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July 6, 2006

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Kim Clijsters.

Q. Did you manage to play as aggressively today as you said before you hoped to play against Justine?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think I did. I was really going for the lines. I think that's what I, you know, did really well. You know, I personally feel that for the last few matches that I played, this has been the best one I played against her. I'm happy with that.
Obviously, I'm disappointed that I lost, but I'm still happy with that. This is something you sort of set as a base and keep building from here onwards. Just try to work hard. We have Fed Cup next, so that's the next goal that we look forward to.

Q. What is making the difference lately?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I think, she, again, hit a few double-faults today, but when it came down to it, like having a breakpoint, she hits, you know, some good first serves in. I think that's where she got a lot of easier points, or can set up the point a lot better. You know, I don't think I really returned that well today. I think I missed a lot of second-serve returns.
But, again, this is -- yeah, I mean, she played well when she had to. That's what she's good at. A player who's playing with a lot of confidence and has that, you know, you see that. You saw that when the Williams sisters were playing well. You see when they're down, they can always step it up a little bit.

Q. You have played Justine a few times. How do you rate her performance today against the other times you played her?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, personally I felt like I gave her a lot like a lot of my better -- my better game. That's what I'm more happy about. Losing to her in some of the other Grand Slams, I was more disappointed in the fact that I didn't really give her my best. And I felt like today, I felt like she had to work for it.
That's more of a -- like that's something more positive that I can take away from this match.

Q. Her performance, is that as well as she's played against you?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I think she'll be here in half an hour, so (smiling).

Q. From your perspective.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, she's always played good tennis against me. It's not flashy, but she's very steady, very, you know -- yeah, like I said, it's very steady. She always makes you go for that extra shot and always makes you go for that line. That's what she's good at.

Q. After having played her so many times, does she still surprise you sometimes with her defense or things she does?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not anymore.

Q. Is there anyone you'd rather less see in a big match than Justine at this point?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I mean, not at all. I kind of have the opposite. When you lose to somebody a few times, that's what you try to -- is you want to play them again in big matches and train hard and work for it, to be in that same situation again, hopefully have things going your way.
But that's what I mean. You just have to keep working hard and keep giving yourself the opportunities to get into these big kind of matches again at Grand Slams and just keep working hard. Don't let, you know, matches like this sort of, you know, get you in a negative kind of swirl. You have to keep staying positive.
I had a good tournament. I felt like I've played a lot better the last few months than I did last year. That's something that I, you know, look at. That to me is more important than whatever, prize money, trophy. I mean, that's something that I prefer more than everything else.

Q. Do you anticipate it will be a bit strange to go and play with Justine against the United States in Fed Cup? Bit of a switch there.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, if you choose to play Fed Cup, that's fine. I have never had problems after a loss. I have no problems with that at all. I kind of look forward to it as well. My best friend Caroline, she's going to be there. We're going to have fun. We're playing in a great city, a great place. We're staying in a really nice hotel with lots of spas. We might come on the court with wrinkled hands from being in the spas too long. But, no, I look forward to playing there.

Q. Justine is so intense. Can you feel her intensity on the court, that mental...
KIM CLIJSTERS: Uhm, you focus on yourself. You focus on what you have to do, obviously. I don't know. I mean, today, I didn't think she was more intense than any other matches I've played against her.

Q. You've played her so many times. Do you ever dream about these matches?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I have totally different dreams. But I'm not gonna tell you those (smiling).

Q. This is your kind of second to last year on the tour. Does it ever hit you sometimes when you walk off there and think, "Wow, I've only got one more year to go here, next time will be the last time"?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I kind of always think that. I've had some, you know -- you always read stories about people, you know, getting injured and having really serious injuries. I'm always very lucky. After my wrist surgery, I have that a lot more. Every time I step off a court, off a tennis court, I'm like more happy. Win or loss, I was able to play.
That's another thing that kind of gets you through losses like this, I think, is I was so close to not being able to -- or thinking that I was never going to be able to be back here. And so I do enjoy playing tennis, and especially because this is like maybe the last year and a half I have to play and that I can play. So, yeah, I do enjoy it.
Hopefully if everything goes according to plan, I'll be here next year. You never know, you know. I'm sure you don't know if you're going to be sitting here tomorrow. That's something nobody knows.

