August 12, 1998
Q. He's still a formidable player?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: He's a tough competitor, like I said. It's no matter, you know, even early in the morning or late at night, you face him you're going to face so many difficulties.
Q. Do you feel almost cheated that you don't get any bonus points for beating him?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. He was never my concern. A win is a win and, you know, I guess the goal of all pro tennis players is to get to the Sundays as much as possible. Everyone wants to be -- to play Sunday. So do I. You know, that's the goal.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your background in tennis, how many players are there in Russia, how big is the game?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'm sure this gentleman can give you any information you're requiring.
Q. Just generally is there a big pool of players?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I've been the only one in the top since long time ago.
Q. Is that more pressure?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Not at all.
Q. What do you have, two hours until you've got to play again?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: That's right. They start at 7:30. The night session will be right after.
Q. So you will get a chance to rest, have dinner?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, that's what I'm probably going to do. Go back to the hotel and take it easy for one hour and come back.
Q. That's not very typical. There aren't very many players on tour who are doing that.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Those type of guys, they like to do their own thing. I like to do my own thing. So nobody is perfect.
Q. What do you get out of doubles tennis?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I always said that doubles really helps to create my singles image. Not only the image, but my singles game. I always knew it was there -- there was no other chance for me to improve all of the main aspects in the game, which is very necessary to play today's game. A lot of guys who stays on top, they have serves or great volleys. But you don't see many great baseliners in the game. It's a good example, Michael Chang. He's a great fighter. All the guys have big respect for him. He was on the Tour for a long, long time. But he never reached the top position in the world because he was, you know, kind of -- actually, I don't know the reason why it happened. But he never reached that goal and I played -- always because I knew if I wouldn't spend the time, I won't be on top.
Q. You won New Haven last year; you're going back next week. Do you have any reaction to try to defend?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's always -- when you go there defending title, you always want to repeat the success. It's no exception for me this time. Although, as I look at the field, competition will be much more stronger than last year with Sampras coming in, Rafter, Krajicek, a lot of guys who at a particular stage have better advantage to win the tournament than I do.
Q. Would you prefer that?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's always the things which is going right now for me. I won't mind being in that position, sort of no pressure at all. Even though I'm depending champion, but deep inside I feel like this is many other guys who is playing better tennis at this stage.
Q. Are you good enough to be No. 1, in your mind?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, as long as Sampras on the top, that's not my goal anymore. Once he's retired, you know, I'll reconsider that.
Q. He's not about to retire.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, you know, that's not an issue for me right now, being No. 1 in the world.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: They treat him as No. 1 because he is No. 1, although nobody think that Rios is really No. 1. He hasn't done any closer what Sampras has achieved, winning so many Slam titles and being the sort of model for everyone. He really behaves as No. 1.
Q. What about Sampras (inaudible) would you look at it as an upset?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Everyone loses.
Q. Do you think that No. 1 is not attainable with him playing? What drives you; what are your goals?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Always I wanted to win at least one Grand Slam. I've done -- after that, you know, it's hard for me to set up any more goals at this particular stages, but I don't know. Things might change tomorrow, one month, one year. I don't really know when. But hopefully it will and I will find that motivation which is, you know, really -- that I need right now.
Q. Do you get criticized for not getting to No. 1? Aren't you supposed to be thinking --
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I stopped paying too much attention.
Q. Is it too early in the game?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Sometimes it's frustrating when you hear people saying, you know, one time, two times, you going on and on and on and never answer the question. Always able to just do -- to put it on the side, everything, and focus on the things which is -- I really like to.
Q. How do you explain how you've been able to maintain the consistency to stay in the Top 10 for so long?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Good question, very good question. I wish I knew the answer. But I think I was playing enough time with tennis, I was able to be focused for the last four years on the job.
Q. A lot of guys have trouble with that. What is it about you that enables you just to keep that focus?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, at first probably the -- I would say eager to prove to everybody that -- that you can play tennis. Even when I was young, I did believe that I could get to the point where I would be on the top. Perhaps not Top 10, not Top 5, but Top 20. I always had that feeling that I would do that.
Q. Have you exceeded what you thought you could get?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I surprise myself, yes, when I got to the point whether I broke into the Top 10. But as things progressed, I got used to it. And then there was a point where I took so -- I was so frustrated to every loss that I was unable to control sometimes. But as I was getting older, I got used to all the things. But it seems right now I'm -- even when I'm losing, I'm not frustrated anymore.
Q. Do you know how many times you've played Sampras?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I would think I've played him around 13, 14 times.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think I played him 13 or 14 times.
Q. Have you beat him?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I beat him twice. And probably the most important times ever -- I ever played him.
Q. And you felt like what, that you were lucky those times?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I just played -- those two times I played better than him, even though sometimes I could -- I could get close to beating him. But, you know, maybe it was -- I wasn't lucky enough or it was experience. But something in those other matches just settled me down. I was able to convert those matches.
Q. You talked a little earlier about seeking motivation, looking for something to seize on. What has been your goal for the last year or so?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: For example, the goal of last year was to stay in the Top 10, win as many matches, as many tournaments as I can.
Q. Is that a goal every year?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Perhaps. I guess a goal for everybody.
Q. It's not a tournament that you've focused on that you want to prove yourself?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, you get so frustrated. Once you prepare yourself for the tournament, you really want to win. But there is sometimes so many -- so many situations where you are just unable to control it. And in those early stages in the tournament and then what, it's -- all your job which you spend preparing for this tournament is gone.
Q. You used to wear those yellow speakers. Where did they go?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Contract has expired.
Q. So you really don't like those?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I did like those. They were kind of nice but life goes on.
ATP TOUR REP: Anything else?
Q. What do you think you did best today in the match; what were you the happiest with?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, at the early stage I thought I wasn't going to make it because I kind of felt tired but something kept me on -- going and then it paid off. I broke him in the match. So I'm glad I didn't give up or my body didn't collapse.
Q. You did look very tired. Did you do anything to try to slow the pace?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. You know, we both face those situation many, many times in Korea where the heat was even stronger than that. But I guess, you know, the better player goes out in situation nicely. I was able to do that.
ATP TOUR REP: Thank you.
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