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October 28, 1998

Pete Sampras

Stuttgart, Germany

Q. What about your injury, Pete?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is fine. My back just locked up and I had a couple of days of treatment and just basically had a muscle spasm. It is not a serious injury but it is an injury you have to take care of. It can turn into a big problem. But it felt pretty loose tonight and it is really not a problem.

Q. Rios said in Lyon that maybe it was because of the surface in Lyon. Do you think it is the same problem for you?

PETE SAMPRAS: For my back?

Q. He said the surface was not so good for his back.

PETE SAMPRAS: No. I did one move in the beginning match against Todd, you know, I played on that surface a number of times and I have been okay on it. So I don't think the surface really had any impact.

Q. Anything you can do to stop this injury or is it one of those fluke things that may never happen again?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is one of those fluke things that happened. I had a good week in Vienna, played a lot -- after the Open, I didn't play for two weeks. When you come back strong, you are going to have little nagging things that you can usually play through, but every now and again, it is to the point where you can't play. I certainly hope for the next three, four weeks it can be nice and loose, but it is kind of a fluke thing, one bad move and I felt it. I tried to play on it for a couple of matches and it didn't make much sense to continue playing. That is why I didn't play.

Q. How eager are you to play now knowing that you have to defend a lot of points the next couple of weeks?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is very simple. I mean, if I win and play well, then the ranking will take care of itself. Defending points is something - it is really not a problem. Just go out and play and not worry about it. Key weeks are obviously this week and next week and Hannover and if I play well and win, then hopefully I can end it No. 1.

Q. Are you ready to play more now knowing that you can achieve this record?

PETE SAMPRAS: I am willing to do whatever it takes to end it No. 1. If it requires playing an extra event after Paris I am going to do that. I mean, so I am going to push hard. I have been here since Basel and like I said, I am here for the goal and the goal is to try to do it again.

Q. If you had to go to Stockholm or Moscow, you would be willing to do that to have more points?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is possible. I am not ruling it out. But with this ranking system, the more you play, the better off you are. And if I don't do well here or Paris, I might have to. But we will see.

Q. Are you excited about such a situation?

PETE SAMPRAS: I am excited. I am excited that most of the time after the US Open, it is kind of like you are trying to finish strong. But to do it five years and maybe six is something that has never been done before, so it is a huge challenge. There is no doubt about it that my work is cut out for me. I am going to push hard and hopefully play well.

Q. Where does it stand among the things you have achieved and still want to achieve possibly?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't think that will ever be broken. If I do, it goes up there with the Grand Slams. There is no doubt about how hard it is to stay on top in any sport, but to do it in an individual sport for the majority of your career, it is not easy. So it is up there. I mean, if I don't do it, I don't do it. I mean, it is nothing to be ashamed of, but I feel like I am in a good position to do it. It is definitely up there with the ultimate achievements in tennis.

Q. Given your attitude towards Davis Cup and the way it maybe affected your seasons in years gone by and your reaction you got after Moscow which apparently wasn't too great, how much chance or is there a chance that you may play next time in England next April?

PETE SAMPRAS: At this point, I don't know. It is a good answer, isn't it, I don't know?

Q. Diplomatic answer.

PETE SAMPRAS: (Laughs) Been giving it some thought. Obviously, it is one of the most difficult first round you can find. In the previous years, I haven't played the first two rounds - played the last couple of rounds and I will be getting a lot of heat, I am sure, from Tom to play and, you know, I just don't know at this point. I obviously have a lot going on at the time, but it is really hard to say what I am going to do.

Q. Do you have any sense of the tradition the match will represent? It was the original Davis Cup, Britain and USA; this all started -- 100 years have gone by --

PETE SAMPRAS: You are putting a little heat on me.

Q. What if they laid a grass court indoors, how would that --

PETE SAMPRAS: That is good preparation for the French. I know all those things. I know it is a lot history involved with these two teams and the 100 years, but Davis Cup is a tough commitment, it really is. If you want to be No. 1 and do well at Grand Slams and play Davis Cup every tie, I feel like I just can't do that at this point in my career. It is too much tennis for me. If Davis Cup was a little bit less or once every two years, I would be more inclined to play. But the way it is now, it is too much tennis for me.

Q. This court is pretty slow. Next week in Paris it will be quite fast. Do you think it is fair to change the court every week indoors?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think this court is a definite improvement from last year. I have always felt this court was too fast. They slowed it down which I like. I like to have some rallies and have some time. Next week isn't that fast. It is pretty medium and Hannover is a hard court. It is good tennis. It is good to see more tennis played like that, you know, with groundstrokes and whatever. But it will be nice to have one surface for the whole swing. You have to change surfaces. I am sure the Tour is trying to do that to try to get one surface everyone is happy with and this one seems pretty fair.

Q. Krajicek thinks it will be very difficult for him to win this tournament because the court is quite slow. He thinks more serve and volley players, it is getting more and more difficult?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not necessarily. Someone likes Richard who likes a little time and plays well on slower courts, you know, he is still going to hold serve on any surface and it could help him. I mean, it could help me out. Everyone thinks just because you serve well, you want to play on a fast court. I am going to hold serve the majority of the time. It is nice to have a little time to return serve and that is why I like it.

End of FastScripts….

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