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March 21, 2003

Francisco Clavet


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. In the second set near the end of the match, where you're hitting unbelievable forehand angles, nothing to lose, "It's Hewitt, I'm in my last year, let's go for it"?

FRANCISCO CLAVET: Well, nothing to lose, you know, when you are close to the victory against the No. 1 player, of course you get little bit tight because it's important victory. It's something, you know, good. It's big victory. So it's not like, "Okay, I don't have nothing to lose, I'm gonna hit whatever." I was tight, you know. I was little bit tired at the end. I think I keep the pressure well. I did with the pressure well at the end, and I think it's been the key of my victory.

Q. There was that one point where you double-faulted when you were serving it out. It looked like you just got really strong mentally. What did you think after that point? Did you just try to dismiss it?

FRANCISCO CLAVET: I thought that, I mean, I can't lose that, I have to play my game, I cannot wait until he win the points, you know? So if I lost, I have to lose to play my game and, you know, try to play without the pressure. I cannot play like tactical. If not, for sure, he's gonna make the winners. So I just, at that point, I just tried to relax myself, to think positive, and to continue play like I did the rest of the match.

Q. It looked like you really, your forehand, you were dictating play also at times. Did you feel like that? It looked like once you got the forehand, you were in control of a lot of the rallies?

FRANCISCO CLAVET: Well, I think I have played tactically well against him. I think I know how to play him because he's a very good player, very, very fast. He likes that the opponents play fast and quick.

Q. You did a good job...

FRANCISCO CLAVET: He's waiting also for, I mean, to play against players who are hitting balls, trying to make winners. He's very good -- I mean, the best defensive player of the world. He's unbelievable. Very fast. As far as you play against him, he return and he defends. So I have try to mix it up my game to play some slice, some topspin, slow balls, suddenly accelerate. So I have try to mix and sometimes, you know, make him to attack me because he doesn't like to do that. He prefer to defense and to make passes.

Q. On hard courts, over 16 years of your career you haven't even won 50 percent of your matches. Yet you're two biggest victories are on a hard court. How do you explain it?

FRANCISCO CLAVET: I don't know. At the beginning, I prefer to play on clay. But with the years, I think I become a better hard court player. Maybe it's because at the beginning of my career, I was practicing mostly in Barcelona where we usually practice on clay. But the last year, the last five or six years, I move where I live, I practice there, in Madrid, which is much faster than Barcelona because its altitude. We used to play there on hard court. So maybe it's the, you know, is the -- is why I'm playing better now on hard courts.

Q. Is this bigger than Agassi? Is Agassi bigger than this?

FRANCISCO CLAVET: Both are the same (smiling). Agassi has more Grand Slam winners. For me, both are No. 1 players, so is the same for me.

Q. Is the feeling the same?

FRANCISCO CLAVET: Yeah, maybe. Right now, maybe against Agassi, is little bit bigger because Agassi is now he has, like I told you before, more tournaments, more Grand Slam. I mean, it's maybe more important. But I think Hewitt, with the years, is going to become one of the biggest players of the world.

Q. You haven't played nearly as many matches this year. When you go into a big stadium like this, what's your attitude mentally and emotionally? How did you feel going out there? Did you feel you weren't going to lose, did you feel relaxed? How did you feel?

FRANCISCO CLAVET: Right now, this matches are the ones I like to play. It's why I'm still keeping playing, because, you know, I like this situation, I like to play in this stadium against players like Hewitt. I don't know, maybe I change my mind. It's like kind of transformation. I prefer to play these kind of matches, you know, because is more stimulating for me to play these kind of matches than, for example, to play quallies or, you know where I've been before. It's tougher, mentally tougher for me to play.

Q. Everyone knows now of your retirement plans, including the audiences that come to watch you play. Do you feel more energy from the audiences because they know this may be the last time they see you on the tennis court?

FRANCISCO CLAVET: When I play there, I wasn't thinking about that, you know? Of course my thinking are the same but, you know, I don't think that maybe it's gonna be my last time here or there or, you know, wherever... So it's not that what stimulate me or what give me the motivation to play. Of course I like to do well for the crowd because they are supporting me. I like to play here, you know, during the years I play here. The crowd has always been very supporting with me. I like to play well for them. But not because I'm thinking it's gonna be my last time or that kind of stuff.

Q. When you play such a good match like this, do you feel like, "God, I could go on another year or two," or do you feel like it's a special night? Does it give you a kind of emotion, you beat the best guy in the world and you played well doing it?

FRANCISCO CLAVET: Yeah, but I am still thinking the same. This for me is an extra year, it's like a gift because my thing was to quit last year at the end and I decide to play a little bit more because I had some ranking, I enter some tournament. So I prefer to do it, to retire but, you know, not silently, not like I don't play anymore. I like to play some tournaments until I cannot play anymore because I had no more rankings. So is what I'm doing now. And after this, if I don't get the wildcards or if I don't enter the tournaments, I don't like to play the quallies, you know. So I will play where I can get some wildcards.

End of FastScripts….

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