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January 22, 2003

Younes El Aynaoui


MODERATOR: Questions for Younes.

Q. Even though you lost, what does having played such an incredible game do for your confidence as you move on in the season?

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI: Yes, right now I'm a bit disappointed, of course. I thought I had a great opportunity to go in the semifinals. But I think Andy played a great match. I know I wasn't very far from winning that match. I'm a bit disappointed right now, but after all, I had a good tournament. It's good for me for the future.

Q. Does that help to cushion your disappointment, that at this point you're getting the attention of the tennis world?

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI: Yeah, I think people are realizing that I'm playing good level. Of course, I lost the match, so I'm a bit tired now. After all, there is a winner and a loser at the end. You know, to lose against Andy, it's a bit tough. But he was very good today.

Q. Are you surprised at 31 years old you can play for five hours?

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI: No, I know my condition is good. I don't have cramps that often. Usually I can hang out in those long matches. He was doing pretty well, too. I thought he might get a little bit tired, but he kept his level during the whole match. He's in good form, too.

Q. Did you ever practice with the Marathon Man from Morocco?

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI: No, I'm doing a lot of running. I think that's why it helps. Basically I work a lot on my physical. Today it paid off, even if I felt a little bit tired at the end. I'm sure he was, too. This is our job, so we have to be ready to play those kind of matches. We were both ready today.

Q. Was there a point in the fifth set where you thought, "I can't go on"?

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI: No, no. I was always confident. It hurts when you have a match point, I think I had match point at 5-4. He played a great shot on the match point. That hurts a little bit. But when I came back a break down, he served for the match, and I broke him, I got a lot of energy after that. I was focusing. I had some juice on a couple of games. One ball could have changed. But he always played well those points.

Q. How do you think he'll come up for the semifinal match in 36 hours?

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI: Well, he's 21. I guess he can recover pretty well. He also has his own physiotherapist with him, so they're going to work on tonight and tomorrow. For sure he'll be a little bit tired. But I think he'll be in good shape.

Q. What will you remember from this match specifically? The match point?

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI: No, I think the great audience, the crowd. Everybody stayed until the end, you know, five hours. They were pushing us at the end. They were not with Andy or with me, they were just enjoying a good match. That's terrific for us, when you play and you feel the crowd is supporting you.

Q. Do you think it affected you a bit, because that was the game you were broken when the joke with the ball-boys? I thought perhaps for you this was not good.

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI: Yeah, it was right before my serve. But I don't think he did it to do that. But, for sure, I got broken right after that. Maybe I lost my concentration a little bit. But I think this is part of the game. It could happen to him. I was not serving that well at the end, not so many first serves. I felt he had the chance to break me.

Q. The second-set tiebreak, 6-4, 5-All, do you remember that point? Would you have played it differently if you had a second chance?

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI: In the second set, yeah. I thought I could -- I knew we going to have to play some tiebreakers in this match. I thought I had a better chance on the breaker. He just made a mini break at 5-All. That was it. He played well the important points. I think I was maybe a little bit too defensive. I should come in more, take some risks. But he took them, and it pays off for him.

Q. Have you ever played a more perfect set than you did in the first set?

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI: No, I was very happy the way I was playing. I got an early break, so it wasn't really into it in the beginning, so I kept it. I was really feeling great on the court. I was moving very well. I think if I had take the second set, it would have been mine. But then he raise up the level, and he play really well.

Q. This match was seen on the other side of the world. Did you talk to anyone over there?

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI: Yeah, I called my parents, my wife, too. They stayed five hours in front of the TV. I think they were more tired than I was after this match. But yeah, it was on national TV. Morocco, too. I think people understood that I gave everything and I tried my best, but at the end you have to have a winner and a loser, and this time it didn't go for me. But I think, after all, it's a good match and a good performance.

Q. Do you think you'll ever want to watch the video of that fifth set again, or would it be too painful, just to see what happened?

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI: Yeah, I definitely would like to see where I missed the opportunities. But I feel it now already that I wasn't coming in enough. I should have come in to the net and make him pass me. Sometimes maybe it was because I was a little bit tired, but I didn't come in enough. That was the key, I think, because I was returning better his serve, and I should come in on the slice, on the forehand in the fifth set.

Q. Obviously, the fifth set was pretty special. Do you wish there was a fifth-set tiebreaker?

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI: Tiebreak? No, I think it's too tough. When you're playing for four hours, you have two sets apiece, then it's end on a tiebreaker, just one-point difference can make it. I think it's better to have these two games difference on the fifth set. Sometimes you can get pretty long, but I think it's more fair. You can really see the difference, yeah.

End of FastScripts….

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