Q AND A With Kirsten Flipkens – By: Matt Cronin

Written by: on 17th January 2013
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Q AND A With Kirsten Flipkens - By: Matt Cronin  |

Kirsten Flipkens interview: “I never lost belief in myself”

Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens is coming into her own at the age of 27. She has reached the quarterfinals or better in four of her last five tournaments, and just last week reached the semifinals of Hobart. Last fall, she won her first singles title at Quebec City

An attacking player who doesn’t shy away from the net, Flipkens has reached the third round of the Australian Open and will be favored when she faces Russian qualifier Valeria Savinykh on Friday. Flipkens, who wears the 10sballs.com patch, has already reached a career high ranking of No. 43.

She sat down with 10sballs.com, Matt Cronin after her quick upset of 23rd seed Klara Zakapolova.

 

10sBALLS.com: What do you attribute all this recent success to and what has been working for you now?

 

FLIPKENS: Well, I think I’m a girl who is not as big as the others and I’m not hitting as hard as all the Russians and everything so I have to find solutions with my game, to play a lot of slice and to come to the net if I can and mix it up because I’m a small girl so I have to find solutions against these players. For them it’s tough I think because there are not a lot of players on tour playing my kind of game.

 

10sBALLS.com: But you have been playing that style for a few years now so why are you winning more frequently now?

 

FLIPKENS: Last year I had blood clots in my calf in April so I had a tough two months there. They found out I had four blood clots. So since then I started to enjoy tennis and to be relaxed in the mind. Physically I was working really hard and I think it’s just physical and mental part that I improved a lot.I was off two months. And they only found out two days before I would have left to Japan for the Fed Cup. So the doctor also told me that if I was going to step on the plane there would be a big chance I would come out of the plane blue.

 

10sBALLS.com: Did you think it was your muscle?

 

FLIPKENS: Yes because I played a tough match in Thailand for four hours and when I stepped on the plane the next da and when I came off my legs were exploding. The left side was fine after a couple of days but the right was still hurting after a couple of days. So I still played a tournament, I did massage treatments, everything that is not good for thrombosis. Yeah, after all I’m lucky and I’m happy to be here.

 

10sBALLS.com: Did the doctor tell you why you got the blood clots?

 

FLIPKENS: It’s genetic.

 

10sBALLS.com: And you had never had any before?

 

FLIPKENS: No, never. So for the moment I have to put blood thinners if I’m flying longer than three hours. and I have to wear the socks, compression socks. I’s hard but on the other side I have a lot of rest in the head if I do it mentally because I know I’m safe.

 

10sBALLS.com: When you came back on tour did you tell yourself to try and enjoy it more?

 

FLIPKENS: Maybe, but there were few things also happening the same time. I lost the support of the federation that time right after I found about my blood clots, my ranking dropped to 262 in June. So I was there all by myself but I never… lost belief in myself and my confidence in myself.

Because I knew, my highest ranking then was 59 and I was 100 percent sure that I would get into the top 50 one day. So that was the main thing that kept me up. Because during the summer even I was all by myself, I was traveling by myself. No coach. I had few supporters. My main sponsor and Kim Clijsters who were always there for me, who put themselves and support me. I just had to go to tournaments myself. I did everything by myself, even if I was at home I was calling to some guys if they were able to play with me that day to practice.

I had a rough year, half year was really tough. But I played great. Even in Quebec, when I won my first WTA title, I was there alone, and yeah, that gives you a lot of support mentally and physically.

 

10sBALLS.com: I would think it’s hard to be alone, but in another way you learn a lot of things about yourself and you can carry those lessons on court.

 

FLIPKENS: Yeah, you’re there all by yourself and you have to manage and find solutions for everything. Book your practice courts, all these things that normally a coach do you have to do by yourself. So you have to find a way to improve yourself and to manage everything by yourself. Of course, I still had support from my mom, dad and my close friends, but there were not a lot of people still believing in me. So it’s great to be here and to be in the third round for the first time in my career and just enjoy tennis and be relaxed.

 

10sBALLS.com: So why did the Belgian federation stop supporting you?

 

FLIPKENS: It’s tough. You know, when you’re 26 and you’re ranked 262, it is of course — it’s just not the right time to do this. I had in April the problems with the blood clots and two weeks after they say, hey, we’re finished, in the middle of the year, in April, right before the Grand Slams, so that was not really the best and nicest way to do it. It’s the way everything went that was not correct from their side. I was there already for so many years.

But on the other hand, I am happy that I have all my structure and my coaches by myself right now. I’m in the Kim Clijsters academy with her. We have a lot of contact. My coach is working in the Kim Clijsters academy

 

10sBALLS.com: You and Kim have been close for a long time.

 

FLIPKENS: We’ve know each other already for 20 years so we’re close friends.

 

10sBALLS.com: Your game styles are quite different

 

FLIPKENS: I think we’re different kind of players but on the other hand, next to the court we’re quite similar. There is also something besides tennis. I barely speak about tennis with her. She’s just a good friend of mine that is trying to help me in part of my job. But on the other hand, we’re also just having fun, and go shopping. Of course, it’s nice to be there and have help from such a great player and such a great person. But to me, it’s not Kim Clijsters the tennis player, it’s Kim Clijsters my good friend.

 

10sBALLS.com: You have to be very pleased you are going to hit your career high ranking.

 

FLIPKENS: It’s going good. I think every week now, I’m improving my ranking, my highest ranking. So I don’t know how long it’s going to continue but I’m just enjoying it and as long as it’s working it’s fine. I’m enjoying every moment I’m out on there on the court.

 

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