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adidas International

January 12, 2004

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: First question for Kim Clijsters, please.

Q. We didn't expect to see you here.

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, well, you know, Sydney is now a very special city to me. I love coming here. Yeah, you know, being the defending champion as well, I think it's also, you know, you have to -- you know, I'm not the kind of player who's here for little things; I want to give it a go, and I want to try as hard as I can to get better. Also for my preparation, it's definitely not been the best preparation for the Australian Open, but in a way I also want to have a match here so that I don't go into the Australian Open without having played a match for a week and a half, two weeks almost.

Q. You were on crutches three or four days ago. Is playing a bit of a risk?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think it definitely looked a lot worse being on the crutches. That was just to keep my weight off it. I could definitely walk on it. It's not like I was on the crutches because I couldn't walk on it. It was more just to keep it relaxed and didn't put any weight on it or anything. But I didn't leave the room for very long, you know... It just looks a lot worse, I think, when you walk around on the crutches and people probably think that you've broken it or something, so...

Q. What's the state of your injury now? Where is it?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, you know, I had a little bit of a jog yesterday on the treadmill. I'm going to try to hit a little bit today and then see how it goes. I haven't done anything special yet. But it feels, you know, a lot better. Otherwise, I wouldn't be here. Otherwise, I wouldn't even be trying. I had some other doctors have a look at the MRIs and they're all very positive. So that's always good news. But it's just something I have to keep in mind for the future, it's something that's not going to go away. Maybe in the future I might have to have some surgery or something.

Q. Will you need to improve in the next 24 hours? Will it need to improve for you to play here?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think so. Well, it's definitely improved a lot. I'd probably say that I'm about maybe 80 percent at the moment. But the thing is - you guys all know as well - if you want to compete with the best, you have to be 100 percent. But it's improved a lot over the last few days. If I have another couple of days off, I'm sure it will be okay. No one knows, of course. I'll play with the tape and everything. That's something I'll probably have to do for the rest of my career, is always have it taped, to make sure -- especially when I do the splits and stuff. Those are movements that are going to make it a lot more, yeah, you know, it can flare up a lot quicker with those kind of extreme movements.

Q. Will you wear those kind of things that Lleyton wears?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I never used to because I thought I never needed them. But, yeah, in the beginning I'll definitely have to wear it taped because it's a little bit stronger in the beginning. But maybe in the future, I might have to get some of his (smiling).

Q. Have you had problems like this before?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no, no. Just I twisted my ankle, you know, when I was 12 or 11 once, but nothing sort of since then. Then Leipzig I hurt my right ankle, but that was something that just like got better sort of in a couple of days. Just sort of a bruise. But this is a little bit more serious.

Q. When the injury first happened, what was your reaction? Did you think, "Oh, no, not now"?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Definitely. I was also a bit -- I was really looking forward to play against Lleyton in the doubles as well. But, yeah, in a way because it was such a good atmosphere out there in that match. Yeah, so, yeah, also for the tournament and everything, I was a bit disappointed. But there's nothing you can do about it. I think any sports person is going to go through things in their career, you know, that you don't wish that happened and that you don't, you know -- injuries are always something that you don't have in control. You just have to stay positive, yeah.

Q. And just before a Grand Slam...

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, that's always something that you -- there's nothing I can do about it, but it changes your preparation definitely. You're more into doing like rehabilitation exercises than sort of preparing for your game. It's not just focusing on your body and not really about the tennis. So that's something that is a little bit, you know, yeah, disappointing, I think, in a way as well to have it happen just before such a big tournament - and a very important tournament for me. But I just have to stay positive and try to take the best out of it and learn, and just try to, yeah, stay strong. We'll see.

Q. Have you made any plans for doubles this year?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I'm not going to play as many doubles tournaments as I did last year, because it was tough. Definitely in the Grand Slams I've had -- at the end of the Grand Slams, I've felt really tired. I think that was mainly because of doubles. So that's something that I'll definitely reduce. But I'll definitely play a few more doubles tournaments. I'll play doubles tournaments when I feel like -- if I haven't played a singles event for a few weeks or something, I feel like I need the match, I'll play some doubles. But last year, Ai and I, we were really trying to get high in the rankings, you know, to get to the championships and to do well there. That was our goal as well, not only on singles but for doubles as well. I've done that now and won in singles and doubles and that was great. Now I just want to focus on the singles.

