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November 22, 1996

Yevgeny Kafelnikov


Q. We say that it is better to slow down this surface. But, we seen yesterday and today a lot of rally from the back of the court. How can you explain? Is this changing something in the first and second set? What happened?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Well, on this point it is a matter of which opponent I am playing. For example, if I play serve and volleyer, of course we are going to not see any on the baseline. But, a player like Pete, he can serve and volley, but at the same time, he feels also confident when he plays on the baseline. That is why the crowd was able to see so many great points.

Q. But yesterday was the same between Becker and Sampras, we have seen a lot of rallies.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I have no explanation on that.

Q. How frustrating is it after losing that second set where several times it could have gone your way?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I feel fine. Honestly, deep inside, I feel like I played a great match and just it wasn't my day. Plus, Pete was the same. He is No. 1 in the world, and he prove by winning the most crucial points at the end of the second set, and he definitely deserved to be in the semifinal.

Q. When it's Love-30 or something like that, in his service game, he seems to be even more dangerous. How much does he vary his serves?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: All I can tell you, he served very strong. Even when he is down Love-40, he still feel that he is able to come back serving a couple of aces. And then he, just what happened, once he was Love-40 down, he came with like two great serves and one great passing shot and then he was back to the game. So, he is a very tough opponent; plus he keeps playing much stronger when he is down in the game - Love-30 or Love-40; then he is concentrating 100%.

Q. This week you have played the two guys that have won the title twice in the last four years. And, most people favor them again this year. Who do you think is going to win the title?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, I was competing twice in this event, and twice I had Sampras and Becker in the same group. But, to me, it is three players really can win this tournament: Becker, Sampras and Ivanisevic. Those three players who can really have a shot. At the same time, I feel like Krajicek has a chance, too. I don't have any particular --

Q. If you were betting on it, who would you bet on?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't want to say anything. I like everybody.

Q. What do you need to do in order to have a chance this kind of event at the end of the year?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Every time I am playing against those guys, we are having a very close match. But, when the points come to the crucial moments in the match, I am always the loser. I don't know. Maybe because my serve isn't strong like the others. For example, Becker when he is down breakpoint, he feels like he is going to come with an ace, and he is making an ace. I don't feel like same confidence as they do. So, hopefully, you know, I need so much -- I need bigger movement on this aspect of the game.

Q. Is it becoming the championship of the hitters?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I would say so, because all the guys who won this event - Becker, last year; Sampras before; 1993, Stich - all the guys, they are really strong players with big serve, great groundstrokes, excellent volleys. And you don't see many clay court players who won this tournament, except maybe Agassi, but he also is a strong hitter.

Q. What about different surfaces?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I wish we played this tournament on clay. Me and Muster were going to vote for the clay.

Q. Do you have a feeling when you are in control of a particular game that sometimes you tend too much to go for the big dramatic winner, rather to play the percentage -

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yes, that is my other problem.

Q. - rather than play the percentage shot?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Yeah, when I have the breakpoints I always, you know, like to go for the ace. And then sometimes it cost me game because this moment I am losing control of myself. And, hopefully I need more experience on that. I am only 22, that was my fourth year on the Tour, so hopefully, you know, -- it cost you a lot when you are making those errors. Especially when you are playing guys like Becker, Sampras who is dominating the tennis.

Q. How are you going to spend the remainder of the year?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I will be in Moscow next week, then I have to go to the Grand Slam Cup. And then after that, I am going to prepare for next season. So, I won't have any breaks.

Q. I know you have beat him twice this year on clay. Outside that surface, is it as much psychological a difference, do you think, between yourselves, now as technical?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think so, yeah, because when we - when I am going against Pete on the clay, I feel strong inside. And, especially when we go in the best of five set, I know that maybe in the end of the second set or even in the beginning of the third, Pete might get tired because his game is very strong and all the time he is going for the shot. But, on the clay, you don't have to do so much. But, when we play indoors, I feel like he has an edge over me psychologically.

Q. Your game has advanced this year. Could you briefly summarize how you feel about your year.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I feel it has been a great year for me. And, I am very glad that I won my first Grand Slam title, the French Open. Winning -- I mean, this year, I played 10 finals in singles, and I guess it was like 7 times in doubles. So, it has been a great year for me. Hopefully, you know, I will continue to do the same things next year.

Q. Apart from winning matches, what is most advanced in your game?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: To be honest, I feel more confident, for example, on clay. Not like I used to.

Q. You feel more confident --

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: When I am playing on the clay court. Because 1995 I felt like clay isn't my favorite surface, but winning the French Open really helps me because now I feel like when I am going against Spanish players who is dominating on clay, I feel like my chances are increasing compared to last year. So, that is, I think, advanced one step further than before.

Q. Has playing a lot of doubles helped your singles and are you surprised that more of the top 10 men don't play doubles?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No question that I improve my singles because I play lots of doubles. And, I am sure that all the top 10 guys will play doubles in the near future because they will realize how doubles also is important.

Q. If the world doubles Championship was played next week would you have played it?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Not in the states. If Doubles Championship would have been in Europe, I would go right after Moscow because I know it is a great preparation for the singles I would get a couple of doubles matches and I would keep my body in shape. I would go, but, you know, I was so unhappy that the Doubles Championship was in Hartford.

Q. Even if it was next week you wouldn't play?


Q. In technical terms what is the value to singles of doubles's play?

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I think -- I improve a lot my volleys by playing doubles because now I feel like -- I feel much more confident at the net. Not like I used to be. I used to be so afraid to go to the net, but, now, I feel that I can cover the net quite well by playing doubles. That is, I think, that is the benefit.

Q. You are going to continue with yellow shoes?


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