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March 31, 2005

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions in English for Kim, please.

Q. Did you need the brace tonight? You didn't wear a brace tonight?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Tape, I wear. Tape?

Q. Yes.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I did wear tape, yeah.

Q. Have you been using that since you got back?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, just my previous match and today.

Q. Why?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Were you here yesterday? No?

Q. Did you talk about it yesterday?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, but not in English probably. Because I felt like after those three tough, you know, the three days where I had to play every day, I felt it was getting a little bit stiff. I spoke to the WTA physio, just like for prevention they wanted me to tape it, to just take all the pressure off that tendon.

Q. It was okay today?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, yeah. I didn't have any problems hitting backhands. Just like when I go into full rotation I feel it sort of pulling against, you know, just the tendon is getting a bit tired. I think it's pretty normal at the moment.

Q. The second set you played, is this the best you have played so far?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I mean, I think I played a really good match against her, you know, just to -- I think at the start of the match I just had to look a little bit for the rhythm because it was a completely different opponent that I've been playing so far. I played a few Russian girls here. They all were hitting the ball really fast and low, over the net. Sort of in a rhythm. Against Amelie at the start, you have to look a little bit for your footwork and position on the court. She can slice, pull you in forward. You can be on the back foot a little bit. So just a matter in the first few games, just, you know, to work your way through there and just to adjust a little bit. Yeah, you know, I think today I did everything pretty well. I mean, I just, you know, I think the most important thing is that, you know, I made her go for -- I made her do things that maybe took her a little bit out of the comfort zone, you know, that she was trying maybe stuff that she normally doesn't try. And, you know, that she made some more unforced errors than she usually does, I think.

Q. You were particularly strong defending breakpoints in the first set tonight.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I mean, you just have to focus a little bit more, try to make that first serve and just try, you know. Today I think I played the important points really well. I think this is a really good feeling to have again because, you know, this is something that, you know, in Antwerp I wasn't doing that that well yet. It's just through match rhythms, playing lots of matches, I think that's what you get back. It can still get better, of course. But that's something you have to improve on. These kind of matches are perfect, like, for experience.

Q. Are you a little surprised with yourself for doing so well so soon?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Sure. I mean, and even like winning -- like I mean when I was surprised, like the first two matches in Antwerp, I mean, the way I played there, I was surprised already. Then going to Indian Wells. You know, I was practicing well, I was hitting the ball well, but then sort of switching it into matches, you know, sort of clicked into play straightaway. Winning there was, yeah, I mean, it was amazing. I couldn't believe it. You know, I was sitting on the bench on center court and I was like looking at my box, I said, "What is going on here? Is this like a dream or something?" And now, again, yeah, it's amazing, you know. But I'm enjoying it. That's the thing. You know, I'm enjoying myself really, like, very much on the court. I'm trying to just do my thing, you know, focus on what I have to do in the court. I'm having lots of fun outside of the court doing lots of other things. Just the combination of both, I think, everything is well in place at the moment.

Q. Amelie said she thinks you are able to hit the ball harder than before being injured?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Really? I don't know. I don't know if I do. Maybe I place it a little bit better, and that's why it feels for the opponents that they're maybe a little bit under pressure. I think it's tougher, I think, for opponents to play players who place the ball really well than players who just hit the ball as hard as they can, but just a meter from you. Then you just have to block it. But I think if you place a ball well, I think it's got more of an impact on the opponent. I don't know if I'm hitting the ball harder, I do feel like I'm using my angles better. Especially here this week, I feel like I'm doing that well.

Q. What are your keys for beating Sharapova?

KIM CLIJSTERS: The key for the front door and then one for the back door (laughing). I don't know. I have to be very aggressive. That's the thing against those kind of girls now, you have to play aggressive, you have keep your unforced errors down. You have to -- just have to be there from the start as well because once they start going, they get on a roll and they just start cruising. And, you know, I saw that today as well against Venus. Once she gets into that rhythm, she hits the ball so clean and so flat and so hard. So you just have to, you know, maybe try to break that rhythm sometimes like I maybe did against Lindsay in the final of Indian Wells as well.

Q. You think you have some strength left to play this 14th match?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, that's the positive thing, is that there's one more. So there's nothing coming after this. So hopefully, you know, I'll -- it's good to have a day off tomorrow and just take it easy, sort of recharge the batteries a little bit. And then, you know, everything should be okay for Saturday.

