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ATP TOUR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP


November 12, 1997


Pete Sampras


HANNOVER, GERMANY

Q. Pete, compared with yesterday - obviously there is no comparison with form - do you feel maybe you worked out any frustrations in your game yesterday, and you were ready for whatever was to come at you today?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, yesterday I really felt flat out there mentally and a little bit physically. Today I just felt like a new player. I felt -- I had a lot more energy out there. I just played a lot better. You know, it's true, after what happened yesterday, you've got to find some sort of way to regroup, you know, because you're not out of it. The round-robin format, you're not out of it. I felt coming into today's match, it's either make it or break it. I played quite well and returned about as well as I could, playing one of the bigger serves in the game. I played real solid. It was just a solid day.

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Q. Pete, when did you get here?

PETE SAMPRAS: On Saturday.

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Q. So yesterday there might have been an element of jet lag possibly still in the system, explanation?

PETE SAMPRAS: After Paris I went home for four days, got back on the plane to come back over. I don't think jet lag was a problem. I just think mentally, you know, it's not easy to each match get up for it. I won Paris. I got the No. 1 ranking for the year. Like I said, I just felt a little flat. It was just a bad day. You know, not really used to the conditions out there, it was much slower than I thought. Today I just felt like I was there, you know, I felt like my game was there. The result was a pretty good win.

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Q. He said he was struggling a bit with one of his hamstrings. Was that something you were aware of?

PETE SAMPRAS: Say it again.

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Q. He said that he was struggling a bit with one of his hamstrings, was giving him a bit of trouble, he couldn't push off properly on his serve. Could you sense that, and did you play accordingly?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, he still seemed like he was serving pretty hard (laughter). I couldn't tell. I mean, seemed like he was moving fine, still hitting his second serve real big. His first serve, when he gets it in, it's pretty much unplayable. I couldn't sense any hobbling out there.

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Q. What about your physical problems out there?

PETE SAMPRAS: My arm's fine.

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Q. The nosebleed.

PETE SAMPRAS: That's just more just real dry, not only here, but the hotel. I happen to get a number of bloody noses through the year. It's happened on court two, three times. Not the best of timing, serving for the first set. It was a bad one. Wouldn't stop for a while. But once it's gone, it's gone.

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Q. Sort of half a mile away, we couldn't see. What sort of treatment. Just pressure on the nose?

PETE SAMPRAS: Pressure on it, then a little cotton with a little cream on it to lube it up. Wasn't a problem.

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Q. Pete, yesterday you said that maybe the balls were not so good for the game, that for a couple of days you were struggling with the fact that you couldn't hit the ball very well, not feeling the ball really well. What about today?

PETE SAMPRAS: Today I think the conditions helped me, gave me just a little bit more time to get his serve back. I remember playing him in Munich, very fast conditions. I had no chance to get his serve back. Today, with the heavier balls and heavier conditions, this gave me just a little bit more time to play and see the ball, which I think kind of helped me. But I feel like my form was much better today, my next match against Rafter obviously I'm going to be a lot more confident, a lot more used to the conditions and how the ball is going to be coming off my racquet. You know, things are definitely looking better, much better.

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Q. Without Boris, Andre, Stefan, all the old opponents you had, it's more difficult for you to get motivated for something like here, with all the new players coming on? Do you need some push?

PETE SAMPRAS: That's a good question. No, I don't think there's a problem with the motivation. I think four and five years ago when I was in the groups with Stich, Ivanisevic, Becker, Agassi, Courier, you know, there was a lot of history behind those matches. Now with the new breed, the new faces here, I'm sure I'm still motivated, but it's always very unique to walk out against Boris or Andre. It was an added attraction, not only to the tennis, but to the people watching on TV or whatever. It's exciting to see some new faces whenever. But when you have a rivalry, you know, definitely you come into the match a little bit more fired up. I felt fired up, especially today. Yesterday I felt a little slow. You know, it's good for the game to see some new guys, but it's been a strange year in tennis. A lot of guys retired, other guys are maybe not playing quite as well.

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Q. Will you need to lose some matches like yesterday to get fired up?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's not good to lose matches, but I was kind of in a do or die situation today. Either I was going to be making flight plans over the weekend or I was not. (laughter). So it was kind of a wake up call. You say it's a wake up call losing a match. You don't want to do that. But, you know, I gave myself a chance. That's all I can really do at this point.

