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ATP TOUR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP


November 16, 1997


Pete Sampras


HANNOVER, GERMANY

Q. Pete, pretty quick win today. After the first five games when you were perhaps a bit uncertain, was that one of the best performances you've played this year?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's up there. It really is. You know, after the start, we both got off to a slow start, breaking each other early. From the middle of the first, pretty much'til the end of the match, everything just clicked from my serve to the way I was returning to the way I was hitting my groundstrokes. Yevgeny, I think, got a little bit down on himself. He started missing some shots, started pressing a little bit because I think he felt that I was winning these baseline points, he had nothing to fall back on. Once I saw that, saw him a little bit down on himself, I took advantage of it. Just gave me that much more confidence out there. It was a good match. I mean, for me, I hit the ball extremely well, you know. Perfect situation. I would have loved to have gotten off to a better start, but I didn't. I regrouped after that early break and just from there, I just played that much better.

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Q. Mr. Sampras, the first day you said the tournament area is very slow. What do you think after all? Did you get more convenient with the whole situation? There is a small magazine in front of you. The Americans are coming to the EXPO 2000. What do you think about the fact, and will you be a part of it?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'd rather not comment on your second question. I don't know that much about it. The court over the week got a little bit quicker. The first day against Moya, I wasn't used to the court because I didn't get a chance to practice on it. Got off to a bad start in the event. As the week went on, it just got a tad quicker. I felt just that much more comfortable out there. As a result, my tennis has gotten better and better as the week went on.

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Q. Pete, those examples of crystal in front of you, you had one of them before. What do you think of the accolade you just had from all those players and tournament directors and people like us voting you No. 1 on the ATP's 25 years?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's very flattering, it really is, to have the respect from people in tennis - if it's the media or players, or tournament director. It's very flattering to receive that. That's not the main reason I play this game, is for the attention. But, you know, it makes you feel like, you know, you're making some sort of impact on the game. You know, it's very flattering to have the respect from your peers.

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Q. Pete, what sort of buzz do you get from playing the way you did today?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's an unbelievable feeling when everything just comes together and you feel like anything you try out there is going to work. And, it's so much fun, it really is. It's just fun to be out there. And, you know, it just goes to show, you work hard, you prepare well, and you're going to have good results. Today, you know, I just kind of got into a great rhythm, and just -- you know, I just played extremely well. I think I play my best when I don't think. It's all reaction. It's all instinct. I just went out and did it.

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Q. After a performance like that, do you sort of fatigued as you then have to think about Davis Cup in two weeks' time?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'm a little tired, I must admit. Flying back and forth, you know, it's been a long year. But, I'm going to go home tomorrow and I'll spend a week at home, get back on a plane and come back over. Hopefully find something in me to get me motivated and working hard, getting ready for the Davis Cup Final, which I don't think will be a problem. And then it's finally over.

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Q. Pete, I know that Kafelnikov didn't play his best today, but you're so much ahead of the world in the No. 1 ranking list, of the five people you played this week, who do you think perhaps potentially will be your toughest Challenger for No. 1?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's hard for me to say one player. I mean, you know, I don't want -- it's hard to say, it really is. You can look at, you know, someone like Rusedski on an indoor fast court or grass is going to be, you know, it's a long year and you have to win on all surfaces. You have to be very consistent. You have to be almost consumed with the game to be No. 1. You have to prepare well. We'll just see over the next six months or year who is willing to do that. You know, it's hard for me to sit here and say there's one player that's going to do it.

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Q. From your experience, is it tougher mentally or physically to be No. 1?

PETE SAMPRAS: At times it's more mental. At times it's more physical. It depends on how you're feeling. It's how you're feeling on both ends. Like right now, I feel a little bit of both. I'm tired. It's been a long week. Physically, sure, I wake up each morning feeling a little stiff just about everywhere. (laughter) So, it's everything. It's everything that is involved in this game. In order to stay on top, you know, you have to prepare. I mean, you can't go out flat like I did against Moya. But I wanted this one. I mean, I really -- even though I lost my first match, I still felt I was still in it, that I just needed my game to click. I know deep down that when my game clicks, you know, I feel like at times I'm unbeatable.

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Q. Pete, it is a long season for you. Actually it will not end before two weeks. So the off-season for you will be very short. So what are you going to do during this off-season? Do you think that you have to take the whole off-season as a rest or do you think that you have to practice as soon as you can to be ready for the next one?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, my plans are -- I'll have the whole month of December off. After the Davis Cup Final, I'll just take probably a week or two and not pick up a racquet, maybe go on a holiday or something. Then come, you know, middle of December, I'm going to need to start working out, need to start training. Because Australia, physically, is tough as you can find with the heat and the long matches. There's no off-season. It's tough, it really is, because as much as I'm playing, you know, you get into the weekend, I just wish I had two months off to really recuperate and really enjoy the year. Unfortunately, the schedule we have, and now with the Davis Cup Final, you know, there's not a lot of time for me to recuperate. This is kind of where I'm at, just got to make the best of it.

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Q. Pete, you're going home now. When will you go to Sweden to prepare for Davis Cup?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'll probably come back next Sunday or Monday.

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Q. What do you think about the Davis Cup then?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not much. (laughter) Well, it's going to be a very difficult tie for both teams. You got, you know, Bjorkman who just beat Chang. You know, they're going to be playing each other first match. I could be playing Enqvist or Larsson who played me tough. The doubles is up in the air who's going to play. It's a pick 'em tie. I don't see a favorite. They're probably going to have 12,000 people rooting for them. It's hard to say who is the favorite. It's kind of a pick 'em match.

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Q. What do you think about Enqvist or Larsson, who would you prefer?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, Larsson has beaten me the last couple times. I don't mind playing him. And Enqvist, I've had pretty good success. You know, for me, it's how I'm playing. If I can play tennis like I did this week, I think these guys know that it's not going to be an easy day for them. It's a big "if" how I'm going to play, how I'm going to feel. You know, it's going to be an interesting tie, it really is. It could go either way.

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Q. Pete, how do you feel, any early reaction to the fact that in the year 2000 it's going to be a straight race from January to November?

PETE SAMPRAS: I like it. I like it because I think it's a lot easier for people that, you know, follow the game, or fans at home that really don't understand the ranking system, can now understand it. You know, you look at the NBA's standings like I do, NFL, you know what's going on. The way it is set up now, it is a little confusing, defending points, this and that. It will be a lot easier to understand. So I think that's good.

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Q. Pete, if you had to rate this season compared to your other seasons that you've ended the year No. 1, where would you place it?

PETE SAMPRAS: That's hard to say. I mean, it's been an unbelievable year in so many ways. I always look back at this year and look at the two majors I've won, ending the year No. 1 again. That's what the game is all about to me. It's hard to put one year over the next. You know, I won eight titles or something this year. It's been pretty consistent. But to have won two majors is a great year for me. I can't say the year '97 was better than the year '94; they're all good.

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Q. If you compare Davis Cup Final to a tournament like this, what is the difference for the preparation and your feelings about it? What is most important for you?

PETE SAMPRAS: As far as preparation, it's not going to be much different than preparing for this event or another event. What's different is you're playing for your country; you're playing for your teammates. You've got that kind of added pressure that, you know, is not easy to deal with. You know, you're going to have the crowd rooting for the Swedes. I think Michael and I are prepared for that. We've been in this situation a number of times. And I think we're up to the challenge. It's not going to be an easy tie. But let's just go out and do it, let's play.

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