don't want to be that. I'm being myself. I still would like to have friends if I stop playing on this tour. You know, I think this is important. See all these girls almost every week. So, you know, they become friends. So, no, I don't have to hate people to win matches, no (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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