Q. Would you play a reduced schedule with Ai?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, it depends. It's tough for her as well. She still wants to focus a lot on the doubles. We've spoken about it, and she's very understanding. So wherever there is a tournament where her partner is not there and I'm, you know, I'm willing to play doubles, she always wants to play doubles with me. So that's nice. But if not, I'll try to find someone else.

Q. Is there a risk that you could make the injury worse by playing here?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no. Because otherwise I wouldn't do it. That's what they said. It's not gonna get any worse - especially if I play with the tape. It's not gonna, no, so...

Q. This period from late November and through January that you spend in Australia, is that something that you see can be sort of a traditional thing for you to do?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I've done that for the last four years now. So it's getting, you know, a little bit of a habit, spending these warm Christmases and stuff. Yeah, no, but it's fun. I think having my time off here, you know, we go on holidays here, which is great. Then training here as well, I think it's perfect for your preparation to be in the weather and stuff. I wouldn't go to America or anything. When I'm home or when I have time off, I want to spend it in a place where I feel comfortable and where I know a lot of things. So Adelaide and, you know, Belgium are definitely those two places. I wouldn't go to other places like to climatize or something.

Q. Do you miss your home Christmas?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I do. It was a lot of fun sort of the first two, three years, to spend it in hot weather. But I haven't spent a Christmas at home since I was probably 11 or 12 because we always had the junior tournaments in America, Orange Bowl and those kind. So, yeah... But, you know, it's something you get used to as well. I mean, Christmas is -- it's not a traditional Christmas, but it's still a lot of fun. Spend it with the friends and stuff, so that was fun.

Q. What do you think about Venus' seeding for the Australian Open? Is that fair?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think it's fair enough. She's definitely the player that should be up there. I mean, everyone knows that she's a great player and she's great for the sport. So I definitely think she deserves it, yeah, definitely.

Q. You're negotiating this week, then you go to Melbourne and hopefully play seven matches there. Do you think you're ready, with your injury, to survive that sort of...

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I don't want to think that far ahead because that's -- sort of from Wednesday on, I've been looking, you know, every day, see how it's progressing and see how I'm feeling. So far, you know, I don't want to look ahead and see, because it's too early. I don't know how it's gonna feel, what's gonna happen, you know, here. And so it all depends on if I play Wednesday, see how it reacts for the day after. I'm sure it will be a little bit stiff or something if I play. But it's just a matter of just focusing on what's happening at the moment and see what, you know, how my foot is doing and not thinking, "If I do this or that..." No.

Q. Just to clarify, you are playing? You're not going to practice and then see?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I'm going to hit now and I'll see how it's feeling. Sort of tomorrow as well, I'll just have to wait. It could flare up after practice. It's something that it's probably too early to say. That's why I didn't want to pull out as well when I was at the Hopman Cup last week. I felt like, you know, if it gets better, then I definitely want to play here. This is one of my favorite tournaments to come to. So, yeah, I just want to take it easy and see how it's going and have a lot of treatment and, yeah...

Q. How do you feel about going back to Melbourne after the way you did last year? Is it something you look forward to?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, that's sort of -- the last memory I have about Melbourne is the Davis Cup, so that's a very positive one. So that's something that I always -- you know, I always look forward to going there - just the atmosphere in Melbourne, the whole -- the city and everything. I really enjoy going there. It's not something -- although I had a good chance and I probably, you know, didn't take, you know -- I had a big chance of getting into the finals last year. But it's not something that I regret, you know. I think Serena was the better player at the time. But I think I've come back stronger. I think you learn out of those matches, out of those losses, you learn so much. I think that's why throughout -- since then sort of and in 2003, I've become a better player because of those matches.

End of FastScripts….

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