September 4, 1999
UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION, Flushing Meadows, New York City
USTA: Questions for Yevgeny.
Q. Six match points. A little struggle at the end? Any reason for that?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, no struggle at all. I knew I was going to close out the set in three straight sets. It didn't matter where it would be, either 6-4 or 7-6. But I felt confident I was going to do it in three straight.
Q. How did you play today?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I played okay. First two sets probably I played as well as I could. Leading 5-1, I gave myself a little freedom to enjoy it more. I should not have done that. But, like I said, I knew I was going to win in three straight sets. That's the bottom line. Obviously, you know, under these circumstances, you don't have to put yourself in a position where you have to basically struggle to close out a match, but I'm glad I did it.
Q. Is your game strong enough now to win the US Open?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I would think so, yeah. For me, the tournament just began. I'm in the Round of 16, where basically the best 16 guys going to compete with each other going into the second week. I'm glad to be one of them. I'm sure, you know, my motivation will play the strong factor going into the second week.
Q. What is your motivation?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: To win the US Open.
Q. Do you have any extra motivation?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Not at all. Not at all. Not for those two weeks. This is the US Open, last Grand Slam of the year. That's what it's all about.
Q. You said in the past what has undone you at the US Open was that you've gotten tired.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Right.
Q. How do you compare how you feel now and how you've approached the US Open this year compared to then?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, obviously it's always going to be the same story, you know. You're winning three matches, go into the second week. Those three matches that I played, that are not that easy ones. I was struggling first match; play a little better the second one. I think today I played probably, if you compare those three matches, I played the best of all. I feel like my game is improving. That's the important fact. But in the meantime you're going to get tired from playing all those best-of-five-set matches. I feel like I can recover. Like I said, you know, the important fact would be that I'm in the second week of the US Open. That's what going to motivate me, everyone though I'm going to think, "It's a Grand Slam, I got to tough it out."
Q. When Rafter and Sampras withdrew, what were your thoughts? "This makes it better for me"?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I didn't thought so. I didn't thought so. Those two guys were in the top half of the draw. To be honest, I felt like the bottom half of the draw was a lot stronger than the top, even that Pete and Pat were playing. Andre was playing well. We have the other dangerous guy in the draw, Richard Krajicek, seems to me picking up the game every match he plays. So I was concerned more about those guys than Pete or Pat. Obviously, one of them had to win six matches to get to the final. Realistically, I felt like I would need to beat both Agassi and Krajicek to get to the final, which is not an easy thing to go. To be honest, three guys can win the US Open, nobody else has a chance: Krajicek, myself and Agassi. Those are the real guys who can win the US Open, nobody else.
Q. Are you saying it's you three that are left in the draw?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, those three guys going to win the US Open.
Q. Are you going to bet on that?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I can bet any money you want. I can guarantee you now that one of the three guys will win the US Open.
Q. Does your victory in Australia give you the confidence or the knowledge within yourself?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Listen, don't get me wrong, I've been in those situations before. I have won the French Open before. I know what it's all about. I'm not a junior anymore. I'm 25 years old. Like I said, I'm the player who likes to play from the second week, where motivation will play the strong factor. I've done the first part. The most difficult part is left to play. Like I said, you know, probably the good thing was that I was not involved in the doubles. Fortunate or unfortunate, whatever you can say, we lost the first round. I can save some energy for the singles matches.
Q. You may meet your friend Andrei Medvedev in the next round.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yes.
Q. What are your thoughts on that?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: He has to beat Lleyton Hewitt first.
Q. Have you seen him much?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Oh, yeah.
Q. He's kind of a spoiler here.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't think he's spoiled.
Q. I mean a spoiler, not spoiled. Spoiler, meaning he could upset people.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, definitely. If you look at the record when he plays Patrick, I think Pat Rafter never beat him. He definitely has some talent to upset the top guys. But, I'm on the way. That's the negative for him, for both guys, for Andrei and Lleyton. You know, I'm going to approach that match as good as probably I would have to. I know there is my chance to win the Slam, and I know I'm going to give the hundred percent.
Q. You sound like you're very confident.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: If you can say that way, yeah.
Q. More confident than ever before here?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I wouldn't say so, no. Don't get me wrong, I do afraid of Richard Krajicek and I do afraid of Andre Agassi. Those are my picks, I just told you that. If I would have been confident, I would have told you I'm going to win the US Open, but I did not say that.
Q. You played very well this summer. Would you say so?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I can say definitely. The results are saying that. I went twice to the final of big events, in Montreal and Washington. I went to the semis in Cincinnati. You know, those guys who have beat me in those events, they went far in the tournament. All I can say is I do playing well at the moment. There's nothing more I'm going to say to you right now.
Q. Is your game as good as it was in that semifinal in Montreal against Andre Agassi?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Different story; different circumstances. We were playing with a different ball, different surface. That court was a lot faster than we played in Washington in the final. You know, the circumstances were in my favor. Andre did a little bit underestimate me. He thought I'm the floater, you know, the guy who would not give him big trouble. But I came out strong. He had no answer for it. In Washington, it was different story. He prepare himself for the tough match, you know, was able to beat me. All I can say, if we go both to the semifinal, I'm sure we going -- I'm going to give out more than I have in my body.
Q. Why do you pick Agassi, Krajicek and yourself? What is in each of you three right now?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Because, first of all, I'm looking at the experience. Those three guys have Grand Slam to their credit. Those guys have been playing well lately, although Richard hasn't been performing like he would. Like Andre Agassi said a couple of days ago, depends from which side of the bed he's going to wake up. Seems to me he's on the right side of the bed at the moment. He's playing well; didn't lose a set in those three matches. That's the guy who I had trouble with in the past, and Andre Agassi had trouble in the past.
Q. Between Krajicek and Agassi, who would be more difficult to beat?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think they both tough to beat. You know, when they're both playing well, it's very difficult to beat both of them.
Q. When you play well, what's the key for you playing well?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Can you take off your sunglasses, please?
Q. I can't, because I won't be able to see you.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Say again the question (pulling hat over his eyes).
Q. When you play well, is there a key for you to play well? Is it serve? Is it movement? Is it forehand?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, I would say my physical condition, if I feel strong physically, if I'm fresh, if I know that I can run down a lot of balls, that's the key for me. I will strongly rely on my physical condition. Any more questions?
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