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November 10, 1997

Pete Sampras

Q. Your group is really tough. I want to know what you think about your opponents, first Pat Rafter, shooting star of the season?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Pat Rafter has had a great year, winning the U.S. Open, good serve and volley player. I've played him a number of times. I think as far as the groups are concerned, I think they're pretty even. My group has a couple big serve and volleyers. Bjorkman, Kafelnikov are more baseliners. All the groups are very strong, players are good players. I'm looking forward to hopefully getting off to a good start tomorrow against Moya.

Q. A few words on Greg Rusedski?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, a very confident player. He's had a great last couple of months. One of the bigger serves on the tour. He's really worked on a few things in his game: his return, made him a better player. I've beaten him a couple times before, but he's played me very close. It's going to be a good fight.

Q. Carlos Moya is perhaps looking for revenge because of the Australian Open.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. We'll see. Australia was a great tournament for him, and for me. He, maybe, is not quite as comfortable indoors. But he can play well. The court is playing pretty slow here. Gives him more to play. Like I said, all these guys can play, all have won tournaments. It's going to be close tennis, a lot of close matches, so we'll see.

Q. How is your shoulder, because your shoulder makes you suffering a lot in Paris? How do you feel?

PETE SAMPRAS: Last couple days it's felt pretty good. Pretty lively. Paris was a long week. I had some good rest after the Paris tournament. I went home and I didn't really practice too much. Feels pretty good. It feels like it's in pretty good shape. I've been doing a lot of good treatment on it, so it's very good right now.

Q. Are you happy with this surface in Hannover?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Definitely they made an effort to make it a little slower compared to last year. Last year was pretty quick. It's like a hardcourt, basically. Still indoors, still fast tennis and big serving. I think the surface is very fair to a serve and volleyer or staying back. So it should be some good tennis. Have some baseline rallies, which I think we're all looking forward to playing. So there should be some good tennis.

Q. Pete, I just have to ask you, in your group, I think that you only lost once against the three players you are going to meet. Is this a big advantage for you in your mind?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, sure, it helps to have played guys that you have pretty good success. I've played Patrick and Greg quite a bit this year, so it's been very close, so it could go either way on any given day. I feel confident playing the guys in my group or playing the other guys in the other groups. I feel confident. Winning the last week in Paris was great. It was great for the confidence, and it was nice to have a bit of a rest. But each group's very tough. But to have beaten those guys in my group gives you confidence, so we'll see.

Q. What was your reaction during the draw? First Rafter was picked, then Rusedski's name was picked. What was your reaction at the time?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, just some big serving, big serve and volley players, some big hitting. You know, I remember the years that I was in the group with Becker, Stich and Goran Ivanisevic. I was like "wow." This is in the same category, big servers. The other group maybe has more of a baseline: Bjorkman, Kafelnikov. But, you know, it's just the way the draw goes. You know, each section is difficult. Kafelnikov is playing well right now, so I don't look at any one group as stronger than the other. One group has more serve and volleyers, but that doesn't mean it's stronger.

Q. Do you think it is better for you to start with a player who is not a big server, the player you are going to play tomorrow?

PETE SAMPRAS: It doesn't matter. For me at this point I feel like I'm playing well. You know, sure when you play Rusedski, it's a little overwhelming sometimes to start out with a match like that. To play Carlos, who I practiced with the last couple days, still serves very big, mostly will stay at the back court. It's a big start. Hopefully I can win that match.

Q. You're happy the surface is not as fast as it was the year before?

PETE SAMPRAS: I complained last year. That was part of some great tennis, playing Boris. But it is slower this year. It's a hardcourt. I'll have some more baseline rallies. Last year I felt it was too dominated by the serve. I hit Ivanisevic, he hit 30 aces in three sets. You're not going to see that on this court, conditions are slower, a bit heavier. More baseline rallies. It will be some good tennis.

Q. And yet, Pete, the three biggest servers in the game are in the one group.

PETE SAMPRAS: And the best returners in the other group (laughter). Yeah, like I said before, Rusedski has one of the biggest serves in the game. Patrick has a big serve, but more of a serve and volley player. Each group has its strengths. This is a big serve and volley group I'm in. The other group has Bjorkman, Kafelnikov, who can return well. I don't see any group that much tougher than the other. All these guys are here because they deserved it. It's pretty even. Just at this point I need to go out and do it, play.

