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January 10, 2008

Radek Stepanek


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What are your thoughts on your match today?
RADEK STEPANEK: I think, you know, I started the match very well. I had few breakpoints already in the first game. I think that the beginning of the match was very important because I got on top right away from the beginning and I didn't let it go.
He just broke me in the beginning of the second set for 3-1, but I was staying positive because I knew I'm playing well. I'm better -- I was better with -- in every part of the game. I was dominating since the first point so I was staying positive. I'm very happy with my performance today.

Q. Do you feel like you've played the same way all week, or do you think you're getting better with each match?
RADEK STEPANEK: I think the first match I played very well against Tommy, and also yesterday against Seppi it was completely different match. Once you beat a top 10 player it's like you're -- I wouldn't say satisfied, but you played well and to beat a guy that's behind in the ranking.
I played him for the first time. He plays completely different game, so for me it was important to get through that match. Today I played again very well.

Q. Have you had a good off-season to prepare you for the Australian Open?
RADEK STEPANEK: I think I had a very good off-season. I was interesting a lot to my condition. Went for two weeks to Mexico to the mountains to run there, to the high altitude. I think I'm well-prepared for the season, and I'm very happy that I'm happy able to play well right from the beginning.

Q. Have you done that before, gone to Mexico?
RADEK STEPANEK: No. Like three or four years I went to play the exhibition in Austria. It was like skiing and playing. Fun. This was really two weeks of hard work, running like crazy. I think it's -- I'm feeling great after that.

Q. Why did you do that this year? You felt like there was something lacking?
RADEK STEPANEK: No. In Austria we been in 2,000 meters high and now I was running in 4,700, so it's a bit higher and the air there is very thin. I was learning a little bit about my body, how it can get tired in twenty minutes just walking when we came there. It was a great experience for me and, you know, a lot of hard work. I'm feeling well.

Q. So you can really feel the benefits of the altitude in your legs?
RADEK STEPANEK: Yeah, I could feel it already when I came back to Florida. I noticed to the zero level and I was able to breathe for three other people. It was like paradise. I was drunk from the air up there.

Q. You're going to play a doubles match soon with your partner, Tomas Berdych. How much will that take out of you?
RADEK STEPANEK: You know, doubles now with the rules they are making the matches shorter with the super tiebreak and we're not going to play when it going to be that hot, so I don't think it's going to take that much from me.

Q. Your next opponent will be either Guccione or Berdych. How do you feel like you match up against those two players?
RADEK STEPANEK: I never play against Guccione, but I know he is a big server and playing serve and volley. You have to be really ready for your chances when you get one.
You know, Tomas I know for a very long time. He's my Davis Cup and doubles partner here, so I think we know about each other a lot. No matter who wins I will do everything same and I will fight tomorrow for my spot in the finals.

Q. Is it more difficult playing an opponent that you know as well as you know Tomas?
RADEK STEPANEK: You know nearly everybody on Tour, so definitely different when you play a guy from your country. It's a bit different. Once the matches start with the first point and it's an opponent like anybody else.
We are to battle for a spot in the finals.

Q. This is equaling the best performance you've had at this tournament.
RADEK STEPANEK: So far, yes. But I didn't come here it repeat it. I came here to make it better so...

Q. So you think that would be the best preparation for next week?
RADEK STEPANEK: Yeah, definitely. Last week I had to retire in the first-round match because of my injury with my heel. I'm very happy I was able to heal quickly. With some protection I was able to play here and, you know, I've had three very good and tough matches under my belt going into the Open. So far it's a perfect preparation.

Q. So you're heel is not bothering you?
RADEK STEPANEK: Not when I'm playing, it's bothering me when I finish. I have pretty tight tape on it and I'm working on it every single day, so I believe it's going to be all right.

Q. Is it left or right?

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