March 24, 1999
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
MIKI SINGH: Our final semifinalist is here. First question for Francisco. We'll take questions in English, then in Spanish.
Q. A couple days ago in the Round of 16, there were three Spaniards: yourself, Moya, Corretja. If someone had said to you, "When you get to the semis, there will only be one Spaniard, Francisco Clavet," would you have thought they were crazy?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: No. I mean, I thought I could reach semifinal, but I also thought that the other guys could reach also this semifinal, like Moya or Corretja. I mean, they are 1 and 3 in the world. They're always there. They have always chance to get to these rounds. But to be here alone is a little bit surprise for me, but just because of the fact that the other guys are not with me, not because I am in the semifinals.
Q. When did you begin to dedicate yourself to becoming a very fine hard court player, not just a clay court player?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: I mean, I think I've been playing during the past years always on hard court. I always try to play like this tournament, Indian Wells, because of also Australia. I think, I mean, I've been improving during the last years. I don't know if it was one start point when I start to play better. You know, I think it is also a matter of experience. I've been on the Tour for ten years. I think this is very important thing. Is not only the fact that you learn to play on this surface; it's a matter of self-confidence, mind is the key.
Q. You love long rallies, you love to stay on the court. You can hit forever out there.
FRANCISCO CLAVET: I don't love, but I have to.
Q. Do you think with young players like Kiefer, eventually it just begins to wear on him, he wants to get the point over with, he begins to take chances that result in errors?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: I mean, maybe is my type of game because I don't have a big serve or I cannot make many winners from the baseline. So I try to make the other guys to make mistakes. I mean, I think I have to try to move them, try that they make the mistakes. But, I mean, is difficult because they are really good, they have good groundstrokes. Sometimes I have to do something else than just run and pass the ball over the net.
Q. Would you like to play someone like you?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: Yeah, sometimes is okay. I mean, sometimes is okay to have on the other side of the court someone that is playing the same game like you. You don't have to take care about the big serve. You can keep a little bit more relaxed. I mean, on the other hand, you have to run a little bit more. I mean, on clay, I used to play that kind of guys. I tell you is very tough also.
Q. How about your next opponent, having a great tournament? It has to be the biggest opportunity for you to get into a major final.
FRANCISCO CLAVET: Yeah, maybe. But I think he has a game, like you said, a little bit similar to mine. He is playing from the baseline also. He's very quick. He has very big groundstroke, very big passings. So I think is going to be, I think, a match with a lot of long rallies. I mean, the fitness is going to be maybe the key of the match.
Q. It's going to be like a clay court match, is that what you're saying?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: A little bit, yeah.
Q. You were on the court with Spadea for 2 hours, 44 minutes. Was it difficult to recover from that match?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: Yeah, the next day I was really tired.
Q. Stiff maybe?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: Yeah, very stiff. But, I mean, I just practice for 30 minutes. I did a lot of stretch, massage, many things to recover to be fit for this match. The thing that we played in the afternoon is also very good for me because I have had more time to recover.
Q. Do you feel like the best is still yet to come? Take an example like Anders Gomez who broke through the Grand Slams late in his career. Do you think that's something that is possible for you?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: I think so. I told you that I've been working very hard this winter. I mean, I think I'm playing better now than before. Physically, I feel really good, very good shape. I mean, I think I'm still improving. Maybe I have a couple of years ahead to achieve very good results.
Q. What sort of off-court training do you do that allows you the stamina that you have to play long matches?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: We do a lot of physical practice in Madrid. I mean, we do everything like weights, a lot of running, a lot of sprints. I mean, every day we works for like one and a half to two hours on physical condition. I think I need for my kind of game because I used to play long rallies, like you said before. I have to be very fit every time.
Q. How often do you run?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: Like three times or four times a week.
Q. And how far?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: I mean, is different kind of training. Sometimes just jogging, sometimes we do sprints. It's a really different kind of running.
Q. Was there a turning point in that match for you? 5-5 in the first set?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: Yeah, maybe that also I think 2-All in the first set when he had the three breakpoints, Love-40. I think has been also a key point in the match because I keep myself. I think he was a little bit anxious from that point. I start to play better. At 5-All when I broke him, he went down a little bit. After, he had some problems. I don't know what happened with him. I think in the first set, those two key points.
Q. The adjustment from clay to hard court, no sliding, it is running is a little bit different approaching the ball. What's the transition for you?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: For me the only thing is I think you cannot slide on this surface. You have to go for the ball, you have to make more steps to play the ball. On the other hand, I mean, you can play also like from the baseline. You can play with a lot of spin. It's not, I mean, a big change to play here or on clay.
Q. Like Sergi and other players, you like to take the ball late. Can you do that on a hard court?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: Yeah, I think this hard court are not very fast. You can play very similar here and on clay court. The only thing is the way you run on the court.
Q. If you get to the final against a big hitter like Krajicek, will you be able to take the ball late and give him the time he needs to get to the net?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: Maybe I have to change a little bit. I mean, they are always playing for winners. They play very flat balls. So maybe I have to get more on the court, and don't give them the chance to hit winners. But, I mean, basically when I serve, I think I can play my game.
Q. Did you sense that Nicolas was sick or something?
FRANCISCO CLAVET: I don't know. I mean, he went off from the court at 2-1 in the second set. I asked the referee. He told me that he had some problems. I don't know if he was sick or just he went to the bathroom.
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