Q. So what is coming after NASDAQ? What are your plans for the next couple of weeks?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Then I go home and just take it easy. Rest and then start, you know, start working hard for the clay courts. You know, start training. Because it's, I think at the moment for my wrist, this is a crucial time, I think, you know, getting on the red clay. I think because it's more demanding, I think, on the body, the clay, because the rallies take longer and, you know, you have to -- yeah, there's a little bit more, with the spin, like especially on the wrist, there's a lot more pressure on there. So I'm just going to sort of, you know, take it easy, not start straightaway, like 100% on the clay, like do five, six hours of practice every day, but sort of gradually build my schedule up and then, yeah. But, you know, that's something that I'll think about once my tournament is over here.

Q. You watched the rise of the Russian players last year, now you're back near the top. You have to assume Justine is going to get there, Capriati will get back there. Has there ever been a time, even when you were a junior, looking at the women's pro tour that the women's tour has been as competitive as it is right now?

KIM CLIJSTERS: That's what I -- I think that's why I'm enjoying it now as well. It's just so much fun to be a part of this group now, you know, because there's so many great players out there. But not just on court, there's so many different personalties as well. I think it's great to see how women's tennis, in the last few, maybe four years, has risen - raised? risen - risen to like a higher level. Yeah, like I said, you know, it's just great for me to like, you know, be a part of this. It's like an honor. Yeah, I'm really, really thankful, you know, that I'm in this -- playing in the women's circuit at this time of, you know, sort of the women's tour.

Q. You said before that you were shocked pretty much with what happened in Indian Wells. In your mind, what did you anticipate? I mean, what did you think you were going to do when you came back?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I think I was sort of hoping for maybe playing two matches, three matches in each tournament, just to get some matches. Because I haven't, you know, like for - I don't know - seven months, I was, you know, if I was hitting a ball, I was playing indoors. I think there, I always -- when I was playing in 2003 I always had to get used to that a little bit. It always took me a little longer to adjust from indoors going to outdoors. The other way around was fine, from outdoors to indoors. But from the moment that I came to Indian Wells, I went there a week early to train and, yeah, I started seeing the ball really well, I had a really good feeling in practice. Yeah, yeah, I don't know. I don't really have an explanation.

Q. In Indian Wells and in Key Biscayne, you were not seeded. You had to play seven matches. It's like two Grand Slam tournaments in a row. Does it give you some confidence for Roland Garros?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, I definitely am not thinking about that at all. You know, the only thing is that I've played a lot of matches. It's tough. I mean, you have to be, you know, from the moments that you have days off, you have to, you know, you have to rest and you have to make sure that -- even thinking ahead, even at the beginning of the tournament, where you don't have to play that many matches yet, you have a day off in between, you know, you have to think ahead and think, "What if I get to that second week, at the end of that second week?" You need to rest the start of the week to just not burn out too quickly. It's just experience, I think. It's good to, yeah, to be -- you know, I'm happy I'm playing 14 matches. This is a good sign.

Q. The forecast on Saturday is that it may rain. As part of your way of rehabilitating, are you concerned it will be a long match with rain delays?

KIM CLIJSTERS: That doesn't bother me. You know, being a tennis player, I think we, you know, we grow up like that. You know, I'm from Belgium; we don't always have the best weather out there either. It's something you get used to, I guess. Going to lots of places, I mean, Wimbledon. That's part of tennis. It's not always the weather, it can be long matches, you know, like before you, like playing in front of you. So it's, yeah, that's tennis. You know, waiting is a part of our job, I guess.

Q. Did you watch the Sharapova match this afternoon?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I did, yeah.

Q. Her serve may be not the fastest, but she's very precise.


Q. Does she present a different returning problem than say Venus or Serena, with more power, less on location?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I think she also has a very consistent serve. You know, she, overall, is a great player. She moves well. You know, she hits the ball really hard. She's got that fighting spirit, you know, that you don't see a lot out there, and especially not for girls that are only 17 years old. That's amazing to see, I think. You know, but of course, you know, that's always going to be tougher to, like I said, and even in the rallies, it's tougher to play girls who place the ball well than who are just hitting the ball very hard down the middle. That's a little bit the same with the serve. If you have a girl standing in front of you who hits the serve really hard but like towards you, you just have to block it and you can use the power of your opponent. But if it's placed and you have to get a little bit out of position, then you have to do all the work to try to with another effect, or just try to work the ball back into the court. That's a totally different situation to be in, yeah.

Q. You feel like you're playing like the No. 1 in the world right now?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, God, no. I'm not thinking about that at all. I never did, even when I was No. 1. You know, it's a number, and that's sort of what it is. No, not at all. No.

End of FastScripts….

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