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October 31, 1998

Pete Sampras

Stuttgart, Germany

Q. Richard is one of the very few players that always seems to win against you. Apart from the obvious fact of his service what, about his serve bothers you, gives you trouble?

PETE SAMPRAS: That is pretty much it. I mean, first and second serve are very powerful. He returns as well as I am serving. He is not going to have a lot of chances to break me, but he just seems to have better nerve against me, when it comes down to the pivotal points of the match tiebreaker, I mean, I could have very easily been sitting here winning this match. I got a little bit unlucky. No question when he is on, he is very devastating because he moves quite well at net and he has got one of the bigger serves on Tour. The majority of matches I have lost to him has been on pretty fast surfaces grass or indoors, so, it is frustrating, I mean, I felt I was playing very well this week and felt like I had a good chance of winning here.

Q. You did say coming into the match that you felt if you could nail his second serve, you'd have a chance. You never really --

PETE SAMPRAS: Never really got a hold of it.

Q. Missed a lot of opportunities on that today?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I never really got a hold of it. He was mixing it up very well and going into my body, going out wide, and, you know, it was hard to get a read on it. Just a little bit up and down the return of serve today and I mean, he has got a big second serve, no question about it. But that was kind of the key to the match was how well I returned his second serve, and just wasn't quite good enough. I didn't put enough pressure on his service games, and I played the one bad service game in the second set to lose my serve; doublefaulted three times and, you know, it is tough. I mean, it is a tough loss to take.

Q. When you lost your second - on the second set, was it because of lack of concentration or --

PETE SAMPRAS: Not concentration. I just got a little bit tight, I must admit. Richard puts - he puts so much pressure on your service games, you feel like you have made a couple of mistakes, I pressed a little bit. I was going for big second serves the whole match. I pushed a few long. He had to hit a couple of good shots. That is tennis. That is the nature of the game, especially out there is, you know, it is just - it was a bad game. I mean, it wasn't lack of concentration. I think I just got a touch tight and I paid the price.

Q. Did you also get tight, tense in the tiebreaker for the third set because the doublefault you hit on 3-2, seemed to be the crucial point --

PETE SAMPRAS: Crucial point was hitting a good return, I had a pretty easy backhand volley, I didn't do enough with that. That point kind of led into the next point. You kind of live and die by the serve. I have been going for very big second serves this whole tournament because I was very confident, but I just, again, pushed it a little bit long and that was kind of the pivotal point of the tiebreaker. I played a decent matchpoint. I got a little unlucky.

Q. Somebody like you to get tight in a match like that, is it just the match situation getting you tight or is it the No. 1 thing?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think it is the match situation, I mean, I know Richard seems -- like the close matches we have played in the past, he just seems to squeak it out. It happened at Wimbledon a couple of years ago and he seems to, you know, play with no fear against me, kind of just goes for it. I really felt I was going to break through and beat him today because I have been playing well all week. But it is a tough one to take, it really is. At this point I have got to find something to regroup here and get ready for next week. But it is tough. It is not easy to do that.

Q. Your aim for being No. 1 at the end of the year, would you summarize this tournament as a success even though you have lost today?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. I mean, I don't look at losing as any success. Success is walking out of here with the title and anything less is, it is not good enough in my book.

Q. He is more difficult to you than anyone else on the Tour?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the guys have giving me problems -- sure, the big server, the Gorans - Richard has got a big game and playing with him on a pretty quick court. I mean, when he is on, he is devastating. But Richard can definitely have his bad days, but unfortunately when you are playing the No. 1 guy, you can have some fun and have nothing to lose out there. The matches he seems to have trouble with are the matches -- it is the matches that he is supposed to win and he is not really supposed to beat me. But it is bad luck, you know.

Q. Do you think possibly that part of the reason is that you have been so long on the road on this trip and it is getting to you possibly?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I felt fresh today, mentally and physically -- yeah, I feel pretty fresh. The key for me right now is trying to get ready for next week. Coming close to get into the final of the big event, you know, it is my fifth week in a row next week and that is really the true test how I can kind of regroup from this over the next couple of days and just mentally stay strong. I have to be. There is no other choice. But I don't think the fact that I have been here so long had any bearing on the match today.

Q. Obviously you would like to avoid playing an extra tournament the week after Paris. Do you think --

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't think I can. I don't know if I'd want to play an extra week after Paris. I feel like Paris then I am going home. That is the way I feel right now walking off the court pretty, obviously, you guys think I am pretty pissed which is true, but we will see. I don't know. At this point I really haven't given it much thought.

Q. (inaudible)

PETE SAMPRAS: It is close. This week has helped but it would have helped more if I would have won today and maybe won the tournament, but Marcelo, I am sure is going to play next week. It is going to be a close race going to come down to Hannover; that is where the majority of the point are, and -- but this was definitely a good opportunity this weekend.

End of FastScripts….

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