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August 26, 2002

Harel Levy

NEW YORK CITY, H. LEVY/A. Pavel 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Do you think this is the best match you played since you got back from surgery?

HAREL LEVY: I think so, yes. The best and the longest.

Q. When did the hip begin to feel just perfect?

HAREL LEVY: Well, for the last I think month, I'm feeling pretty well physically. With the hip, with all the -- with the area around the hip. Now I need to get everything together: mental, technique, physically, just get back to where I was hopefully before.

Q. Can you talk about playing in New York in front of these crowds who were very supportive of you in that match?

HAREL LEVY: Actually, today was like a Davis Cup match. I felt almost the same. Maybe not as many people as in Israel. But the crowd was behind me, was pushing me all the way from the beginning to the end. It's a great atmosphere. I really enjoyed the match today.

Q. This crowd might shout your name. What would they be doing if you were playing in Israel?

HAREL LEVY: All kinds of things. "Levy, Levy" is enough just to keep the adrenaline going, keeping me positive inside the match.

Q. How much do you suppose the support you got today had to do with you winning?

HAREL LEVY: Well, in percentage you want? Around 23 and a half (laughter). No, I'm not sure. Always playing with a lot of support behind you helps. I don't know if I would have won the match without all the support. Maybe I would have won or maybe I would have lost. But all I know, that it really helped me and pushed me a lot. I'm really looking forward for the next match. Hopefully it will be the same.

Q. What were your own thoughts about the partnership at Wimbledon and the impact that it had?

HAREL LEVY: I think to me looks quite normal that he's playing with a Pakistani guy. Personally, I don't know the guy, but he seems like a nice guy. In Israel, everybody is supportive about it, unlike in Pakistan, that they're not very happy that they are playing together. But in Israel, it looks quite normal that we are playing with a guy from Pakistan.

Q. Can you talk about what it's like at home now? Does that put extra pressure on you to know they need a sports hero right now?

HAREL LEVY: I have enough pressure from myself. I try not to think about all the pressure from the Israeli people. I know everybody is behind me, they want me to win. Sometimes they take it in the wrong way, I mean, saying things they shouldn't have said. I'm taking it very slowly. I'm coming back from a very long injury, and I don't expect anything big in the next couple of months. Maybe it will happen, but I don't think so. Hopefully I'll be ready next week -- not next week, sorry, next year. Next week is too soon (smiling). Next year physically and mentally everything will come together again.

Q. Did you recuperate in Israel, or were you here?

HAREL LEVY: The rehabilitation was in Israel.

Q. What's it like to be there now? Is it a tough place to be?

HAREL LEVY: I'm pretty used to it. I mean, I'm not used to it because I'm traveling a lot. But to me being at home for almost six months was pretty strange. All of a sudden you have time for a lot of things, and you stay at home. It's not like now that you are traveling. I haven't been home for six weeks already. It was nice. I mean, it's not as it looks on TV. I mean, it's pretty normal. We live our lives. Everything looks pretty quiet right now, but I don't want to open my mouth.

Q. Everybody knows somebody who is either in the Army or has lost a relative or a friend. Is it hard for you to be an ambassador from that country?

HAREL LEVY: Well, it doesn't matter if you know the guy or you don't know them. I mean, Israel is a small country. For every soldier that we're losing, every person we are losing, it hurts. It's sad to say, but we got used to it. We got used to it. It's very sad to say. But for us, every person is something big. It's not like maybe for the other people. Because we are very small, the population in Israel is very small, everybody is very important. It's sad to say, but we got used to it.

Q. Is your hip surgery like Guga's or Magnus'?

HAREL LEVY: It's very similar to Magnus.

Q. Did you find yourself writing e-mails to each other, comparing how you're coming along?

HAREL LEVY: Not e-mails, but we talked about it a couple of times, how we were feeling. I think Magnus is feeling pretty well right now. He's starting to feeling good. I think he has a little bit of pain. Me, I'm playing without pain. Also Guga, I've been practicing with him a little bit in Toronto and Cincinnati. He was feeling so-so with the hip. So I think I'm feeling the best out of all four of us. Sargsian is also a guy who had the hip surgery. I'm traveling with a personal trainer who is taking care of me. I think he's doing a great job. I'm not going to be back to a hundred percent, but if I get back to 90%, I'll be very happy.

