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ATP Tour World Championship

November 28, 1998

Pete Sampras

Hannover, Germany

Q. It must have been most of all a tough moment more than anything else at the end of the match for you.

PETE SAMPRAS: It was. You know, I had mixed emotions, obviously, at the end, coming so close to winning here, being in the final. But then, you know, the achievement of doing it six years in a row, and the fans giving me a nice ovation, it was a very good feeling. But it was hard not to think about what just happened ten minutes ago. Came so close. It's a tough way to end it, I must admit. Just got to swallow this one and go home, try not to think about it, and juust enjoy what I've done here. But it wasn't the way I wanted to, you know, end the year.

Q. How did you feel today?

PETE SAMPRAS: I felt fine until the tiebreaker. Those last couple points, at 6-5 when I had a couple match points, I was definitely feeling it. I felt a little bit winded. Going into the tiebreaker, I was feeling it a little bit in the legs. But other than that, I felt fine, you know. I felt pretty good through the match. A difference as far as the match, playing the rest of the guys, it was pretty much hit-and-miss tennis, today was a real true baseliner that was making me work very hard. But, you know, that easy forehand I had on match point will definitely be sitting with me for a while. I hit it right back to him and kind of lost the point there. When you have match point to win it, you can't really -- it just hurts a little bit more.

Q. How can you explain that two days ago you played perfect tennis, and today you didn't? It was such a big difference between Sampras today and against Kucera? Is it the rival or you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, playing a couple days ago, it was a dead match. It's a lot easier to play. You just go out and have some fun or whatever. Today I didn't play quite as well. It was a different situation. It was like a new tournament today. But I felt even though I wasn't playing as well as I was through the week, I was playing well enough to win. You can't play like the way I did against Kucera every time I step on the court. Alex made me play, he made me work very hard. He just got a little lucky today. That's what it takes sometimes.

Q. When you fell over on that match point in the third set, were you shaken and did you hurt your hand?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I wasn't shaken. It was a tough, tough point. I was doing a lot of running, you know, had the pretty easy forehand. My lungs were burning a little bit. When you have the match in your hands right there on the one shot, all of a sudden you're starting over again, it's not easy. But I just kind of scraped up my arm, wasn't really a big deal. The match was right there. I didn't get it.

Q. Do you think it was your fault or do you think that Alex played similar to that match resisting your attacking?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, he's very tough to come in against, because he hits a good second serve, hits the ball very heavy. He was keeping me at the back court. I don't want to say he wore me down, but I knew what Alex was going to do. I missed a few shots, played a couple bad service games. Credit to him, he hit some unbelievable passing shots. But even though I didn't feel like I was playing as I was through the week, I felt I was playing well enough to win. But just came up a little bit short.

Q. In the year 2000, there are six tournaments less on the ATP Tour. Did you speak with Mark Miles about the many tournaments you have to play, because the end of the year is going and going? Did you speak sometimes with Mark about that business of the years to come, less tournaments?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I've talked to Mark a little bit about the schedule and whatever. Something I'd rather not talk about at the moment, to be honest with you. In a couple years' time, we'll just see what I want to achieve in the game, how much tennis I want to play. The year is over. It's time to relax a little bit, not think about tennis.

Q. There's two Americans, two Spaniards and two Brits in the Top 10 at the end of the year. Who do you regard as your foremost challengers next year?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's pretty much the same guys that you've been seeing for the past couple years. You have Rios, Corretja, Moya. It's the same group of guys. The two British guys, they're going to be around for years. Those guys stand out. You have Andre playing quite well. But it's the same group of guys that you're going to see next year. I mean, I don't really see anyone ranked 40 or 50 that's going to be in the Top 10 by this time next year. I think you'll see the majority of the same guys back here next year.

Q. You've made more unforced errors as usual, especially at the end of the first and beginning of the second set when Corretja sliced to your forehand. Have you lost your concentration or you were too eager to win the match on the occasion?

PETE SAMPRAS: No (laughter).

Q. You were just saying about the fact that this is the end of the year for you and it's time now to relax and have a good time. What will do you in these next few weeks? How long will you just put everything away and not do a damn thing?

PETE SAMPRAS: That's really a tough, tough question. You want to give yourself enough time to relax, but have enough time to get ready for Australia. In between two and three weeks of not picking up a racquet or whatever. At this point I'm just going to see how I feel and see how eager I am to start practicing for Australia. Losing this match doesn't help. I mean, it would have been easier if I would have won here. That's kind of the way the schedule is. There's only so much time off. In order to play well in Australia, you need to give yourself some time to get down there and get in the best shape possible. But I need to give myself a good break so when I come back, I'm ready to go.

Q. Is it going to be like the beach and golf?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah (laughter). Sounds good to me.

Q. Did you feel that the German public really love you or whatever?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, no. I felt a great appreciation today from the people. They gave me a nice ovation. I think they've appreciated what I've done and what I'm about over the course of my career. I've always felt that here in Hannover, you know, playing Boris here a couple years ago, winning here last year. People here definitely know tennis. It would have felt good, but it's hard -- losing such a tough match, it's hard to accept. But I felt the fans were tremendous with that ovation.

Q. Have you had any kind of special or unexpected gestures, any messages since you achieved your ambition of No. 1 for six years? Any calls from the White House?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, no, no. He's got other things on his mind. But no. I didn't get any messages. I got a message from Tom Gully, but he's smart because he's thinking next year already.

Q. From the year 2000 onwards, the finals are going to be played in many countries, Asia, Brazil or where. Do you like they change every year the place where the finals are going to be played?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, they're not going to change it every year. I felt it was very successful here in Hannover, and the support from the crowd, playing in Germany. Who knows where it's going to be in 2000. I think it's good for the game to move it around, wherever it may end up, in Brazil or the United States. I would love for it to be in the US. We'll see what happens next year at this time.

End of FastScripts….

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