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August 31, 2000

Yevgeny Kafelnikov


MODERATOR: Questions for Yevgeny.

Q. It's been a struggle so far for you here. Today again started very slowly. Could you tell us what started to go right for you in the second set?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, I did not expect that he was going to play from the baseline as well as he did. I thought he only had a good serve. He really surprised me with his groundstroke play. He got me by surprise in that first set, although I tried to work my way back into the set, which I did. You know, unfortunately it wasn't good enough in the tiebreak. From that point on, I basically started to play a lot more balls on the court. I figure, you know, he was going to get tired because the weather was quite brutal. That's what I did. I had a very necessary break in the beginning of the second set. Basically I took control from that point on.

Q. Did you try to set some kind of record for sets in Grand Slams for a year?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. Believe me, I don't want to see that happening again. If I have a chance to win in three sets, I'd rather do that than to battle another 2 hours, 15 minutes in this difficult weather.

Q. This wouldn't be as bad as the French Open, because points are shorter.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, those matches are not as easy as they might look, for example, if you compare the match in the French Open. Although I had some tough matches, it wasn't as bad like, for example, was today. Today I got more tired than I played in the fourth round in the French Open.

Q. Because of the heat?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I thought I wasn't going to make it. At one stage in the match, I felt really, really bad, like in the middle of the second set. Like I said, 2-All in that second set, I broke him. I started to work my way into the match, you know, started to play a lot more consistent, not to give many free points off the baseline, which I did. He got tired a little bit earlier than I did.

Q. Do you find yourself eager at the beginning of the match, or do you feel like you have to work into it?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, all those guys, they come out in the beginning firing serves, forehand, backhand. For me, it's really difficult to expect myself to play hundred percent from the beginning because I know it's a five-set match. I can sleep for 15, 20 minutes in the match, but work my way into it. Those guys in the beginning, they just give me a hard time. Sometimes I feel like, you know, even if I'll be focused from beginning, those guys going to dominate me. But, you know, it's a great example. When I'm playing best-of-five set match, I know I'm stronger, physically stronger, than those guys are. That's what happened, you know, in the first match and today. I knew I was going to be strong in my mind and strong physically. That was the reason I think I won.

Q. Most of the Russian players have residences outside of Russia. They split time. Why do you choose to live inside Russia?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Because I understand the people; they understand me. That's basically the reason. I don't particularly know why all the other athletes are deciding to stay in United States or wherever they want to be. I've been nice to the people; they've been nice to me. They understand where I'm coming from. They understand what I'm doing. I completely appreciate that.

Q. Do you feel a little bit disappointed in those players like Kournikova, who live primarily outside of Russia? She doesn't play in the Olympics, but generally the residency, does that bother you at all?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. Everybody's special. I'm sure Anna is special. All the other ice hockey player, believe me, I know those guys, most of them. Wherever they think is best for them, they're doing. I cannot blame them. Perhaps I would have done the same thing in their position. Maybe they would the same in my shoes.

Q. Do you think Marat knows how good he is or could be?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: That's a good question. I think you've got to develop yourself into the great player. He's good. He can be better. He has to realize that and he has to develop himself. You know, if he's going to feel like it's going to come the way it should be, it's never going to come. You've got to spend time, you've got to sacrifice some other things to be a better player.

Q. The fact that he doesn't seem to want to have a coach, "I just don't feel comfortable traveling with anybody else," I find that alarming among young players.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think he's in a critical -- he has now a critical age, which is 21, 20, where most of the young guys, they don't understand how important the age is, how important particularly that time is to develop yourself into the better player. You know, when I think you're 19 or 20, you just doesn't realize what's the life around, you know, it's everything new for you. That's why you playing as well as you can. You just doesn't think in the moment. But when you're 21, 22, you got to realize that, you know, this is the age of the middle of your career. If you don't spend enough time dedicating yourself into the game that you love, you're going to fell down pretty soon because the competition is very strong.

End of FastScripts….

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