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June 29, 2000

Yevgeny Kafelnikov


MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Q. Just how bad the injury and what was it, exactly?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Actually, it was pretty bad, yeah.

Q. What was it?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't know exactly from the medical standpoint what exactly it called. I feel like muscles between my ribs is bothering me pretty much. That's the fact. It really bothers me, especially when I serve.

Q. When did it start?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It started in the first round match against Federer. But fortunately for myself, I was able to get through that match. But it's been like that for the past three days.

Q. Has it been getting worse? About the same?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, it's been last three days quite the same. But, believe me, it was very hard to even practise on Wednesday. I only hit for about 30 minutes. I didn't practise my serve at all because that's on that motion it really feels pretty bad.

Q. Have you had a doctor look at it?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: There's nothing much you can do about that. I've been on the medication, like I said, the last three days. I've been taking the pain killers. They say, "It's nothing we can do. It's the muscle. It need maybe a week just to get normal base."

Q. How disappointing is it for you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Very much. I was quite unfortunate last year, too, had to pull out with the hamstring. You know, there's always another chance next year.

Q. Is this a surface that you feel you can do well on?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I felt like, yeah. I mean, I wish I could have played the match only returning the serve. I felt like my chances was quite high to win the match, in fact, I would have given up my serve. Yeah, I felt quite unbelievably on this surface. I was enjoying to play very much. You know, I felt like I was dictating the game while I was returning. Like I said, you know, you cannot unfortunately win the match playing only from the baseline. Service is a huge factor. It's 75% of the game depending on the serve. Like I said, it was quite an unfortunate.

Q. So mostly it only bothered you on the serve?


Q. How closely were you to defaulting?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I was actually pretty close. 5-3 in the second set, I started feeling really sharp pains. That's why at 5-All I had to call the trainer. I was in so big pain, I couldn't lift my arms up. If you remember at 5-All, I made four double-faults. You had to go for both serves. Like I said, unfortunately I was in sharp pain. At that stage, I was thinking maybe I shouldn't continue. But, you know, remembering last year, I didn't want to end it on such a negative note. I just told myself, "You've got to tough it out and finish the match no matter what kind of results it's going to be." But then after I took the treatment, actually I was feeling a little bit better because my body was all numb. I just didn't feel any pain at all. But, like I said, it's tough to come back and win the match being two sets to love down, basically not enjoying at that particular stage playing the match at all. But, you know, I was quite proud of myself I finished the match.

Q. How much time do you think you'll take often?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Just a week. Just a week. Get away from the court just completely regroup, get ready for the North American hard court season.

Q. Where will you go?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Probably home. Not probably, I will definitely go home.

Q. Home in Germany or in Sochi?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Sochi, unfortunately.

Q. You had over a year of bad press, things like the Prix Citron, which you could do without. Are you still in love with tennis today? On the mental side, do you still enjoy the game a lot?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: If you've noticed, I have been enjoying the matches in competing. I have never been known for throwing out of the matches, completely not trying at all. I don't think you can put that in perspective at all. I always said that I do enjoy competing; I do enjoy winning the matches. I do hate to lose the matches. That's the bottom line. You know, I wouldn't be sitting here if I had no enjoyment at all being on tennis court.

Q. Do you enjoy Grand Slam matches more than matches at usual tournaments?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, depends on the circumstances. Obviously it is much more important to do well in the Grand Slams. But, like I said, you know, I do still enjoy winning the tournament. I do still enjoy winning the matches. No matter where I'm competing, it goes to my career. Every single match I win, it goes to the book. Like I said, every match is for me important.

Q. What is the fascination of Wimbledon? Is it a lifelong goal for you to win this? You have two Grand Slams already. Is this one you would love to have in the pocket?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, of course I do. I got to be realistic. It's probably the toughest one for me to accomplish. You know, I would be glad to prove it completely wrong and win the title in next few years. But, you know, it's going to be very, very difficult because, I don't know, for some weird reason, Wimbledon draw hasn't been so nice to me lately. I haven't had quite comfortable draw for myself. Even today I played against a player that I have lost three times. But, like I said, you know, it has nothing to do with the results that I had today. I'm sure the main reason I lost was my injury. It really bothers me today.

Q. After half a year of the Champions Race, in which respect would you say the new situation has changed the situation for you players?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: The only thing I can tell you, the new Champions Race has nothing to do with the position of every player. I think it proves completely wrong the system. I don't particularly think that Gustavo Kuerten should be on the No. 1 place in the ranking. You know, he did win a few tournaments, he did won the French Open. You know, realistically we all know where every player should be based on. My personal opinion is I don't think he should be where he is at the moment, so is Magnus Norman.

Q. So who should be at the top? Where would you place him?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's definitely nobody can argue with me that Pete Sampras No. 1. He's been No. 1 for last six year. He's proven by making such results on every single surface; so is Andre Agassi; so is myself. That's the system we have chosen, Champions Race, for the fans, that they could follow a lot easier than the old system we had before. Like I said, you know, he did win the tournaments this year, and nobody can argue that on paper he's No. 1 in the world.

Q. Basically the entry system is what you think is more legitimate?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I probably do think so. 52 weeks entry system, yeah.

Q. Do you think the obligations to play more tournaments has made it more difficult for the players to compete?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Obviously nobody can argue that competition now in men's tennis are quite strong than ever before. Yes, with new system we do obligate to play four Grand Slams, nine Masters Series, and three other tournament, so-called Championships. 16 tournaments we have to play. Those are 16 tournaments which goes to ranking. Without having played well in the Grand Slam, basically you cannot be on the top of the ranking. Simple as that. I think, you know, if you do not play well enough in the Grand Slam, I think you shouldn't be on the top of the leaderboard, not at all.

End of FastScripts....

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