Q. Are you basically trying to just get some rhythm back for the rest of the year, then point toward 2003?

HAREL LEVY: Right, that's what I'm trying to do right now, just play as many matches as I can till the end of the year. Next year will be a new year.

Q. Where were you living?

HAREL LEVY: It's Ramata Sharon (phonetic), 10 minutes from Tel Aviv, a suburb of Tel Aviv. It's a pretty quiet place. Not too much going on there.

Q. Did you feel you had to do anything differently as far as not going to cafes, not going to crowded places? Obviously, you don't take the bus.

HAREL LEVY: Why not? No, I drive my own car. No, I mean, we're going to movies, going out with friends to discotecques, cafe. Even on crutches I went to discoteque sometimes just to listen to the music (smiling).

Q. Was there any thought, "Maybe I shouldn't do this"? Would that be giving in?

HAREL LEVY: Not really. Not really. After a terror attack, you start thinking a little bit. But you have to live your life, otherwise you will stop living, and then it won't be so good.

Q. Do you think New Yorkers can identify with you because of what happened here nearly a year ago?

HAREL LEVY: I think that it's not the same. I mean, they had one terror attack which was a very big one. But in Israel, we have it almost every week, so it's pretty different. I mean, I don't know. I don't think they can identify with us because it's a different thing. But maybe they can start to understand what we are feeling with the terror attacks.

Q. Here in America of course we see the TV shots of explosions, whatever. You just said, "It's sad to say, but you get used to it." Could you talk about getting used to all of that?

HAREL LEVY: Well, when you have a terror attack let's say 20 times a year, it's something very common. You just get used to it. It's not like here you have one big terror attack and you say, "Wow." For us, it's something that was happening since I was a little kid. So, like I said, it's sad to say that you get used to it, but you do.

Q. What did you do in the Army?

HAREL LEVY: Not much (laughter). I was going early in the morning. I was very lucky in the Army. I had a very nice commander who understood the tennis. He told me, "Okay, you come early in the morning, 6:00 in the morning, you go at 10:00, and I don't want to see you again until tomorrow morning."

Q. How long were you in?

HAREL LEVY: Three years.

Q. When were you finished?

HAREL LEVY: Two years ago. August two years ago.

Q. When you pick up the paper or turn on television in Israel or even here and see women and children lying bloody, how do you keep from becoming bitter and more hardened and conservative politically, if you do?

HAREL LEVY: Well, if I want to be a politician, then I'll have to get into it. But I'm trying just to do my job. I mean, I'm a tennis player trying to play as good as I can, and just try to concentrate on what I have to do. If I have to concentrate on all of the other things, I don't think I'll be doing my job very well.

Q. Is tennis the same there now? At one point, it was so dominated by the Israeli tennis centers, that program. Is it as popular? Is the system going as it was?

HAREL LEVY: I think there are two systems. One is the Israeli tennis centers, and one with the Federation. I don't get into it too much. I mean, I'm on my own. I have my coach, I have my trainer. Besides the injury, I'm never there. I don't really know what's happening. I don't want to know. I don't want to get into it. I'm just concentrating on myself right now. I have enough to concentrate on, getting back to the level I played a year ago.

Q. What was the date of your surgery?

HAREL LEVY: The date was November 1st.

Q. You were the first of the four, right?

HAREL LEVY: I was the second. Magnus was the first. Then Guga and then Sargsian.

Q. I know you attended boot camp with Larri.

HAREL LEVY: We go down to Brazil to practice together. Unfortunately, last December I couldn't go because of the injury. But Larri was watching my match today. He was there for three sets, I think.

Q. Do you know whether there have any courts in Ramallah, Hebron?

HAREL LEVY: Any tennis courts, you mean?

Q. Yes.

HAREL LEVY: I don't know. I've never been there. Never been there, so I really don't know.

Q. What is there about tennis that puts such a strain on the hips?

HAREL LEVY: This you have to ask the doctors.

Q. You talked about being used to dealing with terrorism. Being in New York close to September 11th, are you worried at all being here that you could become a target?

HAREL LEVY: Not really, no. I really just try to concentrate playing on the tournament. I'm playing Wednesday again. If I would concentrate on something is going to happen to me, I'm going to live a different life, and I don't want to do that.

End of FastScripts….

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