Kim Clijsters Interview - US Open, Aug 30Posted on August 31, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What were the emotions like being back on that court for the first time since last year winning the title?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, for these last few weeks already preparing for the Open I've been trying to get, obviously get my game back. But just to come out there and defending my title, I think I've never been in that position, and so it was, yeah, like I said, it couldn't have come any faster because I wanted it to, you know, I wanted it to happen for a while, and I was just excited to go out there.
Q. And your performance, how would you sum it up?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, good. I'm happy with the way I served. That's obviously been a stroke that I've been paying a bit more attention to during my practicing the past few weeks. Today I felt like I was hitting the ball well. Obviously beginning of the second set she started going for a little bit more. I kind of lost my positioning and my footing on court a little bit, you know, going with the wind, going against the wind. Kind of, yeah, wasn't aggressive enough. Didn't step in enough when I had to. I think she started going for a little bit more, playing a little bit more with some risks, and she kind of put me under pressure a little bit where it should have been the other way around.
Q. When you trailed 4 Love, are you relying on experience or anything from the past, or is it just trying to get one game?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Um, no. I mean, obviously you try to kind of read or, you know, kind of, yeah, not study, but kind of, yeah, just experience what's been happening, what made you get to Love 4. And then obviously you try to, you know, change a few little things just not maybe tactic wise but just for myself. You know, okay, just take a few little more steps. Just take smaller steps. Make sure those feet, you know, keep moving. You know, that's obviously to me was something that was very important. Obviously going with the wind, you know, I had to move forward quite a lot of times. A lot of times I was are kind of, you know, kind of searching for the ball a little bit. Just let it -- you know, waited too long to step into the court and just let the ball bounce. You know, let it go, you know, a little bit too low a few times.
Q. Do you ever get nervous anymore?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Um, yeah. I mean, it's not nerves where, you know, you have nerves where your arm feels like it's 50 kilos. Um, not like that. Which was obviously something, you know, in my first, you know, my first few tournaments when I came on tour in those big matches. Obviously, you know, when you know you can serve for a match or play those big matches, obviously the nerves sometimes can take over, a lot of your physical -- the way that you play and the way that you're feeling. So, no, I don't have that anymore, because I know when the nerves are coming, what to do, how to relax, and what to focus on. I think that's through experience and something I've learned.
Q. Going on court today, you're defending champion and you've been talking about this for months but you get back here; you're really at the US Open; there's expectations on you to some degree. You were talking about liking the pressure, but what's the feeling going out there? Is it all excitement?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, excitement. Excitement. I can't do more than give myself 100% every time I go out there. Whether I was in the situation last year where I tried that, I'll do the same thing now, you know. I think, you know, the pressure is something that is obviously coming from outside. I mean, everybody has to work hard to win a Grand Slam, and that's what I'm going to try to do: Give it my best and not focus on other things that I don't have control of. You know, I just want to make sure that I try and play my best tennis when I have to and try to win my matches.
Q. Can you kind of compare a little bit the sharp contrast between how you came in here last year and now, the feelings?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Um, I think maybe -- obviously the other players kind of didn't really know what to expect, I think, of me, and not knowing, you know, after having been off for so long. That was also something I had a lot of questions in my mind, seeing, you know, how are the top players playing? I played a couple of tournaments leading up to it, but I didn't play against any of the Williams sisters or against Sharapova, you know, those big names. And so I still kind of wanted to, yeah, compare and just see how I was -- how I was doing physically. You know, was I able to last? I knew that I worked really hard, but that was just comparing myself to myself kind of. I just really wanted to get a feel for, yeah, you know, those first five players of the world, see how they were doing, you know, if I could still compete. And that, to me -- I had a match in Toronto against Jankovic where I really felt like, Okay, I'm hitting the ball well. I had chances to win. I lost a close match. But that, to me, was obviously a match where I really felt like, Okay, I can still do it. But then, you know, obviously I didn't know I was going to be able to do it in those important matches yet, and so I was glad I was able to do that.
Q. A new initiative of the US Open this year is that the player boxes are being microphoned so that people can hear what is said.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh. (Laughter.)
Q. It's interesting for people to watch, but I imagine not everybody would like to be recorded without being asked. What are your thoughts on that?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, obviously you have the languages that are different obviously. I mean, you know, my opponent today was Hungarian, so I think there's obviously a difference if you have my husband speaking English and you have the Hungarian box. But, you know, I'm pretty sure my box, if you -- there's a lot of entertainment going on for the home, the people watching it on TV. Um, but, I mean, it's probably not a good thing for me to hear, because they're probably not focused on the matches a lot of the times.