Q. On a positive note, just going into the North American hard court season where you've performed really well, what are your thoughts on that?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I've always enjoyed playing those tournaments. Besides the Antwerp tournament, they're my favorite tournaments of the year. I didn't get to play in Indian Wells this year, so I look forward to getting back to the west coast and playing in Stanford and San Diego.
Yeah, I mean, they're fun. Great weather. You know, I have family traveling with me, parts of Brian's family that will travel with me. That's important to me. I have like to have the close group around you, the family around me, to keep things fun.

Q. Do you think you need to change anything to keep winning Slams, or you think your game is fine the way it is?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, you can always improve. Everybody can. But that's what I'll always try to work for. I know that I'm the type of player who will have to -- I don't need to work on hitting the ball harder, obviously, you know. I mean, you don't have to tell Serena you have to become more stronger.
But I know that I'm the type of player, I need to keep working on the touch a little bit, on the feeling. That's something that I wasn't naturally born with, I guess. That's always something I try to do, that I try to stick into my practices, just do a few slices, some mini tennis, just work on even like fun games where you do -- run for dropshots, little things like that. You just try to keep building it into your practice.
So, yeah, I mean, you always can improve, and you're never at your best. I think you can always progress.

Q. How about mentally?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Same thing. Same thing. Every loss, probably more so a loss is a learning experience. Through injuries, like where I think became a lot more -- where I got to know myself a lot better was when I was injured, when I was in the hospital with my wrist surgery. That's where, to me, that was at the time very frustrating.
But I felt I wouldn't change a thing now. I think that's when you, as being, you know, a girl when I started playing on the tour, 14, 15 years old, that's a completely different story. Everything changes mentally-wise.

Q. Just on the mental preparation, because Justine now has the upper hand in the big matches over you, do you think it is rather more a psychological battle with her than perhaps one of strategy or skill?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I don't think so. I think she was just a better player today. That's the thing. I mean, you know, maybe in the previous matches I never felt like I gave her my best tennis, and that's what frustrated me more.
But, uhm, today, I mean, I felt like I was doing as well as I could do. I mean, obviously you can say, Yeah, I should have hit a few more lines to win a couple of important points. But, you know, that's tennis. You know, you start with two on the court and one of them has to lose. Today that's me. Just keep working hard so that next time it will be me as a winner to come off the court.

Q. Did you put the last serve where you wanted it?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Where did I hit it?

Q. Backhand corner.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Q. Did you think that your backhand in the tiebreaker was in, the really close one? It looked like it might have been on the TV replay.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Doesn't matter now. No, doesn't matter.

Q. Will you watch the final?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Uhm, I don't know. Uhm, I am planning on going to a wedding, so... We'll see.

Q. How do you see it shaping up? Can you give us your pick, how you think it's going to break down. Obviously, either one. It's all even.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, that's the thing. You know, Maria is very -- as a past champion, she's been here before. You know, I mean, it's hard to pick. I mean, this one, too, you know. I wouldn't mind seeing Mauresmo-Henin final again. But, you know, even Sharapova, on grass, I think she's so tough, too. She hits the ball so hard and flat and so...
Yeah, I don't know. Anyway, whatever player is going to be in the final against Justine I think it's going to be a really good match.

Q. On the psychological theme, were you aware she was slowing you down a little bit at key moments of the match, taking a drink, extra wipe of the towel?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, but she's not the only player that does that on the tour. You get to -- you just don't let it bother you. You just try to go back to the back of the court and just focus to yourself and focus on what you have to do out there. That doesn't bother me at all.

End of FastScripts...

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