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September 4, 2009

Kim Clijsters


K. CLIJSTERS/K. Flipkens
6-0, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It's been four years since you faced Venus. Your thoughts on the match to come?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's obviously going to be a good game for me. It's something I already look forward to now. It's these kind of matches that make it very special.
It's obviously going to be very tough, as well. I think she's playing good tennis. I think she's been a little bit up and down in her match. But I think overall when she has to, you know, when she has to bring it, she's been able to bring it.
I think that's what they've both been really good at, Venus and Serena. They can really, you know, lift their level when they're struggling. That's a big talent to have.

Q. When you were contemplating your comeback, could you have foreseen you could have come to the point where you'd be in the situation you're in right now?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I never really thought about that because I had so many, you know, things to work for just before I even got to that point where I started thinking about, you know, playing Grand Slams and everything.
So that kind of just started here. I think when I first got to Cincinnati, I was just focusing on getting some matches and trying to get a feel for it all over again.
Then, you know, what's definitely helped is that I was able to -- in the past few weeks I've beaten some good players, top 10 players, to get used to that level a little bit.
Obviously it's a completely different situation. We're at a Grand Slam. Everybody's a little bit more focused. I think Venus and Serena, especially, they can just do a little bit better when they have to, when they play a Grand Slam. That's what makes it even tougher.
It's a big challenge for me. I've got nothing to lose. I'm going to go out there and just give it 200%.

Q. Why do you think we've seen so many seeded women fall in this first week?
KIM CLIJSTERS: To be honest, I don't think it's because they're playing bad. I haven't watched some of the matches. The girls, just thinking about, say, Oudin, and I forgot the name of the girl that beat Jankovic, they've been playing really good tennis. They play aggressive tennis, really go for their shots. It's not that they're waiting for their opponent to say make mistakes. They play aggressive tennis. A couple of them even come in.
So, like I said in my previous press conference, I think the depth has definitely extended a little bit in the past few years that I was absent. I think there's a lot of girls, and I still don't even know 'em. I see them playing out there, and they're hitting the ball really well and they're moving good as well. They're not intimidated by a lot of the top players anymore. I think that's a big thing.
But then again, I think the consistency is something that we'll have to see how they're going to cope with just the pressure that's coming in a Grand Slam and everything by getting through to, you know, bigger matches and getting through to, you know, like fourth round, third rounds and stuff.
That's obviously going to be interesting to watch now how those girl who have beaten some of the good players, how are they going to cope in the next few rounds.

Q. Do you think can you take advantage of Venus' knee?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Uhm, I don't know. I mean, she's obviously been playing pretty good, moving well, so I don't think it's really bothering her that much. She's still playing doubles, as well. I assume if it was that bad, she wouldn't be playing both events.
I mean, I'm going to go out there and not even worry about the knee. When you play against her, you know that the balls are coming fast. You don't really have time to worry too much about injuries or anything. You never do that anyway, nobody.

Q. You played each other 10 times, but it's been four years. Has there been too long a chasm of time?
KIM CLIJSTERS: That's the thing, I mean, I know what I have to do for myself. You know, I know what kind of tennis I have to bring. But obviously it's still, like you said, it's been so long that I stood in front of someone like her, you know, who can play as well as she can.
So, you know, I know, just talking for myself, I know that serving is going to be very important. I'm going to really have to make sure I get a high first-serve percentage in, stay aggressive.
I think something I did well in the past, a few years ago when I beat her here, was I stayed really aggressive. I think that's the biggest thing, is trying to be aggressive and also keep the unforced errors low.
I think if you can have that balance against them, you know, it's a good -- that's the first step, and I think that's when you can just keep the pressure on them. You know, it's not like they -- you know, everybody can have some up-and-down moments in a match. Even if they're playing like extremely well, you just have to keep fighting, keep trying to create that chance, then hopefully take it.
A match takes long. It takes long before it's won or lost. You just have to keep fighting.