Q. We have a slower surface. It's better or worse now? Last year when you had to play Ivanisevic, Becker, maybe it was better. But now you are probably at an advantage if the court was faster or no?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't look at it like that. I look at it, I prefer to play on slower courts, give me little bit more time to play. Sure, I love to play on the fast court for the serve. But in order to win, you need to break serve. This court gives you a little bit more time to return. To play Rusedski and Patrick, will give me a little bit more time to get their serves back. It's an even court. I think it's a fair court.

Q. How different from the U.S. Open court?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's different because it's indoors so it's going to make things -- it's going to seem a little bit faster. You know, the speed seems pretty similar, but it's totally different because it's indoor. No elements, no wind, no sun. It's easier to play. So as far as the speed, it's pretty similar.

Q. Pete, can I ask you, staying in the No. 1 ranking in the year for the fifth straight year, what does that mean to you?

PETE SAMPRAS: As far as my achievements, you know, Grand Slams I always look at as the best, I mean, look at them as No. 1. As far as the ranking, that's my second best accomplishment, to be able to stay on top for five straight years is not easy to do in tennis or any sport. Prove to myself that I've been pretty consistent. I've stayed reasonably healthy. I'm not going to win every week. But, you know, you hope by the end of the year, you'd have enough points to be No. 1. That's great.

Q. Is the arm a hundred percent fit?

PETE SAMPRAS: The arm is good. I've been practicing hard the last couple days. It feels pretty lively. Paris was a long week, but I feel like the rest I had last week can only help. This was it for me. The last couple events, my arm hopefully will get through it, and I'll have a rest.

Q. Pete, you tied the record of Jimmy Connors. What does that present for you?


Q. You tie the record of Jimmy Connors. What does that present for you?

PETE SAMPRAS: I answered it. You know, it's proved to me that I've been pretty consistent over the past couple years, been pretty healthy. Week in, week out, I've had pretty good results. It just shows that you have to be consistent. It's not easy each match I play; everyone's trying to knock off the top player. It's just an added pressure that I've learned to deal with over the years. I certainly hope I can do it again, to break the record next year.

Q. Boris Becker told us in Paris that he's thinking the best players had always weaknesses, except you. What do you think about that? Do you agree with him?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's a great compliment coming from Boris. Sure, I would love to have a game that doesn't have any flaws, but there are things I can do better. On the other hand, I feel I have some options, I can serve and volley or stay back and return pretty well. It's the kind of a game that I've always wanted to have. When I'm playing well, it's --

Q. You are now No. 1 for five years. How do you explain your domination?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it comes down to hard work, dedication, taking what I do very seriously, prepare well for every time I step out at a tournament. I work hard. I really work hard, have some talent, which I feel like I've had, you'll have good results. That's what's happened.

Q. How could you define your personality outside the court and on the court?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think it's very similar. I'm pretty laid back off the court and on the court. I kind of keep things to myself. You know, I just am really laid back. I don't get too agitated or upset during my days on the tour. You know, on the court I'm pretty serious, pretty focused. Off the court, I'm kind of relaxed a little bit more, have some fun. So it's pretty similar.

Q. The crowd is missing Boris Becker. What about you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure, it's always very unique when Boris and I play. It's a rivalry that we have over the past number of years, especially playing here in Germany; he brings a lot to the event, a lot to tennis. But.

Q. You would like to have the atmosphere again?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. That's what it's all about. The atmosphere last year at the final was the best.

Q. Boris Becker is turning 30 next week. Do you have any message for him?

PETE SAMPRAS: Happy birthday, number one. He's getting older, Boris. What can I say? He's someone that I see when I'm done playing this game. I can see him, have a good talk.

Q. Just a few words concerning Hannover. In three years, Hannover will host the World Exposition. Do you think the city is ready for that?

PETE SAMPRAS: You tell me. I don't know Hannover like you know Hannover. With the facilities here, I've been in a couple of the halls, it seems very impressive that they can hold a lot of people. I don't know a lot about what's going to happen in the year 2000. I haven't seen much of Hannover. I can tell you the facility here and the way they run things here in Hannover is very professional. Has been last year, and looks like this year. I'm sure it will work out fine.

Q. Everybody's waiting for your country to confirm that they will take part. Everybody is waiting for it. Why do you think the United States should take part here in Hannover? Mr. Clinton has not said that your country will come.

