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June 28, 2002

Yevgeny Kafelnikov

Wimbledon, England

MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Your opponent played well. Did you feel you helped him along the way today, didn't play as well as you could?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Certainly, I think in the first and second set, the fact that he was up sets to Love, it could have been easily the other way around, I could have been two sets to Love up. You know, disappointing to lose first two sets, but then third set was logical, he played better.

Q. Were you beginning to think this finally might be your year at Wimbledon, with the big guys going out?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, obviously if I can look back when the tournament has begun, who would have thought that Agassi, Sampras, Safin, a lot of guys would have gone early in the tournament. But, you know, credit to the other guys. They have definitely improved the level of game in men's tennis. Certainly the gap is not as big as it was before. Of course, when I look at myself, for example, you know, I thought I had a good chance going through. But, you know, unfortunately Xavier Malisse was on the way.

Q. You've never really performed as well as you have done at other Grand Slams here at Wimbledon. Can you explain why?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I wish I could explain the answer.

Q. In regards to Xavier's game, it's been described as erratic. Is he coming along at this point?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think he's definitely much more stable. I thought when I came back in the first set, broke him to go even at 3-All in the first set, I thought, you know, I had a psychological edge because he's been known in the past that he would have go crazy, you know, after losing his serve. But he kept stable and he kept his motion on very high level. You know, it definitely has been major improvement in his game.

Q. Greg Rusedski is now two sets up. How do you think that game will go if they play?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, Greg, you know, he's got to take that golden opportunity. You know, if he wants to put his name somewhere on the wall with great players, that could be his year. And I think he's got much more chances than Henman does, to be honest.

Q. Why do you think that?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Just because I think, you know, he's got no expectation. Because all the media, you guys, putting so much focus on Henman, where Rusedski can stay in the shadow and go a longer way nicely, like he's doing right now.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about Centre Court being slower this year than it has been before. Tim is in the same half of the draw as Lleyton Hewitt.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It definitely will benefit Hewitt's game, for sure. You know, courts is playing not as fast as we used to know Wimbledon. The major effect is the weather. We have been through five days and we have not seen one drop of rain. It's definitely going to have some major effect on the big serve and volley games player because, you no going to get away with the serve, like, for example, you would have nice slippery court. You know, Henman, of course, he's got a tough match tomorrow against Ferreira. I think, you know, that's the kind of player who can present him major trouble.

Q. How far do you think Xavier Malisse can go in this tournament?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: If he performs in the next match like he did today, I'm absolutely sure he's going to have a chance, whether it's going to be Rusedski or Roddick. You know, on the other hand, if it's Rusedski, I think Greg will definitely present him much more trouble than Roddick because Roddick and Malisse, they have pretty similar style of the game, where Rusedski can put so much pressure on first and second serve on Malisse. You know, if he does like he's doing right now, I don't think many guys can play with Rusedski.

Q. Do you think Rusedski will give him more problems than you did?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think so, yes, yes.

Q. What was wrong with you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, I think I wasn't that aggressive throughout the whole match. You know, I tried to put pressure on him behind the first serve; but then, you know, behind the second I wasn't able to generate, you know, enough pressure on him behind the second serve, and that's why I was giving him a chance to play his own game from the baseline.

Q. Is it fair to say you don't enjoy coming here?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I do enjoy. You know, I like the Wimbledon. It's been four years since I last performed on the Centre Court. It's been wonderful for me. To be honest, I wanted to stay longer than two hours. But, unfortunately, Xavier cut it short. You know, London has been great. Wimbledon is always, always special and always unpredictable. I don't know where you guys got it from that I don't like coming in here. I do like.

Q. Is it more the surface that you don't like, the grass?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, it's always difficult, I think, to choose the right style to play on this kind of surface. You know, I always in the middle where I'm making a decision to serve and volley behind first and second serve or I need to stay back or I need to mix it up. I'm always in between, you know, and that could be my problem here in this tournament. Where when I'm playing on the clay, I know I have to set up my game on the baseline, then finish the point at the net. Same story on the hard court. On the grass, it's all specific game that, you know, I'm always in between. Sometimes this I think is my major problem here.

Q. In this half of the schedule, all the seeds are almost out. Didn't you miss a unique chance?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'm thinking about it, yes. But, you know, that's been the whole year on the ATP Tour, so unpredictable. You know, I'm almost feeling like it would be the same story here. The winner of the Wimbledon will be someone that you don't even think of, perhaps Rusedski. Who knew that Rusedski had a chance to win Wimbledon before, with all those names, Sampras, Agassi, I don't know, Safin. But it would be somebody that you probably don't even think of.

Q. Is this a one-time thing happening?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think you're going to see that much more often right now. Like I said, the depth in the men's game is so big at the moment that the guy who's ranked 150 in the world can present trouble to one of the best. The reason is -- unfortunately, I don't know why it's happening, you know, that we don't see - like I said before - the gap between best guys like we used to have 10 years ago or 15 years ago where basically Edberg, Becker, some other guys were dominating. There was so big difference between rest of the players, where right now you don't see that anymore.

Q. Do you think that crosses all surfaces or mostly grass at Wimbledon?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, I think it's -- my answer is belong to all surfaces: hard court, clay, grass. It's everywhere right now.

Q. Back to Henman. You mentioned you thought Ferreira has the type of game to cause him problems. It will be a match that most people expect him to win.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think it's expectation on his shoulder is very big from the fans. You know, a few days ago I saw the headlines in one of the newspapers. They say Agassi, Sampras out, and, "Tim, you choke here, we won't forgive you for that." Believe me, when you read these kind of headlines in every morning newspaper, it does reflect on your mental stability. You know, when you go on the court, particular when you play a hard opponent. I felt like yesterday he was handling himself pretty well. He had a very difficult opponent in the face of Scott Draper. You know, going through that hard match, I think he did a wonderful job. Tomorrow I think will be the same story. You know, he has to approach the match like perhaps it is the final because otherwise Wayne Ferreira, he's a very difficult opponent.

Q. For American players, American youth, Wimbledon is looked on as the pinnacle place to play. Is that the same feeling that Europeans have, that this is the place that ultimately every tennis players wants to play in the world?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Of course, I think that's where the history of tennis has begun, here in this place. Obviously, you every year you look forward to it. I think, you know, if I can speak on the European guys' behalf, we mainly focus in on the French Open. That's where I think we have most chances to win because that's the surface we're grew up on. Where Wimbledon, of course, it's very unique surface. We only have four tournaments throughout the whole year. To be able to play well enough, I don't think it's enough time, enough tournament.

Q. There's talk in the States that maybe grass, it's past its time. How do some of the players feel about that?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, I disagree. I feel we should have tournaments on the grass. Because, like I said, it's a history, where tennis has begun on this surface. You know, Wimbledon, it's always going to be Wimbledon.

Q. Do you think maybe the grass season should expand a little bit more, to be able to prepare?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think so, yes. We should have at least double the tournament on the grass what we have right now at the moment. So people would have much more chance to get used to it. And I think it's going to only, you know, be beneficial for all the players.

End of FastScripts….

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