Q. Somebody asked you the other day if you could still do the splits. You said if called upon, you could. Do you expect you might have to do a few? Do you think the physicality will become a major difference in the match?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I know I don't have to worry about my physical situation because I've had seven, eight months where I was really able to focus on what I had to do just trying to get back into shape.
My biggest concern is the consistency. After being away for that long, I still go through patches in a match where I'm a little bit up and down and where a few of my strokes, especially like, say, the serve, can kind of, yeah, you know, serve percentage might drop a little bit at some points. That's something that I really want to just keep focusing on.
Like I said, I'm not going to worry too much about her situation or anything. I still have a lot of things to worry on my side of the court. That's what I'm going to do out there today: just really focus on myself and really focus on what I have to do, and, yeah, like I said, not worry too much about a knee or the way she's playing.
I think that's the best mentality and focus to have when you play someone like her.

Q. When you went to Cincinnati, was there any worry at all that you haven't played for two years and Bartoli was going to beat you love and love, you had forgotten how to play? Everybody is insecure.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, no, of course you don't know how you're going to go out there and play the matches. I mean, I've been practicing. I had a good feeling in practice. That's a good start to have, you know, when you start a big tournament.
Like you said, you don't know how you're going to cope with it emotionally, mentally, everything, just by playing a match and then playing Bartoli, who is a tricky player. That's why in a way I surprised myself a lot there, because I started off playing so well. I was so focused.
Yeah, so I did surprise myself a lot by just, you know, yeah, the way that I just, yeah, raised my level I guess in a match like that.

Q. What would you think the young Kim Clijsters starting to play tennis would think of this great run that you have had winning majors, becoming No. 1, becoming a mother, coming back?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Uhm, I don't know. I mean, I've always taken a lot of time, you know, when I was at home and just practicing at the local club where I train, you know, just spending time with the kids there, playing there, just making them -- you know, even talking to them about what is it like when you go to a Grand Slam or even the situation or the changes that there are when you go from playing juniors to being on the tour.
Just I think by talking to a lot of the girls, just looking at that we have to work hard. It's not just whatever you see on TV. You know, we don't just come out there and play our matches and that's it. There's a lot more work that is done behind it.
I think to make them experience and just to be able to talk to someone who's been through it for me I think was a big key, because I was able to talk to Sabine Appelmans in the past who really helped me a lot. I admired her a lot as well, because I was able to, as a young girl, I remember when I was 11, 12, just being in a tennis school. I think she was at that time ranked in the top 20, and I was just able to practice with her once in a while. That was like so big.
Yeah, and that's what I -- that's why I'm so glad that, you know, being back now that I was able to experience a match like today. Because, you know, playing someone like Kirsten, it's really special for both of us. I think it was definitely as special for me as it was for her. I never got to experience that. I played Justine a lot. We kind of grew up together. It kind of felt normal.
But to be able to play against the girls that kind of that I think looked up to Justine and myself was really special. Especially with Kirsten, we were in boarding school together. There's a very personal connection there. It was very nice.
Obviously, you know, I wish that she could have gotten through as well and that she would have gone a little bit further. But, yeah, I think just the personal experience that I had by talking to someone like Sabine Appelmans is something I would like to pass on to other girls.

Q. Do your competitive juices flow now the way they would have a few years ago? Are you as excited today thinking ahead to playing Venus Williams at a Grand Slam in the fourth round?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Definitely. Definitely. Like I said, I remember just coming to the Open. I just felt like, Wow. Just like you feel like when you're 14, 15 years old again. That's how I felt.
That's a great feeling to have, because that's definitely something that's always -- at the end of my first career, something that I was missing, just the hunger. Just because I felt like I had so many other interests in my life, and I really felt, yeah, it was the perfect timing for me to just change the things that I've changed in those two years that I was gone.
So it does feel nice. But, uhm, I have the experience now, as well. That's obviously something that I didn't have a few years ago, ten years ago or something when I came here, is the experience, knowing how to handle situations.
That's another bonus to have, I think.

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