An interview with: YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV
After defeating Nicolas Lapentti in the second round at TMS Paris
Q. Are you satisfied with your game today to win this match after three set points against you?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'm satisfied with the results. The game wishes to be better.
Q. It was difficult to focus on tennis after what happened in Moscow, was it difficult for you?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: To a certain degree, yes, it was difficult. But, you know, obviously if we can avoid such accidents, I'll do everything I can to avoid it.
But, you know, it's not up to my hand ‑ unfortunately.
Q. Have you followed this? On TV?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I did, yeah. Unfortunately, it happened on the birth of my daughter, on the 23rd of October. So that day was kind of ruin a little bit.
But, you know, I follow every step, every news throughout three years ‑‑ throughout three days.
Q. Did you know anyone who was involved?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't know exactly because it's been 700 people in there. Many people still don't know where their relatives are inside or not. And I don't know to be honest if there are some friends or some member of the friends there ‑ has been there, no.
Q. Must be scary if you see that.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: When you do realize what could have happened, 800 people could have blown away, makes you feel a little scared, you know, that perhaps, you know, there is no guarantee you go to such a show and things like that happen. I could have been there.
Q. But are you happy the way the Russian government handles this?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I am definitely behind them one million percent what they did. They had no choice. Like I said, I told to many people, much more than people could have died. I'm sure they did best what they could and they did the right thing.
Q. You don't like the criticism on the Russian government in this?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: What many foreigner agencies talking, what many TV agency criticizing that they could avoid such thing; no, they could not. Because those people are fanatic and lunatics. Like I said, they prepare to do worst than that.
Like I said, they've done a great job, even though about 200 people died. But I'm sure that's the best what they could do.
Q. Last year after the disaster in Sochi, you made it a point to win the tournament in Moscow and give half of your prize money ...
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: All of my prize money.
Q. All of your prize money, sorry. Is it something you're thinking about doing if you win here, to help those families?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Q. Do you know the building? Have you ever been to a show in it?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Unfortunately, it's a bit far of the downtown. It's perhaps ten miles away.
But I never been to that neighborhood, no.
Q. Changing the subject and looking ahead, we're not too far away from the Davis Cup final. What are your thoughts at this stage?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Obviously, to do as well as I could. But like I said, results would not affect on my approach to the Davis Cup, even if I lose next match. I won't be disappointed as much as perhaps the outcome of the Davis Cup will be.
So saying differently, I'm going to prepare three weeks before, go somewhere where basically no one can find me (smiling). Not many people could distract me with the way that I want to dedicate myself for the Davis Cup final.
Q. Will you be obviously looking for an indoor clay court to practice?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, no, not an indoor clay. Would be outdoor clay. It's gonna be either south of Spain or south of France, one of those two places.
Q. You still think France made a big mistake choosing the surface?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I don't say they make a big mistake, but definitely by chosing the clay they completely equalize the chances to both team ‑ I think.
Q. If you win the Davis Cup, you will stop your career or...
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Absolutely.
Q. If you lose?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: I'll make a second thought on what I'm gonna do.
Q. Is it a bit difficult to focus on Davis Cup?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Uh‑huh.
Q. Is it the only thing you live for basically all year?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Right now, yes. Right now, yes. Well, perhaps after we won the quarterfinal match after Sweden, and then with the outcome of the other matches ‑ you know, playing Argentina at home ‑ it's change all the approaches.
Q. It means Davis Cup has been the most important thing, you're not that disappointed about your results on the tour?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: No, not at all. Not at all.
Q. How difficult is it then to play these kind of tournaments if your mind is already somewhere else?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: The mind, yes. But all I know is I have to keep my body in shape. I have to stay in the competitive spirit, you know. If I would not play the tournaments, I will lose basically the confidence, and this is an important thing to me.
Throughout playing, you know ‑‑ I obviously always didn't like to lose any matches in any tournament. But, you know, right now I'm not putting any pressure on myself with the results on the regular tour.
So all I'm thinking is to win the Davis Cup.
Q. Are you sure Safin has the same approach as you?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: That's the question you have to ask him, but Marat has been very helpful to me throughout this year. He understand that this is important to me. Perhaps he also started to realize that, you know, this thing also could be important to him. If we do accomplish what we have wanted to, you know, his image will be even bigger than it is right now. He'll be No. 1 player in the country and he'll be the star there.
Right now we have two ‑ me and him. When I stop, he will be the only one. There is a big difference.
Q. Argentina, they showed a lot of character.
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: They did, and Marat also showed a lot of character by winning two singles matches. To be honest, I'm really proud what he did.
Q. How did you find the public today?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Public was spectacular. For the second day of the tournament, you have almost full stadium. It's extraordinary. Imagine what's gonna happen in one month when we play on Friday against France (smiling). Not even comparable.
Q. Did you feel they were behind you?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: You know, throughout the years, playing here in France, I have, I think, earned many, many fans here in France. I'm sure, you know, there will be many of them in a month's time supporting me as much as they can because they do understand how important this event will be for me.
Q. We've been so used to seeing you in the Top 10 seeds. Here you are at 14. Does it sometimes surprise you to look so far down the list to find out where you are?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: For the first time, I really thought about it, and it's been, what, eight or nine years since I have seen myself so low in the ranking.
But it's logical process, you know. The results never says different. I've been playing poorly, and nothing I can do about it.
Q. Are you encouraged by the quality of the talent that's coming through the ranks at the moment? Do you think tennis has a healthy future, the men's game?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Definitely. Definitely. I think young guys are ‑‑ you know, Mathieu, he's won the last two tournaments he played. It's very unfortunate he got injured here and could not play. But he's the one who could challenge in the future all those guys. He's got a good natural game, and he can be the one.
Q. Do you prefer to play against Hewitt or Nieminen?
YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: It's not that important to me anymore, believe me. You know, of course, you know, if I were destined to lose, I'd rather lose to the No. 1 player in the world tomorrow ‑‑ Thursday.
So to be honest, I'd like to play Lleyton, yes.
The Tennis Refuge
You will be missed, Michel Kratochvil!