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January 14, 2012

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Kim.

Q.  Is there perhaps a sense of relief to be sitting here as defending champion after what happened in Brisbane?  How are you?
KIM CLIJSTERS:  I'm doing good.  I think what happened in Brisbane was something that I knew kind of was something that would only need a few days to get better, and it did.
I had my scan just to make sure the day after, but that showed no problems.  So I was relieved.  Yeah, came to Melbourne and started hitting when I got here.

Q.  Are you happy with the amount of practice you've had then?
KIM CLIJSTERS:  Yep, yep.  I've been able to do what I wanted to do, gym and on court, so yep.

Q.  Because of injuries, you haven't had a lot of opportunities to defend your slam titles in the past.  The one time you did get a chance in New York, you did it successfully.  How is your mindset different coming in when you're defending champion?
KIM CLIJSTERS:  Well, it's a new tournament, new year.  You don't think about it that much.  Obviously you have that good feeling when you step out on a court where you've done well, where you've achieved a dream or something that came true.  So you automatically kind of get that positive vibe again.  But that obviously doesn't mean that it will go easy and smooth, you know, the next year.
Something that I did at the US Open as well, just take one match at a time, just make sure that I keep having my same routines and just try to be in the best shape that I can be every day, then we'll see how it goes.

Q.  After four different Grand Slam winners last year, do you see somebody taking a firmer grip on the whole tour?  Do you think it might start here if it happens?
KIM CLIJSTERS:  I don't know 'cause out of the four girls last year, you know, besides Serena, who is probably even more powerful than the four of us, it's all very close.  So I think on any given day, whoever just plays that little bit better can win.  I think that's why a lot of girls have belief in their chances to win a Grand Slam is because they have beaten some of the girls that have won Grand Slams before.
I think that's something that this year, you know, a lot of the top players are going to have to be very careful with.  There's going to be a lot of lower‑ranked players who are still going to have big opportunities to beat some top players and get chances in Grand Slams.
It's definitely a completely different situation than we had let's say eight years ago or so where it was kind of easy to almost pencil in quarterfinalists or semifinalists in the draw.  I think that's completely different now, which makes it more fun.  But I think you have to be ready from the first match onwards because you can have really tough matches already.

Q.  Given you hadn't committed to playing beyond the Olympics, when you left home to come to Australia, did you feel there's a finality about this year?  Did it feel any different?
KIM CLIJSTERS:  No, it actually didn't.  I just felt very focused on why I'm here, and that's obviously to play good tennis and try to stay healthy throughout the whole season, not to have major injuries where my season might be a question mark, which I would kind of like to end on my terms.
So, yeah, I'm not thinking about it at all.  I had a nice break at home.  Unfortunately the first few months were tough.  You know, I was able to have a really good preparation.  That preparation was obviously in the back of my mind, to try to stay healthy.

Q.  Did you reach the same level of frustration last year after all the injuries that you did the year prior to your first retirement?
KIM CLIJSTERS:  No, it was different.  I think when I was younger I wasn't as much frustrated.  I was just sad that my body wasn't doing what I wanted it to do.
I think now I'm in a different place.  I have some different people around me who I think are in their role or in their job one of the best people that I'm able to work with.  I think that gives me a lot of confidence as well, knowing that I have really good people around me who know that I'm not the type of player or person, whether I'm a little bit older.  I'm not going to be on court for six hours a day anymore because I won't last that much longer anyway.  With the way that I play, that's not possible.
So physically I've had, you know, a really good fitness preparation, kind of had the time to start working on I call it the boring things, but the core, just making sure that everything is ready to handle all that pressure.

Q.  Is there part of you that thinks if things go well this year, Maybe I'll want to continue?
KIM CLIJSTERS:  Look, you never know, but I doubt it (smiling).

Q.  No matter how much you work on your core or do the boring stuff, you can't replicate what your body goes through in a match, the emotions, the tensions.  When you see yourself having an injury, or Serena, is that a function of not playing enough, not having enough matches that leaves you more susceptible?
KIM CLIJSTERS:  That's why I'm happy it happened in Brisbane and not here.  You have to start at a tournament somewhere.  You're going to have to go through those situations.
I tell you, my practices are 10 times harder than any situation I'll have in a match.  But, you know, it's the emotions that play a part into how you react in matches.  I think that's something where your body just has to get used to that again.
It doesn't matter, I don't think, whether you've been off for six months or three months, when you start, you just have to get used to it.
You named Serena and myself.  But I think we're both very strong girls.  The way we move and play, every shot that we hit is with our full body.  That puts a lot of pressure, you know, on certain body parts.
So I'm not going to sit here and say, look, tennis is a perfectly healthy sport when you do it on a top level, because it's not.  The movements are not always that natural.

Q.  You always had such a great relationship with the Australian public because of your history here.  Has it been any different coming back this year as defending champion?
KIM CLIJSTERS:  Well, I've always loved coming here, as well.  It's been always a place where I enjoyed coming to.  Obviously, when I was younger, I spent a lot of my time off here in the off‑season and I was able to get a completely different feel for the country and for the people and for the culture when I wasn't playing tournaments.  That's one of the reasons why I enjoy and am still in touch with a lot of Australians that I've known over the years.
It's a lifestyle that I like.  At the tournaments, I mean, the people are so helpful and happy.  Yeah, nothing is ever a problem it seems like.  It's nice to be around, you know, positive people.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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