Tired Kafelnikov Feels The Strain of the Tour

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WIMBLEDON, England Ч At the age of 27, Yevgeny Kafelnikov is a world-weary multimillionaire.

He has won 22 titles, achieved the No. 1 ranking and enjoys a lifestyle that is the envy of his fellow Russians.

But right now the Olympic champion is a tortured soul who feels life is slipping away from him.

Knocked out of Wimbledon on Saturday when he thought he had a good chance in the world's most famous championships, Kafelnikov opened his heart and let out all the pain.

"Time is fading away. Next year I will be 28 and there are so many young players who are trying to make a statement in this tournament," the seventh seed said after his 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 defeat by Argentina's Guillermo Canas.

Kafelnikov has accumulated $18 million in prize money and in recent years has played more tournaments than any other player on the circuit. But the lure of dollars no longer holds any great attraction for this Russian.

"What kind of life am I leading? This life is very boring. You know I travel every week, not seeing my family. You guys think it's the best life, but not to the normal person who has a family Ч I very rarely see them. That's the negative side of it," said Kafelnikov, whose daughter Alesya will be 3 this year.

Looking like one of Dostoevsky's more depressive characters, Kafelnikov was asked whether he looked forward to retiring.

"Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps," he said, his shoulders sagging.

Kafelnikov was the first to admit he beat himself on Court 2, dubbed the graveyard of the champions as so many seeds have been beaten there over the years.

Canas is a claycourt specialist who had never been past the second round at Wimbledon, and Kafelnikov knew he should have beaten the Argentine.

"I had it in my grasp, that is the disappointing part. The easier it looks, the tougher it gets.

"When you know that the opportunity is right there, that is the most difficult time to perform 100 percent. Instead of being aggressive, I was on the defensive," he said.

Such is Kafelnikov's state of mind, he said that being favorite for the match put too much pressure on him.

"Those factors really didn't give me a chance to play up to my ability. It seems to me when I had my chances, I was under so much pressure to take them.

"Like I said, you cannot perform 100 percent or up to your best standard when you are under so much pressure.

"I don't know how many times I will get such an opportunity and not be able to take it."