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Clijsters sets sights on first Grand Slam victory
Clijsters sets sights on first grand slam victory
2003-07-28 03:57:59 GMT (Reuters)
By Matthew Cronin
PALO ALTO, California, July 27 (Reuters) - Belgium's Kim Clijsters is slowly closing in on the number one ranking, but it is a first grand slam title that she covets the most.
After she won her fifth title of the year with a 4-6 6-4 6-2 victory over Jennifer Capriati at the Bank of the West Classic on Sunday, Clijsters told Reuters that she's ready to capture her first major.
"I feel ready for a breakthrough," said the world number two, who stands around 200 points behind top-ranked Serena Williams.
"When you are young you don't know what it's like to be in that position all the time, but now I know what it's like to be in the second week of a grand slam and play in the big matches.
"To have that experience makes a big difference ... I now feel a lot more comfortable in vital matches."
This year, Clijsters has competed well in the slams but still managed to lose after holding a 5-1 lead in the deciding set against Serena Williams in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
She then fell in straight sets to countrywoman Justine Henin-Hardenne in the French Open final and lost to Venus Williams in three sets in the Wimbledon semi-finals.
Even though she has never reached the last four of the U.S. Open, Clijsters reckons hardcourts are her best surface and she may have her best chance of a breakthrough in New York.
"I feel very comfortable playing on hardcourts and have always done well in the tournaments leading up to the U.S. Open," she said.
"It's just a matter of planning well and making sure you are fit enough to keep it up for two weeks there."
Clijsters is planning a full playing schedule ahead of the last major of the season including tournaments in San Diego this week, Los Angeles next week and Toronto the week after that.
"On hardcourts, my movement can make a big difference. I feel like I can move 100 percent on them," she said.
The 20-year-old has lost only seven matches this year -- twice to each of the Williams sisters, twice to Henin-Hardenne and to Ai Sugiyama in the final at Scottsdale.
However, she has beaten all of those players and is confident that she can overcome them in a grand slam.
"I think I've shown I can play with anybody, but I haven't been consistent enough thorough the whole match," she said.
"The player in front of you thinks the same thing so it's important to be mentally stronger at the end."
Clijsters has been criticised in some circles for not wanting it enough at the Slams, but the Belgian said she would be raring to go when the U.S. Open began next month.
"I want another chance to go for it, but I'm only 20 and still have a few more years left to go for the grand slams."