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November 15, 1997

Pete Sampras


Q. Pete, tomorrow you play your fifth final in the Masters. Do you realize the only time you get there unbeaten, you lost the final?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm sorry?


Q. Tomorrow is your fifth final in the Masters. You played four. Three times you got there having lost one match and won the Masters. The only time you get there unbeaten, you lost the final.

PETE SAMPRAS: So.... (laughter)


Q. You should be confident.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. It's all coincidence. I really don't know what to say about it. I have nothing to say about it (laughter).


Q. They say you are vulnerable the first day of the tournament.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, as far as this year, I felt a little bit vulnerable, coming in here, I felt a little bit tired, maybe more mental than anything. I think it showed when I played Moya, I really struggled playing out there. But after I lost, I kind of knew what I had to do. I had to win my next two matches. I'm a little bit more used to the court, the conditions and the surroundings. So I feel like my form has gotten a little bit better each match.


Q. Is this going to change your schedule for the future, trying to adjust better, to come in before --

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think it's difficult. I had a week off in between. Usually it's two weeks off. So I had Paris, I went home for four days, hopped on a plane. You know, that's a lot of traveling, a lot of tennis. Next year there's two weeks off between Paris and Hannover. It gives me a little bit more time to get ready.


Q. Pete, form working out okay and --

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I'm especially happy with my serve. This week hasn't been that great. Today I served about 65 percent, served real big, served real hard. It's nice to be in a rhythm. I've really been struggling a bit with my first serve percentage. Today, everything kind of clicked. Jonas played so well, you're almost forced to serve big, serve for the lines. For the most part, I served as well as I can.


Q. Any thoughts for tomorrow?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, they both play pretty similar. Obviously, Carlos is pretty confident against me, beating me in the first match. I don't mind playing either one of them, just as long as I'm playing well and do what I want to do out there. Hopefully I can come out with the win.


Q. On the basis of the moment, Kafelnikov has won the first set. You've had a number of good matches against him. How do you see this one given that he's been playing pretty well?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't see our match-up any different. He's going to be doing what he always does, serving pretty well, has a big double-handed backhand, come in when the opportunity is there. For me, you know, I'll just need to serve big, you know, do what I hopefully can do, duplicate what I did today. It's a pretty straightforward match. I mean, there's not a lot of secrets out there. Hopefully I can mix a few things out there. I know how he's going to play; he knows how I'm going to play.


Q. Will the speed of the court give him an edge?

PETE SAMPRAS: Maybe it's a little quicker. Maybe not fast. I'm a little bit more used to the court. It's playing just a touch quicker. Hopefully, that will help me out.


Q. Pete, when you go out on court, do you think with your game that you just need to do enough to win the match or do you go out there to try to be as perfect as possible?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, your main concern is trying to win. To win, you need to play well. For me, it's getting off to a good start, really trying kind of setting the tone for the match, you know, getting a break. Hopefully my serve comes around. Once I get up a break, I want to get another break. So you always want to feel you can play better, but your main concern is to, obviously, win.


Q. You've played here against four players of the so-called new generation: Rafter, Rusedski, Moya and Bjorkman. What would you say about their future perspective (sic) in tennis?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, they all have their strengths. Rusedski, out of them, probably has the biggest game with his serve. Rafter has the serve and volley. He's a great athlete. Moya's got the big groundies. Bjorkman's got the best return in the game. So, they all have their strengths. You know, it's hard to say which player I see improving. I mean, they're all going to be around for a lot of years.


Q. There has been some discussion about the format of this tournament. Do you like it?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, yeah, I like it. I think it's good for tennis because you have eight guys, the best players in the world, playing each other a lot. I think that's what the game needs. You know, you have great matchups all week. You can argue, "I've lost a match, maybe I should be home right now." In previous years, I've lost matches and won the event. Round-robin, you're not going to have a perfect system. You can have two guys or a guy lose two matches in a group and maybe still make the semis. You're not going to have a perfect system if you want something perfect, have a 16 draw knock-out. You know, to have this, to have the guys play each other so many times, have the great matchups, I think is great for the game.


Q. What about knock-out competition, best-of-five, eight players?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't think best-of-five every match --


Q. (Inaudible)?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think best-of-five usually, as far as the better player usually wins in a best-of-five match. 16 draw. Yeah, I mean that's possible.


Q. You say you like to play against the best and it's best when the best play each other as often as possible. You lost to Moya this week, first loss to a Top-10 Player this year. Is that just a coincidence, in your opinion, or does it mean more than that?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think it's coincidence. I felt, like I've said all week, that it was a bad match. It was a bad day for me. I felt flat. You know, at this level, you know, you play someone in the Top 10, if you don't come up firing on all cylinders, you're not going to win. That's what happened.


Q. The fact that all your losses this year were players ranked below Top 10, does that mean - I don't know - does that mean more?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's just a stupid stat. It's just another stat I'm sure the Tour gives you (laughter).


Q. With this match, this result today, mean anything in connection with Davis Cup finals in a couple weeks now?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it helps. I think Jonas feels when he plays me, he's going to have to play extremely well to beat me, if I'm playing well. Hopefully by two Fridays from now, I'll be playing well, motivated, ready to go for the Davis Cup. So it gives you confidence. I've beaten him three straight times. My game matches up pretty well against his. But I won't be playing him first. I'll be playing Enqvist or Larsson. So, it's a different match. This tie is going to be interesting because it can go either way.


Q. Are you surprised Bjorkman, he was playing so well?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm not that surprised. I mean, he's got one of the best returns; maybe the best return I've ever played. That's an unbelievable weapon to have on tour. Everyone talks about the serve so much, the return is even more important in my mind. He serves well. He competes well. He doesn't have too many holes in his game. His return, I mean, that's what is kind of separating him from the other guys, guys ranked 15 to 30, is that he returns unbelievably well. ?


Q. The returns are more important than the serve?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it is. I mean, in some cases if you serve pretty well on tour, majority of time you're going to hold serve. But in order to win out here, you need to return. That's what he does unbelievably well. He's got a big serve, not a huge serve, but a serve that gets him in control of the point, gets him pretty easy volleys sometimes. His return, that's what Jonas' game is about.


Q. I hear that Moya is doing well in the second set. I'll ask you a question about playing him. Assuming you play Moya, what do you think is going to be different than Tuesday?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think for me I'll be obviously playing better. I'm going to be feeling a little bit fresher and a little bit more eager than I was on Tuesday. Certainly when you lose to someone, you know, you remember that. You want to get a little revenge. If I play him, that's, I'm sure, how I'm going to feel tomorrow morning.


End of FastScripts....

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