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DAVIS CUP - RUSSIA vs USA


April 6, 1998


Yevgeny Kafelnikov


ATLANTA, GEORGIA, RUSSIA vs. USA

PAGE CROSLAND: We'll begin with questions in English.

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Q. Yevgeny, could you just analyze how you thought the match went, what happened out there?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, from very first point, I felt like, you know, I had nothing to lose. I just played. I knew I had the ability to play such a level of tennis. Just went and played. No pressure at all.

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Q. Did you sense he was a little off his game?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Not from the beginning. I was able to kept his pressure. You know, since I hold the first game, you know, because I had Love-30, I started kind of shaky, I hold that game, then I got momentum going. You know, from that point, I felt like if I would stay with him mentally, I would win the match.

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Q. Were you surprised that he seemed to be having trouble with your second serve?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know what, I knew I had to serve 150 percent, not 100, 150. Everyone knows here how is Andre return; he is the best returner in the game of tennis. And if I would be a little passive, didn't go for the serve, he would have taken me. I knew I had to serve second serve harder than the first. So that's what happen. You know, I was able to place the serves everywhere I want to, to the forehand side, to the backhand side. Seems to me everything was working for me.

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Q. You said you didn't really feel much pressure out there. Was that even though you know this last match going on now is anything but a sure thing for your team? I would think you might have had a little.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, if Safin would have lose today, no one knows how that match is going to go, if he would have lost, no one would blame him because he's the beginner. You know, he's playing first time. I think we achieve maximum what we want to. We went to the fifth, deciding match. No one's going to put the responsibility on him.

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Q. Were you able to talk to Safin before the match?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yes.

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Q. What were you passing along to him?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I just told him, you know, "You have to stay cool. You never know what can happen." You know, he felt all right in the morning. We'll see.

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Q. Did you tell him to play a game --

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I told him what he had to do to win the match. We'll see how he achieve that strategy which I give him.

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Q. What did you tell him?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Like I told him, I told him to be calm, not to show any emotions on the court. You know, he always shows -- his body language always shows that he's kind of down, if his momentum is not going his way. I told him, "You have to stay calm, you know, take every point at a time, and perhaps you can win." He said, "All right, I'll do what I can."

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Q. How big of a win against Agassi today is this in your career?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, I won the Grand Slam (laughter)?

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Q. I want to know where it fits.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's always nice to beat someone like Andre and perform a hundred percent what you can. It's always nice. It's Davis Cup, of course it's special. In any tournament, it's always nice to beat him. You know, it just gives you a little more extra motivation to go to the next tournament and compete again.

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Q. The fact that he had a chance to break the all-time record, was that extra motivation?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: This I never had in my mind. I didn't want to think about it. I just wanted to go on the court, play the best game that I can, because I haven't played that level since a while. You know, lost first round in Palm Springs, went to the fourth in Key Biscayne, lost to Tarango. There was not kind of preparation that I really looking for before the Davis Cup. But it's nice to win two matches, two singles matches. Going to the clay court season, I feel like I still can play.

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Q. Could you compare your match with Courier the other day to your match today?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No comparison whatsoever. First match was difficult one. I knew I had a chance to win. But today, everyone knew, even if this room, that I was not going to win. Everybody thought that Andre is on the top of his game, he would destroy me. Even I thought for a while. But deep inside when I won that first set, I got momentum going. From that stage, I felt like I had a good chance to win.

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Q. Did you know that your teammate broke Courier in the first game?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, I don't know that. He did?

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Q. Yes.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Very good.

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Q. When you were serving for the second set, up 5-3, but down Love-40 --

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: The first set?

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Q. The first set, I'm sorry. You were down Love-40 on your serve. After you pulled that out, did that give you extra confidence going into the second set?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. Even at that stage when I was down Love-40, I felt like, you know, I had a game going already, even though I was Love-40 down. I knew that, you know, I was in the game. It was not like Andre was on top of game, he was dictating the match. But, you know, I felt like we're pretty even. Even if he would have broke me, I still had a chance to win the next game. I was not thinking about that at that time.

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Q. Did you have any more specific strategy other than to go out and play loose, to play like you had nothing to lose? I mean, you hit the ball deeper today.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I knew I had to move Andre around the court as much as I can. I basically won today because I was serving well, and my backhand was working pretty nicely, especially down the line. Most of the guys, they expecting that I all the time play backhand cross-court, forehand cross-court. But today I was loose and I knew I had to move. That's what happened. He was sometimes off the balance when I played my backhand. He didn't know which way I was going to go. I kept him under the pressure all the time.

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Q. The atmosphere was kind of neutral. Wasn't like anybody was incredibly excited.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I was pretty happy today with the umpiring. The guys were pretty consistent, although we had a few mistakes on my side, same as Andre's side.

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Q. I was talking about the crowd and everything. It wasn't like it was something that was really going to go one way or the other. Did that help you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: They got behind Andre as much as they could. I didn't want to pay too much attention to that. I was focused, I knew what I had to do.

PAGE CROSLAND: Any more questions in English?

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Q. Where does your schedule take you from here?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I go back to Europe.

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Q. Barcelona?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yes.

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Q. Obviously you don't know what's going to happen in this next match --

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's 3-Love already.

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Q. We're starting to get an idea. Is it possible that you may go away from this Davis Cup match thinking if Olhovskiy had been healthy, you would win that match?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, no. He was really off his game. You know, he was out for four months. Without question, he would not play his best tennis. The only chance we had, if I would play with Safin. Like I said yesterday, if he would be a little bit mentally stable, I think we would have won that match. Unfortunately, it didn't happen, so perhaps next time.

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Q. If Russia wins the tie, will you come back in here?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Why not?

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End of FastScripts....

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