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November 22, 2019

Shamil Tarpischev

Andrey Rublev

Karen Khachanov

Evgeny Donskoy

Paris, France

RUSSIA 2, Serbia 1

RUBLEV/ Krajinovic 6-1, 6-2

DJOKOVIC/Khachanov 6-3, 6-3

KHACHANOV-RUBLEV/Djokovic-Troicki 6-4, 4-6, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. Karen and Andrey, have you played a doubles match like that, in particular the tiebreak in the third set? Can you comment on that, both of you? Have you ever played a doubles and tiebreak like that and a doubles match like that?
KAREN KHACHANOV: We played in some ATP tournaments I think where the tiebreaks, they were like super tiebreaks. But it's different. Here is a real set with a deuce advantage, it becomes much more difficult than in ATP because sometimes it is deciding point and can be a little luck, then in the super tiebreak is the same.

So here is a real match of three sets. So I think, for sure, is one of the best matches in our career so far. We could take it as the best, yeah.

Q. Apart from Karen's loss today, would you call this one of the better days in your career as well? And can Russia go all the way in this tournament despite having very stretched human resources?
KAREN KHACHANOV: I mean, last two matches I play with No. 1 and No. 2 in the world. So it's, you know, for sure, they are favorites still. But I think it was against Rafa a really good match, all match. And then against Novak, he was just really much better in some aspects of the game.

And of course, when this new format of the Davis Cup that there are just three matches, that's what you see can happen. Like singles, 1-1, doubles deciding. So I think that's give us more opportunity to go through.

Q. Can you win?
KAREN KHACHANOV: Of course, once you are in the semifinals, you are thinking about winning, no?

Q. Andrey, can you describe your level today and how you felt on the court and the emotions you felt?
ANDREY RUBLEV: From singles or doubles?

Q. The whole day.
ANDREY RUBLEV: Singles was a little bit -- I don't think that Filip was playing well. Because I know how he can play, I know his level. And I was feeling that probably he was feeling too much pressure. Because in the beginning he was missing quite a lot so I was not really doing much things, but I was feeling quite confident, and probably that's why makes it different.

And then looks like there was no match, but I mean, there was some moments that he could come back but I serve really well in that moments. I think all the break points I think I make aces. So I perform in the important moment really well so I couldn't give him even a chance to come back. And that was the best from the single.

KAREN KHACHANOV: Andrey, be realistic. He didn't have any chance (laughing).

ANDREY RUBLEV: I don't think so.

In the doubles, you saw everything. It's both teams could win, both teams have a lot of chances. And it was just like a coin toss, you know, and we won this coin toss (laughing).

Q. Andrey, what do you think about the Canadian team also that they have a great victory yesterday?

Q. The Canadian team.
ANDREY RUBLEV: I mean, for sure, they win a great victory against such a great country, Australia. Because I know -- they had really tough, they won final doubles. And for sure it was also drama match there.

But we'll see what is going to happen tomorrow. I played with both of them, with Pospisil and with Shapovalov, both of them (laughing) -- but anyway, we'll see how it is going to be tomorrow. I think both teams have chances.

Q. Karen and Andrey, you're both very good friends, like, off court. So does that friendship actually help you when you're on the team together and you have greater team spirit when you're playing for Russia especially? The fact you played together in ATP tournaments, was that with an eye you would play together in doubles in the Davis Cup as well? Did you have the Davis Cup in mind at that stage?
KAREN KHACHANOV: Obviously, that's the answer for both questions: That we are good friends outside. For sure it helps, too. You know, we've been practicing a lot in the past and we know each other pretty well. So practiced a lot and I think that helped of course for us to be more together as a team.

And that we played ATP tournaments before Davis Cup, for sure it was the idea as well outside of our personal interest, you know to play more matches, to be more, you know, to have better game, to know each other better. So I think once you play more matches you start to feel each other's game, and that for sure helps for Davis Cup.

