Yevgeny Kafelnikov
Yevgeny Kafelnikov
Yevgeny Kafelnikov
Yevgeny Kafelnikov
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  • Personal
  • A smooth, confident right-hander (2-handed backhand), Yevgeny Alexandrevic Kafelnikov of Sochi, was the first Russian to win a major singles title: the French Open in 1996, defeating Michael Stich, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5, 7-6 (7-4). He also won the Australian in 1999, defeating Thomas Enqvist, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1). He was the best of that territory since Soviet (Georgian) Alex Metreveli (Wimbledon finalist in 1973, world’s No. 9 in 1974). He was in the world’s Top 10 for six years: No. 6 in 1995; No. 3 in 1996; No. 5 in 1997, 2000; No. 2 in 1999; No. 4 in 2001—and was ranked No. 1 briefly during the 1999 season.

    Kafelnikov was born February 18, 1974, in Sochi. A 6-foot-3 blond, he preferred the baseline, though he was a sharp volleyer. He was a rare singles-doubles combiner, also winning four doubles majors—the French in 1996-97 with Daniel Vacek and 2002 with Paul Haarhuis; the U.S. Open in 1997 with Vacek. At the 1996 French, he was the first to score a major singles-doubles double since Ken Rosewall at the 1972 Australian, and the first at the French since Rosewall in 1968.

    He lost the Australian final in 2000 to Andre Agassi, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, but won Olympic singles gold “Down Under” in Sydney later in the year, defeating Tommy Haas of Germany, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. He led Russia to its first Davis Cup final appearance in 1994 (loss to Sweden) and again in 1995 (loss to the United States), but was on the 2002 squad that won the Cup in 2002 (defeating France).

    He turned pro in 1992 and won 26 singles titles (609-306 matches), 25 doubles titles (358-213 matches) and $23,883,797 prize money.

    MAJOR TITLES (6) — French Open singles, 1996; Australian Open singles 1999, French Open doubles, 1996, 1997, 2002; US Open doubles, 1997.

    DAVIS CUP — 1993-2002; 31-16 singles, 13-12 doubles (1 Cup) 

    SINGLES RECORD IN THE MAJORS — Australian (28-7), French (31-10), Wimbledon (16-10), US (24-9).

    - Bio Courtesy Bud Collins 

    (May 2013)

    Began playing tennis at age six...Father, Aleksandre, is a high school volleyball coach, and mother, Valentina...Enjoys fishing in the Black Sea, watching soccer (Spartak Moscow fan), basketball and hockey (Detroit Red Wings fan), and an avid golfer (8 handicap)...Named ATP Most Improved Player of the Year in 1994 after climbing from No. 104 previous year to 11...An avid New York Yankees fan (since 1996) and tries to catch a game when in town during US Open...On May 4, 1999, one day after officially becoming No. 1, President Boris Yeltsin sent a telegram, saying, "For the first time in the 122-year history of tennis, a Russian sportsman has become the world's top player. The victory is a great achievement for our sport. As a person who plays tennis, I understand how difficult it is to achieve such a result."...His Olympic gold medal was presented to him by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch...After winning his fifth straight title in Moscow, donated his first prize of $137,000 to families of victims in Oct. 4, 2001 Russian plane crash in Black Sea, near his hometown of Sochi...Has a 44-28 career Davis Cup record (31-16 in singles) in 28 ties since 1993...Daughter, Aleysa (born Oct. 23, 1998).


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