Clijsters targets prizes over points
Originally published on: 18/01/12 10:11
After taking little notice of her second round opponent, Kim Clijsters admits she is just as unconcerned by her ranking but more on her individual performances on the big stage.
The Belgian had dropped just six games in her opening match against Maria Joao Koehler but was virtually flawless in a 6-0 6-1 victory over Stephanie Foretz Gacon on Wednesday.
And the world No.14, who first topped the rankings back in August 2003 but now, having won four Grand Slams since – including two US Open titles and an Australian Open crown during her ‘second career’ in the game – admits the No.1 ranking doesn’t even register on her list of goals.
“In the long term, you know, it doesn’t make a difference,” said the 28-year-old. “I’m not going to sit here and say, no, it never [meant] anything when I was No.1. It’s nice to be in that position, but once you’ve been there, yeah, it’s not something that I try to achieve.”
That’s not to say the top spot is not a great accolade, stresses the reigning Melbourne champion.
“It was definitely something I was very proud of,” she said. “As a young girl growing up, you know, looking at past No.1s – those were definitely people and players that I admired. For me to be in that position at such a young age was definitely something that made me very proud.”
Clijsters won her first Grand Slam title at the 2005 US Open, two years after she first attained the top spot, a stat that may well give plenty of encouragement to current world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, who has been criticised for her failure to land one of the big four.
“Caroline is the girl who has been the most consistent player by far, injury free, played a lot of tournaments, but also did well in those tournaments,” said Clijsters of the Dane.
“She deserves to be up there. When she goes head to head against Serena or myself, you know, she has a losing record, but at the end of the day when you become No. 1, that doesn’t matter.
“To become No. 1, you need to have the qualities that she has. That is to be consistent and to last throughout a whole season.”
Like Clijsters, who faces Daniela Hantuchova in round three, Wozniacki has made it through her opening two matches in straight sets, beating Anastasia Rodionova for the loss of three games and Anna Tatishvili 6-1 7-6(4).
But her place in the third round didn’t come easy as the Georgian recovered from 4-1 down to make the Dane fight to see out the win.
“I pulled through,” admitted Wozniacki, who relied on her scrambling court coverage in the end.
“If you have long rallies, you need to think, am I fitter than my opponent? Can I stay out here and grind it out for three, four hours or do I need to finish it off quicker? Sometimes it depends on the opponent, as well, and on yourself,” she admitted.
“Sometimes the opponents don’t let you play the way you want to. Then you need to change to Plan B.
“But I usually believe I can stay out there the longest. I believe that I can be out there forever if I have to.”
An attitude, you would think, that goes hand in hand with a deserving world No.1.