Q. (Off microphone.)
KAREN KHACHANOV: That is the third question, no?

ANDREY RUBLEV: You are under pressure.

KAREN KHACHANOV: The Davis Cup atmosphere, still, we can see some, for sure, Russian guys. Thanks for them who came to Madrid, it is not easy and it is quite expensive I can say.

And at the same -- I think you still feel the Davis Cup atmosphere because both countries are cheering, the crowd is cheering for you, and you still know you are playing not only for yourself but for the country. So pretty similar.

Q. Karen, it is very special to play Rafa one day and then Novak. Can you just take a moment and compare them a little bit? And ultimately, who is tougher? Who do you think is tougher?
KAREN KHACHANOV: Both are different but both, they can play good tennis, no? (Laughing.)

So it's different. I was saying to the guys actually in the locker today after the match that against Rafa, for example, the intensity is really high, but the ball comes different, you know, there's more spin.

And with Novak, you know, you feel always also pressure. Like, he plays really deep, flat shots. He doesn't open you so much but he plays you, he pushes you outside of the court, and that's the toughest thing. He returns great. I think that's also one of the advantages that you have.

With Rafa, I feel that I'm serving, not better, but that I have more advantage on my serve. With Novak, he always puts you under pressure. So, you know, and then of course if he played like he played today, so I think that was really high level from him. So I had maybe two breakpoints but he served well. Otherwise there was no other opportunities.

Q. Andrey, can you talk about what it means to you to be able to do this with Karen in particular and be able to kind of lead the team at this age to something very big like making Russia's first semi in 11 years. What does it mean to be able to reach that level so early in your career?
ANDREY RUBLEV: I don't know which level I've reached, we'll see (smiling).

But if you ask about Davis Cup, it's amazing feeling to be part of this, of this team, to play with them, now to be in semifinal with them after so long time, I think. And yes, it's amazing feeling. I mean, I'm happy I can perform really well, that I win my matches. Even with, I don't know, it looks like with Bautista I was not favorite but still I was able to win the match.

And it's amazing feeling that I'm able to compete with good players and win matches.

Q. This is for Captain Tarpischev, could you talk a bit about what you saw in the match today? You've seen so much over the years. And also give us your impressions of the Davis Cup in this new format, please.
SHAMIL TARPISCHEV: (Translated from Russian.) First of all, I would like to thank my team, all the team players and all the coaches working on our team. And particularly I would like to thank our third player, Evgeny Donskoy. So we have no problems on our team whatsoever. We are united in a very cohesive team, and that's why we have no problems. And that they are more than comrades, they are just friends, and that lays the right foundation for the team play.

And that propitious atmosphere of friendship, regardless of the heavy load they are enduring, help them to recuperate despite the fact they are basically playing together, the two of them only.

As far as the tie goes, the tie against Serbia, we did expect the match to end on 1-1, to be -- we did expect the score to be level after the two singles. It was not very likely that the score would be 2-0 or 0-2. So we expected that to end in the decisive doubles after 1-1.

And we were just trying to guesstimate, and we did not know really who would really be playing for our opponents in the doubles combination.

And initially, from the outset, we believed that the chances of both teams in the doubles are pretty much even.

And in mental terms, I think both teams should be commended for showing their strong will, self-abnegation, and desire to win.

And I think it was a seesaw match from the very first set, and somehow luck was on our side. But when I'm talking about luck, it's all about mental factors. Because all the team members value each other really a lot. So it's not just fortuitous luck, this luck is based on their friendship because they support each other not just on the court but in real life as well, off the court. This is why we felt really happy, thanks to that.

And I should tell you that we're on very good friendly terms with Team Serbia and all the Serbian players. And we feel sort of sorry there could be no draws and there has to be only one winner in this kind of tie. Because one team has to be rejoicing and the other will be just suffering from it, and that's just too bad.

And to respond to your second question, with respect to the new Davis Cup format...

