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ATP Tour World Championship

November 23, 1998

Yevgeny Kafelnikov

Hannover, Germany

Q. What is it feeling like winning the Moscow tournament, compared to last year, knowing you made it again into the ATP Tour?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Different situation. Circumstances are different. Last year I knew I had to win before the tournament to qualify. This year, was a little different. Everything was in hands of Greg and Tim. I was behind them. I was hoping really to win the tournament. But to qualify for tournament was in the back of my mind. If I qualify, it's a big thing.

Q. Did it give you a big motivation?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. It didn't put extra pressure on me. If I win the tournament, I qualify, no big deal. I was taking it a final like any others. I knew I had to win, because every tournament you win is big.

Q. (Inaudible)?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It was kind of luck. Rusedski lost in the semifinals in Stockholm. It would be a big bonus for me if I play well. Like I said, I did not play well in the Grand Slam this year. The results was not as good as I had the year before. This tournament, I want to finish on a high note in this tournament.

Q. You and Pete Sampras are in the same group. For him it's a big goal, achievement.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: All I can tell you, he will get through, and I think I also have a big chance to qualify. Perhaps we can play in the final. I'm not looking at anything but repeating the same success as last year.

Q. Is it a good thing that you think the tournament leaves here?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think the biggest tennis market is in Germany. I think the tournament has to hold this tournament in this country. I don't know if the tournament is going to be moved to another country how it going to be run. As far as we have right now, it's perfect. It's well organized, beautiful city. I don't think of any better place than this one.

Q. This is a strange tournament, more than a Super 9.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think you can put this tournament somewhere between the Grand Slam and the Super 9. To win this tournament, of course it's a big honor, big thing. But it's not as big as to win in a Grand Slam. Everybody who is participating in the Slam, they're really looking forward to win this tournament, to finish the year as good as possible. If you ask all the other players who is here, they will answer the same way. They will have the same answer.

Q. Moya had a surprise last year because he made it in the semifinal.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: With Carlos, you never know. He could lose ten straight indoor matches, but then he can come up and beat Pete Sampras indoors. He could do that. If I want to qualify, I have to play well. Basically what I'm going to do, I'm going to play well.

Q. If I asked you this question at the beginning of the season do you think he can play well, Karol Kucera?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: He's very talented, no doubt about it. As you look in the statistics, results he had this year, outstanding. He won two tournaments, played well in the Grand Slams.

Q. You were one of the few top players who is playing doubles also. Jacco Eltingh won the World Championships. How can we rate his performance?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I mean, as far as I know, he retired after this. Jacco is only what, 28 years old? It's really sad. The ability that he had, he could have played two, three more years. He was physically in good shape. He also retired from singles in '97, which was a shock to everybody. I was fortunate enough to play Jacco a few times. He has beat a lot of good players. It's a bit sad.

Q. Can you imagine yourself leaving the game being No. 1?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I wish it could happen, I can leave the game being No. 1 in the world. First, I have to get to that place. Second, I have to retire. But, I mean, I can imagine I'm sure it's going to be hard. It's been a lot of years being tennis player, you know, time spent and everything. It's going to be hard.

Q. How do we have to rate becoming No. 1 in doubles? There are not so many top players playing doubles.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I really cannot answer this question. It's a big thing, being No. 1 in doubles. I wouldn't mind being No. 1 in the world myself, even if I don't get to No. 1 in the singles. It's a big thing also to be No. 1 in doubles.

Q. How do you feel for this tournament?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I feel very good. I feel very good. I think my form is on the peak. Really the last week in Moscow, I came here with a lot of confidence.

Q. Is it a big moment?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I cannot say it's a big moment, but it's important. It's important because this is the last tournament of the year. Everybody's trying to finish the year as good as possible. If you ask the other players, he will answer the same question.

Q. The No. 1 challenge give it a lot of pressure to the tournament.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Too bad I'm not involved in this (laughter).

Q. Do you think it will influence the games?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It definitely will create a lot of tension around this tournament because whoever wins this tournament, Marcelo could win No. 1 in the world. I think it's important for both. He's going for the record, and Marcelo, the way he performed this year, he should also deserve it.

Q. Marcelo, the way he behave on the court, off the court?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: He surprise a lot of people the way he's behaving on the court and off the court. I can say that Marcelo definitely he improve in '98. The way he's behaving, he definitely improved.

Q. One question on Davis Cup. Who do you think is the winner of the Davis Cup considering they play Italy on clay, Gaudenzi, Sanguinetti, on the other side Gustafsson and either Johansson --

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think it's going to be, depending on the first singles. Whoever wins the first singles will be, I think, the champion. I think it's going to be very important to win the first singles in the Davis Cup final.

Q. Your personal opinion about it?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't want to make a call because it's pretty open. I mean, Sweden has a strong team. Italy also. I haven't seen Gaudenzi for a long time. I heard he had the shoulder surgery. I don't know how he's going to play. I don't know. Definitely going to have a lot of support. I heard you're playing in Milan. Like I said, it's pretty open.

Q. How is your endorsement situation right now?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'm a free agent.

Q. Can you reflect why it's so hard for a Top-10 Player to get endorsements?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No idea. Don't ask me.

Q. It must drive you crazy after a while.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I get used to it. If I have no endorsement deal, no big deal.