Q. Is it okay by you, then?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. I mean, I don't care. I'm sure they're gonna watch what they're saying obviously knowing there is a microphone and just by, you know, behaving. But, no, I mean, I don't care. It's not bothering me when I'm playing out there.
Q. Serena obviously stepped in at the last minute to play that incredible exhibition in Belgium. Did she say anything to you before or after the match about her injury?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no. We also did a press conference together. No, I mean, they asked her about it, so no. I obviously saw her injury, but I didn't get the explanation.
Q. Have you been surprised about the severity, how severe it's turned out to be?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, because I saw -- I saw the injury, so -- and it's not something that she's making up or that it's a small cut or anything.
Q. Is it on the bottom of the foot or the top of the foot?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Both, both feet.
Q. On both feet?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah.
Q. Was it on the bottom of the foot or the top of the foot?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Um, I don't remember. I wasn't paying such close attention.
Q. Well, if you don't remember whether it was on the bottom or the top...
KIM CLIJSTERS: No.
Q. Your next opponent is a 19 year old Australian. What do you know of Sally Peers?
KIM CLIJSTERS: That she's a 19 year old Australian. (Laughter.) No, I mean, obviously, you know, there's a few names out there that I've paid a little bit of attention to. I think she's one of them. I think she's a girl who -- you know, she's stronger girl, you know, likes to hit the ball, and is, you know, a younger girl. Like when you play one of the youngers, they're always -- they're eager, they're ready to go, and they have nothing to lose. So it's gonna be a tough match just because of -- you know, I mean, if I just think back on how I was, you know, when I was that age. You can just go out there and, yeah, it's all new and it's exciting. I think that's something that obviously you have to be careful of, and you have to play every match like it's a final or like you're playing against Serena or Venus. Like you have to play every match like that now with that same mentality. Because if you lose your focus or take it a little bit too easily, you could be out of there, you know, in no time.
Q. She's got a picture of you autographed at home. She got that when she was 10. Sorry to make you feel old. You don't remember that?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't remember that, but it does make me feel a little bit older. I mean, I'm -- it's nice to hear. Obviously it's nice to hear that, you know, you have younger girls doing well now and that they kind of looked up to you. I mean, I'm glad to see. You know, there's a time going for everybody, you know, and I'm glad that I can, you know, obviously be an example to some younger girls. Obviously, you know, hopefully not Wednesday, but hopefully she can do well, you know, and have a really good career. Like I said, I'm just gonna really go out there and focus on, you know, on my game.
Q. You'll be probably playing on the Grandstand Court, and that's nothing she's ever come close to experiencing before. Is that something you can really take advantage of, or it doesn't really matter when you're in your zone?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It depends. I mean, like I said, I'm just gonna really go out there and just focus on my game. But, again, if I think back on how I was, I remember playing Serena here on I think it was Armstrong Stadium a few years ago I think when I was 17 or 18, and, you know, being up in that third set. I mean, it's not -- you have different personalities. With me, it was something that really, like, got me going even more. It's an excitement. You have girls who get very -- who go into their shell and kind of get overwhelmed with the whole emotions. So that's one of the reasons why I'm not going to go out there and focus on those things, because, you know, they kind of have nothing to do with me.
Q. Would you consider it a successful year if you did not win a Grand Slam?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Um, I mean, to me, you know, it's been frustrating that I haven't been able to, you know, to obviously play the French and, you know, not playing -- playing that horrible match at the Australian Open to me was frustrating. But at the time, I was like, Okay, it's my second Grand Slam. I just have to get back into it. And then at Wimbledon was the match where I've never been more disappointed after a loss than that match against Zvonareva. So of course in my situation now, you know, because I don't play that full schedule, I really want to do well in those bigger tournaments, whether it's the Grand Slams or Indian Wells, Miami, those big tournaments. You know, I did well in Miami and did well in Cincinnati, but of course you want to -- you know, when you get a taste of winning tournaments, you obviously want to do it also in the big tournaments. Um, but it all depends, I guess, on how it happens, I think. If I don't play good, then I'm probably gonna be more frustrated than if I'm, you know, playing a good match and your opponent is better. Okay. It all depends on how you go -- how you go out or how you feel.