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January 14, 2007

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Kim, please.

Q. How have you pulled up after your final on Friday night? How do you feel physically?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I feel pretty good. Just a little tight around the lower back. But that's normal, I guess. It was pretty intense.
No, but I feel pretty good. Just tried to rest a lot in the last few days, because we had an early flight the next day as well. Only slept for about four hours. I tried to just take -- tried to sleep a lot, that's about it. That really helped.
Had a practice, an easy practice, 45 minutes to an hour. Just very relaxing.

Q. Could your preparation have gone any better?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, no. I mean, it's better than I expected. I'm very happy with the way that I played. You know, what I'm more happy with is that I didn't start the tournament off playing great, but, you know, I still felt like I was improving compared to Hong Kong.
In the finals, I think I started seeing the ball a lot better. That was good to just gradually see myself improve every match.

Q. You enjoy such good support out here. How important is it? What would it mean to you to win in your final year?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, that's something -- I enjoy playing here. Doesn't matter if it's the first round, if you get to play semifinals or finals here. That's something that I'm not really thinking about. I'm very focused on trying to win, but everything's possible.
There's 127 other girls trying to do the same thing, I guess. Just have to try to be as ready as possible, and we'll see where it ends.

Q. Is there a sense of emotion when you walk in here, knowing the support you've had, what you've enjoyed as far as the crowd getting behind you?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's very special. I think you appreciate it so much more. Not just the support, but all the details I think just around, just from traveling, going to these beautiful places, like being here in Melbourne, like being in Sydney last week.
Just saying good-bye at the end of a tournament makes it harder as well. You always expect to come back and see all the people again, meeting so many, like, volunteers. Some you keep in contact with throughout the year as well. That's probably the hardest, I think, is not seeing all the people and the friends that I've met throughout the years.

Q. Familiar faces, help make it home.
KIM CLIJSTERS: That's true. That's what makes it so special. Even in Sydney, when the crowd was like going for her so much, all the Serbians, they were like screaming very hard for her. When you see a few people on the sidelines that you know, that's what makes it so special to be out there.

Q. The people you keep in contact from the tournaments, what sort of roles do they have here?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, they're friends. They're my friends. There's volunteers that I met at tournaments. When I meet them, we go out to dinner, hang out when there's a players' party. Things like that. Have nice conversations. Sometimes if it's not possible to go out anywhere, just have lunch here at the club, sit together and laugh.
That's what's fun. To me it's never just been tennis. Yeah, I just like to meet people and make friends.

Q. Despite five of the seven past champions here, there are no American seeds. Can you tell us why you think they're struggling so bad?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's very hard for me to say much about that because it's not that I've -- I never really paid that much attention about where the seeds are from. I did say when I saw the draw, it was weird not seeing Lindsay here, Venus. Serena is here, but not to see them seeded is strange. They still have everything to be up there with all of us.

Q. Russians are belting them at the moment.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Russia, too. I think it's great. It's what sports is all about. You go through patches where a few years ago where America was dominating, now it's more Europe again. That's just sports. It just changes. There's players coming, players going. New ones come up.
Yeah, like I said, that's what sports is all about.

Q. Is there a rivalry, Europeans versus the Americans?

Q. Maria Sharapova said yesterday she could understand you retiring at your age, 24, later this year. Could see herself retiring at that sort of age, too. Is it a problem for tennis that the top players want so hard to sustain careers?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Myself and Maria, too, we've all started pretty young. We've played a lot of matches. I think this is my eighth or ninth year on the tour. I played a lot of matches over the years that I was fit. I played a lot of singles and doubles. I think that's just very demanding on the body.
After a while, the last couple years, I really started to realize that my body's physically not able to do that any more. That's very frustrating to deal with that. It's very hard. I know how well I was able to feel when I played some of my best tennis, and how well I felt. Not always having that now is very frustrating. So it's very understandable. Someone like Maria, as well. If she's going to be on top of the game for that long, I mean, it's hard, yeah.

Q. Who do you think is favored this week?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Maria's playing -- she always plays well here. She's very good I think also in playing in the heat. This kind of Australian atmosphere, I think she enjoys that. She's playing well. She always is capable of doing a little bit more I think when it gets close, when it gets really important. That's why she's such a great champion.
Again, Amélie, as well. She likes the higher bounce here on this kind of surface. After winning here last year, I think she definitely believes that this is a good chance for her. She's a great player, as well. I think she's shown over the last couple years how good she is and how much she's even improved over the last couple of years.
I think those two are definitely up there. I'm not going to name myself (smiling). But, you know, there's a lot of girls who are not very -- people don't really see as winning the whole thing, but can make it very tough on a lot of top players. There's a lot of those.
So you never know. Anything could happen on the day. Just have to try to be really focused and be ready for each match to be tough.

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