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September 3, 1993

MaliVai Washington


Q. Coming in here last year a seeded player and much higher ranking than you did previously and this year doesn't seem to be too bad, the fact that you haven't won the two tournaments that you won last year, do you feel like you are playing as well? Do you feel like you are getting better?

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: I definitely feel like I have improved my game over this point last year. I think I was playing maybe better tennis coming into this tournament last year. I had just -- had a decent summer. Semi-final; couple of-- couple of tournaments; final at New Haven. I was on a roll. Whereas this year, I think my best result might have been in the quarters in D. C.; then I had to pull out after a couple of tournaments or pull out of one tournament, you know, so I don't think I might be as sharp as I could have been, but, fortunately, that hasn't really affected me.

Q. Why did you pull out of the one tournament?

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: Just my knees -- my knee had been bothering me a little bit. I just couldn't play.

Q. How much do you think it hurts you that you are not seeded; where you get to play Courier in the third round?

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: I don't think that really matters. I guess, yeah, it is always nice to be seeded, or you know, play a seeded player later on in the tournament. If you are going to be contending at the tournaments, you are going to meet them somewhere. What is the difference of beating them in the quarters or the 16s or the second round? If you are going to beat them, you are going to beat them; if you are not, you are not.

Q. It just gives you an extra round to get into the tournament?

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: You have got to be ready from the first round whether you are playing a seeded player or whether you are playing a guy ranked 150. You got to be ready to fight. I don't know, it doesn't matter really, but, heck, it is always nice to be seeded. There is no doubt about that.

Q. What is better about your game this year over last?

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: I think I am just-- I am definitely more mentally tough. I think I am just more consistent, consistent off the ground, and my strokes, I think, are a little bigger than they were last year. I think last year I was probably working on, you know, when I am out there on the court controlling the points. I think I control the flow of matches and the points themselves are a lot better.

Q. At this point in the tournament, how would you assess your game?

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: Shitty -- no, I am just kidding: No, it is -- I think it is pretty good. I am happy that I was able to fight through those couple of matches, especially the first one which was really tough. That was a big boost for me, you know, so I am happy with the way things have -- the way things have gone on.

Q. How did the weather affect you today?

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: It didn't. It was warm out, but the match wasn't extremely long. I am pretty confident in my conditioning.

Q. Would you talk a little bit about the end of the first set; I think he was serving it and you broke- held it broke --

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: I didn't play - I played a bad game, I think, to get broken; I doublefaulted on breakpoint and I don't know what it was, something clicked and I think I might have broken him at love or maybe at 15 and I don't know, just for a few games there I just went on a roll and I don't know, but when he was serving for the set, I just, for whatever reason, I just was able to get the ball on-court; before I wasn't putting the ball on-court enough. And I don't think before I broke him at 5-4, I don't think I would have even been to 40 on his serve yet. It was just-- I guess it was crunch time then and, heck, if you didn't do it then, the set is over.

Q. Looking at your next match, what do you think your strategy needs to be?

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: I think the same kind of-- I am just going to play my kind of game. I think maybe Doug and Jim play pretty similar games. They like to hit the forehand a lot. I think Jim has a bigger game than Doug does. I am going to serve well when I am out there and just try to be as aggressive as I can, and try to take control of the points. I think that is going to be the difference. Because that is the kind of game he plays. He wants to be in control of the points. I am going to try to counteract that.

Q. So many seeds have fallen by the way side so early. How do you feel the chances of the younger players are now?

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: Younger players, like who?

Q. Well, there are a lot. Including yourself.

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: Well, I'd like to, yeah, I guess when you have those big names falling out, it increases the chances of everyone. I think my chances were always pretty good. But that is the way tournaments go. I mean, you are always going to have your seeds falling out early. That is just the way sports is. I mean, no matter who the seed is, whoever he plays, it is going to be ready to fight. Going to be raring to go when it is time for the match. Because he wants to take him down. So I think that is what you are seeing. Everyone out there wants to knock the top guys off and some of the top guys haven't been playing their best tennis, Andre and Ivan and Stefan over the summer, or maybe over the whole year, haven't been playing their best tennis. I think people have realized that, and they kind of want to try to knock them off.

Q. Is it becoming more mentally tough or just a factor of experience, being around long what does it mean to you?

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: I think experience and then just being able to you know, when you get in that situation, just being able to -- a tough situation like on Tuesday just being able to fight through it. I think once you work through it, after you do it once, you always feel you can come back from a two set to 1 or two set to love, or two sets to love down, so I think it is just knowing from all the experience you just know in your mind that you are there; no matter what the score is, you can perform and pull it out.

Q. I would assume that Courier and yourself would be on stadium court Sunday, headline kind of deal. Do you like it out there? Does it matter? Do you like those big moments?

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: Actually I do like it. I haven't played on there this year. I played there, I don't know, did I play there last year? Yeah, I did play there last year. I think it is a great court. And the people really get into it. I mean, it will just be-- it will be kind of like of Grand Slam except a little bit more intensified; a little louder; little bit more people; little bit more promotion; little bit more hectic. It is going to be a lot of fun for everyone.

Q. Do you think this U.S. Open has the potential for becoming the U.S. Open of the underdog, let us say, seeing that a lot of top seeds have fallen out?

MaliVAI WASHINGTON: I don't know. I think any tournament has the potential to maybe have that underdog or maybe that unseeded person come through and do big things. But I think over the course of a two week tournament at a Grand Slam, when you are going three out of five, usually you are going to have those top players coming through, or the better players coming through. That is, I think, usually the way it goes. I think it will go that way this year.

Q. Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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