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ATP Tour World Championship

November 24, 1998

Yevgeny Kafelnikov

Hannover, Germany

Q. Pete was very impressive in the beginning of the match? You feel he was very committed to the match?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: He definitely dominated me in the service department. I think that was the key to this kind of surface that we play on. If you do dominate in that department, you have, I would say, 80 percent chances to win the match.

Q. What happened to your serve in the first set? You had a foot fault, double-faults.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's probably the weakest part of my game right now, is service. But I'm working hard on it. Basically I didn't want to give Pete chance to jump on my serve right in the beginning, so I was trying to kind of force it. That's why I had so many double-faults. But it was obvious that I had to do that. You know, after all, I think I played, you know, quite a good match. I wasn't liking the end of the match. I'm happy with the way that I played.

Q. You seemed to be quite frustrated?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's logical. It's the first match of the tournament. You know, you don't want to start the tournament as a defeat. It's much better to start a tournament winning. But, you know, I'll take it as it is. All I have to do is just to win next two matches, it's a simple thing.

Q. There has been a change in the surface, on the court. Is it faster or slower than last year?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think it's pretty equal to everybody. It doesn't make anybody favorite. You can serve and volley on this surface, you can play from the baseline. It's good for Rios and good for Sampras, too. They're both in the same situation.

Q. Must be good for you because you are between Rios and Sampras?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: That's right. It's good for me, too (laughter).

Q. What is your state of mind this tournament? Some players come here, it's the end of the year, everybody expects Rios, Sampras to win it. But you were in the final last year. What is your ambition coming into the tournament?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Still the same. Still the same. Honestly, I feel like I'm going to play Pete in the final. To feel like I'm going to win the next two matches, I'm going to play well, I'm confident. I'm not looking on anything else but to repeat the results this year.

Q. Can you compare this match with last year's final?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I cannot, because it's best-of-three sets. The final was best-of-five. Different situation. Pete was really sharp at that match. I feel like, you know, he's going to get a little bit tired towards the end of the tournament. He's going to have some tough matches. You know, it will be interesting to see.

Q. Does your baby influence on your mind that you play?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Big time, yeah. I'm much more responsible. I know that it's one more person really supporting me. That's important.

Q. If you had to put money on it, who do you think would come out on top, Sampras or Rios?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Like I said, I would feel very strongly, almost a hundred percent, that I'm going to play in the final against Pete. Because both qualified, we're not going to play in the semifinal. So that's my answer. Looks like Pete is coming to come on top.

End of FastScripts….

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