September 6, 1999
UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION, Flushing Meadows, New York City
USTA: Questions for Yevgeny.
Q. How pleased are you with the way you finished that off?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, you know, I couldn't ask for anything better than that, you
know, finish the match in three straight sets. Although, you know, I had to struggle in
the beginning of the match. That first set took us 50 minutes to finish that set. I was
fortunate enough to win that set. I played the right points at the right time.
Q. What turned it around so much then? What happened those last two sets?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think the fatigue factor played a huge role in the match today.
Andrei was coming back from a tough match against Lleyton Hewitt. You know, once I won
that first set, he thought, "Oh, God, I have to tough it out." It's not easy to
play, especially against a guy like me where you have to basically work for every point.
You know, I'm sure that was a major factor for him.
Q. Go back to the Australian Open this year and try to feel what that was like going
through the draw. Does this feel similar, different?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Sort of, yeah. You know, if you look back at those four matches
that I have so far in this tournament, none of them was easy one that I was cruising, you
know, all the way through all the match. I had a tough one first match, tough the second
one. You know, match against Bjorkman wasn't an easy one like it was probably looking in
the score. Today was the same story, although, you know, I felt like the second and third
set today in the match was quite a bit easy. But, you know, if you compare first round
match that I had in Australian Open, those first four that I had here, they pretty
Q. Is that a nice feeling?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'm not complaining.
Q. Do you start to think if it worked well at Australia, it's going to work again here?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah. You know, I'm thinking in the back of my mind that perhaps,
you know, that's my -- the only shot I will have in the US Open probably ever to win. You
know, I have to capitalize that opportunity.
Q. Why wouldn't you have other shots? As young as you are, why wouldn't you have other
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, I'm 25 years old. If you can say, I'm very young, thank
you for the compliment. If you look at other guys who are competing in this tournament,
18, 19 years old. Time goes by very, very quick. I remember myself being in the position
like, young guys like Safin, many guys like that. It's seven years already gone, and I'm
not a Junior anymore. I feel like, you know, I've been in this locker room forever. That's
why I can say that probably I was fortunate I had so far in this tournament, that's
probably going to be my only shot to win the US Open.
Q. You need to have a talk with 29-year-old Andre Agassi.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I need to probably go down in the ranking to 141 to think about it.
You know, last five years, I've stayed in the Top 10. That just shows I like to compete, I
like to be on the top. It's not an easy thing to do.
Q. There were lots of injured players here. They complain about the rhythm of the Tour.
You played, I guess, 21 tournaments this year, plus the Davis Cup. Can you tell us your
feeling about injuries?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Let me put it this way. From those 21 tournaments I've played, I
had eight or nine times losing the first round. That's probably the difference. That's why
I'm staying out of injury because those weeks basically I didn't compete at all. That's
why last couple months I found back the motivation and I found back my ego because I felt
like I was back to my favorite surface. That's why, you know, I'm competing that well
Q. How do you expect the new ranking system --?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't want to look forward that far. I have US Open here, six
more days to finish the tournament. That's the only concern I have. I'm not concerned
about future ranking.
Q. Do you think you can stay six extra days here?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'll definitely try.
Q. In those last two sets, is it hard to keep your concentration when you're running
through it so fast?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, it was all business. Me and Andrei, we still going to
keep our friendly relationship off the court. But it is sometimes hard to maintain the
concentration, but you got to do it. You know, it's the fourth round of US Open. You don't
want to give yourself a chance to enjoy it that much, so you have to keep the focus. I'm
glad I've done the job and it was all business on the court.
Q. When did you realize he wouldn't rise up again?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I felt like when I broke him for the second time in the second set,
I felt like I took complete control of the match.
Q. You talk about feeling like you've been in the locker room forever, a real veteran.
Looking beyond the locker room, including the locker room, what do you feel is the worst
part of your job?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Worst part of my job? I hate to say it, but probably the travel.
You know, we spend so much time on the road, that's what makes our life so difficult - my
life. I don't know what my fellow players would say. I found the travel very, very
Q. You are probably a difficult person to understand. I think sometimes you don't even
understand yourself. Larry Stefanki seems to understand you very well. Is he like a big
brother, a psychiatrist for you, all the things involved? Why is your relationship working
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, he understand me as a person. That's first of all. We
have a lot of same basis. We like to play golf together, we following basically the same
sports. We do a lot of stuff together that we both like to do. That's important with our
relationship. All I can say, Larry, he understand the game very well. He's a great
motivator. I was always telling everybody before beginning of this year I was struggling
with motivation. But, you know, seems to me that Larry open my eyes more in that aspect.
