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July 4, 2006
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Kim Clijsters. Questions, please.
Q. She's tough?
KIM CLIJSTERS: She is (smiling). I can only agree with you.
No, like I said in my previous press conference, in my -- the match that I remember in Sydney, I also had to play really good tennis and aggressive tennis. She came up with really good shots. And today as well. I mean, I think her backhand is very powerful. You know, she keeps the unforced errors down on her backhand. A really good shot. She's a really, really good player, I think.
Q. How about her forehand into your forehand corner, how deep that penetrates?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, as well. Her forehand is I think her stroke that breaks down faster. But still, she can really, really dominate a lot of points like that.
Like I said, you feel like you always have to do a little bit more with your shot because if you don't, she just goes for winners and she does it really well.
Q. Of all the times you and Justine have played, are you surprised you never played here?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, in a way, yeah. That is kind of, uhm -- I think that was our -- the 20th match, I think, that we played at the French Open?
Q. This is 22 coming up.
KIM CLIJSTERS: But at the French Open it was our 20th match, I think, because, yeah, I played in Eastbourne.
Yeah, it is. It's amazing.
Q. I mean, when you look at your rivalry, what sticks out in your mind?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, you know, obviously I've lost the last few matches that I've played against her, so I think the last one I won was in - was it Montreal or Toronto? Toronto. Yeah, it's -- in a way, I have nothing to lose. I'm just gonna go out there. I'm in the semifinal at Wimbledon again. Last time I played the semis was against Venus and, you know, I was up there as well.
Like I said, I have nothing to lose. I'm gonna go for it and try to play my best tennis.
Q. Tactically, what's the key for you? What did you take away from the Eastbourne match?
KIM CLIJSTERS: There I played a really good second set. I think it's just really important to play aggressive tennis, and, you know, like I said, she's the type of player that she gets a lot of balls back. She's worked a lot on her strength. She hits a lot more powerful than she used to.
Like I said, I have to be aggressive, make sure that I, you know, keep it up, don't let her try to dictate the points too much.
Q. You're 15 years old, playing an ITF event in Israel against Justine Henin the first time. Do you remember that match?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I do.
Q. What was it like? How big was she?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I think she was 16 at the time. We were younger even, I think.
Q. You were 15.
KIM CLIJSTERS: 14, 15. I remember more the place. It was a beautiful place in Israel there. But I think it was like 7-5, 6-3 or something like that, or 7-5, 6-2.
I mean, don't ask me what happened in the match. I don't remember that. That's too long ago. But, no, I do remember playing her there.
Q. Is it amazing that you're both still quite young and have played 21 matches already.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, it is.
Q. I think only Venus and Lindsay have played more matches on the tour right now.
KIM CLIJSTERS: It is. It is amazing, I think. Like I said, at the French Open, I never thought of it that way. When people, you know, asked me in my press conference before the match, said this is the 20th time that the two of you are going to play each other, I was like, Really, is it? That many times?
Like I said, it just shows how long our careers have been already and how consistent we both have been in our careers.
Q. How would you characterize your relations with Justine now? You've obviously had your ups and downs the last few years.
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, you know, we get along. People always, you know, try to automatically think that because, you know, you lose a few times, you beat each other, you win, you lose, and people automatically think that that is, you know, that it creates tension or something. But I've never had that. I don't know about her, but I've never had that.
You know, to me, results don't matter at all. You know, I think I still -- I've said that before. I like to make friends on the tour, and knowing that, you know, if I stop, that I can still, you know, call girls and still, you know, hang out with girls and meet up and catch up. That to me is more important and that's something that I prefer to take away.
You know, like I said before, trophies, they don't talk to you when you retire. When you are at home and sitting on a couch, you can look at your trophy room, but that's not gonna talk to you. I prefer to -- and now, too, I call -- like with Myskina, Kuznetsova, we call when we're not playing tournaments, with Pennetta. To me, that is so much more important than winning. Of course, you know, everybody, we all want to win.
Q. Is it fair to say they're maybe better than the fall of 2003?
KIM CLIJSTERS: My feeling towards her has never changed. It has always been the same. I've always been nice to her. I've always, you know, been myself with her.
Q. Second set, Na Li is serving, you're facing a set point. Can you recreate that point through your eyes, what you tried to do to force the error that staved off the set point?
KIM CLIJSTERS: What you try to do is not give the point away. That's the thing. You just try to defend well, you try to keep that extra shot in. I mean, I remember hitting a slice and, you know, that's the only thing you can do, is try to make it hard for your opponent. Let them come up with a great shot, and if they can do that...