Q. Something that you've done in the past?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think they went bankrupt.

Q. There's still a lot of money involved in the game?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: In tennis? I don't think they're doing all right in tennis.

Q. There's no Russian companies supporting you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: In Russia, big crisis going on right now. I don't think it's a smart idea to invest.

Q. There's a lot of monies on the street.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I was in Moscow two weeks ago. I know this country.

Q. So nothing has changed since US Open?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Since French Open, nothing. I'm not crying. Life is good.

Q. You seemed to be very depressed at the US Open about tennis.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I was. But not anymore.

Q. What happened?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't know. I found extra motivation that I need to recapture my form, my desire to play tennis again. That's important. It happened, boom, like this.

Q. From one day to the other?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yes. I was kind of depressed, the way I played all the year, didn't have enough success. But then, all of a sudden, I don't know. I was fortunate enough to make a lot of money before. Like I said, if I don't get endorsement for the rest of my career, I'm not going to cry. I'm pretty safe. I'm pretty rich.

Q. You weren't too happy at the US Open, as I said before.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, especially the way things were going at the US Open, I had a very good draw, and I didn't take the opportunity correctly. I felt like I had a chance to reach the final, but then played very bad in the fourth round in the US Open. It kind of depressed me.

Q. Was there something in your private life that had an effect on your motivation?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: My wife is really helping me. She wants me to play tennis. Even though when I had a bad time, "You've got to do the job, that's the job that you like to do." She's been really supportive.

Q. No other player that plays like you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I really like it.

Q. Three years with about 500 matches in singles and doubles.


Q. Do you think you can make it again? Is that something you thought about?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'm getting older. I'm getting older. That's logical. The bottom line, you have to stay healthy. If I stay healthy, I think I can do it. Not as many as when I was 20 or 21, but I still can play singles and doubles together.

Q. Did you already change your exercise, the way you train, your treatment?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's hard psychologically. Once you're on the track where you win a Grand Slam, you're trying to repeat that success by doing the same things all over and over again. But maybe it's the wrong decision, so I have to figure it out next year. I'm going to change it not to do the same thing what I did before.

Q. Your game plan for next year?


Q. His name?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'll release it the end of this week.

Q. You had a very good indoor season.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I had only a good three tournaments, Stuttgart, Paris and Moscow, that's it.

Q. But you were a bit lucky to get into The Masters?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yes. No doubt about it. I mean, if Rafter and Krajicek would be healthy, I would be out.

Q. Does it mean something special for you to get in it?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's big honor. It's big honor to participate here. I was kind of hoping that I can finish the year in the Top 10 four years in a row, which I think I did. If I do well, extra bonus on top of that. Plus I think I'm playing really well at the moment.

Q. Do you have any plans for this week?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No other plans but at least reaching the semifinal, no other plans.

Q. It seems to me that the idea of Davis Cup is lost. The idea of playing for your country is not important. How do you view it as a Russian, the importance of playing for your country?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think, if you take Pete, for example, Andre, they really achieve a lot in their professional career. Pete won big number of Grand Slams already. Andre did well. Both were No. 1 in the world. Maybe he feels like he has no desire anymore to participate in Davis Cup. He wants maybe to give a chance to young guys to prove themselves. He does not want to take away opportunity from other guys who really want to participate. It's pretty understandable.

Q. What about your own feelings, national feelings, if you have them?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's too sad in particular my country we don't have that many players who can really step up and take the other's place. We only have myself and Marat Safin, no other guys who can really step up and play well for the country. I think personally, it's one thing I want to do, to win it.

Q. It would matter to you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yes, at least one time. I will try to play Davis Cup as long as I can to achieve that.

Q. The Kremlin Cup is kind of your tournament to win. Now again you've used it to get into Hannover. Talk about this year as compared to last year, what it was like. Last year there seemed to be a bit more pressure.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't think so. Last year was simple. I had a goal in the end of the tournament, which is I knew if I wanted to qualify, I had to win. But this year was different story. The situation was not in my hand. It was also depending on Rusedski and Henman, how they played. All the time I was looking at them how they doing in Stockholm. I knew both had a good chance to reaching the final. So in the back of my mind, I was thinking, "It's all over. I just have to play the tournament like I do. If I win it fine, if not, it's all over." I ended up winding the tournament and qualifying for Hannover.

Q. With family now, how has lifestyle changed?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Not at all, still the same. Still the same. My wife still loves me. I still love my wife. It's simple. She take care of the kid. It's wonderful.

Q. So you don't take care of the kid at all?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I do. I do. But I have job to do this week. She told me, "You got to do your job, I'll take care of the rest." It's perfect.

Q. Where is she now?


Q. Baby?


Q. One month old? How old is she?


Q. Talk about Marat Safin a little bit. With his improvement this year, how strong are you guys going to be in Davis Cup?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: We're going to be very strong next year. We're going to be very strong, very successful, I hope. We don't have any other goals but to do well.

Q. Kucera, what do you think about him?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Very talented, very dangerous.

Q. Is he anything like you as a player?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Probably I had same reputation four or five years ago.

Q. What reputation was that?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Talented and dangerous.

Q. What's your reputation now?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't know. Ask the rest of the guys.

End of FastScripts….

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