MONTREAL — Belgian tennis star Kim Clijsters is just 27 years old but definitely middle-aged in tennis years.
On the eve of her opening match at the Rogers Cup, Clijsters reflected on motherhood, her future and the benefits of experience. Fresh off of a win at the Cincinnati Open on Sunday, Clijsters compared herself to fine wine.
"If you learn from your past experiences ... as you get older you get better physically," the two-time U.S. Open champion said.
Clijsters also spoke of the wisdom gained from taking a two-year hiatus from the gruelling pro circuit to have a baby. Her return has been a smashing success, as she has risen to No. 4 in the
WTA rankings. She will enter the U.S. Open later this month as defending champion.
Now Clijsters picks and chooses her tournaments to maximize performance. The Rogers Cup is near the top of her list.
"I want to focus on the big tournaments, the Grand Slams and all the others, like this one here," said Clijsters, a 13-year veteran who won Canada's showcase event in 2005.
But even though she's seeded fifth and received a first-round bye, she's not looking past American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, her opponent at centre court on Wednesday evening.
"She's a tricky player because she likes to try different things. I am going to have to be focused and ready to anticipate a lot of things from her."