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March 16, 2001

Yevgeny Kafelnikov


MODERATOR: Yevgeny advances to his first semifinal here, is now two matches away from winning his first career Tennis Masters Series tournament. First question.

Q. You played almost as good as you can for about a set and a half there?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah. Can't complain about my performance today. That probably was my, you know, best match so far in this tournament. Hopefully I can keep it up for the rest.

Q. Why do you think you played so well?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think it's just the occasion was special for me. I think that is the main reason. Like Greg said, you know, it's been a while. I mean, I haven't played well here in this tournament. I haven't gone past second round. To get that far in the tournament, to have such opportunity like I had today, I just couldn't let it go. You know, I had to concentrate a hundred percent. I did that quite successfully.

Q. This is a surface that you should play well on.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah. I have no complaints about it. It is the surface that where basically my big results are coming from. I don't know shouldn't I play well this week here, too. Just like I said, you know, it's probably small thing left for me to do, to win two more matches, but those probably will be the toughest matches so far.

Q. How do you assess Gambill's prospects to move up to the next level?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, he definitely has the capability to be one of the best, but I think it is the hardest step to make, you know, to go one step further than any other, to be Top 10 player. You have to work hard and you have to be dedicated. But, you know, like I said, if Jan-Michael has a desire to do that, I'm sure he can accomplish that.

Q. Does his two-hand style work against him?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. He's got a -- his forehand and backhand are quite heavy. When he's on the game, you know, it's very difficult to beat him, and he's got an outstanding serve. Nothing I can take away from him, the way he's serving.

Q. Do you have any preference?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: At this stage, not at all. Either Sampras or Rafter, doesn't really matter. I know both those guys are on top of the game at the moment. Whoever wins between them will be tough opponent to beat.

Q. Do you still have an airplane?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I got rid of it.

Q. Why did you get rid of it?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, it was time for me to get rid of it.

Q. It was getting old?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, not really. I just got to the point where I wasn't enjoying match.

Q. Do you fly?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I was up until two months ago.

Q. Yourself?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I try to, but couldn't succeed it.

Q. You were pretty bad at it?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, I was getting pretty good, but that's why I got rid of it. I didn't want to get too good (laughter).

Q. How much better are you going to have to play to beat either Rafter or Sampras?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, basically those two guys has the same style of play, you know. They like to be aggressive, basically serve and volley style. My game completely opposite. You know, I like to set up by point from the baseline and finish it at the net. If you look at the contrast of those two games, I think it would be great match-up for the fans to watch. Like I said, if I'll be playing as good as I did today, I'm sure, you know, we'll have a good match tomorrow.

Q. You've done great playing in Australia over your career. You've had some decent results in the United States, US Open semifinal. Nothing spectacular.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I kind of disagree with that. Two times Hamlet, one time New Haven. I just haven't done particularly well here, the swing of Indian Wells and Key Biscayne.

Q. So is this a year you feel like, "I'm stepping up this spring because this is a good surface for me, I'm mentally in a good space"?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think it's a matter of self-confidence. You know, coming into this tournament, I felt like, you know, confidence was right there. But, you know, sometimes you do get unlucky with a draw in the tournament. This time the draw was quite fortunate for me. I had the players that I always like to play. It was great for me to start against Marcelo because he's kind of player who plays same style. I could get into the tournament by winning that match. That's what happened. You know, looking back, you know, those previous years that I have competed here, I haven't had that much luck. Like I said, the confidence is on the place at the moment. All I can say is, looking forward to challenge those guys tomorrow.

Q. Does that confidence translate into desire to be No. 1 again?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, otherwise I wouldn't be here and competing in these tournaments if I have no desire to be again on top of the ranking. That's the main objective goal that I have at the moment, to be as long as I can at the top, you know, try to get to the top spot in ranking again.

Q. A lot of the players, especially Pete, tend to concentrate on the Grand Slams. Is your focus more on the Grand Slam, or is the No. 1 ranking just as important?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think those two things important to me as winning Davis Cup. There are still goals left in my career that I want to accomplish. But, you know, since I have been young, my always goal was to win as many tournaments, as many matches, as I can. That's what I want to be remember in my career for. So far I'm doing that quite nicely, winning still the tournaments, you know, trying to succeed in the Grand Slam, although it's quite difficult, as you know. You know, the desire is still there. I want to compete still.

Q. Has the emergence of Marat Safin caused --?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Not at all. I don't think we have been competitors. The age difference still is playing a huge role, six years apart. I do believe that I have a little bit more experience. You know, no question that Marat had a great, great year last year. Hopefully he'll do the same things this year.

Q. Do you expect the younger players at the end of this year to be more in the Top 5 or do you think yourself and Sampras and Agassi and Rafter are still going to have a lot to say about that?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, I think the old guys still have enough experience to be on the top and dominate at least maybe for two, three years because, you know, Sampras, he's still king on the grass. Agassi, you know, dominate the hard court, indoor. He's good. And myself, I can play basically anywhere I want. Like I said, you know, experience, it is a huge factor in the men's tennis game at the moment. If you don't have experience, I don't think you can play on the high level.

End of FastScripts....

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