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October 18, 2001

Pete Sampras

MODERATOR: Questions for Pete.

Q. I don't think anyone can be left in any doubt that you want the points to get to Sydney.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, yeah. Regardless of Sydney, it was the competition, playing someone like Marcelo, one of the better players we have out here. When you get into the heat of the moment, you want to win. I fought hard, got through some tough situations. But I'd like to make Sydney, sure. That's why I'm here. When I'm out there playing, I'm not thinking "Sydney," I'm thinking "Trying to get through the match."

Q. Did you think the more the match went on, the more you were getting into the rhythm and timing? Toward the end, the returns were terrific.

PETE SAMPRAS: He's a very, very tough guy to play. He's got a crafty serve. It's a tough serve to really do anything with. If you don't get control of the point, he's a lot like Andre: he stands on the baseline and makes you do all the moving. But I finally got my serve going, finally started returning a bit better, started to control the points. I played a great game at 4-All and went on from there. But he played great. I really felt like he returned well. He's got great angles off both sides of the baseline. He's a very talented guy.

Q. Seems incredible, having been around the game so long, you only played once before in your career. Thought there would have been at least ten matches.

PETE SAMPRAS: The last match I think was in '94, seven years ago in Roland Garros when he was a junior. Yeah, I mean, just the way the draw goes.

Q. Is that more difficult for you, just to come up against someone who you've seen play, but you haven't played against for so long?

PETE SAMPRAS: I haven't played against... It's the fact that he's improved so much. I mean, I played well against guys that I played a lot. But that being said, you just have to figure it out out there. Even though you've seen him play, it's different when you actually compete against him. Like I've said, I always like playing guys that I played before. He proposes a lot of threats out there with his game. He's very talented.

Q. Can he disguise as well as anybody?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I mean, some of the angles he was hitting off the backhand, it was too good. I thought I had some pretty good stuff, and he came up with some good passing shots. It's like playing kind of a left-handed Andre, it really is. Where he plays on the court, if you don't get control of the point early, he doesn't miss much. Feel like I was doing a lot of the running. It's tough to control it out there. He's on the way back, I believe.

Q. When he's playing well, he can make it look so easy.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, very efficient. I mean, moving, the way he hits the ball, doesn't seem like it takes a lot of effort out of him. Seems like he's in good shape. You know, he serves pretty well to get some cheap points. But very efficient the way he hits the ball. He's the one that's making everyone run. It's a lot like Andre.

Q. Now that Goran has his title, is Rios the most talented player around that hasn't got a Slam, as you see it?

PETE SAMPRAS: You could say that. I mean, he's still very young. He'll contend, you know, especially for the French. Yeah, I mean, I think he's one of the top two or three that's yet to break through, that has as much talent as anyone out here.

Q. There's an opportunity that if Lleyton were to win tonight, win the tournament, he would become the No. 1 player in the world. Having faced him at close quarters not too long ago, do you think he's ready for the kind of pressure that comes with that particular responsibility, being the No. 1 player? Is he equipped to handle that?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think he's equipped. I mean, I think mentally he's very, very strong. He can back it up with a very good game, very consistent. Lleyton, he doesn't play bad matches. He always plays consistent. But it does take a lot of work out of Lleyton, you know, to stay No. 1, to dominate. He's got a good serve, but it's definitely a shot that helped me stay on top, able to get through some quick matches or quick points. But he's got the mentality to do it, you know, because he wants it. He wants it as much as anyone out here.

Q. You say you're not thinking about Sydney. You obviously want to get there.


Q. Match by match, you don't think, "Sydney." Put yourself in a scenario that you're not there. You've always been, be it Frankfurt, Hannover, Lisbon. Will you feel kind of empty or will you think, "I didn't make it," put it out of your mind?

PETE SAMPRAS: More the latter, I mean, just didn't make it. You know, but I came here, and it's a challenge. That's my goal. That's why I came here, to try to make it. If I don't make it, I don't make it. It gives me a little more time to get ready for The Open. That gets your juices going when you're playing against the best guys. To prove it again and again, to win that event where all the best players are there, is a challenge for me. This is the first step.

Q. Are you a supporter of it being pushed all around the world or would you like to have it as a permanent venue?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm not a big supporter of that. I know certainly the financial situation, they want to move it, continue to keep it high prize money. For me, I would love for it to come back to the States for one year before I'm done.

Q. The Garden?

PETE SAMPRAS: Anywhere. I don't know, Spokane, Washington, doesn't matter to me. I hear it's in Shanghai in a couple years. I think it just loses its consistency. It's kind of a tradition. We had it in Germany. It moved to Lisbon. That's good globally for the game. For me, being an American, it would be nice to have them in the States one year. Especially with me and Andre getting a touch older, it would be nice to have it there one year.

Q. Have you thought out what you're doing before The Open next year in terms of tennis?

PETE SAMPRAS: Before the Australian?

Q. Before the Australian.

PETE SAMPRAS: Probably play Kooyong and The Open.

Q. You wouldn't have a tournament, as well?

PETE SAMPRAS: You mean, Adelaide or something?

Q. Adelaide, presuming not Sydney because it's too close.

PETE SAMPRAS: I've thought about it. If I didn't play this fall, I just played Sydney, I was considering going down earlier and playing more matches. But the fact that I am here, I'm going to play quite a bit for the rest of the year, I probably won't play Adelaide.

End of FastScripts....

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