KAREN KHACHANOV: We're coming there. (Laughing.) Slowly.

SHAMIL TARPISCHEV: (Translated.) We have no objection whatsoever to the very fact that all the stars of tennis got together here thanks to this new format. That's beyond discussion and objection.

Well, I'll give you the short story. (Laughing.)

KAREN KHACHANOV: Still first question? Shortest answer ever.

SHAMIL TARPISCHEV: (Translated.) Don't worry, I will relay to you.

It is my 95th tie in Davis Cup, if I'm not mistaken. To tell you the truth, this is great new format, we get all the stars altogether. But I'm kind of inclined to choose the old format because the old format made it possible to develop patriotism, the feeling of patriotism. It made it possible for the small- and medium-sized countries in terms of tennis to be developing. And this has gone, this side of the Davis Cup is gone, with the advance of the new format.

Because that old format also contributed to developing the team spirit, the team of patriotism all over the world in all countries.

As far as this new format goes, well, sure, it's a great international phenomenon, it's terrific. But I'm afraid we are getting too many competitions. We're going to have the ATP Cup, we probably will have the Fed Cup change to the new format, we have the Laver Cup, and we have the Davis Cup, the new format. And I'm afraid that these four competitions taken together, it will be a mess and they will contribute to the devaluation, yes, to a certain devaluation.

THE MODERATOR: Guys, no more questions.

SHAMIL TARPISCHEV: (Translated.) Like I said, if we manage to preserve this atmosphere like I describe it, that would be really great.

Q. I was in Moscow when Russia played Sweden, Germany, USA, was great, great atmosphere. I would like to know how much was the influence of Boris Yeltsin at that time, support for the Russian tennis, compared to today? Do you have the same support from the government and the political?
SHAMIL TARPISCHEV: (Translated.) Like they had before? This time I'm going to respond to you first thing in the morning.

Well, I should remind you that tennis was out of the Olympic family between 1824 and 1924. It got back only in 1988. And before Boris Yeltsin picked up a tennis racquet, tennis was not considered a 'normal' sport in Russia because it wasn't an Olympic sport.

And if we could play today, the level of tennis to the development of football, or soccer if you like, and ice hockey, which are two very popular sports in Russia, tennis can be compared in terms of massive involvement. So I don't think we can stop the development of tennis in our country anymore.

We hope we organize 3500 tournaments overall in our country per year because we have a great...

KAREN KHACHANOV: Local ones, he means. Local ones.

SHAMIL TARPISCHEV: (Translated.) Local tournaments.

Q. This question is for Andrey, if you're still here. That was the first time you have faced Novak on court.
ANDREY RUBLEV: Yeah. First time ever. I never even practiced with him.

Q. So I'm curious, I know it's a little strange that your first encounter is in doubles since you guys are both primarily singles players. What are your impressions and what you learned from facing him that you can carry into a singles match?
ANDREY RUBLEV: For sure, I can say two things: That I feel clearly how he returned and how he played the rally, because when the rally starts, we had with him really great rallies, with each other, or when it was me and Karen on the baseline and he was also on the baseline against us and he was completely relaxed, hitting hard, deep, without mistakes and it was -- I was impressed a lot.

But he's obviously a legend and this is normal. I mean, not normal, but you understand what I mean (smiling).

KAREN KHACHANOV: For us not normal.

Q. Karen, when you see the results Russian players have had this year, I know there's still a bit to go in this event, what chance do you think there is of three Russian men in the top 10 in 2020?
KAREN KHACHANOV: Obviously we are thinking about it and we hope this is going to happen next year. So we will work for sure to try to get there. I mean, me and Daniil, first me, I was a little bit earlier to get there than Daniil, he got there and passed me. So Andrey, he was injured last year, that really pushed him back in the rankings. But in the half year he reached his highest ranking like 23.

So I really hope that next year we can do some damage on the ATP Tour, all three.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Russian, please.

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