Feb 9, 2003 2-2 after 1st reverse singles
Novak Dismisses Kafelnikov to Force Deciding Fifth Rubber
Argentina must wait a little longer to find out who its opponent in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quaterfinals will be. Jiri Novak easily beat Yevgeny Kafelnikov 62 63 76(6) in Sunday's first singles in one hour forty-five minutes, tying the score of the tie at 2:2.
The tie will be decided in the fifth match between two players playing in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas for the first time in their career – Radek Stepanek (55th in the ATP Entry) and Nikolay Davydenko (62nd).
Yevgeny Kafelnikov was telling the truth at the draw and after the doubles when he said: "I am not ready for a best-of-five match."
Although he played the Milan final last weekend and won the doubles with Mikhail Youzhny in Ostrava, this best-of-five singles match was a bridge too far for Kafelnikov. When Mikhail Youzhny got a high fever during the night, the obvious replacement for the Russians was Kafelnikov. But from the first point of the match it was visible that all was not quite right with former world number one.
He lost his serve in the first game of the match, didn't move well and made a lot of unforced errors. Novak broke Kafelnikov for a second time in the seventh game when the Russian's forehand finished wide.
"I was the better one on the court from the beginning but for sure it was not Kafelnikov as we used to know him. I don't know what happened to him if he didn't want to play or what..." said Novak, who has now won the last two of their six meetings.
Kafelnikov tried to end the rallies as soon as possible by playing a lot of drop shots but except for two or three he was not successful at all. He didn't give enough power for his shots and moved around the court without energy so it was enough for Jiri Novak to play consistently.
The two-time Grand Slam champion "woke up" on the court in the middle of the third set when he was 03 down. He started to serve and move a lot better, giving Novak some trouble and recovering to 43.
"You have to be very careful playing a player like him beacuse these could be the turning points of the match.
"Fortunately I was really concentrating well today," Novak added.
He was two points from the win in the tenth game on Kafelnikov's serve but eventually converted his second matchpoint in a tie-breaker, taking it eight points to six.
Yevgeny Kafelnikov didn't make any comments about his match, telling the media to come to the press conference after the fifth match.