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September 4, 2001

Yevgeny Kafelnikov


MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Were you surprised that Arnaud made such a hasty exit off the court as soon as the rain came? You seemed to be staying around.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, at this point, you know, the weather obviously interfere a little bit, it starts drizzling. You know, normally everybody would have done this, the same thing. You know, I probably would have also walked off the court. I was just so into the match, I wanted to finish the match as soon as possible because, you know, two sets to Love, 3-Love. You never know what to expect when you're going to walk off the court with a rain delay, have to come back, basically start a new match from the beginning.

Q. You didn't miss a beat when you came back serving.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Luckily, I played two solid service games to love. You know, it just give me good confidence to finish the match off.

Q. First three rounds, you lose a couple sets here, there.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You think I did on purpose (laughter)?

Q. You play your toughest opponent, you straight-set him like that. One day will we find out why you're so unpredictable?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I wish I knew the answer. You know, it seems to me that's my nature. You know, in the beginning of the tournament, you know, I perhaps trying to, you know, save a little bit of energy without paying much attention to my opponent. That's my probably nature, like I said. The opponents these days are basically all even. You know, there is 127 guys who are playing the same game as we are. There are not quite favorite players, dominating players. There are some, of course, like Agassi, Sampras. You know, you don't have so much big of a gap anymore like we used to have in the old days. But, you know, coming back to your question, I guess the occasion was special, fourth round US Open. I had to be concentrated from first point on. Arnaud is a tough competitor. You know, I just remembered the match we had at the Australian Open. I kind of didn't want to, you know, basically give him a rhythm. I stick to my game plan and it worked out well.

Q. How is playing two consecutive five-set matches then a four-set match saving energy? Seems to me like you expended a lot.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I did, yes. But, you know, I'm professional. You know, I know exactly how to recover, how to put myself in the best possible shape for particular occasions. You know, although I did have first two rounds five-set matches, I had two days in between where I could recover and, like I said, put myself in the best position.

Q. You haven't won a straight-set match here since 1999.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, I think -- fourth round, that's right.

Q. Is that an accomplishment? Do you have problems on this surface particularly?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't have any problems. Hard has always been my favorite surface. I did, and I still enjoy to compete the most. That's the surface that brought me so much glory in my career. You know, I'm just happy to be part of the second week tournament, you know. You know, I'm not going to look too far ahead. I was taking each match at a time. That has been my approach this tournament so far. That's why I haven't been making any prediction who's going to win, who's going to be where. I'm just going to stick to what I'm doing the best.

Q. Who's going to win? Who's going to be where?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't know and I don't want to know (laughter). You know, it's not my problem. My problem is whether Kuerten or Costa in the next round. That's the only concern worrying me most at the moment.

Q. Do you feel comfortable not talking about all these things?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I always like to be in that position. You guys didn't talk about me the first ten days. That seems to me ideal situation for me. Just keep not writing any articles so I can wake one day, the remaining days, without looking the paper and see myself not in the pictures. Just keep it low.

Q. Seems like just about the only way to stop Gustavo these days is --?


Q. -- Is to tire him out. He has a bit of a bad back sometimes when he plays too much.


Q. He had a long match with Max. You're going to be rooting for him to have a long match next.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Absolutely not. I'm sure the day he had yesterday, I'm sure he recover completely. We all Grand Slam champion. We know what it take to win seven matches in a row. You know, I'm not going to pray that he's going to have a tough match against Costa. Even if he does, you know, he's going to have another day, so he'll be ready. If he wins, he'll be ready for the match against me on Thursday. You know, I have to worry about myself. I have to be worried that just I'm ready on particular date to play, whether Kuerten or Costa.

Q. Considering the difficulties in the earlier round matches, to get through this in straights, do you feel psychologically better?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's definitely a huge confidence boost, no question about it. To get through straight sets against an opponent like Clement, I did not expect, to be honest. I did not expect. In the beginning, this morning, I felt like chances are 50/50. I might lose and I might win. I wasn't that confident. You know, as the match was progressing, you know, I felt like I was getting into my rhythm, playing the game I needed to play. Definitely it is a huge confidence boost. I feel like I'm going to be ready on Thursday.

Q. Physically?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Physically, I never had any problems to play, no matter where, it's clay, hard court or grass, I always ready for the occasions.

Q. Are you working with anyone?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'm not. I'm not. I prefer to be solo (laughter). I learned throughout the years so much. I don't think anybody can help me these days, but myself.

Q. Not even just there as moral support?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, I have a few people who support me, who have been there with me through thick and thin. Those people are here with me. They've given me much moral support, absolutely.

