Kafelnikov may delay retirement to chase Davis Cup dream
By Gennady Fyodorov
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Yevgeny Kafelnikov will put his retirement from tennis on hold if Russia fail to win the Davis Cup final in Paris this year.
"I have said several times that I want retire at the end of the year," the 28-year-old Russian told a news conference on Friday.
"But in all honesty nobody knows what is going to happened, not even myself.
"All I can at the moment that I will retire only if we win the Davis Cup, but if we lose the show must go on."
Kafelnikov desperately wants to bring Russia their first ever Davis Cup trophy after losing back-to-back finals in 1994 and 1995.
Russia face defending champions France in the final which starts on November 29.
"So far, it has been my worst season ever," said the former world number one. "But if we win the Cup it will definitely make up for all the disappointments this year."
Kafelnikov said that although Russia have a stronger side on paper, he nevertheless expects a tough tie.
"If you look at the titles, the grand slams, that we, myself and Marat (Safin), have won, the French don't even come close to what we have achieved over the years," said the former French and Australian Open champion.
"But they have a very strong team, they're playing at home, so it will be a very, very difficult match for us to win."
Kafelnikov also predicted that Safin would bounce back from a disappointing showing in this week's season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai, where the Russian number failed to win any of his three group matches.
"Please, don't make a tragedy out of Marat's three defeats there," said Kafelnikov.
"I want to look at it from a positive side -- he should be extra motivated to do well in Paris."
Russia's Davis Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev added: "It's the end of the season and everyone is mentally and physically tired.
"So whichever team is fitter and fresher that team will have the edge.
"The only problem is that the French have five players to choose from while we can basically rely on just two.
"The French are known for their great team spirit. We all remember how they beat Australia, playing away from home in the final last year."
France won their ninth Davis Cup title by edging Australia 3-2 in the Melbourne final.
"Nevertheless, we have a good chance against the French in any of the five rubbers, so I like our chances," the Russian captain said.
In preparation for the final, which will be played on clay in Paris Bercy sports hall, the Russians will depart for a week-long training camp in Monte Carlo on Sunday.
"We'll train there for a week and on November 24 we plan to leave for Paris," Tarpishchev said.
"We also expect Marat back in Moscow from Shanghai later today and hopefully he will be able to fly with us to Monte Carlo on Sunday."
v vvvvvvv vvvvvv~Good Luck Marat in 2005!~ v vvvvvvv vvvvvv
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