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November 14, 1997

Pete Sampras


Q. Pete, it's now been I think seven or eight wins in a row with Pat. What makes the difference, in your opinion?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, our games are very similar. We both come in a lot, serve and volley pretty much on everything. I think the difference is probably our returns. I think I just returned a little bit better than Pat over the past six, seven times. You know, I just feel like I put a lot of pressure on his service games with returning well and making him hit a lot of low volleys. I just think I returned just a little bit better.


Q. Pete, were you surprised to win, I wouldn't say easily, but in straight sets like this?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. It was an interesting day because I think Pat knew coming into today's match that if he would have won one set, he was going to get in. That's a little bit of pressure. For me I just knew I had to win, two or three sets, I was in. After I got off to an early break, won the first set, you know, I just got that much looser, started to come off my racquet really well. I played a great second set. Compared to the first set I was here when I played Moya, my tennis has gotten a little bit better, much better. I feel good that I've qualified for tomorrow.


Q. Is it kind of a relief?

PETE SAMPRAS: I wouldn't say relief. I knew after the first day that I wasn't out of it, I needed two more matches. I feel I've got the game; just a matter of putting my mind to it that I could qualify, play good tennis. Last couple of matches I played pretty solid. I played well. I'm just a lot more used to the conditions and the court, much more comfortable out there. The court is getting maybe just a little bit quicker.


Q. Do you think that the first match you could have lost against any of the three players that were in the group?

PETE SAMPRAS: The way I played, I could have, sure. It would have been a different match playing a serve and volleyer than playing Moya, who kind of wore me down a little bit. You know, it's really hard to say how the match would have went.


Q. Would you like to meet Moya again in the final?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's the last thing on my mind. I play the winner of the match out here. That's what I'm thinking about.


Q. Back to the first match. How big a factor, psychological factor, to step on court and say, "I could lose this match and still win the tournament"?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, no, I don't think like that when I play. At least my first match. After the match when I was talking to Paul after I lost to Moya, I'm not out of it, try to stay positive, regroup for tomorrow. But, you know, playing a match, it's not like if I lose this, I'm still in it. That's not the way you approach these matches.


Q. I know it's not conscious. Maybe deep down in your mind, you think, "I could lose and I could still win the event," so you're not as eager to win?

PETE SAMPRAS: Like I said, I don't feel that way. I've been playing these round-robins for the past seven to eight years. You treat each match like it's an important match. So that's the attitude that I've had. I just came out flat, came out a little bit flat with Moya. I paid the price and lost.


Q. Do you like the round-robin format? Do you think it's a good format for a Championship?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think it is because when you have the top guys playing each other, many times, that's great for the game. I mean, you have great matchups all week. You know, if you have a 16 draw knockout, you don't have those matchups. I guarantee two guys, playing the top eight in the world, when you have that, it's great for the game. You know, you lose a match, you're still not out of it. That makes it a little bit unique.


Q. Would you like to see maybe any of the tournaments in the season played in that format?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think you'll have a lot of guys losing jobs if you just have eight guys. I think it's unique. I think the game sometimes can use a change, instead of seeing the same draw, to have the change. That's why this one is unique in a way. It would be nice to have that, you know. But I don't see that happening.


Q. Pete, you said you were flat against Carlos. If you look at the matches you played this year, you won virtually every match you've had to win, also at this tournament. Is there something about being motivated for the really important ones, more motivated today than on Tuesday?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure. Yesterday and today was kind of a make or break situation; either I was going to win these matches or I was going home. You kind of feel like the pressure is on. When the pressure is on sometimes, you're a little bit more eager, a little bit more motivated. This is where I'm at. I had to win these last two matches, and I did so, I'm still around.


Q. Peaking at the right time?

PETE SAMPRAS: Let's hope so, for the weekend, yeah.


Q. There was a lot of talk about Rafter being a contender for the No. 1 spot. Is it a big kick for you to beat him three times really solid, putting him back in his place?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, sure. I mean, Patrick has had a great year, is 3 in the world, won the U.S. Open. He's - I wouldn't say up and coming - he's been around for a number of years, but he's a guy that's got a big game, got a good game. My game I feel really matches up very well against him. To beat him convincingly today, you know, I think he knows in order for him to beat me, he's going to have to play great. I just feel comfortable playing him.


Q. In a couple of weeks, you also have the Davis Cup final. Your thoughts on that match?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I haven't really thought about it much. I'll take next week off, come back over again (laughter). It's going to be a difficult tie. There's not really a clear favorite. I mean, you've got Bjorkman who is playing well; Larsson, good doubles team. I'm looking forward to it. I think I'll be a little bit more up for it when I get to Gothenburg, start practicing, get the Davis Cup feeling, ceremonies. I'm looking forward to coming back.


Q. How important is Davis Cup to you compared to individual tournaments?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I've always looked at the majors as the most important thing in the game for me. Davis Cup is something that I want to be a part of. I'm not going to play every tie. You know, come semis or finals, I feel like I'll make myself available. But for me, the States, it's not like the same for the European guys. It doesn't have quite, you know, the prestige that Davis Cup meet means everywhere else. I've been a part of two winning teams. It's great to have those memories, but when I look back on my year, it will always be about the majors and my ranking. Davis Cup is something that I definitely want to be a part of, but it's not easy to play each time.


Q. Do you want to play doubles in Gothenburg or just singles?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'd rather play just singles, but if I'm asked to play doubles, depends how I'm feeling physically. We'll see.


Q. Pete, from the end of the Davis Cup, what will you do to prepare for Australia?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'll take a little bit of time off, a couple weeks, come mid December. I'll start doing quite a bit of training. In order to win Australia, you need to be in phenomenal shape with the heat, the long matches. Get down there the first week of the year, play an exhibition before it, the one I played last year. Pretty much the same preparation.


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