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ATP TOUR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP


November 15, 1997


Yevgeny Kafelnikov


HANNOVER, GERMANY

Q. Yevgeny, well played.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Thank you.

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Q. Two weeks ago when you lost to Pete in Paris, you didn't exactly look confident even being here. How surprised and relaxed are you now?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah. For me beating Rusedski at the quarterfinal in Paris, Bercy, give me big motivation. Basically that was my only chance to qualify for this tournament. Coming to Moscow, I knew what I had to do to qualify. You know, I was able to put everything what I had in this particular moment before the tournament. Winning Moscow, came here, had three days off, then played fantastic tennis first two matches. Then after that, I was able to be in the semifinal. I think the confidence, it shows that winning Moscow, I came here on top of my game.

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Q. Is it just a matter of confidence or are we seeing the real Yevgeny playing now?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think last months I was really picking my game up. You know, I haven't seen myself a long time when I was so eager to win. You know, it is just the way that this year started for me, I was completely down. It was the injury. It was the way I played in the beginning. You know, I felt deep inside that, "I'm not belonging anymore to Top 10." But, then all of a sudden, I turned things around, you know, reaching the quarters in the French Open was, for me, big momentum, and then finally in the middle of the year I played good. And then in the end of the year. So, it just -- you know, I feel like I'm coming back again. And next year, you know, when I will have no points to defend in the beginning of the season, I might play unbelievable, you know, which is hopefully I will.

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Q. Which finger did you injure?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You see, I have a scar still. (indicating)

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Q. This is from Australia?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah. I had two operations.

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Q. Yevgeny, can you talk a bit about playing Pete tomorrow, what sort of game you expect, given the fact that he's found his form this week?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: He definitely bounced back from the first match defeat against Moya. He's been so successful now three matches. Didn't give any chance to Rusedski, Rafter or Bjorkman today. So he definitely wants to finish the year on a very high note. Winning here, it's going to give him very big satisfaction. Same story for me. But even right now, I'm very satisfied with 1997. You know, I couldn't wish anything better than that.

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Q. Is the surface going to favor you over him?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think our chances is pretty equal, although Pete is big, big favorite tomorrow. I'm expecting a very exciting match.

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Q. Yevgeny, the way you're speaking at the moment, how confident you are, how well you're playing, is this an omen for 1998?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, like I said, I have no points to defend. You know, I will start my season in Doha, I play Kooyong before Australian Open. No question about it - I will be able ready for the Australian Open because that's the first Grand Slam of the year. You know, if I do well there, you know, then perhaps in the near future I will have a lot of chances to get further than No. 3 in the world, where it was my highest ranking.

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Q. You're a guy that's known to like to play week in, week out. Is it almost a disappointment to you that the tour is coming to an end?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. I'm happy because before Paris, you know, I was so down and, you know, I wanted to finish the year. No different than after I lost to Rios in Stuttgart. You know, I felt like, "Maybe I should stop, take my time, regroup and get ready for 1998." But then all of a sudden, you know, my coach give me the light to the tunnel. He said, "Why don't you just go there, whatever happens, it happens." So I went there, played good. All of a sudden things turned completely around.

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Q. You had to keep your cool today because four set points in the first set.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: To be honest, I felt like he was dominating me all the match. But then when time came to the extreme situation, to the crucial points, you know, I did everything what was necessary. Maybe because I'm a lot more experienced than him, and he didn't know what to do with the balls in these particular stages. Then I was lucky, you know, to play extremely good, those points. And then, you know, when I broke him back at 6-All, tiebreak basically, you know, he was so down. I won it pretty easily.

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Q. How long a break are you going to take before starting to prepare for next year and how do you like to wind down?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'm going to go skiing in Switzerland. That's how I'm going to spend my holidays. I will start my preparation for the new season 10th of December, so I will have at least three weeks before I go to Doha. I think I need these number of days to get to the tournaments, to be in the best shape.

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Q. Are you a good skier?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'll go first time (laughter).

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Q. Yevgeny, you are one of the few players to continue to play singles and doubles. You do so very well. You're for the third year in the Top 10 in both divisions. Are you going to play both singles and doubles in the same amount next year?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, I will definitely cut down my doubles schedule because it takes a lot of energy. It also depends how I play my singles. If, of course, I will -- I won't play every tournament in the singles final, then there's no point to play doubles. Takes a lot of energy. On the other hand, if I will lose a couple of times first round, you know, my confidence in singles will go down. Then, you know, I will be forced to play doubles because, you know, doubles helps to get singles confidence back.

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Q. Yevgeny, will you be more nervous tonight in front of your TV set?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I will be much more nervous. 8:15 I will be completely focused.

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Q. If you would have lost you would have gone to Naples?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's five o'clock. I wish I could have gone and watched live. No time to go there. I'm not a good predictor. I hope Russia wins.

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End of FastScripts....

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