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May 10, 2003

Felix Mantilla

ROME, ITALY, F. MANTILLA/Y. Kafelnikov 4-6, 7-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. That was a great comeback.

FELIX MANTILLA: Yeah, yeah. I think getting all the week since the first match, I was trying to be focus in every point, no? And I think today the key was that I didn't went out of mentally during all the match, no. Because today Yevgeny and me, I think we play a great match, one of the matches that you remember always, with a lot of people there watching the match. I think was very important for me, because I was believing all the match that I could turn the match around. For me, it's the most important to be strong mentally. That was the key of the match I think.

Q. Your thoughts on playing Roger tomorrow?

FELIX MANTILLA: Well, always when I am going out there and play a match, I always think that I have my chances to win. If not, I'm not going to play, no? Of course today was a very long match and we run, both of us, too much. I'm a little bit tired right now, but tomorrow maybe is a different story. I was working very hard to be here. For sure tomorrow I'm gonna give all that I have inside. I'm gonna do my best and we'll see what's gonna happen.

Q. You have good rhythm on clay this year. What's the main difference between this year and the two previous years?

FELIX MANTILLA: I think, first of all, that I am hungry again, you know. The last two years my mentally was not as good as now, no. And for me, when you play like me that you must be running all the day, I don't have the serve of Sampras or the volley of Rafter or the talent of Agassi, you know. I must be very focus every point. I must be strong mentally, no. And I think that was the key. I did a very good preparation in the last couple of months, and that's the key, no. If I am strong physically, I am strong mentally. And when I am like that, I'm dangerous.

Q. He scored five points on his first six dropshots. You didn't even come close to them. Were you able to read when he was going to do it again, because you caught up with every one after that?

FELIX MANTILLA: Well, I think Yevgeny is very talent guy and you know how he's gonna play. He can play flat going to the net, he can do a dropshot, and he can do serve and volley. He can do everything, no? And for sure when you play with him, you never know if he is gonna do a dropshot or not. But I think after he did three or four consecutive, I said, "Okay, be with attention because if not, all the match is gonna be like this." After, in the first set, I saw more of the dropshot that he made to me.

Q. Do you think it is true that the less talent, tennis talent you have, the more you have to think on court and in your life? Is it true or not? People who have more talent in tennis, they don't think too much, they just play with talent. People like you, you have to run, you have to think about your game. Do you think a little more?

FELIX MANTILLA: I don't know what the guy with talent do because... (Laughter). No, like I'm a curious guy. I like to -- I think tennis is a part of my life, very important part of my life. But I don't know, I think in this life you can do more things than just play tennis, no? I like to try to take more culture and to study and to read and to learn, no? I think every day you can learn a lot of things. If you are trying to do it, for sure it's something that you can do it, no? But is like I'm trying to play guitar since... I don't know - trying. Also, I don't have talent in guitar. I don't have ear (laughter). And then is something that I want to learn really, and I am doing some lessons in Spain now. I came with my little guitar here and when I am in the room, I start to play a little bit. But is the beginning, you know? After that, I am trying to finish, when I finish, to study something in the university, and we'll see.

Q. What?

FELIX MANTILLA: I don't know yet, but is something for sure that I'll do it. It's part of my life. My parents both are teachers. For me it's important to know things, no? It's something that I believe that in this life you must do it. I'm, for sure, when I finish, I'll be there. I like the history. Always I read things, real things that have happened during the history. I like all of that.

Q. What kind of music do you try to play?

FELIX MANTILLA: Try (laughing). I think the beginning is Spanish music because is easier for the language for me. And then, if I know the song, the letters, it's easier for me. Then all the Spanish music. But right now I didn't start already for a song. I am just practicing, and I am just knowing all the notes. And then what the teacher told me is what I'm doing - just know all of that, the chords. And then when I have mobility fast and everything, and then we'll start with the songs.

Q. On court, which sort of music would you like played tomorrow in the final against Roger Federer?

FELIX MANTILLA: "Gladiator," the film "Gladiator." Because, I don't know, I'm feeling here like him in the Coliseum a long time ago. Is like I'm coming here, I have beard, and more or less the same. Not the face, I know but... I don't know, I am feeling that I'm coming out there and all the people enjoys what I'm doing - just running, fighting and giving all my heart. Tomorrow for sure I'm gonna do all that I have inside on my rest and we'll see what's going on. It's gonna be a special match for me. I'm gonna try to win.

Q. Give us some details on the preparation you mentioned before.

THE MODERATOR: Can you spell, please, the name of your physical trainer.

FELIX MANTILLA: Is Petrit and then Fejzula.

Q. What kind of preparation?

FELIX MANTILLA: Before the match?

Q. Before the match, before coming to Rome. What kind of preparation gives you this kind of stamina, strength on the court?

FELIX MANTILLA: I think the most important thing for me is not play too much, no? Because the last couple of year my ranking was not so good and I was playing almost every week. One guy like me that is physical match always, and then when it's coming to the big events like Rome, I wasn't mentally and physically good. This year, I prepare with my coach and my physical trainer the big tournaments, especially. And then the week before, I was practicing at home and I was doing a lot of running, physical training. And then to be fit here, no? And sometimes came the results and sometimes not. But for sure I think is something that I'm gonna continue doing - just before the big events, don't play, just stay at home and practicing.

Q. Have you always had a one-handed backhand?


Q. Very un-Spanish.

FELIX MANTILLA: Yeah, but since I take my racquet the first time, always with one hand.

THE MODERATOR: He said a couple things interesting for you guys. He said technically he has improved a couple of shots, especially the forehand and the serve, and that he's worked a lot on that. He said he appreciates much more what he does nowadays than in the past. Because when you come from an injury and recover from that injury, it is much harder. It's been a long time since he has played in a big tournament like this, in a final. He does appreciate nowadays much more what he does on court than in the past. He has worked a lot on especially those two shots, and he appreciates a lot the work that he's done.

End of FastScripts….

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