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August 14, 1998

Pete Sampras


GREG SHARKO: Pete advances to his fifth semifinal here at Cincinnati. 6-4 lifetime against Magnus Larsson. Also his first Mercedes Super 9 semi of the season.

Q. You played like you were hurry to get to the (inaudible) game?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. One of those days everything kind of clicked. I know Vince was playing well, he beat Krajicek 3 and 2. I knew he was on top of his game. The fact that he was playing well kind of got me a little more focused. I played real strong, did everything I should do out there, came in, put such pressure on him. He missed a couple shots. Before I knew it, it was over. So it was a pretty smooth day.

Q. Can you tell 20 minutes, half hour before you go out to play that you may play that well or is it totally when you hit the ball?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's totally when the first point started. I've played matches that felt great and won, in the warm-up leading up to the match, went out flat, and vice versa. It just depends on -- you really can't tell, you know, how the first couple games go, how your timing is out there. Each time you walk on the court, it's kind of a different feeling, different match. So it's really, you know, hard to tell how you're going to play. You just hope that you practiced hard enough and that you're confident, which I am. So it all helps.

Q. He had that kind of deer looking into headlights look. Did you sense that early on or at all?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I didn't really sense anything that he's feeling. I'm just so -- I don't know what's going on with him. He seemed like he was staying pretty positive through the match. It's one of those matches where, you know, I got my game going and I broke him, I just went from there. But I couldn't tell any fear in his eyes. I mean, he seemed pretty confident. I mean, he's shown he's been playing well all week. So, you know, it was one of those days where everything just clicked for me. I certainly hope that happens tomorrow.

Q. Last year you kind of hit a stride here. Are you starting to feel -- do you remember when you play like that in a tournament?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I remember last year at this time I pretty much, you know, serve and volleyed as well as I did at Wimbledon, coming last year here. I feel pretty similar this year. I feel confident and ready to go. But you can throw that out the window come seven o'clock tomorrow because you never know how you're going to play. You know, you just hope that it all kind of comes together. And Magnus has always played me very tough. You know, he's beaten me a number of times. But the way I'm serving, it really helps out my game. It just helps out my return game when I'm serving a high percentage, which I've been doing all week.

Q. (Inaudible)?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, he's got all the shots. I mean, he's a big guy and he moves pretty well. He's got a huge serve. He backs it up with a big, big forehand. And, you know, he's tough. I mean, he's very difficult to play. I mean, he's a lanky guy and it's kind of tough to get the ball by him. You know, he's I think won his matches pretty handily all week. So he's, like Vince, also pretty confident.

Q. Is he one of the tougher guys to play?

PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, there are a number of guys that give me problems. But he's one of them. I mean, obviously he's beaten me a couple times. You know, it's just his serve can really get going. When he gets his serve going, six foot six, it feels like it's coming down on a crane. You know, he's very creative. I mean, he really knows what he's doing out there, and he's a very smart player, he knows his limitations. But he's pretty confident against me. I haven't played him in quite some time, since Davis Cup last year when I got hurt. But it will be a good match tomorrow.

Q. (Inaudible)?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, no. I mean, I don't look at it that like that. I look, when I play somebody like Vince tonight, he's got his strengths and his weaknesses. When you play Magnus, he's got his strengths and his weaknesses. It's kind of a challenge to figure it out, go out and play my tennis. If I'm playing my tennis, I'm on top of my game, I feel that much better about my chances. So it's just a challenge as far as he's got a little bit, you know, bigger game than, say, Vince. He serves big and he's got the big forehand, and he's extremely tough to play because he's got that big serve.

Q. Do you ever look at the clock when you're playing well, "Am I going to get this done in less than an hour?"

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I don't. I don't want to jinx myself. The points all week have been going pretty quick. The court is reasonably quick out there. I know if we play the first set in 20 minutes, I mean, that's like indoor tennis or grass court tennis. But, no, you don't think those thoughts. You just want to get the job done, and hopefully win in straight sets. If it takes an hour, hour and a half, whatever it takes to get it done.

Q. What would you say to those who say that constant changes in racquet technology is ruining the men's game? This year we have titanium.

PETE SAMPRAS: I think it's a crock, I really do. I think whoever got ahold of the racquet situation really doesn't know what they're talking about. I've been using the same racquet since I was 14. I don't use one of these wide body, longer racquets that everyone thinks I do. But for me, it's not power, it's control. That's why I use the racquet I play with, because I can keep the ball in the court. There's racquets out there I could play with that I could serve 135, but I probably wouldn't get it in the court. This racquet I've been using is a normal racquet. It's not one of these high-tech titanium nonsense, so. I seem to like it.

Q. Seems to work.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I don't plan on switching anytime soon.

Q. Have you ever won one of those road races after a match?

PETE SAMPRAS: I won. The kid, he didn't go through the things. He really didn't (laughter). I'm going to talk to the Tour about it.

End of FastScripts....

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