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June 30, 2001

Yevgeny Kafelnikov


THE MODERATOR: English questions, please.

Q. How did that get away from you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Good question. I wish I knew the answer.

Q. Seemed to have it in your grasp?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I did, yes. That is disappointing part. You know, it's there, but unfortunately I was unable to take it. I don't know how many times I will get such opportunity and not be able to take it in the right time. It is disappointing, yes.

Q. It seemed you would play a couple of games to absolute perfection, and then something would go strangely awry. Did you know what has happening in your head at the time?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, I guess it's a combination of, first of all, knowing that you have an opportunity first, and pressure, which I put on myself, also knowing that I'm quite favourite to go through that match. Those factors really didn't give me a chance to play up to my ability. You know, it seems to me when I had my chances, I was so under pressure to take them. Like I said, you cannot perform 100 percent or up to your standard when you are under so much pressure.

Q. Was the pressure made worse, because you've talked about this being possibly your last serious chance here.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It is. It is the pressure, yes. You know, knowing that, you know, the draw on your side is wide open and on the paper you are favourite to go through to a certain part in the tournament, which was quarterfinals. To me, that was my goal. That was my minimum goal, which I set up before the tournament. And knowing that, you know, you are facing the player who are capable of making upsets. I think that's basically what happened. He played quite solid tennis today and deserves to get through.

Q. What I mean is you've said that this might be your last Wimbledon.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, I'm 27 years old.

Q. That's not old?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It is not. I never made a statement that I was gonna quit playing tennis, you know. It's not like Patrick, unfortunately. But, like I said, the time is fading away. Next year I'll be 28. There are so many young players who are trying to make a statement in this tournament. I'm talking about the Grand Slams, like Roddick, Dent, Hewitt, Safin. You know, seems to me, you know, the age difference is not that small like it seems on the paper. Safin is 21 years old; I'm 28 next year. So, I'm realistic, I realistically see that the time is going by. With every tournament, I have less chances to be able to win it.

Q. When you're in an open part of the draw, as you say, it should be easy, shouldn't you be under less pressure, not more?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, I wouldn't agree with you on that issue, because the men's tennis is so -- I mean, the depth is so tight. You see so many upsets these days where the players who has not much results, not much glory like the top players, and I am trying to avoid such an upset. But, unfortunately, today it wasn't to be. I run into the player who had a very good Wimbledon so far and played better and deserves to get through.

Q. But you hit a fairly high proportion of unforced errors.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I did, yes. I did. That was the key. You know, I said when you know -- when you know the opportunity right there, that's the most difficult time to perform 100 percent. Only, you know, players who has capability to be able to handle it then go through. Unfortunately today I wasn't able to handle that pressure because seems to me I was in control of the third set 3-love; don't do anything fancy, just hold your serve and you will go through. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do that.

Q. So would you say that you as much beat yourself as that he beat you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Oh, yes. Yes. On the other hand, I got to give him a lot of credit. You know, he did play well in the crucial points when he was, you know, down in the game; he played aggressive. Myself, instead of, you know, being aggressive and play normal game, I was on the defensive side. It was very difficult. I understood it that much worst because I did believe in myself if I was gonna get through that match, I was gonna do well in this tournament. But it was not to be.

Q. Are you saying the easier it looks --?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: The tougher it gets, absolutely. It's been proven over the years like this, you know, when you know you have an opportunity and all of a sudden there is one player in the draw who gives you more trouble or is on your way. Those type of things happen very often.

Q. It was one of your favourite courts, No. 2?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It was, yes. I did enjoy playing there. Although I dipped in the rankings, it wasn't because of the court; it was because I was not playing well or my opponent was too good.

Q. Is it difficult to maintain incentive when you already have 18 million in prize money?


Q. No?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Absolutely not. Just because I haven't done well enough in this tournament, that's what keeps me going, not the prize money. Absolutely not.

Q. Would not some of your fellow Russian citizens regard you as having won the Russian lottery to some extent by living the life you live?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: What kind of life I'm leading? This life is very boring. You know, travel every week, not seeing your family. You guys think it's the best life, but not to the standard of normal person who has family. Although I do have a family. But I very rarely see them. That's the negative side of that.

Q. Do you look forward --?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Soon I hope you guys will realise that, when you do write in your reports and newspapers.

Q. But does that mean you in some ways look forward to retiring?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps.

Q. Would you explain your point of view, the tremendous achievements in tennis, the big boom in tennis in Russia beginning in the '90s, especially the women. What are the reasons?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Especially in Wimbledon?

Q. The women. But the main reasons from your point of view.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think there are a lot of reasons. First of all, I think women's tennis is a little bit, you know, easier than the men's. That's why we haven't had much male tennis players, you know, being on the top. If you look at the women's, yes, you're right. I think there are a lot of things which is driven those young girls. First of all, it's a desire. For some of them, I was a big, big motivator. You know, the parents thought that if Yevgeny was on the top, why can't my daughter or my son be better than him? And that's why in the early '90s, I mean in the middle of '94, '95, so many parents, you know, give they sons or daughters into the sports. So many great, especially female players, we have at the moment.

Q. The tennis system, the development of coaches, the system in Russia.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, we do have great coaches, especially for the beginners, who knows much about technique, who knows about the game itself. When you do get to the certain point where those guys cannot give you anything more, that was the reason that Kournikova left for Bollettieri. She knew Nick was gonna give her much more opportunity or give her much more ideas how to play better tennis.

Q. Did the court's reputation, I know you lost there once to Kiefer I guess.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yes. No, absolutely had nothing to do with that. Great court, 2. I did enjoy playing there. And just because it's court 2 is not the reason that I lost. Certainly not.

End of FastScripts....

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