Clijsters closes in on No 1 after Australian win
Updated: 2011-02-09 10:05
PARIS - Kim Clijsters is more interested in trying to win major titles than returning to the No. 1 ranking for the first time in five years, despite being only two matches away from overtaking Caroline Wozniacki at the top.
Kim Clijsters of Belgium smiles as she speaks during a news conference at the Paris Open tennis tournament at Coubertin stadium in Paris February 8, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
Clijsters, who won the Australian Open for her fourth Grand Slam victory, will reach the summit of women's tennis by making the Open Gaz de France semifinals later this week. She plays Kristina Barrois of Germany in the second round on Wednesday.
"When you're this close to making it, it would be a nice accomplishment if I could do it," the 27-year-old Clijsters said on Tuesday. "I'm not going to be disappointed if I don't make it. I would like to focus on a few more goals throughout this season, which are a couple of the bigger tournaments."
Even if she is successful, Clijsters said the moment she first became No. 1 in August 2003 at age 20 would always mean more to her. The Belgian held the top spot again later in 2003, and was last No. 1 in January 2006.
"Back then (in 2003), I felt like it was a big achievement because I was obviously a lot younger and playing in an era where there were a lot of big names out there," Clijsters said. "Lindsay Davenport, the Williams sisters were a part of it. I was in a very similar situation to what Caroline Wozniacki is now _ I hadn't won a Grand Slam."
Clijsters, who has also won three U.S. Open titles, could possibly meet the fifth-seeded Nadia Petrova of Russia in the quarterfinals, a tough match considering she hasn't rested since beating Li Na of China in the Australian Open final on January 29.
Last weekend, Clijsters won both her Fed Cup matches against American players Melanie Oudin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
"I haven't been able to just relax and recover. I'm still going on with the same intensity I was in my three or four weeks in Australia," Clijsters said. "But I do look forward to having a few days off when I'm done in this tournament."
Both times in 2003, Clijsters lost her No. 1 ranking to Justine Henin, a friend and former Fed Cup teammate. Henin recently announced her retirement from tennis for the second time, and Clijsters is still digesting the news.
"It was obviously a shock. I still thought she was planning on keep(ing) going until the Olympics and we were maybe going to play doubles together," Clijsters said. "So yeah, I was surprised."
They spoke together at the Fed Cup series in Antwerp, and Clijsters hopes Henin will now enjoy life away from the court.
"It was just emotional because you see, all of a sudden, it's such a long period in our lives that we've shared together. To see her finish is sad, but also exciting," Clijsters said. "She has a lot of good things to look forward to: find a good guy and start a family. Hopefully those kind of things will come in her path pretty soon. That's what life is about."
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