Q. What do you like about being solo, relying on yourself?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Just because for all the success, all the desires I will have for me, my career, I can blame only myself, not any other person.

Q. While we're not paying attention to you, Agassi and Sampras are playing tomorrow. We know spectators will be watching that match, but how about you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: If I have a chance to go to USA booth and talking with John like I did the other day, I'd be gladly to do that, no question.

Q. That's a final.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Absolutely. You know, it's really sad those guys are playing in quarterfinal. It easily could be, you know, the final like they played two other times with each other. But that's the way it goes. Unfortunately, Pete has dropped in the ranking. You know, he has to come out tomorrow and prove himself he still belong to the best in the world.

Q. What do you support more, the way they do it in Wimbledon where they can advance somebody, depending what he has done in the previous tournaments? Sampras was No. 1 , but wasn't No. 1 in the world.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Wimbledon obviously is special, you know. Unfortunately, the grass court season is not that long like clay court or hard court. You cannot make a seeding based on the ranking.

Q. What about here? Sampras should have been seeded better than Grosjean, Ferrero and Henman, or not?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Absolutely. Absolutely, yes.

Q. The final quadrant in this draw is so tough.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: The bottom, yeah.

Q. In order to get through there to the final, Pete has to beat Rafter, Agassi, possibly Marat.


Q. Just to get to the final. Do you think whoever comes out of that quadrant is going to be so emotionally drained from those matches, it will be difficult to play a great final?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, in these kind of situation, you never know what comes out. When you get through the tough matches, beating the players like Agassi, Sampras, anybody, you have a confidence on your side. Sometimes it's much easier to be in that position, to go through those guys earlier in the tournament, than not to face them in the final. Because final, it's special occasion. Basically you don't know what to expect in this particular situation, so no matter who is on the other side. Like I said, I don't think there will be mentally tired. Whoever comes out of them and goes to the final, I think they will produce the best of what they can do.

Q. Would it be of any special impact to you if two Russians were in the final?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Absolutely. It would be, you know, ideal story. It would be great history that me and Marat will be in the final. You know, is still long way to go. Each one of us has to win two more matches.

Q. Where are you right now mentally and physically in your career? Are you having fun again?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I always had fun, although career goes sometimes up and down. You know, unfortunately nobody can avoid such a period of times. We've all been through that. But right now is just I think I'm probably enjoying as much as I did in the early stage of my career. Every match that I win brings me joy, no questions about it. You know, still my goal remains to win as much matches in my career as I can, to win as many tournaments. You know, I'm sure when the right time will come for me to step down, I will.

Q. Do you have any sense of when that might be?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't know. I don't know. To be honest, I don't want to know. I'm sure it will come very quickly.

Q. Why have you had so much fun now? Why are you comparing it to earlier in your career? What has been the change?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: The change has been I'm obviously older. For me to see the young guys like Federer, Hewitt, I just recall those times when I have been in the same position like those guys, to come out against the best guys, compete, take this spot in the top. It's the beauty of the game. It's so human nature. It's logical process that we cannot avoid. Some of us coming up, somebody steps down. It's great.

Q. This girl Sharapova. She's from your city.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: She was from Sochi, that's right.

Q. What do you think of her talent?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: She's going to be much better than you probably anticipate.

Q. How long will it take?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'll say probably three, four years. To be honest, I don't want that she will come out that quickly, perhaps not to burn herself out that quickly. The longer you wait, it's going to be better for her in the rest of her career.

Q. What are the elements of her game?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: She's quite tall. She's got good groundstrokes. You know, obviously I don't know how he's (sic) going to be develop physically because I think that's important, you know, aspect also which is quite necessary to play well in our sport.

Q. Is it true she started to play with a broken racquet of yours?


Q. Against the wall?


Q. You gave it to her personally?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yes, yes. I know her since she was three years old because I was practicing the same club. Her father was basically tennis maniac. I always try to give him advice. You know, I was young myself at that age, but still I was turning pro at that time. We had a great time before they left to United States.

Q. Do you know how they were able to reach from Siberia?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Who is from Siberia?

Q. They say she was born there.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: She was born in Minsk in Belarus. She moved to Sochi. I don't know for what kind of reason. Now I know they made the right choice.

Q. Have you given her a racquet that wasn't broken yet?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: She doesn't need it anymore. She has so many endorsement contracts.

Q. When she got better, though?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Obviously, she left when she was seven years old. I haven't seen her development because I was traveling, she was back in my hometown. I haven't basically seen her for three or four years. When I saw her, I think last year, she made a great impression on me.

Q. Not all of us have heard her name.


End of FastScripts….

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