PETE SAMPRAS: You should ask Clinton that. You're asking the wrong guy.

Q. Pete?

PETE SAMPRAS: Swedish TV, sorry (laughter).

Q. Do you sometimes wish that there was a rival out there that could really press you further? Seems a bit lonely if you're on the top for No. 1?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I've enjoyed it, being on top. But, you know, really hasn't been one player. Andre Agassi a couple years ago, and Boris a little bit last year. Really hasn't been anyone that I played consistently over my career and had a rivalry. You know, that's what the game needs right now, a rivalry that people can kind of cling onto and appreciate. Now there's so many guys breaking through. You look at the players this year, with four new players, just tells you the game is very deep right now, a lot of great players. To have a rivalry today is not easy.

Q. Because you are so good?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not just that. I don't win every week. Seems like through the tour, there's a new winner each week, guys coming through. Look at the guys here, Patrick and Greg, who have been on the tour a couple years, really broke through this year. So it's just shown that tennis is very strong. I mean, the difference between the top two players and someone ranked 15 isn't quite the difference like it was, say, ten years ago.

Q. What motivates you the most today to stay on top? Borg was 26 when he quit. People are so young when they stop with tennis. You seem to be so passionate about it.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I feel that I still enjoy the game. I love to compete. That's the key. You have to love what you do. I still do. Sure, it's not easy week in, week out to play. But, you know, this is what I want to do. I enjoy playing. I love winning. I love winning Grand Slams, being No. 1. These are achievements that I can look back in my career and not have any regrets. As far as my tennis, I give it everything I have, prepare as best I can, work hard and give my best effort.

Q. What do you think about playing in Hannover compared to New York ten years ago with the Masters, Madison Square Garden.

PETE SAMPRAS: I never played at the Garden. But I can tell you last year playing Boris in the final here, the atmosphere was something I've never experienced before in tennis, more than maybe any Grand Slam final. People were so into the tennis, a lot had to do with who I was playing. They were just great. I mean, 16,000 people that were in every point we played. It just made it that much more fun to be a part of it. The tennis was great. It was nice to be a part of that.

Q. If you look ahead a little bit towards the Davis Cup, what are your feelings?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's going to be a very difficult time for both teams. It's kind of a pick 'em match. You have Jonas, No. 4 in the world, playing great tennis. Michael has been struggling a bit as of late. Enqvist/Larsson, a tough doubles team. Playing in Sweden on a fast court, anything is possible. There's not a real strong favorite in this tie. So we'll see. I mean, we'll just go out and play it and see who wins.

Q. You once said that tennis is such an individual sport that you appreciated the Grand Slams more. Is there anything that you can say about that today?

PETE SAMPRAS: You mean Davis Cup?

Q. Yes.

PETE SAMPRAS: Davis Cup is really the only time that you kind of are rooting for each other. Tennis, everyone is doing what's best for themselves. Davis Cup is a time where you eat dinner together, you have lunch together, you're as a team. It's very unique, it's fun. You have some bonding through the week. So, you know, I think we're all looking forward to coming to Gothenburg and hopefully winning the cup.

Q. Pete, being No. 1 the fifth year, how would you rate '97 compared to the other four?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, as far as the ranking or as far as my year?

Q. Your year.

PETE SAMPRAS: My year, I can't have any complaints with the year I've had. I've always measured it in Grand Slams. I've won two; it's a great year for me. That's what it comes down to for me. When you win Grand Slams, you have a high ranking. Being No. 1 for five years, like I said before, the hard work I've put into it, the consistency that I've put into the game has paid off. It's not easy to stay on top in any sport. Something maybe I'll appreciate a lot more when I'm done playing. So I hope I can break the record next year.

Q. Is it harder now than it was three years ago, for instance?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think it's just as hard three years ago. I mean, we had Becker playing a lot more. You had Stich, Ivanisevic, Courier, Agassi. This year you have a lot of new guys coming up. That's difficult. So, I mean, it's all the same to me. Everyone's trying to knock me off. Competition is very, very tough.

Q. Pete, most of the players from last year didn't qualify. What happened?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it was kind of a strange year in tennis. A lot of new faces, a lot of guys that have been on the tour for a couple years broke through: Patrick and Greg, Jonas. It just tells you that tennis is very strong right now. It's very deep. I can't explain why. I don't know why.

