OK, here you go. It was quite straightforward, actually. Kiwi comes across so well
Nicolas Kiefer: "The family atmosphere appeals to me"
Nicolas Kiefer in interview with the Austrian sister (media organisation) of Sport1
St Anton - after 2003 (NB this is incorrect, it should be 2002), Nicolas is taking part at the tele.ring Tennis Trophy for the second time
The former world #4 has finally played himself back into the world elite after several poor years.
Among others, four finals (Memphis, LA, Indianapolis, Scottsdale) propelled him to the #21 spot. A wrist injury, picked up at the US Open did not affect this.
Sport1 met the 27-year-old German in St Anton and chatted with him about his surprising comeback, his preparations and goals for next season and also about the Austrian player Roman Wallner, whom he knows well from being a Hannover 96 fan.
Sport1: After the years of bad luck and other interruptions, you have made a great comeback in 2004. Where did this performance improvement come from?
NK: Yes, I am really satisfied with this season. I played in 4 finals. This showed me that I am back again and that I can still do it. One reason for sure is that I worked on my fitness. But I also invested a lot of time in the game. There are several small factors. Like the pieces of a puzzle. Fortunately I did not stick my head in the sand, rather I just worked hard. And of course it's nice to know that this has borne fruit.
Sport1: Could another reason be the change in trainer? Since October 2003 you have been working with Thomas Hogstedt.
NK: For sure that also played a part. I get on excellently with him. However on the court I am the only one responsible for implementing what I have learned from him.
Sport1: The sporting highlight of 2004 was the Olympic silver medal, despite the narrow loss in a gigantic final.
NK: It definitely was! At first I was not able to come to terms with it. We had every chance to win the gold, so close that we were
. Only after a while did I realise how important this medal was. Many people celebrated with me over the silver. I got a huge amount of congratulatory messages on my homepage. Since then I have become very proud of this medal. The first thing I do when I return home from travelling is to look at it. It is simply a great feeling. It brings back those big emotions.
Sport1: How is your wrist, which you injured at the US Open, causing you to miss the rest of the season?
NK: Thank you for asking. It's fine, it's great again. Of course it was a bitter disappointment that I had to miss 3 months. I got therapy for it and have been pain-free for the past 4, 5 weeks now. 3 weeks ago in Thailand I played exhibition matches in 3 different cities and didn't feel any pain. Above all, the heat (35° C/95°F) did the joint and me good
Sport1: How does the rest of your preseason training look?
NK: After the Tennis Trophy in St Anton I will fly to Monte Carlo, train there until Christmas and try to use the time available optimally. I will spend the holidays with my parents and girlfriend. I'm looking forward to that, as I don't see them much otherwise.
Sport1: Does your girlfriend travel much to your tournaments?
NK: Next year she will more. She did her state exams this year so she will be able to accompany me. Of course it is nice if she is there with me.
Sport1: This is your second time at the Tennis Trophy in St Anton. You seem to like it here, do you not?
NK: Yes, definitely. It is really great here. I'm staying in a great hotel and feel very at ease. Above all the family atmosphere appeals to me. At Wimbledon the players are always talking about St Anton, who has been invited and who is playing. It's just brilliant here!
Sport1: You didn't take so much to the skiing.
NK: That is true. It's not really my sport. I like to watch it on tv, biathlon and Nordic skiing and suchlike. It is not my thing to actually ski myself. But maybe I'll give it a go after my tennis career ends.
Sport1: What are your goals for next season? A return to the top 10?
NK: First of all I want to remain healthy and take each day as it comes. I just want to have fun with tennis again. I especially look forward to the big tournaments - I will especially be focusing my attention on the Grand Slams.
Sport1: Your contract with Adidas runs out at the end of this season. How are things looking with a new equipment sponsor?
NK: It is clear that this has happened at a good time for me, what with the Olympic silver and the successes of the past year. The contract is finished and I am open to all offers.
Sport1: Davis Cup: after the relegation from the World Group, promotion back up must be an immediate goal.
NK: Yes of course. The relegation in Slovakia was very unfortunate. We had very bad luck with injuries. The tie against South Africa in March is naturally a must-win for us. And then maybe we could be facing Austria. Unfortunately that would not be in St Anton - it would take place in Graz-Unterpremstätten. In general it is correct to say that the Davis Cup is of big importance to me. I am not getting any younger. At nearly 28 I am at my tennis peak and have great confidence both in myself and in the team.
Sport1: From your cap it is to be seen that you are a big Hannover fan. What is your relationship to 96?
NK: Oh yes, I have been a Hannover fanatic since childhood. I know several of the players and go to every home game when I am at home. I attend a lot of their training sessions and play in training games like 8 vs 8. The players there are always asking me when I'll be back again. I even have my own locker in the changing rooms
. It is always fun for a sportsman to have contact with other sports people.
Sport1: Do you know Austria's national striker, Roman Wallner?
NK: Yes of course! Only about 4 weeks ago I played in a team against him. I play as an attacking midfielder and he and I had some coming-togethers on the pitch. He's a great guy. A nice guy who is still so young. I'm sure that he will get his big chance soon. Whether he uses it depends of course on the correct attitude.