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Kafelnikov scraps retirement plans

Moscow: Yevgeny Kafelnikov has scrapped his retirement plans and will now try to regain the form that made him the first Russian world No. 1 tennis player.

“Hopefully, my physical conditioning will allow me to regain my top form to be the player that I was not so long ago,” the 28-year-old said on Friday. “I’ve been a professional tennis player for over a decade and it’s a great honour for me to be part of the ATP Tour.”

Kafelnikov had repeatedly insisted he would retire if Russia won the Davis Cup this year. They achieved this, beating France in a dramatic final last week, but Kafelnikov contributed little to the victory. He lost his opening singles match, lost the doubles and was dropped for his second singles.

Davis Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev replaced him with 20-year-old newcomer Mikhail Youzhny for the decisive fifth rubber and Youzhny beat Paul-Henri Mathieu to give Russia a thrilling 3-2 victory in Paris.

Russian media reported that Kafelnikov, who almost single-handedly had carried the country’s Davis Cup hopes for a near decade, was disappointed with his substitute’s role and that it was that which prompted him to postpone his retirement.

But Kafelnikov said: “No, not at all. I’m fully satisfied with what I have done prior to and during the final and I was really happy for Mikhail, who was able to overcome the pressure and win the last match.

“Of course, it’s difficult for me right now to find another goal for myself to carry on,” added Kafelnikov, who won the 1996 French Open and 1999 Australian Open titles as well as the 2000 Olympic gold.

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