And I think for her, a really big moment, I think, to get into a third set here, you know, she will be a little bit nervous, a little bit tight, I think. So that's the thing, you just try to keep the ball in play and when you have a chance, try to go for it.
But the most important thing is just make sure that you keep the ball in play.
Q. And your fight in the final game, where you made a couple of double-faults there.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah.
Q. Then you missed that easy ball inside the service line, but you still got on the third matchpoint. Can you go through that game a little bit with us.
KIM CLIJSTERS: That's tennis. You make a few mistakes and you come up with some good shots. But you just try to, as soon as -- that's what I try to think. When I make a mistake, I'm like, Forget about it, it didn't happen, just try to refocus. Especially in a game that is that important, even more so. When you're down Love-15 or Love-30, you try to refocus, focus on your serve, make sure that first serve goes in. Doesn't always happen. I still hit a double-fault.
But that's what -- you just try to go each point and you don't really think about the score, you don't really, uhm, yeah, worry about that too much, about being down in that game or about how important that game is. You just try to really focus on the point that you're playing and try to build up those points really well.
Q. Do you see her as having top 10 potential?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I do.
Q. What is it about her game that you think is particularly strong?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, she has -- overall, she has an overall game that is very good. I mean, it's -- you know, her backhand to me felt very, very, like very powerful, just very consistent. She has a backhand that can really set up a lot of points for her, and where she can, with her forehand, finish it off. She moves really well, as well. She has a good serve.
I think she's a real good player. If she has more experience and gets to play more of these kind of big matches, I think, you know, it's not gonna take her a long time to one of these days in the next few Grand Slams already to break through one of those.
Q. When you've played someone for so many times like you have Justine, does it get to a certain place in certain matches where you know how it's going to end up, you feel like you've been there before, you know how it's going, or is it always different?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, it is always different. You never know how the match is going to end up. Obviously, you know, I know Justine well. Like you said, I mean, 20 or 22 times standing in front of the same person is something that in the beginning, when you play them a little bit more -- in the beginning, the first few times are probably more nerve-wracking, I think, in the beginning. In the beginning they're a little bit more nerves.
Now I really don't care who's standing in front of me. Doesn't matter if I'm playing Venus or Justine or Lindsay, you know, to me that doesn't matter anymore. I think that's something that as you get older and as you, you know, play bigger tournaments and more matches, more of these big matches, you know that everything, you know, has to be -- you have to play well.
I'm not gonna worry about who's playing on the other side of the net. Of course I know how Justine plays but, you know, she's a really good player. I have a very tough task ahead of me, but it's definitely a challenge that I look forward to.
Q. How do you analyze a matchup on this surface?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Uhm, you know, in Eastbourne, I mean, again, what she does really well is she mixes the game up really well. Her slice, it's very hard to play, you know, aggressive tennis. You have to be patient. But then, you know, also you do have to make sure that you, uhm, are patient but still do something with the ball. You can't just hit it back into the court because that's when she steps it up and she really tries to go for her shots as well.
So, yeah, you just have to -- you go out there, play aggressive tennis, try to take your chances, and that's all. That's what you try to do against every player. But against Justine, you have to expect every ball to come back. There's no different situation, I think. You just have to make sure that you, yeah, accept every ball back.
Against some girls you hit a good shot and you know it's a winner, but against Justine you always have to expect it back.
Q. This player forced you today to bring your game to a higher level, made you play more defense than you'd played in the first four rounds and brought your game up because of the way she plays. Do you feel that? If it did, how do you carry that through?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I definitely felt like I had to run a lot more today. She made me move a lot, but also she did it in a way that was aggressive tennis, with aggressive, you know, shots. That's something that for my next match will be important, too, because Justine is a girl who hits the ball, you know, even harder than Li. So that's something that is going to be, you know, something good for me that I have to take that -- that I can take that with me to the next round, yeah.
Q. You've been pretty vocal about the prize money issue. Don't you think there's also a discrepancy of having a women's final on Saturday and a men's final on Sunday? Should there be a toss between a Sunday final between the two tours? There's also a discrepancy, final day.
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I mean, that to me -- that's in most of the Grand Slams, I think. They have the --
Q. The men's final, in theory, is more important than the women's final.
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, I've never thought of it that way. Uhm, you know, I'm not gonna say stuff now because I've never thought about it. So maybe in my next press conference, you can ask me again and I'll think about it for a couple of days (smiling).
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