That's what I was looking for.
Q. You used to come away from disappointing tournaments wondering, "I don't
understand what's wrong with my game." You'd be so despondent. How does he treat you
when you go through that sort of period?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: All I can tell you, when I had that bad period of time from the
month of March up until probably I would say five weeks in Montreal, you know, he treat me
like we're playing in the Australian Open, the same basis. We're having fun, talking to
each other, playing golf basically every day that we had a chance to play. You know, Larry
treat me as good as probably I would expect him to do, to treat me. That's why our
relationship has been so successful as you guys probably notice.
Q. How is an American coach different from a Russian coach?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Larry have Russian background. His grandfather from Ukraine. I
understand him, he understand me. It work on that basis.
Q. Greg, last night, was saying he would very much like to take you up on some of your
bets about possible winners. Has something either Todd, Greg or Kuerten done in the last
24 hours changed your mind?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Not at all. Not at all. Doesn't mean that those guys still in
tournament. They not going to win the tournament at all. I'd like to see how is Greg going
to do tomorrow against Todd Martin. Actually, I had a chat with him this morning in locker
room on that issue. He sort of backed up. When he comes back to you tomorrow afternoon,
you should ask him.
Q. You didn't want to take the bet?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Right now, I like my bet. That's one I'm going to stick to. I'm
going to repeat once again, three guys going to win the tournament: myself, Krajicek and
Agassi. Those is the guys that is going to win the tournament.
Q. When you say something like that, do the guys come to you and say, "I read what
you said in the paper"?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. Only the Brits coming, Canadian Brit, I would say, comes back
to me with the big smile on the face and sort of giving me shit about it. You know, I
respect his opinion, and I'm sure he respect mine, so.
Q. Is it because the others are more shy than the Canadian Brit?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't know. I wouldn't say so that they're shy. I'm on the same
basis with the guys who ranked 150 in the world. Even though I'm the No. 2, I still take
the opinion from the guys who are lower ranked than me. I appreciate that.
Q. Obviously, you think Krajicek is going to win tonight.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah.
Q. Because you selected him to win.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah.
Q. In the back of your mind, wouldn't you just like another shot at Spadea?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Don't get me wrong. I definitely prefer to play
Spadea than Krajicek. Don't get me wrong.
Q. Do you feel like you owe him one?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Spadea?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. Why should I owe him one?
Q. You left in rather bad humor from Lipton this year.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, I was serving for the match. Bad thing happens to me that
night. Don't take away anything for granted from Vince. Vince has done so far well, he's
8-1 against the Top 10 guys. Seems to me he likes to play when he's an underdog. Every
time he makes a huge upset with me at Lipton, next match he loses to Clavet. Same in the
French Open, he upset Krajicek, next day he loses to Filippini three straight. How can you
understand that? Don't get me wrong, I rather play Spadea in the quarterfinal than
Krajicek, no questions about that.
Q. After you won Australian Open, you told us that the absence of Pete Sampras was an
important factor for your victory down there.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah.
Q. He's absent once again.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah (laughter).
Q. Is that increasing your chances?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, yeah, yeah (laughter). Hopefully he'll watch the press
conference and say, "God, Yevgeny (inaudible) twice." I got to win three more
matches. That's the simple thing. Those three matches won't be easy, like what many people
realize. I got to win tough matches. That's bottom line.
Q. Do you recognize him the way that Andre has been going, the two of you share sort of
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, definitely. If you look at the results in the past four, five
weeks, we both had a huge round in the hardcourt season. Andre went to twice semifinal,
won Washington. So did I. I won twice, to the final. Good running in the North American
hardcourt season. Like we were saying, it's nice to bring that momentum that we had to the
last Grand Slam tournament of the year. So far, we've been successful. You know, like I
said, we're both favored to win, like I said, and Krajicek, of course.
Q. Can you update us on the progress of your baby?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: They doing fine. Thank you for asking. They in town. Although my
wife takes -- she cannot take it watching me play. It's so much stress for her. That's why
she stays in the town and watch it on TV.
Q. How old is the child now?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: The child is almost 11 month.
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.