Kim Clijsters Interview - US Open, Sept 5


Posted on September 5, 2010

Kim Clijsters Interview
US Open - Sunday, September 5, 2010

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Last year, wildcard, nothing much expected. Now you're the champion. Are there great expectations from you and your fans?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Of course. You always want to do well at tournaments where you've done well. Obviously, you know, the US Open is a special tournament for me. I always -- you know, I wasn't able to defend my title in 2006, so coming here as a defending champion has been a new experience and something that kind of keeps it fresh, too, you know, because it's new and it was a little busy obviously the first, you know, when I got here the first few days before the tournament.

But it's -- it was, yeah, a nice experience. And tennis-wise as well I felt that I've been improving every match. We'll see, you know. Want to try and keep it going.

Q. You don't seem to be playing like you're under pressure as a defending champion. Do you feel the pressure? How do you deal with that level of expectation?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, I guess when you're older, you know, and I having played obviously a lot of Grand Slams, you don't feel -- I mean, the pressure is a privilege. It's something that comes because you've done well in the past, and I look at it in that way.

You know, I know how hard it is to try and win those seven matches and how much you have to, you know, be focused and work, especially on the details.

But it's something that, you know, is -- something that I think is more created from the outside. You know, I try to do every tournament that I play, but it's not easy. But I'm not bothered too much about the outside talk.

Q. When you came back, obviously you proved, you know, the comeback was the right thing to do by winning last year and proving something to yourself about it. Do you have anything more to prove to yourself, or is this all sort of gravy now? Whatever happens is great, or do you feel that certain things you want to improve?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, I didn't -- I decided to come back because I obviously wanted to try and get back to, you know, the level that I used to play.

You know, I wouldn't have been satisfied, you know, being ranked, you know, in the top 20 and kind of just playing tournaments here and there and not competing for titles, obviously. You know, I don't know if I would have still been going if I felt like maybe physically I couldn't handle it or if just tennis-wise I wasn't able to produce the same kind of level.

It is something that obviously drives you. You know, I would like to do well in each Grand Slam that I play, but it's not -- I never felt that I had to play tennis. But in the past, obviously when you're younger and you kind of grow up in that lifestyle where you start to defend and you start to -- you have to start defending points, I think there is a different type of pressure. I think you kind of feel like you have to complete this tournament because you have tournaments -- you know, points to defend.

I think now, I mean, I don't look at it like that at all. I'm playing tennis because I enjoy it. Obviously there are days where I enjoy it not so much, but that's a part of it.

But, yeah, I mean, like you said, if I say in six months, Okay, look, this has been fun and it's been good, you know, and I have achieved what I've wanted to achieve, then I'm the one who decides.

That's a nice feeling to have.

Q. When you were a kid, you and Elena both played at the Garden, Madison Square Garden. What do you remember about those days? And if you played her again, you know, what would you...

KIM CLIJSTERS: We've played each other a lot of times already in juniors, and I remember even under-14s and under-18. We kind of grew up together, you know. Played junior doubles against each other, French Open finals. It's fun.

I mean, it's nice to see that she's still going, and she's definitely -- she's always been a very professional athlete already. Back then she was focused on her tennis. That's never changed. I mean, she still has that same attitude, which is why she's gotten so far, too.

Yeah, you know, it's fun in a way to see how we kind of still are still there.

Q. I was surprised how relatively easy it was so far for you here today against a former No. 1. It didn't take you even an hour.

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I felt obviously today -- I knew once I got out there that Ana is the type of player -- she's playing with a lot more confidence, and if I can stay with her in the beginning of those first few games where she was playing really good tennis, if I could just stay with her and kind of just, yeah, make her once in a while doubt a little bit. Or just, you know, even when she's playing her best tennis, trying to retrieve a lot of balls and just try to get her to make the mistake, I really felt that was the case in the first five games we played today.

She starts making a few little unforced errors and a couple of double faults. I really tried to use the chances that I had, and that's what I did really well.

And then, you know, once I was up 3-1, I went to 4-2, and I felt like I was dictating really well during the points and kind of using the two sides of the court well. Especially, you know, with the wind, I think it's something, you can either look at it as something frustrating or you can look at it as, okay, this is something that tactically can help you maybe a little bit.

Q. Can you just talk about your potential matchup with Samantha Stosur. Obviously you beat her quite easily already in the past. Would you feel very confident of getting past her?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't think like that. Every match has to be played, and Sam is a different player than what she was a few years ago. She's definitely improved a lot.

Also, she's a player who relies a lot on confidence, and she's very -- you know, she's one of -- probably one of the hardest hitters, but in a different way. You know, with the heavy spin balls and with the great serve, I think it's something that is obviously a little bit more tricky than what we're used to seeing these days.

It's a challenge. It will be a challenge for her against Dementieva, because you never kind of know. Dementieva is never a player who likes the heavy spin shots that much, so that's gonna be a tricky one to see how they'll play that match.

But, I mean, when I play Sam, obviously her forehand is one of the -- her best shots, and then her serve, as well. So I really have to try and make it, just stay focused and opening up the court on the forehand and just trying to go on that backhand.

Q. Are you starting to feel invincible here? You've won 18 matches in a row. That's some record.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, not that I think about it, but I want to try and keep it going. I've always enjoyed playing here at the US Open. I remember playing qualifying and playing Serena in 2001 or 2002 many years ago already.

But just to have that comfort, you know, on the surface, as well -- I've always enjoyed playing on hardcourts, so it's a good surface for me to just move the way that I want to move. Yeah, so it helps.

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