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August 26, 1997

Yevgeny Kafelnikov

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Been a while since you played here. How did it feel?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Feels good, you know, especially to play first time in the new stadium. I never thought that they could do is right from the beginning, from the first round. But I guess it's an honor. I was glad to play there.

Q. Why did you feel they wouldn't do it?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, I don't know. Just, you know, what happened to me last year. Didn't have a good reputation. But I'm glad they did it.

Q. Does it make the tournament feel a lot different? I mean, the facilities now and the court, so forth?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah. I think the stadium is much better than the old one. So it's very difficult to get used to new surrounding. It's so much room. You know, I've had some difficulties in beginning, but then everything worked perfectly.

Q. How would you describe the surface in there in terms of its speed compared to other hardcourts?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No question, the court is new. It's not fast as the old stadium. I think it's kind of medium. You know, you can serve and volley, of course. You can play from the baseline. I think it's pretty equal for everybody.

Q. Is it good for you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I guess, yeah. I found it pretty good for me because, I mean, I could of stayed on the baseline as long as I can. I was covering the court well. The speed seems to be feeling well.

Q. Yevgeny, a couple weeks ago in New Haven, a couple of real hot days there, you played a lot of tennis. Did all that kind of help you prepare, also winning there, did that help you prepare for the atmosphere of New York?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, there's no question that the last week, you know, was really helpful for me because I had six days' rest. You know, I feel like I'm ready physically and my game is on the top. You know, I'm glad that I was taking on the court only 1-4, 40 minutes. It was good enough so I can rest tomorrow and get ready for my next match on Thursday.

Q. Was there ever any communication between you and people who run the Open between last year and this year, trying to patch up fences?


Q. They never made an attempt to try to speak to you?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, no. But, you know, it's been a long time ago. What happened to me last year is already history, it's behind me. I don't want to go back and discuss this issue again.

Q. Do you think your win in New Haven gave you a lot of momentum coming in here? Do you feel pretty confident?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah. It was one of the biggest tournament I ever won in my career. You know, after the tournament, I felt like, you know, my game was coming back to me. To win the tournament at New Haven certainly gives you a lot of confidence. You know, because I beat some players on my way here. That was a perfect preparation for me, no questions about it.

Q. Where would you rate this place now if you look at the facilities, for the players? How would you rate this tournament in the Slams, compared to the other three?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think all the Slams, the facilities are pretty similar everywhere. Australian Open they have a good stadium; French Open they have a good stadium; Wimbledon with the new grandstand. Here, it's pretty similar. I think is advantage for the players especially in the US Open because they can have more space in the stadium. Not like it used to be couple years ago or last year in the old place. It certainly helps very well.

Q. But you couldn't give a ranking in terms of your opinion of which one is the best?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No. I just want to put all the majors on the same level.

Q. Diplomacy. Were you happy with the draw you got?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Certainly I'm happy, you know. My next opponent will be either Byron Black or Mark Woodforde. I beat them both. I'm looking forward.

Q. How would you assess the state of your game, Yevgeny, where you are now?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It was really frustrating for me to have those four months off when I was injured. You know, I lost so much time, which cost me a lot of things. First of all, I could have be No. 1, if I continued to play. I'm glad to finish it. I'll be practicing hard for the next year. I will start right from the Australian Open. Hopefully I will continue to play same level, with the same attitude. I can get there.

Q. I remember at the French, you were happy with your performance, obviously, and a little bit surprised. Has your game gotten to the point now where you think, "I can win this thing"?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: There is still room to improve, there's no questions about it. It's so difficult to find the time where you can be on top. You know, I've had a time when my game was on the top other tournaments, when I was winning. The goal is top of your game at majors. I think in those two weeks perhaps I can find the top level. Then, you know, I guess I'll be fine.

Q. Yevgeny, you've generally been regarded as one of the Tour's iron men. Playing a lot of tournaments, singles and doubles, which a lot of top players don't do. Does that concern you coming into an event like the Open, two weeks, somewhat chaotic conditions?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Like I said, I had a week off almost last week. I played Tuesday in long island. I lost. Those six days which I had before this match certainly helped me. I was practicing a lot for the past couple of days. I was practicing on the special aspects of my game which would be necessary in the near future. You know, playing doubles here, I'm not concerned too much about my physical condition. I know I've been in this situation before, like I won the French Open singles and doubles. I just prove to myself that I can do it. Why shouldn't I do it here? No point to worry about it.

End of FastScripts….

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