Q. These new guys, they make another big step?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know the reason why. You know, some guys retired. Becker's not playing as much. Agassi and Courier are not playing as well. Kind of opens some doors for some guys to come through. You see them here today.

Q. Who do you think has the best potential to go even higher?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, each player in here has their strengths. Greg with the serve. Patrick with the serve and volley. Jonas has the best return probably in the world right now. I certainly hope I can stay on top. We'll see. We'll see who improves, who handles the pressure. It has a lot to do with handling the pressure of being a Top-10 Player. We'll see.

Q. Do you feel comfortable the way you are dressed today?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I actually do. I've gotten used to wearing this.

Q. How many times a month do you need something like that?

PETE SAMPRAS: How many times a year or month (laughter)?

Q. Month.

PETE SAMPRAS: Not very often. But I probably wear a suit three or four times a year. One time here, obviously (laughter).

Q. Pete, you've probably been asked already, what are your thoughts about the draw? Big servers on your side?

PETE SAMPRAS: Like I've said, as far as the groups, they're both very strong. You have the great returners in Kafelnikov and Bjorkman on the other side. Big servers like myself and Greg and Patrick. Everyone that's here is a great player. I really don't look at one group being stronger than the other. I look at it -- I don't really look at it. We just need to go out and play at this point. We can talk about it all day. They're both very even.

Q. You've, up to now, it's been pretty much the same group of guys. This year it's a lot different. Patrick has come through like a bullet. Greg has come through like a bullet. Does that give you a new challenge? You say you always get out for the Grand Slams.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, sure, the Grand Slams, that's kind of the nuts and bolts of my tennis. But this is our fifth major, if you want to call it. This is where it all comes down to. This year was an interesting year in tennis. The guys that are here have been out on the tour for a number of years. They just broke through, Greg and Patrick and Jonas. It just tells you this game is very strong right now, very deep. Some guys retired this year, are not playing quite as well that were here four or five years ago. The game, it's kind of a new breed of players here. It's exciting. I mean, it's exciting to see some new faces.

Q. Will it be easier with no Boris around? That crowd (laughter)?

PETE SAMPRAS: As far as the matches in my career that were most difficult, probably playing Boris in Germany is the most difficult obstacle, not only playing him, but dealing with the crowd. It's not easy.

Q. Are you glad about your group?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I'm happy. I mean, either group seems very strong. Everyone that's here is playing well and has had a good year. My group has some big serve and volley players, which I don't mind playing. I played everyone in this field many times. I feel like if I'm playing well and playing my game, I'll be tough to beat. The matches I played with Patrick and Greg have been very close. It could go either way. We'll just see on the day.

Q. And the court is a little bit slow here. What is your strategy? Will you stay at the ground line a little bit longer as last year?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. I think it's still indoor tennis, still big-hitting tennis. A lot of serve and volley tennis. It's a little bit slower than last year, but you'll probably see some more baseline rallies this year, guys staying back a little bit more. So we'll have some more rallies.

Q. Are you a little bit sad that you cannot play against Boris Becker, or which partner do you wish in the final if you come to the final?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't think "sad" is the right word. Sure, it's unique when Boris and I play. A lot of people are interested in the match, especially here in Germany. Him not being here obviously hurts the event a little bit. Everyone here is a great player and has some personality. Boris in Germany, you know, you couldn't get a bigger athlete to play. He's moved on a little bit and is not playing quite as much.

Q. Pete, you told us a bit earlier that the shoulder is fine. Is it a question that you need to rest it up, or does it need treatment?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, both. After Paris, I went home and didn't pick up a racquet for two, three days, let the arm rest, which is what I needed. But I'm still continuing to get treatment. We'll see how it feels when I really test it tomorrow, when I hit 150 serves hard, see how it feels the next day. This is something that progressively gets a little bit worse the more and more I play. Hopefully it's strong enough, enough rest, that I can get through it.

Q. Just a fatigue thing?


Q. Is it true you had some treatment in London after Munich and the Grand Slam Cup?

PETE SAMPRAS: What do you mean in London? No.

Q. I heard that after winning the Grand Slam Cup, you went to London for treatment.

PETE SAMPRAS: No. I went to Basel, then I went to London to take the Concord the next day. I didn't do any treatment.

