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April 21, 1999

Yevgeny Kafelnikov


ATP: Questions, please.

Q. It was a very bad loss. Are you surprised, too? What happened?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: What a big news, I lost again in the first round in the clay court. It doesn't surprise me at all. It's a normal period that I'm going through. I have to live with it. Basically every time I'm playing, you know, first couple weeks in the clay court season, seems I cannot win a match. It's quite, quite logical for me. Just like I said, the main goal is in five weeks, which is the French Open. That's where I'm going to focus on. I don't really care how I play in Hamburg, Rome, whatever, those tournaments, but basically I have to focus on the Grand Slam.

Q. Are you worried that after such a good start to the year in Australia, getting within one match of the No. 1 ranking, you haven't had the consistency over the last month and a half, two months?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, I have consistency in the Davis Cup. I won both matches in three straight sets. You know, I can play very good when I wanted to, and when I needed to. Like I said, those four weeks that I play on the clay court, it's just the adjustment process that I needed to have before the French Open. I mean, I cannot expect myself to go and win as many matches on the clay court without having played for nine months. The other players, for example, the Spanish, they have an advantage. They go on the clay court a lot earlier than most other players do. That's about it, you know. I mean, I know I've proven to everybody that I can play well on the clay court. It's just a matter of time. I'm not really concerned about even, like I said, upcoming weeks, which is going to be Hamburg and Rome. I have most concerns about how I'm going to play the French Open.

Q. What makes it so difficult for you every year to adjust on clay?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think the most aspect that I'm having trouble seems to me every time I play on the clay court is to have patience. It's quite important, you know, to have patience on the clay court when you're playing, when you're competing. You cannot expect to have short points like, for example, you can have on indoors, hard courts, grass, any other surfaces. Here, you need to have patience, you need to have a lot of practice hours before you step in and play on this. Seems to me a difficult surface for most players.

Q. What did you think of Ljubicic?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I cannot say much about it or him. It was no match at all. I played probably the worst match of the year. You know, I cannot judge the way that he performed. I mean, he did not do anything spectacular to beat me. Basically what he did, he just tried to push the ball on the other side of the court. All I did -- all I needed to do is just miss the ball, that is about it.

Q. Had you seen him play before?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I practiced with him a few times. I mean, obviously I did not expect myself to play that bad. It's like I said, it's a very hard period of time for me at the moment, but I know we'll get through it. I will play good again soon. That's the only answer I can give you right now.

Q. At the beginning of your career, you seemed to play a lot of tournaments. It was the way you improved, the way you trained. So obviously now your approach to the game has changed.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's not changed at all. You're completely wrong. I'm still playing as many tournaments as I did in the beginning of my career. That's the way that I'm approach every single year.

End of FastScripts....

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