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January 29, 2004

Kim Clijsters


JOHN DOLAN: Questions in English for Kim, please.

Q. Have you been traded in for a younger model, John?

JOHN DOLAN: We like to start them young.

Q. Who is he?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Who are you? What's your name?


JOHN DOLAN: Do you have a last name?


Q. What's your media affiliation?

JOHN DOLAN: Kim, who is he?

KIM CLIJSTERS: He's the son of Andrew and Rachel McLeod, Adelaide Crows football player. They came over from Adelaide, from the plane. All right. Let's go.

Q. Did you feel like the ankle bothered you when you played that today?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I felt comfortable. I knew yesterday that it was gonna be a little bit, you know, sore, you know, going for it. But doctors have reassured me that I'm not going to make it any worse by playing. That's just -- I have to keep my mind off it. That was -- when I hurt it again in my previous match, that was what I was struggling -- it got me a little bit worried again, thinking about it too much and trying to be careful running around. Today I told myself, "Don't think about it, try not to worry about things. Even if you feel a little bit when you're moving around and stuff, just keep going." And I did. It felt okay.

Q. What do you mean you can't hurt it more; you hurt it the other day?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, but I'm not gonna make it worse. The bone is not gonna chip off or it's not gonna move or anything. That's the only thing. I'm not going to make the injury worse. The swelling can get worse and I'll get pain. I'll just have to get through that pain while I'm playing.

Q. Does it hurt at the moment?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It pinches sometimes when I'm running around. But when you're playing and stuff, you know, everything goes so quickly that you feel a little bit, but you have to run to the other side of the court and it's -- you know, you just try not to think about it. And when I hurt it a little bit more in my previous match, I was probably thinking about it too much. That's what I tried to do today.

Q. Have the doctors given you any idea of what you might have to do after the final is over to heal it?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I don't know if -- you know, I'm definitely gonna try to keep playing with the tape and make sure the swelling goes down and rest a couple of days when I go back home. That's probably the main thing. And then I don't know. Just see if that keeps coming back, if I keep having that little problem, then maybe eventually I'll have to have some surgery and have that little piece of bone taken out. But, you know, that's definitely not something I want to think about at the moment. That's something that I'll think about and see how -- if it comes back and if it keeps coming back, then I probably don't have another choice. But I'll definitely try to go without the surgery.

Q. Are you taking anything for it at the moment?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I've, you know, some antiinflammatories I've been taking. But I've been putting a lot of Voltaren gel overnight and stuff, just to have the local antiinflammatories over there. But nothing special.

Q. No painkillers?


Q. What's the plan for tomorrow then?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Tomorrow, the same as I've been doing all, you know, these whole two weeks, you know. Make sure that I have my preparation the same, you know, go and have treatment and make sure my foot feels okay and, you know, just little things. Just hit a few balls, not too much. I wanted to be rested enough. I have the afternoon off and have a massage and that's it.

Q. It will be lighter duty?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. I don't think during a tournament you're going to hit a lot of balls and work out and stuff. I haven't been doing that these whole two weeks. You just have to make sure you get a little bit of a sweat in and you feel like you've done something. You don't want to sit in your room all day and don't do anything. I'll just come out to the courts, hit a few balls, have a few good runs and stuff, but nothing too extreme.

Q. You've lost the last two Grand Slam finals to Justine. How do you feel about this one? How would you rate your chances?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, you know, I -- I definitely wouldn't have rated my chances very high getting into the tournament. But I definitely feel like I'm hitting the ball good and I feel good, you know. Of course, there's a few things that I would have liked to, you know -- it hasn't been my perfect preparation. Probably in the two previous Grand Slams I probably would have liked to play a little bit less, you know, before I got to -- with all the doubles and everything, I was a little bit exhausted at end of those two Slams. And here, I would have -- probably would have liked to have played a few more getting into the tournament. But I'm feeling good. I definitely don't feel like I'm tired or anything. I'm just really looking forward to go out there. I wish it was tomorrow in a way, as well.

Q. What about the suggestion she's got a psychological edge over you?

KIM CLIJSTERS: That's always something that they're gonna keep saying, if you lose against her. I definitely don't think -- in those matches I knew where the problem was laying and I knew that it wasn't psychological, so...

