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September 4, 1998

Yevgeny Kafelnikov


Q. I have one question about Tommy Haas. What do you think it is that Tommy Haas would need to break through and become a top player?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Experience. That is the only thing he is missing at this stage. Otherwise he has got a complete game and, yeah, I would say that is, you know, only one small thing, but same time it makes a huge difference to separate top guys with the rest of the players.

Q. You left Wimbledon a little confused about your game, where it was. Here we are a few months later. What has happened in the interim between then and now?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Nothing happen. Same old story. Competing almost every week, losing matches, winning matches, and nothing changed.

Q. What do you think you will do about this?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: What I will do? I don't know. Good question. I wish I knew the answer.

Q. Do you think maybe some time off in the off-season?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I was thinking about it, yeah. Perhaps that is the only thing which is going to help me to -- which is going to keep me on the track. Otherwise I don't see any other way how I can motivate myself again to play good tennis, to continue what I was doing for the past five, six years.

Q. You mean get -- not just leave the racket, put the racket away for a few months?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. I don't think I will do exactly that. But I am still going to practice, but probably somewhere at home where my family will be around me; friends, that is the most -- that is the only thing I missed for the last five, six years which is really necessary for me right now.

Q. In the past years you played as many as 170 matches. That is a lot of matches.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It is a lot of matches.

Q. I remember asking you one time, you said: No it doesn't bother me at all. I feel good about it. I like to play. I wonder looking back at it now --

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I am older and it takes a lot more time to recover now. That thing I realize now. I am 24. I cannot take the same amount of pressure, same amount of matches when I was 20. When you are young you have new experience, new adventure. Of course your body is able to take it, but when you are 24, soon I will be 25. It is pretty -- that is the age already for the good tennis player, you know, you feel like -- I was on the Tour for six years and you see young guys like Haas, 20 years old, the guy's like 19-years-olds, I remember being in their feet a few years ago. I enjoy it. I was eager. I'm still eager -- still hate to lose, but life goes on and someone sooner or later will take the step of the other players. Someone took the step of Edberg, Becker. Someone will take my place soon.

Q. But all those matches that you played also, on the other hand, gives you a level of experience very much like you have been talking about today because it looked today very much like you are in control of the match; you knew when you needed to play big; when you could relax a little. Is that --

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: That comes with, of course, with a lot of matches and spending a lot of time on the court. Probably that's what separates me from Tommy today. I felt like he was dominating right at the beginning, but I was calm. I knew I will have my chances, basically that is what happened. He give me few loose points in the beginning -- towards the end of the first set and then I was able to capitalize then. That is simple. Once you give a chance to play caliber like myself, although I am not considered as a big player, but still, I have experience, I took advantage right away.

Q. At 5-1 in the first set, did you still think about the first set winning it, or did you already think about the second?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Honestly I wasn't thinking when it was 5-1. When we get to 5-3 I won a few points, and at 5-3 then I was thinking maybe there is a chance that I still can get back to that set and win it. And was able to do that.

Q. Germans are lined up ready to take you on. Kiefer next.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Doesn't matter. Another day. Simple as that. I will play. Hopefully I win. If I lose, no big deal.

Q. Today not even 50% first serves in for you today.


Q. He gives you 68 unforced errors. You can't expect that every match.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: That is right. Probably that was one of these days where I probably -- I wasn't feeling that good. But still able to win the match. I mean, two-week tournament like a Grand Slam goes -- one of these days you will feel not good, like, you know, nothing goes your way. It is probably was one -- who knows, maybe next match when I play Kiefer, it will be completely opposite - I will make no mistakes and high percentage of first serve, who knows. I don't know. Nobody knows.

Q. Who is more dangerous for you and who do you think has bigger potential for the future Kiefer or Haas?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Tough question. I don't know. They both are pretty young and Tommy was few times in the final. Kiefer won one tournament. I think -- I mean, honestly they are pretty similar -- they have pretty similar games to each other. Like I said, only experience can separate them. Whoever will be much more focused and whoever will be more stable on the crucial points will be better.

Q. People have said about you rightly or wrongly --

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: People have said a lot of things about me.

Q. -- Where is the fire in this man's game, emotion on the court. Get angry or something, throw a racket. Do something to show some emotion. Is that just not the way you are or is it a fair criticism?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think that is the way I don't want to be. When I was young I think I have made those mistakes where I was throwing the racket, you know, breaking them, but seems to me, you know, as the years go by, I am getting older, experience comes to you and, you know, you cannot afford to do that anymore. You look at yourself as like, I cannot find the right word how to explain it to you - but you feel like you are junior when you do such things.

Q. Do events back in Russia affect you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I am not following that honestly. I am not following that.

Q. It is hard not to --

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, as long as my family is healthy and happy, I call them every day, they say don't worry about it, we are fine. That is what makes me feel very stable and very happy too.

Q. Do you think it is just that one match that will help you catch fire, one great match where suddenly --

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, certainly. I miss those feelings, big, big, big-time matches like perhaps playing whatever in the semifinals of a Grand Slam or quarterfinal in front of big crowd, although I played, I still -- it has been a long time. I did miss those feelings. Hopefully sooner or later I will get it and perhaps that will give me extra motivation to catch fire and play again successful tennis.

Q. How do you explain that as a Top-15 you don't have any endorsement?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't know. Don't ask me. My contract has expired at the beginning of the year. Nobody wants me. That is a simple answer.

End of FastScripts….

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