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September 12, 1998

Pete Sampras

U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Could you describe what happened on the injury for us, take us through it, how it felt?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it happened at 4-2 in the third. I'm not sure what the score was in the game. Hit a backhand volley, landed on my left leg and basically I pulled my quad. You know, it kind of shocked me a little bit. And then I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to continue to play. Got some treatment on it, whatever. And the adrenaline was really the only thing that was keeping me going. It was just bad luck, you know. It was just bad luck.

Q. How did it hamper your movement?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, anytime I put any amount of serious weight on my left side, it was giving me problems. I couldn't really put a lot of weight on it and push off.

Q. Did it cost you the match?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it didn't help. Well, you know, things were going pretty well till that point. You know, Patrick, he played well. I mean, I played a solid match. But I certainly was struggling out there.

Q. Did you regard it as being in a winning position at the time?

PETE SAMPRAS: Was I in a winning position?

Q. Yes. Did you think so?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I was up a break in the third.

Q. As far as how you were playing and how he was looking at that time.

PETE SAMPRAS: You know, the court's playing so quick, and first set could have gone either way, second set he played pretty well. I didn't think I was playing great, but I thought I was playing solid up until that point. I was up a break in the third. So I felt I was playing all right.

Q. Did you consider retiring from the match? How long did it take you to come to the decision to continue to play?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, once I kind of got through the treatment and came back out and played a couple points, the adrenaline really can help in a situation like that. Once I could kind of play a couple points and move around a little bit, I felt I was going to continue to play. That's when I knew I wasn't going to quit. You know, it's just bad luck.

Q. After the injury, it looked like your service return was being affected, just getting into position. Was that the biggest thing?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's basically anytime I put a lot of weight on it and pushed off, it was giving me problems. You know, after the injury, I just kind of had to go for it on my returns and on my serves. You know, I didn't want to get into any long rallies. It was really my only alternative.

Q. Had you ever previously hurt this quad before?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm sure -- not -- I'm sure I've had little twinges here and there up there. But this is pretty serious, because I really felt it, and I feel it now. You know, I really don't know if I would have -- if I could play tomorrow. I really felt, you know -- you know, I pulled it pretty good. You know, if I would have gotten through tonight somehow, I mean, I don't know what would have happened tomorrow.

Q. Similar to Sweden?

PETE SAMPRAS: Pretty similar, yeah.

Q. Your first serve was not going in, but after the injury, you seemed to serve better.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. It was ironic that I was struggling with my serve the whole match. You know, I finally relaxed a little bit, got in a pretty good rhythm. Just kind of -- my serve kind of came back. I just kind of relaxed after the injury. I was like, you know, I'll do the best I can, and really that was kind of the position I was in.

Q. But after the injury break, you didn't break him once. Return of serve, was that a specific problem you had?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I was having a hard time with his serve up until that point. But, you know, not being able to, you know, move the way I want to move made it even more difficult. And, you know, he was serving well. You know, he was tough. But, you know, I just felt like I just had to go for it. I didn't want to do a lot of moving out there. So, you know, the court's playing quick. He's very tough to break.

Q. Last Grand Slam of the year. In retrospect, how would you assess your performance this year?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, anytime you look back and you win Wimbledon, which in my mind is the biggest one we have, you can't complain about that year. But as hard as I am on myself, how much emphasis I put on these majors, felt like I had a pretty good opportunity to win here, it's disappointing, you know. When you lose Slams, you always have something to look forward to, but the US Open is the last one of the year. Now, I've got to find some sort of motivation to go over to Europe and deal with that situation.

Q. Sweden, but also there was the Corretja match, Davis Cup in Moscow. Any thoughts or explanations on why so many problems?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I really don't. I really don't have an explanation. You know, as much as I'm playing, and whatever, you're going to have little things here and there. Today was just bad luck, bad timing. Compared to a lot of other players, I think I've been pretty healthy, but this certainly was not the best of timing.

Q. Did you try to think of the Corretja match to motivate you?


Q. Do you think you pay enough respect to the players on the other side?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sorry, what?

Q. Do you feel you show enough respect to the other players when you play?


Q. Did you think you had any realistic chance to win the fourth or fifth set, or were you hoping some kind of flukey thing would happen out there?

PETE SAMPRAS: You know, I really felt -- you know, the court was playing so quick. If I could just hold on to serve, maybe you could get a couple of second serves. Anything's possible. That's why I felt, you know, I was still hanging in there. It's a strange game. I felt maybe if a couple of little things happened here and there, if I could hold on to serve, maybe I could squeak this one out. But he played stronger as the match went on.

Q. How did he play vis-a-vis how he played in Cincinnati?

PETE SAMPRAS: Very similar. I mean, Patrick's one of the best serve and volleyers we have in the game. He competes very well. He moves very well. You know, he's just a hustler. He just competes well. You know, he's tough to break.

Q. Was there ever a point in the match after you got hurt where you felt like Patrick was perhaps being a little too careful, not wanting to make a mistake against you?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I didn't feel that. I think he played pretty much the same throughout the whole match.

Q. The second set, were you going through any physical problem or was it a letdown after the first?

PETE SAMPRAS: A little letdown. I really got a little bit unlucky, to get my serve broken, a couple fluke returns, I hit a couple of good shots. You know, but I was feeling fine. I mean, it's just the court's are playing so quick, that it is tough to return. You know, it's a little bit like playing on grass out there. You know, it's unfortunate, it really is.

Q. You've played Philippoussis and Rafter many times before. Who would you consider to be the favorite tomorrow?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, probably Rafter. He's got a little bit more experience in this situation. I mean, Philippoussis has never been in a final. But, you know, that might help him. He might come out real loose, swinging away. The court is playing so quick, as big as they're serving, you know, it's going to come down to a couple points. Patrick probably has a slight edge. But Philippoussis, he's playing great and serving big. Anytime you've got that serve, you're going to be tough to beat.

Q. Would you rate that first set tiebreaker as one of the most thrilling you've ever played?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not really (laughter).

Q. Is this as disappointed as you've been at a Slam?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's really hard to say now because it just happened. But I'll certainly feel it over the next week or so. Sure, it's disappointing. But, I take my losses very hard. But you've got to move on. You've got to bounce back. Certainly getting hurt, you know, adds a little salt to the wound because I'm going to have to deal with this leg the next couple weeks, getting treatment, whatever, which I'm not looking forward to.

Q. You were pretty pumped up after winning the first set tiebreaker, then after breaking him in the third set. How important was the match to you?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm sorry?

Q. How important was the match to you? You were pretty emotional. It must have had some significance.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I mean, that's a little rhetorical. I mean, this is a big match. I mean, playing Patrick, US Open. This is our Super Bowl. I mean, this is what we play for. If you can't get pumped up for a situation like this, you shouldn't be playing. I was very into the match. The people were into the match. You know, I'm going to show emotion when it comes down to a big point. You know, it was a big match for both of us.

Q. I know you said you didn't think so the other night, but do you now reconsider and think maybe there is a budding rivalry between the two of you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, it's not going to happen in one match. If I play Patrick over the next number of years in big matches like this, that has a possibility. But we'll just see over the next couple years.

Q. Are there times like this when No. 12 and 13 look even further away than ever?

PETE SAMPRAS: That's a ridiculous question.

End of FastScripts….

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