Clijsters set to serve up her best


The fire is burning hotter than ever in Kim Clijsters’ belly and there’s no way she’s ready to bow out of tennis with a whimper in 2012.
In fact, the ever-popular Belgian has given Australian fans strong hope this won’t be her last visit Down Under after stressing retirement isn’t in her thoughts.
Although injuries spoiled 2011 following her ”dream” Australian Open triumph, Clijsters has regained her motivation to take dates of a potential swansong off the agenda.
The 28-year-old said yesterday she had set the London Olympics as a farewell stage when she started her comeback two years ago, while coach Carl Maes recently indicated this would be her final year. But now Clijsters is far more open-minded as she prepares for her 2012 campaign at the Brisbane International. ”At the moment, I’m not even thinking about the Olympics,” she said of retirement talk. ”I don’t think like that. In tennis, the season is long and it’s tough and I just try to focus on one week at a time and my next focus is Brisbane and that’s what I’m training for. ”That’s why I came here [before Christmas] to be ready to try and be the best Kim I can when I play my first match here. One day at a time.”
Abdominal, shoulder, wrist and ankle problems reduced Clijsters to just eight tournaments in 2011 and saw her rankings go from No1 to 13.
Clijsters will line up in Brisbane as the fifth seed behind Sam Stosur, Andrea Petkovic, Francesca Schiavone and Serena Williams but is hitting the ball as powerfully as ever, as in her recent exhibition win over world No1 Caroline Wozniacki.
”The motivation is there. Because of the injuries maybe last year it was a little down and it was frustrating,” Clijsters said. ”I push myself hard every practice now and that’s the motivation factor that’s there and to achieve that little bit extra that’s a detail you definitely need to have.”
Stosur will be the home favourite, but ”Aussie Kim” will have huge support in Brisbane and Melbourne next month. Clijsters kicks off the main draw on Sunday at Pat Rafter Arena.