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January 12, 2011

Kim Clijsters


K. CLIJSTERS/V. Azarenka
6-3, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. The results don't perhaps suggest how difficult a match that was.
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I don't think so. I think the score definitely sounds a lot easier than it was. Even when I was up 3-Love in the first set and it was close. I think we both started with a pretty high level.
I think, yeah, I played the important points a little bit better. Made some more winners, and, yeah, just able to play the important points well. I think at the end of the match, the end of that second set, was able to break her in a few close games here and there. I think that's obviously a good feeling to have when I'm down breakpoint I can hit a good serve.
That's what I'm here for, you know, trying to get in those kind of situations and try to get out of them and then try to win matches and serve it out afterwards.

Q. There's a lot of other top players knocked out. Do you sort of feel like this tournament is yours for the taking?
KIM CLIJSTERS: There are still a lot of players that are very tough to beat. My next opponent, you know, I don't think I've ever played Cibulkova, but I've lost to Kleybanova in Indian Wells last year. I've had some really tough matches against Na Li in the past.
Really every match has to be played and every match is tough. Like you said, the big names are out, but they were beaten by other good players as well, so...

Q. In terms of the Australian Open, it must give a great deal of confidence as well obviously some of the other ladies, Sam, Zvonareva, a few of the others, haven't been in such good early-season form. You look like a bit of a step above, so you must be quite confident.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I'm happy with the amount of matches that I'm having here so far. That's what I'm here for and that's what I'm trying to improve every match. And then obviously my opponents are going to become tougher and tougher.
I think like today as well when I'm able to come up with really good shots, it's a good feeling to have and it definitely boosts your confidence.
Next week is a completely different week. It's a new tournament, but it definitely helps to have had some good matches and to have been tested sometimes, too.

Q. Your last six months has been fantastic since the US Open, the last half of the year. Did anything change around that time that sort of has brought on this sort of consistently high form?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no. The only major thing I can think of is the surface. You know, started playing on hardcourt again, and I think that's, to me, where I feel very comfortable moving on. And also just seeing the ball very well. It's just a lot easier for me to see the ball on the bluer kind of courts.
But I don't know what else would have changed. You know, still same habits. So not much else.

Q. No key to what's brought this very high form on?

Q. Do you feel maybe in Australia now there's a little less pressure than four or five years ago when you were right up there but maybe fighting to break through? Now that you've won back-to-back at the US Open, you come out here and there's a lot less to prove?
KIM CLIJSTERS: To be honest, I never focus on that too much. Obviously, you know, you're put in that spotlight and in that favorite kind of position almost every Grand Slam you go to. That's a role or a part of being one of the top players. I think that's part of it that you have to deal with.
I think when I was younger it wasn't always easy to kind of block it out. But now, I mean, with the people I have around me, we know how hard it is every match to win and to try and be the best Kim out there. That's what I'm trying to focus on and nothing else. Not on what people are saying. I mean, that's not what we're focusing on.
It's hard enough to try and be the best player out there every day. Whether it's practice, workouts, that attitude has to be there. It would be a waste of energy on my part if I would be focusing on those kind of things.

Q. You've been one of the favorites, but next week's Open you're the absolute raging favorite. Is that a little bit different than what you've had in the past?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. Again, I don't think about it like that at all. It's something that is kind of put on you from the outside. It doesn't change anything in my mind. I'm very happy with the preparation that I've had, and I worked hard in the off-season. That's the only thing I can do from my side.
Every match has to be played. In sports, nothing is predictable. So I'm going to try and keep going, keep work on what I've been doing, and just try to improve, stay fit, rest well. You know, we'll see what happens.
But I mean, favorites, you know, it really doesn't mean anything. Really doesn't. Every match and every tournament has to be played. You all start -- 128 players start from scratch. It's the same for everybody from the start.

Q. Is it your goal to get back to No. 1?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, it really isn't. I mean, it would be nice if it would happen. Obviously I would be very proud if I would be in that position again one day. We'll see if it will happen.
But it's not that I'm adjusting my schedule or adding more tournaments to my season this year.

Q. Have you ever felt better heading into the Australian Open?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Um, I don't know. It's hard to compare. I've always enjoyed playing at the Australia Open. I think that's something that -- I've always real looked forward to it. I've always really looked forward to stepping out in Melbourne, out on those courts. That's always been something I looked forward to.
I think when I have that feeling of, you know, okay I'm excited to play, I want to play good tennis, that's when I a lot times play good tennis. I have that feeling again, so that's a good thing to have.
But to think back on how I felt in the previous years, it's very hard to compare.

Q. Are there any weaknesses in your game at all at the moment?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think today I made some backhand unforced errors where I really wasn't quite taking those small steps well and where I wasn't moving quite well to the ball.
So those are things that make me a little bit frustrated when I'm out there. I always try to put that frustration and energy into the next rally and try to improve it.
Yeah, of course there's definitely weaknesses. In my first match I served really well. That's kind of a tease. I did well in the first match, and I want to keep it going, but then it doesn't always happen.
Just, yeah, you always try to play towards that perfect match. Never really happens.

Q. Was the wind an issue at all tonight?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's tough. It's tough, because I have a feeling that it's kind of in levels. You know, the wind changes I think through the gates. It kind of just swirls a little bit.
So, yeah, the ball toss, it's just a little bit more tricky. It was kind of flaring a little bit. It wasn't always there. Sometimes it would come up and then it would just slow down a little bit.
But that's for both players. I mean, but it wasn't always easy.

Q. So serving was the thing that was a bit more difficult tonight?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, just adjusting from one side to the other. Some games it was tough and sometimes there was no wind a little all. You didn't know what was going to happen.

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