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March 15, 2001

Yevgeny Kafelnikov


MODERATOR: Yevgeny improves his match record to 21-5 on the season. His 21 match wins is the most on the ATP this year, and he moves into his first quarterfinal here at the Tennis Masters Series, Indian Wells. First question.

Q. When you're playing a guy like Ivanisevic, he's playing pretty well, are you thinking the demons are going to start crawling around, he's going to explode, you're waiting for that?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: To be honest, I wasn't because Goran had two great wins in the previous round. I kind of anticipated that he was going to come and play as good as he did. But, you know, I think I just took my game to a little bit different level at the beginning of the second set when I broke him. I started to play with a lot more confidence, a lot more consistent than I did in the first set. I'm not going to take anything away from Goran. He did play the best probably I've seen in the last two years.

Q. Are you playing in Acapulco?


Q. Why?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Acapulco is gone, three weeks ago. The tournament is over.

Q. First quarterfinal here at Indian Wells. What is the limit?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Good question. Good question. I wish I could go all the way and do some damage in this tournament. You know, obviously quarterfinal is not satisfying yet result for me. I believe I can go much more further than that. But, you know, like I said in the beginning of the tournament, every match here is quite difficult. All the guys competing with each other, it's probably the best what you can get in those type of tournaments. Having won three tough matches like I did, beating Rios, Clavet and Ivanisevic today, definitely gives me a lot of confidence going into the quarterfinal match either against Kuerten or Gambill.

Q. Your opponent Gustavo Kuerten, your record --?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It doesn't bother me. I never look at the record. I had a 3-10 record against Goran. Tomorrow I'm sure will be different story. I believe in my capability. If I do play as good as I can, I don't think many guys can beat me.

Q. How many times in your career have you had a guy give you a point like that?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Not very often. Not very often. It just show that Goran is such a gentleman on the court, even though he probably wanted to win that match as bad as I did. You know, just show that he respect, you know, fellow players. Probably I would have done the same thing if it happened like that.

Q. It was clearly in.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I couldn't see from my angle.

Q. In three or five years, how strong do you think Russian tennis will be on the circuit? Do you think it will ever be in a position to dominate?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: If you look at me, I've been around long, long time on the top. I've been in Top 10 I think last seven years. But is great to see somebody like Safin doing even better than me, you know, being in the top of the ranking last year, although Marat is a little bit struggling this year. You know, everybody want once in a while go through such a period of time where your confidence is not as good as you want to have. Probably he's going through that. I'm sure he will be experienced enough to get through that tough period of time soon. You know, hopefully, just like you said, we will be on the top as many years as we can for next two, three years.

Q. Why has there been such a surge in Russian tennis?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's difficult for me to answer. I understand why the womans are doing so well. You know, it's been so many, you know, examples in women's tennis, where, for example, young girl like Kournikova has been doing so well. She kind of drove the other young players to be the same as Anna. You have to give her credit for that. Perhaps I was the same in Russian men's tennis. Many young guys are following my results and kind of living that one day they can be like Yevgeny. That kind of helps. It's nice, like I said, to see Marat doing even better than I am at the moment.

Q. You said many players go for a period where they lose their confidence. Have you experienced something like that? How did you get out of it, if you did?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I probably did that through playing many tournaments, many matches. That's only how you get your confidence, you get the experience. The more you play, the better you will be. That's why I get so much criticism from you guys that, "Yevgeny is basically playing every week and he's going to burn out." But I never did that. That's why I was able to be on the top for so many years because I do know when I have to basically push myself a hundred percent to the limit, when I have to win important matches, although, you know, I am trying to win every match hundred percent. Sometimes you don't feel right, you don't feel quite healthy, but you've got to tough it out.

Q. Can you talk about working with Larry, how much he has helped you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Pretty much a lot. You know, he helped me on the most aspect that I was missing, it's motivation. Probably two years ago I was going through that period of time where, you know, lack of motivation was missing. You know, thanks to him he did really put me in the right state of mind where I could really focus on my tennis.

Q. In San Jose, Andre had some nice things to say about your ability to control points from the baseline. Who do you think the toughest baseliners are in the game?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, Andre is one of the toughest. You know, he's definitely out there with probably Kuerten, Safin when he's playing well. There are like five, six guys who are playing extremely, you know, who has extremely tough game.

Q. Have you taken any money from Stefanki in golf this week?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. But I'm definitely getting better (laughter).

Q. What did Larry do to motivate you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: One thing we made really clear that if I wanted to play the game, you know, "Why don't you give all what you have?" Our main thing was, you know, to be on the top as long as we can. When I would feel like I have not enough physical ability to compete with young guys, I will retire. That's still my main objective. I'd like to stay on the top as long as possible, you know, until I would be probably capable of winning Grand Slam, winning tournaments. Then when my time will come up, I will retire. That's kind of goal we set up for ourselves.

Q. Goran was kidding around, saying he wasn't exactly thrilled with the ATP campaign about New Balls. What are your thoughts on the campaign?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, is definitely ATP trying to promote the young guys. As long as they're not winning the Grand Slam, as long as they're not winning tournaments, I don't think it would be really matter. If you look at the past Grand Slam results, what kind of players are winning those tournaments? It's really the guys who are from the old generation: sampras, Agassi, myself, the guys who's been around for a long, long time.

Q. Safin and Kuerten.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Safin is one and only example. I just hope that those guys really will be on the top soon than anybody expected.

Q. Would you be part of a campaign called Used Balls?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. I just want to be independent and do my own things.

Q. Larry ever talk to you about this tournament, his fondness for it, when he won it in '85?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Occasionally we bringing that up. He kind of joke about it, "Why don't you win it once for me?" I say, "I'll definitely try." Perhaps it will be the year.

End of FastScripts....

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