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Q. You played Rusedski in Munich. You had three tight sets. Do you feel he played as well today as he did in Munich against you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, as far as the conditions, they're totally different. I mean, playing in Munich, different balls, different court, with the altitude. His serve was pretty much unplayable. Today, still indoor tennis, he's still going to serve his aces. But the second serve, have a little bit more time to get it back. You know, I felt like I was mixing it up pretty well, making him move. The conditions are just a lot slower here, which helps me out. In Munich, it was like playing on grass, even faster in some cases. So the court definitely helped me out.

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Q. We're talking about the new players on the tour, or in the Top 10 this year. Do you think they can stay there, including Greg?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, that's going to be the true test to see who is here next year. To have a good year or a great year, that's great, but see if you can duplicate it and see if you can defend your points. It's not easy to do. A lot of guys are going to be gunning after not only myself but Greg and Jonas and all the boys. You know, it will be a true test to see who is for real and who isn't. But these guys are great players, you know. Playing Greg, with his game, he's going to be around. With a serve like that, he's going to be around for a lot of years.

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Q. You never seem to be short of motivation when you're playing Greg.

PETE SAMPRAS: Say again?

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Q. You never seem to be short of motivation when you're playing Greg?

PETE SAMPRAS: (laughter).

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Q. I think we've talked about this before.

PETE SAMPRAS: I know Greg pretty well.

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Q. Is it quite satisfying to be 6-Love over him in career meetings?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, yeah, yeah. I know Greg pretty well. We practiced a little bit in Tampa. His game forces you to be ready. You have to stay on your toes. You feel like if you miss a couple shots here and there, he serves big enough where that could be the first set. So you have to be on your toes. His game reminds me of Ivanisevic a little bit with the up-and-downness that he plays. I felt motivated. It's nice to have a 6-Love record. The fact that he hasn't beaten me, hopefully that will stay true for the next few years anyway.

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Q. So your sort of joking with him is of a friendly nature?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it's friendly. It's all in fun (laughter).

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Q. Did you feel that the crowd was behind you, that they wanted you to stay in the tournament?

PETE SAMPRAS: It wasn't obvious, but I felt that walking out today, supporting me through the match today, that they were getting behind me. They knew I struggled a little bit yesterday, so it was nice to have a little support out there.

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Q. Pete, you were talking about Andre just then. Have you been watching CNN at all?

PETE SAMPRAS: I didn't see it. Some guys told me playing the Challenger in Las Vegas. He knows he needs to start playing some matches. I think he's committed to getting back.

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Q. Do you admire him for doing that? He's obviously had to swallow a little bit of pride to get out there in a Challenger?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I admire it. I'm sure it doesn't look good for himself that he's playing a Challenger, which is the minor leagues, if you want to call it. I admire that he's committed to getting back on the horse again and starting from scratch and working his way up. The thing is today, there's so many good players, it's not easy to make that comeback to get to the Top 10. You need to play a lot. You see so many new faces out here, so many big players, that we'll see what happens over the next year, if he can do it. But I think he can, because he's got the game. You know, if there's one person that I think people still fear when he's playing well is Andre.

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Q. Do you think he's got the heart?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, that's the other determining factor, does he have the heart. I think with him playing this Challenger, playing some more Challengers, I think his heart's there, you know, that he wants to get back. I don't think he's happy deep down that he's ranked where he's ranked. He knows he should be here in Hannover. He should be in the Top 5 in the world. It's up to him.

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Q. All the young players coming through at the moment that are in the Top 10, would you say that Rafter is probably the biggest threat to you?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't look at any one. I look at all of them in the group. Greg and Jonas and Patrick. Patrick winning The Open has proved he can win a major. You know, we'll see over the next year. I mean, if I play him quite a bit, we'll see. But he's got a good game, good athlete, has a good attitude out there. But he's someone that's going to be around for a lot of years, I'm sure.

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Q. About Andre, I would feel that you would like him back in the Top 5 to renew that rivalry, the great rivalry that you had when he was out there?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, yeah. I mean, he's the one guy, probably he and Boris, that you walk out on the court with them, you know, there's a lot of attention to the match from the media, from the people. A lot of people that might not follow tennis might watch that match. Our match couple years ago at The Open, the ratings were high. I mean, it's what the game needs, a rivalry. That's what sells sports. He and I had it. We're so different in our games, our personalities, our lifestyles, it could have been a Borg-McEnroe. Doesn't look like it is, you know. We need to play each other.

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