Yevgeny Kafelnikov realizes he has to rest up before meeting Andre Agassi in the finals of the Australian Open on Sunday. So when he plays golf today, he's going to use a cart, instead of walking the course like he has all the other times he has played this week. "If the weather is bad, I'm still going to go golfing, no matter what," said Kafelnikov, a 10 handicap. "I'll have the umbrella on my shoulders, carry my own bag, get fresh air. It's nice."

Kafelnikov said that playing golf relaxes him before big matches, although it's hard to imagine him being too stressed after his semifinal stomping of No. 12 seed Magnus Norman, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, on Friday. Kafelnikov is the No. 2 seed, and though he entered this tournament feeling he was too rusty to defend his title, he has been so sharp in his last two matches that he suddenly has enormous confidence going into the final.

Agassi, though, has a 5-4 career edge on Kafelnikov, whom he defeated in the semifinals of the U.S. Open in September and in the finals of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington in August.

"I like to play him--our game just matches each other," Kafelnikov said. "I can play him on the baseline all day long. He generates the pace nicely, and that's why he dominates against other players, because they don't know how to use his weakness. But I know how to do it."

Kafelnikov would not say what he thinks Agassi's "weakness" is, although he said he was pleased to be facing Agassi instead of Pete Sampras, whom Agassi defeated in a spellbinding five-setter Thursday. The match was a stark contrast to Kafelnikov's semifinal, which featured some lethal forehands from the Russian and not much in response from Norman.

Kafelnikov, a veteran who has won a title here and at the French Open, committed just 18 unforced errors. Norman, playing in his first Grand Slam semifinal, committed 41. Kafelnikov won 10 of the first 11 games.

"You start thinking that it's the semifinal and different things," Norman said. "I've had all this media attention this week, and I'm not really used to that."

Kafelnikov is expecting a much tougher match Sunday, and although his predilection for golf is seen by some as nonchalance, he said that being on the course is his way of preparing for what he realizes is a big occasion.

"You would not believe how emotionally I will be prepared for this match, because this is a special occasion, a Grand Slam final, and that's what it's all about," he said.

Australian Open

When: Through Sunday.

Where: Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia.


Semifinal results: Men--Yevgeny Kafelnikov (2), Russia, def. Magnus Norman (12), Sweden, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.