Q. What's the special thing about Hannover for you?

PETE SAMPRAS: The main attraction is the tennis. I haven't seen much of Hannover.

Q. I want you to talk about tennis. What's the most special thing of tennis in Hannover?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, number one, is the crowd. The crowd last year was great. The top players in the world are playing against each other which will result in some really good tennis. You know, this is where it all comes down to for the ATP. It's our fifth major of the year. I think we're all just kind of looking forward to playing it now.

Q. What fascinates you to play tennis? What's the fascinating thing for you to play tennis?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's feeling the ball, the way the ball comes off my racquet, being able to hit great shots. It is a great game, a unique game, one-on-one, no help, no coaching, no teammates. It's up to you to go out and do it. I think it's the best game in the world. Best sport in the world; it's not a game. I love playing. I've been playing since I was seven. I'm sure I'll play a little bit each year for the rest of my life.

Q. You are very long No. 1 now. You are a kind of survivor because most people who have been last year aren't here these days?

PETE SAMPRAS: I guess I survived the crash, if you want to call it, with the new breed of players that are here. It's not easy to stay on top. But I feel like I've been pretty healthy, been playing pretty well. I feel like I've got a good game that can I can play some good tennis when I'm playing well. It's been pretty consistent.

Q. What do you think about the new competitors?

PETE SAMPRAS: Each competitor has been here. I mean, most of the guys are 24, 25, 26. They've had, you know, breakthrough years. Greg and Patrick and Jonas, in particular, have had great years. They've just broken through. That just tells you this game is very deep and very strong.

Q. And how long do you think you will keep on top of the world in tennis?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know. Hopefully for many years. As long as I'm playing well and I'm healthy, I feel like I can. Motivation is still there. The desire is still there to play well. I'll give it my best shot.

Q. Do you think of yourself as a superstar?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't look at myself as a superstar. I look at myself of someone that's normal, that happens to play good tennis. I don't go walking around, traveling around, thinking I'm something great or anything. People treat me like that, but I don't see myself as a superstar.

Q. What keeps you going? Five years at No. 1. Where do you get the motivation from?

PETE SAMPRAS: The motivation comes from me, you know. The achievement of staying No. 1, I love to play, love to compete, love to win. I've been pretty consistent over the last number of years. It's not easy that players are getting better and better today. Probably something I'll appreciate a lot more when I'm done playing and look back. You know, I think I handle things, being No. 1, pretty well. There's a lot of pressure, a lot of time that's being asked for me to do things. I just try to enjoy it as best I can.

Q. During the off-season, do you sit down and think, "This is what I want to achieve this season"?

PETE SAMPRAS: My main goal is to win a Grand Slam title. If I win one, sure, you want to win two. If you win two, you want to win three. That and trying to stay No. 1. Those two things will always be the driving force of why I play this game and what keeps me working hard.

Q. The surface has changed here in Hannover. Does that make a difference to you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I like to have some time. I played Ivanisevic here; he hit 30 aces. These guys can blow you off the court. This court, there will be some big serves and aces, but not as fast as last year.

Q. A mixture this year, guys that have been here before and guys that are new.

PETE SAMPRAS: To see some new faces, that's good for the sport. Some people might want to see Boris, Courier, Agassi, the guys that were here four or five or six years ago. Depends on what you want. For me, doesn't really matter either way. Nice to see some guys come through. You always enjoy playing Jim, Andre, Boris, guys I played a number of years ago.

Q. Just on Greg Rusedski, are you surprised at how far he's gone this season?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, a match I played against him in San Jose - played him a couple times last year - I felt he had a few things to work on. San Jose, he really kind of filled some holes in his game, improved, is a lot more confident in himself. He's got a good game. When he puts it all together, he's very tough to beat. He has the lefty serve, improved his groundies a bit.

Q. Difficult to play?

PETE SAMPRAS: Oh, yeah. Anytime you play a big lefty that serves like he does, you know, it's not easy. It's tough to break him. I played him in Munich, he was serving me off the court for a while. This year, court will be a little bit slower here. Maybe not be quite as easy to serve aces, but I'm sure he will.

Q. Pete, many players don't like to talk on how their physical preparation is. How is yours?

PETE SAMPRAS: My physical preparation?

Q. How do you train?

PETE SAMPRAS: For this event?

