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August 13, 1998

Pete Sampras


PETE SAMPRAS: He's got a good game. His serve was very big. I had a hard time reading it and he was popping in some Aces and giving me some problems. I felt like I was holding onto his serve pretty easily and it came down to the tiebreaker and I was able to raise my level just a little bit, put some pressure on him. But he's got a good solid game. He's got a good serve and he backs it up with some good ground. I played a real good tiebreaker.

Q. What's it like playing against a two-hander on the forehand side? Do you have to change some things?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you realize that the serve out wide to his forehand, against the body, is a good serve against two-handers, especially when it's off the forehand side. And it was something I was trying to expose when the match went on. And when the big point came around, I was going to the reliable serve-out wide because obviously he was having problems with that. Sure, you're a little bit vulnerable to the shot out wide as far as your reach is concerned. But when he sets up and is in position to hit from the ground, he hardly misses. The key against him is to try to make him move because with the two hands on the forehand, it's definitely not easy. You definitely need to be quick. So it's something I was trying to expose.

Q. Are you surprised how he had your -- your backhand changed, that no one has ever really tried to change his shots?

PETE SAMPRAS: Change his shots?

Q. Are you surprised?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, what I did was very risky. I had a two-handed backhand and a switch was -- I gave up a lot. And I'm sure he's been hitting it when he started playing the game. And when you're 18, 19, 20 it's hard to really change something. If you're going to change something in your game as drastic as changing to an one-handed shot, you're going to have do it when you're 13, 14. I was fortunate I did that when I was 14. For now it's probably too late for him to change -- to change a major stroke.

Q. He said he patterned his stroke after yours. Could you tell?

PETE SAMPRAS: You know, he served very well. He really served, you know, was hitting the corners. I had no idea where he was going most of the first set. The second set, I was starting to be able to read it a little bit more, sure it's flattering to hear him say nothing like that, pattern his serve to mine. But he backs it up with a pretty good second serve, too. It was a hard shot to get back. You look at a young guys coming up, you always look at a weapon and he certainly has one.

Q. (Inaudible).

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's hard to say. You know, to break the Top 10, you definitely need to be -- have a big game. I'm not saying he doesn't have a big game but there's a lot of competition up there and there's a lot of guys coming up, especially over in Europe, that are tough to beat. But he's got a good future. He seems like he's got a real strong attitude and good attitude about his tennis and playing today. But we'll see over the course of the next few years how he progresses. But playing today, I was very impressed.

Q. You're playing a 21-year-old American for the first time; you know he's been watching you; do you try to do anything to get a psychological edge on him?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not really. I just go out and play and hopefully my tennis is good enough to beat him. You go out and you play -- I played Justin here last year and these guys are hungry. They get a piece of the pie. And so he -- he is very motivated and very eager to break through because he's kind of the man labeled as the next American, he and Justin. So we'll see what happens over the next couple years.

Q. Pete, you needed one break because you hold your own serve so well. And when he came to the next and you got the point on a passing, shot did you see right then that that was the chance to get the break?

PETE SAMPRAS: In the second set?

Q. Second set, yeah, game four?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure. At that point, I won the first and I felt this was the time to really, you know, try to capitalize on winning the first set and I might have got a little bit down on himself. But I'm not sure which point your you're talking about. But you definitely want to get up to a good start each set. The first two, three games of a set is the most important part of the match, I believe. But I think I broke him at -- I don't know, 3-2 or something. So it was maybe just a time where I was starting to get ahold of his serve a little bit better.

Q. Pete, if you end up playing Krajicek. You've had some success. Why is that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, he seems to play with no nerves against me. The times he's beat me -- he beat me at Wimbledon a couple years ago, and end of last year in Stuttgart. He plays with no fear. He serves real big and he plays real strong. I haven't played on an outdoor hard court in quite some time, so we'll see if I play him. But he's got a big game and when he gets his game going, he's very tough to beat.

Q. (Inaudible).

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you -- at this point in my career, you always remember your losses much more than the wins. You want to play against the best. And when he gets his game going, he's one of the toughest players for me to play. Our games match up pretty well for both of us and it's just a matter of a couple points because our serve and volley is just pretty -- and it's just a matter of a couple points when I play Richard. But he's got his hands full playing Spadea today.

Q. (Inaudible).

PETE SAMPRAS: Pretty good. I don't know how many time I've played him, I think I've played him a couple times. He's similar to playing, you know, Andre. , he's got the good serve and he backs it up with some good grounds and it's a pretty straightforward match. Any time you beat Andre in a tournament, you must be playing well. So we'll see who I play.

ATP TOUR REP: Any more questions?

Q. Did you do anything special to celebrate your birthday yesterday?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, not really.

Q. Go down to the beach or anything?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I didn't do that. I went to -- I don't do that. Actually, I went to Riverdance last night. I liked it a lot. I was very impressed. That was a big step for me to actually do something during a tournament.

Q. Can you do some of the movements?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure. (laughter).

Q. (Inaudible).

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, yeah, first four, five games of his service game, he played with no nerves at all. He was serving big Aces, and like I said, eager, you know, to break through and I think it's just a matter of time before he does. But there's a lot of competition out there. It's not going to happen overnight. It takes years of playing and experience. But what I saw today he's got a good future.

Q. (Inaudible).

PETE SAMPRAS: What do you mean, energetic?

Q. They are not real emotional. They seem pretty composed.

PETE SAMPRAS: I think it's good to see guys like Jan-Michael with good attitudes and just go out and play. It's nice to see that. I think most of the guys on the Tour today, you know, pretty much have that attitude and it's good. It's good for the sport.

Q. Are you responsible for that in any way, showing that after this era of people with the excess that --

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know. I really don't. I don't know -- I certainly hope I've had a positive influence on young guys growing up. The guys I grew up watching the McEnroe, Connors, the guys that were a lot more expressive -- when I was young, my coach or my parents at the time wanted me to not act like that, a McEnroe or a Connors. It was kind of looked down upon. But we're in a -- you know, the year '98. I mean, people want to see some of that.. So it's kind of a catch 22 But it's nice to have, you know, some sort of impact on someone's, you know, attitude out there and I certainly hope I was a positive influence.

Q. Do you think that's why guys from your generation like Michael Chang and Todd Martin, they are kind of like the anti, the opposite of that, over McEnroe and Connors?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think everyone has got their own personality and their own way they were brought up. I just really speak for myself and how I grew up and the way I should act on the court. And you know it was just rare to have McEnroe and Connors, who were great players that showed a lot of emotion. And you know it was great theatre and -- but I never really -- that's really not my personality. I'm obviously much more introverted as a person and as a player and obviously that shows.

ATP TOUR REP: Anything else? Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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