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August 21, 1998

Karol Kucera


MIKI SINGH: Karol advanced to his second career US semifinal. He will face either Henman or Krajicek in the semifinals. First question.

Q. What did you do after getting down in the first set; how did you alter your game to come back?

KAROL KUCERA: He was pushing me from the beginning, he put a lot of pressure on me from beginning. I couldn't hold my serve so I was Love-3 down and then I just wanted to stay with him on the same level and I think with the games, it was going better and better for me and I had some breakpoints on the 2-4, I think, but I couldn't make it. I lost 6-3, but after I think I improve my game and I won 6-3 and then also in the third set I was better. He drop a level a bit, I would say.

Q. He did what?

KAROL KUCERA: He dropped, you know, his level.

Q. His play dropped off a little bit?

KAROL KUCERA: Yeah, he was not so powerful anymore and I could play my game then.

Q. Did you notice he was getting frustrated as the third set went on?

KAROL KUCERA: I don't think so. I think he was mentally -- you mean mentally?

Q. Yes.

KAROL KUCERA: I don't think so.

Q. We could hear -- I guess you were up 5-1 and he was complaining to the umpire about something and just said why don't you just default me or whatever. Did you hear that?

KAROL KUCERA: No. It was 5-1 and I think the game was almost over and had to finish it. I don't think it was -- okay, I think, mental play.

Q. What was the big thing that you were able to do that turned the match in your favor? You say his play went down a little bit. What were the one or two things that you were able to do in the second or third sets that you weren't doing maybe in the first set to turn it around?

KAROL KUCERA: I had to run a lot from the beginning and I was a little bit short. He put a lot of pressure on me and he played really powerful strokes and I was getting it back, but a little bit short. After when he didn't so much power, then I could play a little bit more relaxed and I got the length good and then he made some mistakes and I was a little bit more powerful then. Just turned around the game.

Q. Were you concerned about him after his big victory yesterday?

KAROL KUCERA: Not really. I know him very well and we played a couple of times already before. I think I lost against him only once few years ago and I beat him like four times, I don't know, so I knew his game already. I beat him also in Lipton this year on hard court, so I was pretty confident going into it.

Q. Do you feel if you play like you did in the last two sets today that you can win this tournament?

KAROL KUCERA: It is tough to say now. It is going to be tough opponent for sure now, Krajicek or Henman, both very good players and it will be different going into the net, serve-and-volley-type-players so hopefully I can do well in the semifinal.

Q. What has kept you from becoming a top a player? Just this year you have beaten No. 1 and beaten No. 2 twice and kept them from going to No. 1. Is it just inconsistency on your part or do you need something else?

KAROL KUCERA: You mean that I can beat the top five guys and I could lose --

Q. Yeah.

KAROL KUCERA: I think I played some great matches and if I play well then or if I win the first rounds, then I feel comfortable and I can play my game. But, sometimes it is tough to get -- you change the surface, you change the tournament and then it is tough to find the rhythm in the first rounds and then you lose sometimes because these players are very good or -- all of them, so....

Q. What do you feel the strength of your game is?

KAROL KUCERA: I think if I feel healthy and fit and I don't have any problems, so I can run a lot, a good run, you know, and from baseline I am playing pretty fine. And when my serve is going well then I can hold my serve and it is tough. In the statistics I am first in the returns, so I think the return is the best what I have got.

Q. Your second serve is -- it seems there is -- it doesn't have a lot of speed on it. Why is it still effective though?

KAROL KUCERA: I don't know. I wouldn't say it is effective. I don't play second serve, like, for example, Pete he is going after second serve almost every time to the net and I play second serve just to get a ball into the play and that is it.

Q. Do you feel that -- you are No. 7 seed. Do you feel like you are almost like a dark horse; that you can kind of just play your matches and no one really pays attention to you? Is that a good thing for you? People talk about Sampras and Rafter --

KAROL KUCERA: Of course. I don't like to be on the top of the, how would you say, interest, so I like to be a little bit a dark horse and I don't like to go too much to the TV or something. I like to walk easy on the street so --

Q. Is that just your personality, you are very reserved and quiet?

KAROL KUCERA: Yeah, I am a little bit quiet person, yeah.

Q. It is your fifth straight win against Raoux. How do you find you are going to take advantage of his game, what are the secrets to it?

KAROL KUCERA: I don't understand.

MIKI SINGH: Why do you beat Raoux.

KAROL KUCERA: As I said once already, he put a lot of pressure on me from beginning and then I could turn the match around.

Q. You have beaten him five straight times. What do you find that you can take advantage in his game? What does he do that you can take advantage of?

KAROL KUCERA: I think I can, if I get good into the rhythm I can beat him from the baseline, but it is -- sometimes it is tough, for example, in this match, when he would continue playing like this maybe from beginning and maybe it would be difficult, much tougher to win the match. But he dropped a level a bit and then I could play.

Q. Your decision -- a lot of the guys come over to play in the US last couple of weeks. You just came over this week. Do you like to prepare that way to stay over in Europe and then come over at this time of year?

KAROL KUCERA: Yeah, I have a home in Europe and I don't like to be too long out of home so -- but this year I think I am going to play three tournaments here in the States, but I stay after for Davis Cup match in Argentina, so I am going to be here six weeks and I think that is enough. Maybe next year if we don't play Davis Cup somewhere in America then I will come a little bit earlier maybe to play Cincinnati or Montreal.

Q. You just get homesick if you are away for long or you don't like it over here? You do very well on hard courts.

KAROL KUCERA: Yeah, I like to be at home and it is tough sometimes to be always out of home. I get sick, as you said. (Laughs)

Q. How about your success here, last two times you have been here you lost first match. Now you are in the semifinals. You must be pretty happy about the turn of events for you?

KAROL KUCERA: Last years, I think I had a tough draw. Last year I lost to Spadea here in the first match and I lost in Long Island against Rafter and then in US against Norman. These players are really tough to beat in the first round so I won a couple of matches now and hopefully it will give me confidence.

Q. Any particular favorite that you want to play -- any particular favorite as to who you want to play next? Do you match up well against either Krajicek or Henman?

KAROL KUCERA: Not really. I think Krajicek -- it is tough to say who is better in form. I don't mind.

Q. Did you always have great court coverage or is that something that you have worked on with Mecir?

KAROL KUCERA: Yeah, I think Mecir gave me a lot of advice how to cover the court and how to move on the court as well. That is why I improve my game also.

Q. Can you give me a little bit about your strengths and your weaknesses of your game today?

KAROL KUCERA: I don't think really about the weaknesses. But it was tough for me was to stay on the same level from beginning, as I said three times already. (Laughs) And, I got into the play again and I could win the match.


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