August 27, 2003
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Kim, please.
Q. How long do you think it will take for you to get questions about how it is to play the tournaments without the Williams sisters?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, you're not the first one to ask that.
Q. I'm not asking that. How long will it take before someone asks that question?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's been asked already.
Q. Are you pretty pleased today?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I was, definitely. I think compared to my first match, I felt like, you know, against Laura today I had to play better than my first match. I definitely did that. I definitely stepped my game up a little bit. You know, I was very happy with that, the way I played today.
Q. Are you also concerned about gaining some national glory for Belgium?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, not when we're out on the court. Obviously not. I think it's great to see whenever we play a lot of big matches how people announce where we're from, where we live. I think that's great, to see how sort of after -- tennis-wise, after Dominique Van Roost and Sabine Appelmans stopped playing, straightaway we had two other girls in the Top 10. We kept the Belgian tennis going. I think, yeah, it's great what we can do for the name of our country.
Q. Next up for you potentially dangerous opponent, Kuznetsova. Do you sense a certain fearlessness on behalf of most of the Russian players because they're coming out of a country where there is a lot of poverty and tennis is a way out for them?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Definitely. I don't know if Svetlana trained in Russia. I think she's been training in Spain for a long time. But, no, I definitely think -- also following my sister in the Juniors circuit, there's so many Russians playing so well. I don't know how many there are in the women's draw. I think there are about 13 or 14 Russians in the main draw. I think that's incredible. That's definitely, you know, part of hard work. But also, like you said, they maybe don't have the richest Federation and they probably have to work really hard from a young age. I think that's what pays off. I think any sport is about that, working as hard as you can.
Q. Do you sense it's very difficult to intimidate a lot of these young Russians?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. It's hard to say. The type of game they play, as well, they all have similar styles of games. It's very hard to get through those. They hardly miss a ball. They always hit with the same amount of speed, almost every shot. That's why I think it's amazing to see how all of those girls have made it a long way, yeah.
Q. You had disappointments in all the other three Grand Slams this year. How much of a motivation is that for you to really try to win?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Of course, any Grand Slam you always get motivated. By you saying I was disappointed, I was disappointed losing those matches, but I still made it to the semifinals and to the finals. I always try to take the positive out of my losses. You know, of course, when I lose a match, I'm disappointed. But, you know, I'm not going to, you know, sit down and cry, reflect on what happened. I want to go forward and get better and work on what I didn't do well in that match. That's what I've been doing. That's what you always have to do. You have to always try to get better and try to stay motivated.
Q. When you get one of these young players who quite often will come out there --
KIM CLIJSTERS: Russians?
Q. Anybody who's young, has "nothing to lose," will hit for the lines. How difficult are those kind of players to play?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's hard. You know, I was one of those a few years ago. You know, for a young girl, I think it depends on your character, as well. Some of the young girls can get intimidated by who's standing in front of you, which court you're playing on. A lot of the girls now, like Sharapova, Harkleroad, they're so driven. I think women's tennis at the moment has a great moment ahead of them, especially with Maria and stuff, yeah.
Q. Do you carry any intimidation factor for you for opposing players? Everyone talks about how nice you are. We talked the other day about someone saying you're not mean enough. Does carrying the No. 1 label take an intimidation factor onto the court with you?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Maybe to my opponents, if it's in their head they're playing the No. 1, maybe that's a little bit, like, intimidating. On the other hand, that could even be also more motivating as well. I think it depends, like I said before, on the character of your opponent, of the girl that you're playing. But, yeah, I don't know. For me personally it doesn't change anything. It's not like I try to be more intimidating than normal.
Q. The Fed Cup will be played in Moscow. What are you thoughts about that?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's disappointing. You always like to play at home. I don't know if it's that good of a choice from the ITF to have it in Russia. You always have to look ahead a little bit. What worries me, last time we played in Moscow, I think we played in front of 100, 200 people. We played the Russian team, as well. I sort of hope that Russia can get through to the final so they have a bigger crowd. It will be very disappointing to see if the home country doesn't get to the final. In Russia, I don't know if that would be a great crowd if they wouldn't make it through to the final. I think in Belgium, tennis at the moment is so big. I think even if Belgium wouldn't make it through to the final, I think we would still get a great crowd. I think the Belgian crowd is a lot more interested.
Q. Will you play?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's too hard to think about. I don't want to worry about it at the moment. It's definitely made it a lot tougher. It's tough, especially with the week off in between. It makes it really tough I think for a lot of players. I definitely think the ITF -- I'm sure they'll definitely open their eyes. I don't think a lot of the top players will be playing.
Q. There have been ongoing talks at making this a 15-day tournament, 14 days for the women. Although you haven't been past the quarters here, you have at other Grand Slams. Do you feel the extra day is particularly important for the women players?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Your saying that is the first I've heard about it. I haven't really had time to really think about it. So, yeah, I don't know. I don't see a reason why they would make it longer or anything.
Q. Because the men have to play semis on Saturday and finals on Sunday.
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, I'm not the type of person, I don't want to see things that have been the same way for such a long time changed. You know, I think you just have to go with the history of the tournament, I think. I don't know. Something I'll have to think about.
Q. Have you sort of looked at a draw sheet, you see your name at the very top.
KIM CLIJSTERS: I did, yeah.
Q. Does that seem funny?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, it was. I laughed a little bit. It was definitely a nice feeling. It was a very happy feeling, too, to see that, my name on the top of the draw. Yeah, definitely.
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