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October 30, 1998

Pete Sampras

Stuttgart, Germany

Q. Did they bring you over here in a life boat? (pouring rain outside at the moment.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. (Laughs)

Q. Have you been consulting a witch doctor because the spell -- you have certainly put the hex on all your rivals?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. (Laughs)

Q. Your thoughts about what has happened today, Marcelo having to pull out and Gambill--

PETE SAMPRAS: It is a fluke. I heard Marcelo hurt his leg, I don't know, I think playing soccer or something. That is a fluke thing. I know Jan-Michael has been getting treatment all week on his back and he had to pull out a couple of weeks ago in Shanghai. I can tell in the first couple of games he was having some problems with his movement and 4-1 he just said: I can't continue to play. Obviously a bad day for the fans, bad day for TV, and, you know, just a coincidence that it happened back-to-back. It is too bad.

Q. Not a bad day, through no fault of your own, for you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Certainly it helps. But I know that you can't rely on Marcelo or Pat losing. If I -- I have to concentrate on what I am trying to do and win my matches and, you know, that is all I can really try to do. Certainly it helps, I must admit.

Q. How is your own back at the moment?

PETE SAMPRAS: Fine. I haven't -- it has been a pretty smooth week as far as my back and how the matches have gone and playing very little today, it helps. But certainly nice getting into that rhythm of playing matches and I certainly hope I can stay sharp tomorrow.

Q. With the number of injuries, is it an argument of playing less tournaments?

PETE SAMPRAS: Certainly when you play a lot, you are going to and the way the ranking system works today is the more you play, the better off it is for your ranking. When you have a lot of events - plus Davis Cup, you are going to have injuries. I have always said there should be more of an off-season in the game and guys like Gambill who is a very young guy, shouldn't be getting hurt, I find. I don't think you need to change the whole game. I just think you need to maybe have less tournaments, maybe have more of a break at the end of the year so guys can recover. The game doesn't seem like it ends. After Hannover it is pretty much a month off and get ready for Australia. There is not much time off. It is unfortunate.

Q. From what you have heard, is there any real hope of that happening for the 2000 calendar?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. I haven't heard. I hear that it is pretty much the same schedule as it is today. It is interesting, I mean, I am in a different boat than these other guys, I mean, I don't know if I am going to play 20 events in a couple of years, we will just see how -- where I am with my tennis. But it is interesting, I mean, I think there has got to be some sort of break.

Q. Richard has got a good record against you. What will be necessary to stop him from continuing that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the key to the match is returning his second serve as effective as I can. When he gets his first serve in, there is not much you can do it. He has been serving well all week. My service games, just tried to stay solid and hold on to serving. Playing Richard, when he is hot, there is not much you can do. That happened to me last year here. It happened to me at Wimbledon and you just -- hopefully, you just get a couple of looks at his second serve and make him play and really just hope to see some second serves. He gets his first serve in, there is not much you can do.

Q. Richard was saying that although it doesn't really help his game, he thinks they have got the balance here between speed of the ball, speed of court. Do you agree that they have got it about right for the spectators?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, as much as I like playing on fast courts, I'd rather play on slower courts. This court is a fair court. You can stay back or come in - combination of the ball which is a good solid ball, you know, playing here last year; the years before, it was too fast - not fun to play, not fun to watch. But you are still going to have big serves, and big hitting, but at least it gives you a little bit more time to play. And I think it can get you some rallies and the fans seem to enjoy it. I enjoy playing on a much slower court.

Q. Anything else that you would like to change to make the game more attractive?

PETE SAMPRAS: We only have a little bit more time. (pause) He didn't get my joke. Yeah, there is a lot of things.

Q. No. 1 priority? You already said that with the calendar ...

PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, there is Davis Cup. I would love that to be changed. I mean, to have it either better weeks or have it once every two years. That is one thing I'd like to see changed because I get a lot of crap back home of why I don't play and I want to play. But to do everything, you know, it is like you have no time off, either you mentally or physically burn yourself out. But if you play Davis Cup fine; if you make Hannover, you are playing 'til November. Only a handful of guys are doing that. The rest of the guys, you are as done with Paris indoor, so it gives them more time. But you make Hannover and Davis Cup, certainly you are playing a pretty full schedule.

Q. Would you think an extra week between the French and Wimbledon, which is kind of to give more time on grass and preserve that as a surface for the game?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, that would help for me because I would probably go home after the French; give me a little bit more time to recover and, you know, that would be -- I don't know if that would be good for the game. It would be good for the players. I would certainly be in favor of that. Once again it is something that probably won't happen.

Q. Which week would you throw out? Which week would you throw out to get the extra week between Wimbledon and the French?

PETE SAMPRAS: Which week is there?

Q. Exactly.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, what can you do. There is a lot of -- a lot of events. I don't know what event you do throw out. That is certainly not a question for me. It is a question for the bigwigs from the ATP.

End of FastScripts….

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