Q. In general.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, in general, if I'm playing, if I have some time off and can spend a lot of time training, I'll practice a little bit through the day, either I'll ride the bike and lift some weights or I'll go for a run, some sprints, lift some weights, do some foot drills on the court, just a number of different things.

Q. But just by feeling?

PETE SAMPRAS: By a trainer.

Q. I mean, how do you compensate it? Is it by feeling?

PETE SAMPRAS: I have a trainer, a program that he puts me through. For me, I do a lot of sprints, some weights, bike. Pretty generic stuff. I just try to stay in good shape.

Q. And he does the program; you just follow it?


Q. Or you do it together and discuss it?

PETE SAMPRAS: On the road or at home?

Q. At home.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, yeah. He has the program, we discuss it, what I'm feeling like on the court, and we do it.

Q. How is the court playing?

PETE SAMPRAS: Court is a normal hard court. It's playing reasonably slow, but it's still indoor tennis. You'll see some good serving, some big hitting. Be a little bit slower than last year, maybe some more baseline rallies. It's going to be hard on the body. It's cement out there. I grew up playing on cement, so I like it.

Q. What about the balls?

PETE SAMPRAS: Balls seem pretty much the same as last year, same as last week. They get pretty soft so you can take a pretty good crack at it, not flying so much.

Q. A couple of guys said they seemed bigger and heavier?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, because the hard court cuts them up a little bit, chews them down. Made it a little bit heavier. It's not going to be easy to hit 30 aces in three sets. It's going to be good for the game.

Q. With Becker cutting back on his playing schedule, what has he meant to you as a rival, not exactly a pal, but just somebody who has played against you many times?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, when I walked out with Boris, you know you're walking out to play Boris. Kind of brings that aura about him. There's only a number of players that have that. His game is tough. His game is very difficult. He's strong, very powerful, doesn't really have any holes in his game. When we play, seems like it's always a packed house, a lot of media and people are into it. It just adds a bit more to the match. Just grown to have some respect for each other, the way we are on and off the court.

Q. Do you have similar respect for any of the other players?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I mean, you get respect with other players, with their games, as people. Andre, I respected his game a couple years ago. He was so tough for me to play. Courier, Chang, I have respect for all these guys. That's kind of the way I am: respect your opponent, but you're still beating his brains. It's competitive.

Q. Each of these guys, it's a special thing?

PETE SAMPRAS: Something unique with each player I play, especially someone I've played over a lot of years. Boris and I had, Andre and I playing as the Americans.

Q. You've been in Hannover last year, do you have plans to go out for dinner or dancing, something like that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I've never been much of a dancer, so that's not on the schedule (laughter). Usually I'm hitting and going back to the hotel, going out to a restaurant, and that's it.

Q. Do you have a favorite restaurant in Hannover?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. Just try to find a good Italian meal. There's not one restaurant in particular that I go to.

Q. You've been at Lello's last year?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, that was good. I'm sure I'll go again this year.

Q. You are here the whole day, and then you go back to the hotel. Do you have plans to meet other VIPs?


Q. You're not interested?

PETE SAMPRAS: VIPs? It depends who it is. What VIPs are here besides the player? Pavarotti? He's gone. I'm sure he's on the plane home.

Q. Claudia Schiffer is coming on Monday.

PETE SAMPRAS: Do I want to meet her?

Q. Yes.

PETE SAMPRAS: I'll meet anybody.

Q. In other sports, you can't become No. 1 and No. 2 without medical treatment, with physiotherapy as prevention. How important is this for being No. 1?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's very important. For me, I travel with a trainer, a guy who gives me a massage, stretches me, tapes me, nutrition. My body is my life. It's very important.

Q. Is a doctor testing your blood and gives you this and that?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. I don't fool around with blood or anything aggressive. I eat the proper foods, and that's it.

Q. Pete, what do you make of your draw? What are your feelings on that?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think both groups are very tough. My group has some big serve and volley players, Patrick and Greg. The other group has some of the best returners, Yevgeny, Chang. Each group is very difficult. I don't think one group is stronger than the other. Everyone here deserves to be here. It's been a great year for tennis.

Q. You have Carlos Moya in the next match. What are your feelings about that match?

PETE SAMPRAS: I played Carlos Moya, played him in the final of the Australian Open. He's going to be tough to beat. He has a big serve. The court is playing a little bit slower here, which gives him a little bit more time to play. It's a pretty straightforward match.

End of FastScripts….

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