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August 31, 2005

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Kim, please.

Q. How hard was it with that wind?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, it was very hard today. This morning I was practicing out there. You know, it was windy, but not as windy as after Lleyton's match. I didn't watch that much of his match. But it was so tough out there today. Just you always have to keep your footwork ready and always ready to move positions because the ball was just changing all the time, and the wind was changing too. I don't know if it's because of the entrances in the stadium that make it swirl a little bit. But it was tough, it was very tough.

Q. Did you get used to it by the third set?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Which set (laughter)?

Q. Did you get used to it by the second set?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. I mean, I started off pretty well. Went up 4-1. I think she started playing a little bit better. I think she got used to it a little more. Like I said, I lost a little bit of my footwork. I wasn't as on my toes any more. At 5-4, started to be a little more aggressive again. I think I wasn't being aggressive enough any more at 4-1. That made her coome back into that first set. But second set, I just knew I had to from the start play aggressive and just keep going for the lines and just go for it. Even though there's a lot of wind, you just have to play your game, not think about it too much, I guess.

Q. When you lost those four games in the first set, was that -- do you think it was because of the weather? Were you thrown off a little bit in your mind with trying to gauge where the ball is going to go?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think I was just playing with the wind a little bit too much, just thinking about it too much, trying not to -- wasn't really focusing on may game any more. Instead of just hitting the ball and just going for the lines, I was just trying to keep the ball in and trying not to miss. But that's not really my game. Just have -- 5-4, just tried to step it up a little bit more again and stand a little closer on the baseline and go for my shots again.

Q. What was it like for you last year? Did you watch it on TV?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I was here. I was watching Lleyton play here last year, so I was here. I just started hitting. I was hitting a couple of times. This is when I started doing some -- this was actually the first time where I started to do some mini tennis backhands was here. A few weeks later I played in Hasselt in Belgium, that's where I hurt it again. This is where I started doing a little bit of my rehab exercise. It was a completely different situation than what I'm in now.

Q. Was it tough to not be a part of it last year?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It was. But in a way, I was so excited that I was able to hit again. You know, although it was just mini tennis, it was just hitting the ball, I was happy to play. I was able to hit my first backhands. That was sort of like a step forward to playing tournaments again. Yeah, now it's completely different.

Q. Roger has said that he fears no player. Andy lost last night. There is a line between saying you fear no one and not wanting to cross a line and take anyone for granted. Does that fine line exist?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think it does. You always have to believe in yourself obviously. I know that a lot of players here, all of them, I've beaten before. You have to know that before you get into a tournament. You know you're capable -- if you play your best tennis, I know I'm capable of beating all of these girls out here. On the other hand, there's also a lot of girls that not a lot of people talk about, who can make it tough for us. I think, like last night as well, I'm sure Andy would have thought he was -- he was the favorite. I thought everybody else in the stadium would have thought he would win. That's tennis. I think that's what makes it so interesting, as well. You know, I know for the tournament and for the public here, it's sad to see Andy lose. But I think that's what tennis is all about. I think these days, upsets, I'm just happy it's not me.

Q. Are those upsets more likely on the men's side than the women's?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I mean, Kuznetsova lost. You always have girls who lose. Yeah, I don't know. Maybe. Maybe a little bit more I think on the men's side. There's always surprises on the women's side, too. Maybe not as much with let's say the top seed, but from 8 up to 32 seeds, there's upsets in there, as well. Probably a little bit more in the men's in the top 10.

Q. Is there a player out there that gives you that knot in your stomach?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, any other, Sharapova, Justine, Venus, Serena, Lindsay, those are the girls that make you want to work harder, make you want to get stronger, make you want to get healthier and fitter again. That's what it's all about. You sort of pull yourself up when you see other players do well. That's what motivates you to train better, too. I think it's just -- yeah, even when I was injured last year, when I started playing again this year, you get motivated. It motivates you to work hard because you know that those girls, they're working every day hard to get back, to be strong, to just keep strong. I knew I had to put in twice the effort if I wanted to come back. It's not just one player, it's the whole group that keeps you motivated and hungry to play tennis.

Q. Have you ever felt better going into a Grand Slam tournament?

KIM CLIJSTERS: This year, no. Not this year, no. In 2003, I've been playing -- in 2003, I was playing probably some of my best tennis before. There, everybody else was there, too. Everybody was playing well. Venus, Serena, I mean, they weren't probably at their best, but there was a lot of top players out there. I think now because there's been so many withdrawals, a lot of attention has sort of gone to me because for once I'm healthy (knocking wood), holding up.

Q. James Blake said being forced off the tour, coming back this year, he's actually playing better than he was when he was ranked 22 in the world. Does that translate to you in any way?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think so. I'm a big fan of his. I think after what he's been through, a couple days ago I was reading his article in a magazine when I was laying at the hotel, about everything that he's been through. It's incredible. In a way, you can relate. Obviously I haven't been through some of the things -- a lot of things that he went through were a lot worse than what I went through. You feel a little bit connected in a way, I think, because you start realizing, when I was reading it, he says, too, how much he missed it, too, how much he missed competing. He's saying he feels so lucky and happy to be out on the court and to be playing the sport that he loves. That's what I'm doing, exactly the same thing.

Q. But are you better now?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think so. You're more mature, I think. Because I've been through that, little things don't bother you as much any more, I guess. That makes you a strong player on the court.

Q. Do you see losses like Kuznetsova and Roddick, the top seeds losing early, does that have a psychological impact going into a player's next matches?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not really. It can happen to anyone. It can happen to you, too. You try not to -- I mean, especially like me, I don't look too much. Obviously, I know that Andy lost. I know that Svetlana lost. It doesn't really influence me too much, no.

Q. When you were coming back from injury, I know your father had been through something similar in his athletic career. What did you talk about with him coming to terms with not playing?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. It's not as much the talking, but it's just having that support there. It's not just my father. I could relate to him because he went through a couple of knee surgeries while he was playing. Sort of everybody, especially the doctors, were writing him off. So those are things, it's nice to hear that from someone I'm so close to. It's just great to have your family around you in those kind of situations because it was a whole new experience, a confusing one in a lot of ways, as well.

Q. How so?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Just because I've never been in that situation before. I didn't know if I was going to be able to get my level back where it was in 2003. I didn't know -- being home for so long in a way was new for me, a lot of new experiences.

End of FastScripts….

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