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April 22, 2000

Dominik Hrbaty

Q. Do you realize what happened to you being in the final here?

DOMINIK HRBATY: No. (Laughs) Of course, just that I am in the finals I am happy for that and I will fight tomorrow.

Q. What did you think during the middle of the second set which was -- it wasn't really easy for you.

DOMINIK HRBATY: I just was fighting. He starts to play so well first set. He didn't make any mistakes. He was playing just unbelievably well. There were some games that we didn't make any mistakes, both of us, so we have been playing long rallies. He always finished with a winner or with a ball that you couldn't make it back, and I just was thinking that I have to fight and I have to wait and it comes in the end of the set that he makes some mistakes and it helped me. Then I don't know what happened to him but I was playing better and he looks to me more tired and I just was trying to keep him on the baseline and make him run.

Q. How do you explain you played so well on clay in the beginning of the season? Was it because of the Davis Cup?

DOMINIK HRBATY: Yeah, I think it is because of the Davis Cup because we had very good preparation in Brazil. We practiced a lot of hours and always I play very good in the Davis Cup and also that was the advantage that we played on the clay, so I just was -- I was just was trying to keep the form that I had during the Davis Cup that I played so well, just to try to keep it and wait for the next tournament and just -- and play as well as I played in Davis Cup in the tournament.

Q. You reached the semifinal at the French last year. Do you think you are a better player on clay this year than last year?

DOMINIK HRBATY: I don't know. It is only the first tournament so it is tough to say. Last year I won Prague on the clay; then I played well in Roland Garros. I played well in Milano. I made semifinals and in Mallorca I was in the semifinals again. It is the first tournament and we was here, I think I can compare it after Roland Garros how I will do on the next tournaments, so then I can tell if I am better or I am not as good as I was last year.

Q. Going to play every week from here to Roland Garros? Are your plans to play all tournaments or what?

DOMINIK HRBATY: Yeah, before the tournament I had the plans that I will play. But we will see. Maybe it will be too much, I don't want to get any injuries before Roland Garros, so...

Q. If you keep win, being it is too much .....

DOMINIK HRBATY: Yeah, if you have too many matches sometimes it is too tired, you know, that you play so many -- actually, it is more mentally tired you get than in a physical way.

Q. Do you have any news from Slovakia, how the people react to your final here?

DOMINIK HRBATY: I don't know anything. I just know that my friends, I was speaking with them, they called me and they come today. Actually, they left from home yesterday night. They came by car and they were 100 kilometers from here and there are so many cars that they couldn't make it. They were calling at 11:00 A.M. that they are 100 kilometers from Monaco but there were so many cars and they came to see the last ball of the match. They came 500 kilometers. I was fighting for them not to come so far, 10 hours, 14 hours in the car and they see the last ball and go home. So it would be so bad for them. So my parents are going tonight with the car so I hope they can make it. (Laughs) I hope they will not arrive after the match. (Laughs).

Q. It is not on the TV in Slovakia?

DOMINIK HRBATY: No, I don't think they have money for this. But, you know, it is a shame because we played unbelievable Davis Cup in Brazil and it cost like, I don't know exactly, but it was like 20 thousand dollars for expenses of the television and our Federation they had like 16, 17 thousand dollars and they needed only like 4,000 to -- from the national TV and they didn't pay it so it was like so bad and I spoke also with the prime minister after that he told us: Yeah, they tried to do it with something with that because I mean, it is the same if they -- if you see -- our people, they don't see soccer qualification for the European Cup or the World Cup, they would be so sad, and we have -- tennis is one of the best sports in Slovakia, they could not see Davis Cup, it is a shame, I think.

Q. Do you speak that easy with the Prime Minister?

DOMINIK HRBATY: Yeah, we are good friends because he is playing tennis, actually in the same club where I am, so I meet him a lot of times during the year and he also went for a Challenger last year, he was there every match watching me, so...

Q. Can you add some details how old he is; what is his name; how does he play or something?

DOMINIK HRBATY: I don't know how old he is. I think he is about 40 and his name is Mikulas Dzurinda, so, he is actually one of the, I think, best sportsmen like from the prime ministers I have met. I was like -- he is running a marathon every year, so I know the story that when he was -- he is practicing he is always with the bodyguards and then, you know, the bodyguards are so big so they cannot run. They have a problem, they always go with the car behind him and motor bikes, so he is running, so it is funny. (Laughs) That is the story. Good story also. And I have also one other good story with the prime minister, Netanyahu (phonetic) I meet him in a tournament. I was playing the tournament, Elate, after I had a stress fracture injury. It was my first Challenger. I went there to get some matches and they were telling us all week that he is going to come and I played the first round against, I don't know who it was, but I don't know, they told us he is coming next day. So we came to the courts and we saw all the security on the roof and everywhere. Before we came to the club there was a metal detector. We went through. I had a small knife, they took it, everything, like they almost took my racket. And so then before the match security was everywhere. There was security before we went to the court. There was again the metal detector, they checked us. Only my coach and mother and maybe coach of the other guy, they could see the match. And bodyguards were sitting on the tribune. They were the only spectators and then we are playing the first set and suddenly like we were asking: When is he coming because everywhere is security. They said: You will know. So it was like 5-4 for the -- 5 -- 4-All in the match and suddenly like eight bodyguards jump on the court during the match and we think: What is this. And they stand each corner of the court and I said: Come on, I mean, we can't play. They are staying there in front of the ball boys, it is so bad. And then okay, so they stepped away and he came. He sit down and on 5-4 it was for me and the other guy was serving and he came on the court, he start to talking with us, shaking hands and he said: Come on, what is this? We are playing the match. And we are talking, let us say, for five minutes so it never happens in the history of tennis that some guy come and we are talking and it was so funny. I mean, it was only a Challenger, so I mean if it happened in, let's say, tomorrow come, the prime minister we will start talking during the match it would be so funny.

Q. What year was that? When was that?

DOMINIK HRBATY: It was 1998. I have a picture of that. I mean, it was unbelievable. I think it never happened in the tennis.

Q. Are you not sure he would not come tomorrow?

DOMINIK HRBATY: I don't think he will. After the match they start to -- because they had all the metal detectors everywhere and all on the roof, they start packing everything up like in a minute. Everything was gone, like unbelievable. It was so good.

Q. How much time do you spend back in Bratislava and in the course of a year?

DOMINIK HRBATY: I don't know, I never counted, but it is always like one or two days I changed the clothes, I get the good lunch and I am leaving, so it is like a hotel for me.

Q. A couple of years ago when I was in Bratislava for Davis Cup when you guys played seemed like tennis was growing but it wasn't really that big a sport. Is it starting to get more popular?

DOMINIK HRBATY: It is getting more popular. It is more on TV, more on news. But I think it is still not that much popular like it could be because tennis is one of the sports that is making a good name for Slovakia. They prefer more to put on the news soccer and ice hockey and our national -- I mean, the sports which are in Slovakia so it can be better. It is growing. I mean, it is better and better still, so hopefully it is going to grow more and more.

End of FastScripts….

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