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BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: World number four Kim Clijsters is targeting more matches on clay next year to make up for her absence from the European circuit in 2010.
The 27-year-old was forced to miss the Madrid Open and the French Open in Paris due to a foot injury earlier this season.
“I definitely hope I can play a few more tournaments in the middle of the season in Europe (next year),” the US Open champion said yesterday. “That was definitely a big disappointment for me, not being able to go to Madrid and the French Open, of course.”
Clijsters, who won her second successive US Open title by beating Carolina Wozniacki of Denmark last month, said missing the clay court season was disappointing.
“So that was a tough one. So, definitely I hope to make sure that I’m not missing a big part of the European Grand Slam circuit,” Clijsters added. “This year I wanted to play a little bit more (but) because of my foot injury that happened earlier in the year, I wasn’t able to play anything on the clay court,” the popular Belgian explained.
When asked about goals in the 2011 season, Clijsters said she was aiming to do well in the Grand Slams
“I’m just still focusing on the Doha event. But obviously the Grand Slams are always important. I just really just try to stay fit. That’s always something that I am always focusing on, even if I’m not playing tennis or training, you know, on tennis, on shots or anything,” she said.
“I’m just trying to make sure I’m preventing, doing a lot workouts in the gym. That’s not just my goal, but also the team around me. If I’m healthy, then I can work hard and practice a lot and then I play better. So that’s where it starts,” the three-time Grand Slam champion said.
Clijsters said qualifying for the season-ending championships was a bit if a surprise.
“No, definitely not,” Clijsters said when asked if she was expecting to be at the season’s last event. “But it’s exciting. I’ve also been used to playing the championships either in the States, New York or LA, and in Germany one time. So, for me to be in this part of the world is also a new experience as well,” she added.
“It’s fun. I’m excited to start. You know, Championships are always tough. From the first match onwards you have to play well and you have to try and get as many points and games as you can.”
“Even if you’re not playing well, just try to hang in there. At the end of the day, it can make a little bit of a difference,” the Belgian said.
Clijsters, who returned to tennis in March last year following a two-year sabbatical to have a baby, said she had no fitness concerns going into the last event of the season.
“I’ve been practicing physically, and tennis-wise I’ve been working out for about three and a half weeks, three weeks now, I think, in total. So, I was physically still doing a bunch of stuff, swimming, biking, things that I was allowed to do without putting too much pressure on my foot, just to stay in shape.
“Physically, I mean, I feel fine. (I) had a lot of tests done with Sam. Yeah, so, I feel good. Obviously you feel a little different when you get here. You just feel a little bit more, how should I say, heavy because of the heat. First half hour everything goes well, and you hit the wall after a while. Your body just has to adjust again,” she said. THE PENINSULA