October 23, 1997
Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle Stuttgart, Germany
Q. What went more wrong than you expected?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it is very simple this match. I got off to a pretty good start and
I really think if I would have converted on one of those three breakpoints I had, I think,
you know, I kind of liked my chances. But, he came up with some big serves. The court is
playing very quick. He served and volleyed very well. Tough to break him. I played a
couple of careless points on two service games. He hit a couple of good passing shots.
That is really it. That pretty much sums it up. I could have returned a little bit better
off the second serve, but he was hitting huge second serves. Like I said, the court is
playing quick, so, it is tough to return. So, he played some big tennis. I mean, he serves
huge. He volleys pretty well. I just got a little careless on a couple of shots and that
Q. The stats show about 11 or 12 unforced errors on your side. Is that a little bit
unusual for your game?
PETE SAMPRAS: That is not a lot of errors.
Q. Unforced errors.
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I mean, that is not a lot of errors for a match for me. But, you
know, the court is so quick you are not going to hit a lot of errors. It is all serving -
pretty much like playing grass court tennis. --
Q. The surface was okay?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, the surface, I can't complain about. I played well here last year,
but it is playing quick. The balls are pretty hard and you get two big servers like me and
Richard, and you are not going to have a lot of rallies that can slow it down a little bit
like playing grass court tennis. That is really, as far as my mindset, that is kind of
where it was - a couple of returns, a couple of shots here and there, and it is really the
difference. Hit-and-miss tennis. Not a lot of strategy out there. He played well. I mean,
I give him credit. He really played some good tennis.
Q. Are you a little bit sick?
PETE SAMPRAS: Just a little head cold, but I feel fine.
Q. Lack of competition, can it play into this at all; match toughness?
PETE SAMPRAS: Not really. I felt I have had a pretty good break and I felt I played
okay my first match and I felt fine. I thought I hit the ball fine, served all right. I
just have to be a little bit sharper on the points. I just missed easy backhands there to
get my serve broken. And maybe I could have returned a little bit better. Maybe I wasn't
used to his speed because I haven't played a big server like that in a while. I can only
be so hard on myself. I got to kind of accept defeat sometimes. I can learn from some of
the things I did out there and, hopefully, I will have a chance to play him again, you
know, whenever, so....
Q. There are not many players that have a good record in head-to-head against you. He
has it 4 out of 6. Does it mean anything to you? Do you think there is a reason for it?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, his game is the main reason. Nothing mentally I have with Richard.
He serves big and he seems to play with nothing to lose and that is the case when I play
him. He plays real loose and he just kind of lets his shots go. Where if you play someone
lower ranked, he may be -- doesn't play quite as well sometimes. He seems to rise for the
occasion when he plays me like all the guys do. And he believes he can beat me. He beat me
at Wimbledon, a huge event. He came out here today beating Boris yesterday and playing
well, and, you know, a couple of swings of the racket and that is all it took.
Q. I don't know if you talked about it in the first press conference, but how did you
prepare to come here and, you know, how much practice did you have the last couple of
PETE SAMPRAS: After I pulled out of Basel, I took two weeks off, I didn't pick up a
racket. I started hitting last week and got here on Saturday. I have just been practicing
since Saturday against the guys and that has really been my preparation. So, I had a
little time off which I needed to kind of let my arm rest after hurting it a little bit in
Munich. But I felt fresh and ready to go this week. At this point, I go to Paris tomorrow
and prepare for that event and try to finish these last three events as strong as I can.
Q. What frame of mind are you in? Are you eager to play?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I am eager to play.
Q. A few big weeks coming up.
PETE SAMPRAS: Some huge weeks, especially couple of weeks in Hannover where I won there
last year and Paris is a Super 9, so, I am very motivated. It doesn't mean I am going to
win every match. You are going to play matches like this today and you just get a little
bit unlucky and, you know, I can't get down on myself. Fortunately, there is always
another chance next week and that is kind of where I am at right now.
Q. Once in the major or even in the Super 9 most of the best players were going 'til
the end. Now there are 7 seeds out of the top 8 who are out already. Are you surprised by
that? How can you explain it? Is there some kind of explanation or not?
PETE SAMPRAS: There is not as much difference, I think, in today's game from someone
ranked, you know, in the top 2 in the world to someone ranked 10 to 20 in the world. These
guys come up with nothing to lose. They swing away and you see a lot of upsets. So that is
the only explanation I can give you, players are better, a lot more deep, the game is real
deep right now and so you are going to have a lot of upsets.
Q. Would you say that this could confuse the people, the crowd, I mean, the public
opinion that they cannot understand who is really the best player?
PETE SAMPRAS: I hope with the results this year that they look at me as the best
player, but not this week. So, yeah, you don't -- so years ago you always had McEnroe,
Connors, Borg and Lendl in the semifinals. Now, this week, or next week you could have
four guys that - everyone has heard of - but you are not going to have the same four guys
every week. It just tells you that the players are much better now. The difference between
the top five and someone ranked 15 or 20 isn't really much - couple shots here or there.
Guys ranked 20 believe they can beat the top couple of players in the world. That is a big
start to believe that you can beat the top players. So it was kind of obvious what
happened. I played Richard who is just, you know, serves huge and hit a couple of returns
and that is it.
Q. Considering the way you are playing today in this period and last year, the last
year, do you think you improved or the same, or what?
PETE SAMPRAS: Actually this time I was coming off the US Open, so I was very confident,
whatever. I won Basel and I played well here. But, this year I played very well Davis Cup
and played well in Munich, so the form is still there. It is just a matter of getting some
more matches and, you know, playing a little bit better. I still feel like I am playing
well. Mentally I am fresh and ready to play. It is just -- it is tough sometimes - you
play a guy with such a big game and you don't convert on a couple of breakpoints and that
is really it.
Q. In other words, do you still think you have a margin for improvement or you just got
to that top level?
PETE SAMPRAS: Right now, for me, it is top level and I am trying to stay there. I mean,
there is nothing in my game I am really going to change. It is trying to mentally stay
fresh each week and being motivated and I feel like I am. That is important. My tennis, I
feel like I am playing well. Just didn't win today. But, I feel like there is still a lot
of good tennis left in me for this year and the years to come and there is no reason to
panic. Just have to accept my defeat and move on. As much as I am playing through the
year, if I took every loss like I did the US Open this year, I would be in a mental
institution. So, just got to move on and get ready for next week.
Q. On that subject, you always tell us you judge the year on how many majors you win.
After that, is the next most important thing finishing No. 1 at the end of the year?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah.
Q. How close is that to winning a major?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I have always -- when I look back at my year, it has always been
about the majors and the ranking pretty much always comes in second. It would be great to
end the year No. 1, but if I, you know, go through a year not winning a major and at the
end of the year No. 1, that is a disappointing year for me. It always has been and always
will be about the major tournaments for the rest of my career. That is kind of the driving
force of what keeps me motivated in playing are the majors and the ranking is the icing on
the cake, if you play well at the majors. So after the US Open, my main goal was to try to
maybe win a Davis Cup and try to end the year No. 1. And hopefully those things will
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