Q. You've developed one of the most unique strokes in tennis: the splits forehand. How did it take to develop it?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I never used to do it when I was young. I really actually have no idea when I first started doing it. I think it's because I grew up on clay, playing in the summers in Belgium. You know, there obviously you have to use it. I think I just, yeah -- I don't know, without even thinking about it, probably when we had to, you know, change surfaces from clay to the hard court or something. Probably was still thinking that I was on the clay or something. And then just, yeah, no... But I don't know if I would recommend it to kids, especially when their bones are not fully grown yet and everything. I don't think that's probably the healthiest way to do. It's not like I use it that often, maybe once or twice in matches, you know, when I really have to.

Q. You won't hear the reaction of the crowd, would you?


Q. You wouldn't hear the reaction of the crowd? There's a groan that goes through the crowd.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, no. Afterwards you hear people and stuff talking, but not while you're playing. I mean, you're focusing on the ball, so you don't really know or you don't really hear what's happening in the stadium.

Q. You won all your matches without dropping a set, being injured, this problem with your ankle. What does it make you feel about the state of the women's tennis?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I feel very, very, I mean, lucky in a way as well to have gone through all these matches in straight sets - especially the match yesterday against -- or, yeah, no -- yesterday against Anastasia. I was very, very lucky to get through that second set as well. And it made me a lot more -- made me have a lot more time to recover for today's match as well. You know, I really wanted to get through it. It's been, yeah, I think just for me, very lucky to have been getting through all my matches in straight sets.

Q. When you played Justine before, has it been a tactical issue do you think?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I don't think so. Like I said before, I was playing so many matches getting, all the tournaments before the French Open, and playing doubles in all those events as well. And at the French I was playing a lot of doubles and, you know, at the US Open as well. I was just, I think -- it was too much. I didn't really feel like -- you know, I was just exhausted at the end of the tournament. You know, that's something that I've learned. I've really enjoyed playing my doubles and getting to No. 1, that was very special for me and for Ai as well. So I've been very happy with what I did last year. But I think, you know, I've done that now. And this year, you know, I think I've become a little bit smarter in a way as well, and you learn things every year.

Q. No. 1, is that on your mind?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, you know, I think it's been very special, and getting to No. 1 was a very special occasion. But on the other hand, also very busy. You know, it's taken a lot of -- especially me, because I still have to put a lot of time into, you know, recovery for my body, for my shoulder and stuff. I felt like when I got to Toronto from LA, it was all very exciting, having awards, all those things. It took a little bit away of my professional side of tennis. I didn't really have a lot of time to do what I think was best for myself and for my game. But on the other hand, it was fun to do those things as well. But, you know, it was hard to combine in a way as well.

Q. Talking about the chance to reclaim it in the next match.

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. It all depends. I think I'll try -- you know, No. 1 comes, you know, after, you know, you have to be strong, you have to be fit, you have to make sure that you play good every match, doesn't matter if you're playing in a Grand Slam or if you're playing, you know, in a small tournament, you have to try to make sure that you want to get through all those matches. Doesn't matter where or, you know... Then if you do well, and if you make sure that all those three details are, you know, at their best, then, you know, those things will come automatically.

Q. At the US Open a lot of people thought that Justine didn't have much chance because she had the IV. But it's reversed now, you having a bit of a problem and she's a favorite. Do you like the way it sets up for Saturday?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know, you know. I think at the US Open, it just shows how fit Justine is as well. She definitely has to be one of the fittest girls out there at the moment. She looks a lot stronger and she's been working on a lot of her weaknesses, I think, was probably her physique. She looks really fit now. I think she -- I don't think it's gonna change anything for me personally getting into that match tomorrow. I'll try, you know, very hard, and I know it's gonna be a tough match and I know that I have to do everything right to get through that one. But, you know, I'll definitely -- I'm happy to be in the finals, you know. Like I said almost in every press conference already, you know, maybe two weeks ago I didn't even think that I was going to be able to compete here. So I'm definitely not complaining to be sitting here.

Q. Do you think it might have been, in a way, an advantage to have some of the pressure taken off you in your preparation, because you had the injury?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know, because in a way it made me worry about my preparation as well. In a way, you know, I didn't think that I was ready enough, I think. In Sydney I was sitting in my hotel room for three, four days. They told me, "You can't run, you can't do things in the gym," and stuff, which was hard for me, especially when I came knowing that Melbourne was so close. That was -- you know, you start doubting things. You say, "Is it the perfect preparation? Will I feel good enough to start the tournament?" That was tough. But, you know, I got better throughout the tournament, and I felt -- I've been feeling good, you know. There's been a few little problems, but overall, I've been feeling good. And even now, you know, I still feel good.

End of FastScripts….

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