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November 2, 2000

Yevgeny Kafelnikov


MODERATOR: Questions for Yevgeny, please.

Q. Were you satisfied with your tennis right now?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah. You know, I feel very, very exciting to be in the quarters in such a big event. The game wishes to be a little bit better. Hopefully, you know, I can play on my full potential tomorrow in the quarterfinal.

Q. You won at the Olympics. What did this mean to you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'm quite tired to answer that question all over again. I said it before, I repeat it to you again. Winning the Olympic gold, it was a very nice piece which was missing to my career. You know, I did win two Grand Slams, yes, but I haven't had the title which was very important to my country. By winning this, by doing this, you know, I put myself into the history book in my country. Now you mention my country went up twice after winning the Olympic gold. It really feels very, very exciting. You know, now I know that my career is not going to be forgotten.

Q. Is there a race between you and Marat, who finishes on top?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Not at all. It's not my concern because, you know, the age difference, it's so huge, it's six years apart. You know, I never felt that we are competitors. I always feel like Marat is my younger brother. He did learn a lot from me. I also played a small role where he is at the moment. All I can tell you, you know, I wish his career is going to be a lot better. I'm just going to try to help him out when I retire and while I'm still playing. You know, hopefully he will have better results than I did in my career.

Q. Do you think that's possible?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I believe so, yeah.

Q. Do you think tennis in Russia will get a boost by your success and the success of Marat?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, it's been nice last few years, I would say maybe five, six years, especially when I started to be in the Top 10, right from '95. After then, people were following my results. Of course, now, they have two guys who are really playing on a high level, myself and, of course, Marat. For them to follow two guys, to see that they win the tournament, that they win the titles, that they are, you know, on the top of the ranking, this is very, very nice for them. Like I said, that, plus I believe that we, you know, have also a few guys who are 19, 18 years old who also is going to be pretty soon on top of the ranking. It's definitely that, you know, we having a very nice period of time in my country.

Q. Marat said for the young players coming up, the best thing to do is to leave Russia, to practice outside. What's your opinion?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'm quite disagree on that, you know. Especially now we have a lot of possibilities for the young guys to learn to play the game. You know, a lot of money in my country now, a lot of good experts in tennis. You know, it's hard, it's hard. In one perspective, Marat is right, but in the other one, he's wrong. I think it has to be a fine line between learning to play the game in their own country and then, of course, try to play professional somewhere in the foreign countries.

Q. In which respect is he right?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, obviously we don't have too many professional tournaments, no futures in my country where the guys can earn the points. Obviously, in that perspective they have to go somewhere else and try to play. I think in this subject he's right.

Q. But you think the conditions have changed, gotten better?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Dramatically, yeah, in a positive way. There's no questions about it. You know, in the '90s, we have only few facilities where you can practice professionally, where you could have good courts. But right now, you know, six, seven years later, basically we have such possibilities everywhere. You know, we have few facilities in Moscow, all over the country now. The tennis, like a sport, is growing a lot bigger than before.

Q. How important is it for you to make it to The Masters cup?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Believe me, it's very, very exciting, and it's very important to be part of the eight guys who are competing to be world champion at the end of the year. It's a big thing. Fortunately for myself, I've been part of it for the last five years, that tournament. You know, when you are going into the tournament, you know, all the circumstances are forcing you to play well. First of all, I have to qualify. I still have some work to do on that. But hopefully, if I qualify, I'll be very pleased to participate there.

Q. Are you looking every evening on the results of the other players?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, no. It doesn't concern me anymore. Before, perhaps two, three years ago, when I was young, yeah. But right now, it's not a concern to me if I qualify or not. Obviously, it would be nice to qualify. But if I don't, no big deal. I know that I will have many other chances to do next year.

Q. Do you feel fresh enough?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah. Obviously, of course, I do. Indoor is one of my favorite surfaces, you know. I believe I can win the tournaments. I believe I can play well. I believe I can compete with the best guys on the surface. So why not?

Q. When you were talking about the gold medal, you said something about history books of your country. You had a problem for a time, even when you were playing at the top of the world rankings, to find a sponsor. How important is a gold medal concerning sponsorships?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, it's not important to me at all. I don't really care if I will have no sponsors until the end of my professional careers. But winning the gold, it means a lot to me. Like I said, first of all, we don't have Olympics going on every year. It's once in a four years. Who knows, maybe I won't be competing in the 2004 in Athens because I'll be 30 years old. Perhaps I'll be retired at that time already. It's very, very important to me, believe me. Some players don't recognize that. But when they do win, like I believe Agassi accomplish everything, when he would have career without Olympic gold, perhaps he won't be that satisfied. But so far he accomplished everything, and he's very satisfied, just like myself.

Q. Do you feel at the end of the season tournaments like this one are overshadowed by the race to Lisbon; you're not so much playing for this one, but trying to qualify for the season finale?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Not really. We're basically all concentrating on those nine tournaments in a year. They are very, very important. You know, to win such a title like this one, it's a big, big honor. Don't get me wrong. Most of the people, they do follow the race, who's going to qualify or who will not. But, like I said, it doesn't concern me that much. My concern is to try to win as many tournaments as I can. I will try, of course, to accomplish that here in Stuttgart.

End of FastScripts….

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