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March 26, 2000

Yevgeny Kafelnikov


GREG SHARKO: Yevgeny moves into the Round of 16 for the second time. He'll take on Australian Lleyton Hewitt. First question.

Q. Everything patched up between you and Lleyton?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah. I mean, we never had anything.

Q. Come on.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Seems to me everything fine. I'm looking forward to match.

Q. You don't think anything is going to be left over from then?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't think so, no.

Q. Do you regret any of the comments you made during the Davis Cup?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Not at all. Not at all.

Q. What do you think your chances are against Spain?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Quite difficult. All I can say. You know, we've been in those situations before. Looking forward to that one. I don't think particularly the Russian team going into the match is the favorite, but we going to try hard and hopefully we'll succeed.

Q. For years you had no clothing sponsorship, expressed that you didn't really care. Now you're a Nike guy. Did you get a contract with them?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, no. I like to do stuff what I like. I found Nike very comfortable outfit, so that's why I'm wearing.

Q. There's no deal with Nike?


Q. Nike was quite a pioneer in Russia in terms of tennis gear. Are you surprised they won't give you a contract?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'm not a businessman. I don't know how the things are going in that respect. All I can say, like I just told you, I'm wearing the stuff because I like it. It's comfortable for me. Very classic white color. That's the color I love most to play in. That's why I've chosen to have such a clothe.

Q. Do you feel you can go all the way here?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't know. It's hard. If you look at the tournament which was last week in Indian Wells, nobody expected Corretja to win the tournament. I think this week is going to be quite a same tournament in the way that we're not going -- it's hard to pinpoint any favorite, who is going to win the tournament. I don't think Agassi is quite the favorite to win the tournament. I don't think Sampras is quite the favorite to win the tournament. I don't think myself even favored to win. There are at least ten guys who can win the tournament.

Q. Do you have ever talk to your fellow Russian Anna Kournikova?


Q. About tennis or career, what she's doing here in America.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, never had the pleasure.

Q. Is it possible to cast an absentee ballot in Russian elections?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: My family did. I know that Putin won the election. He's the next president.

Q. Was there any way for you to vote? Did you vote?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, I didn't vote. I never had a chance to vote. I was not at the time in the place. Basically when it was election for president, when Yeltsin became, I never voted. This time I never had a chance. Everybody expected that he was going to win.

Q. Yeltsin was a big tennis fan. Are you pleased with the election?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'm living months away from my country. When I do go back, the thing seems to me quite different. I can see the country's developing in the right way. Seems to me that the people are much more happy than ever before.

Q. Throughout most of the 1990s, really only one teenage player made any big impact on the tour. We just got finished watching a young Swedish player, Vinciguerra, who has a mature game, heady player for 19. Hewitt is 19, 23-2. Federer is out there playing good tennis. How do you explain so many teenagers making such impact on the tour?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, I don't think those guys that you just named are quite on the same level as Medvedev was at the age of 18. I think the guys like Agassi, Sampras, the last guy who had such success, teenage, was Medvedev. I cannot explain you why so many young guys now are coming up. Just because it's a human nature. Old guys have to step down. I'm looking myself in three years from now, I won't be playing this game. I wouldn't be able to take such a punishment. My physical condition won't be good enough to compete with the young guys. That's a logical process going on.

Q. Are you still working with Stefanki?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: What a question? Of course I'm working.

Q. I'm just asking.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You haven't seen Larry around or what?

Q. No, I haven't. I just arrived.


Q. What is the best part of working with Larry?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: He's a good motivator.

Q. Are you looking forward to the challenge of Lleyton? He's playing well. He said he's striking the ball today as well as he has this year.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I got to do what I got to do, just go out and try to win. It's as simple as that.

Q. Do you think you're a good match?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It would be a good match-up because I feel like I'm playing not as well as I would like to have, but probably I'm going to expect a tough match. I think the chances are quite even. I don't think he's favored going into the match. I don't think I'm favored going into the match. I'm going to expect a tough match and I'm going to prepare for a tough match.

Q. Of all the top pros, I can't think of anyone besides you who has been relatively injury-free for a long period of time. What is your explanation?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'm genius. That's why.

Q. Did you hurt your hand in a gym?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: That was unfortunate injury.

Q. But seriously.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I know basically when I'm training hard when I need to slow down. Basically when I feel like my body is about to snap, I always take three, four days off, just giving my body time to recover. All I can say, I've been working physically hard on basically every part of my body just trying to make it stronger and stronger.

Q. Your strokes are more a classic shoulder turn technique, whereas a lot of players hit with a lot of open stances. Do you think that's a contributing factor?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think so, yeah. It has to do also with the way I'm striking the ball. Just like you said, my technique is very simple, very compact. I don't create any tension on my shoulders or my lower back. It's as simple as you can get: just turn the shoulders and follow through. That's also another reason why I'm staying so healthy for such a long period of time.

Q. Are you going straight to Spain?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It depends how I do here.

Q. What about the surface there, are you worried about playing them on clay? Would you rather have them on a different surface, even though you play well on clay?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It definitely favors the Spanish guys to play on a clay court. I'm looking forward to. I never had that extra week before the French Open. This year seems to me I'm going to have one week more preparation on clay than in the previous years. I think it's going to be quite important. I don't know how we're going to do in the tie, but certainly I'm looking forward to the rest of the clay court season.

Q. How are you actually feeling now physically and mentally?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Very well. Very well. I played 20 straight days golf in Palm Springs, so I'm free in my mind and I'm ready to play tennis again.

Q. Will having Safin on the team help with the Spanish?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Marat is struggling lately. Hopefully he can rebound with a vengeance. Like you said, he's going to feel like playing at home. Certainly, you know, having Marat on the team, it definitely helps. I wouldn't be able to beat Spain just by myself on the clay.

Q. This is perhaps a very difficult question to answer. Next year before Indian Wells, there will only be two tournaments, one in Scottsdale, then Delray Beach. If you're coming from Europe, where are you inclined to play?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't think I would be playing both tournaments, just like I did this year. I'm going to take two weeks off before the Indian Wells, just to have same schedule like I had this year.

End of FastScripts….

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