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October 21, 1997

Pete Sampras

Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle Stuttgart, Germany

Q. Are you using this and Paris to bolt in Hannover as a kind of warmups?

PETE SAMPRAS: I wouldn't consider these tournaments warmups. Look at the field they have this week and next, very strong. I don't look at it as a warmup. Hannover does have the top eight players. You need to be playing well. These are huge events, Super Nines, all the big guys are playing. So, I don't look at it as a warmup.

Q. You dropped out of Basel because of the shoulder?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is okay. It is pretty good. It was giving me some problems during Davis Cup and Munich and it kind of progressively got worse and worse during Munich and it didn't make sense to continue to play on a sore arm. But, with some time off, the past three weeks off to give it some rest, it feels pretty good.

Q. Did you feel a little rusty today?

PETE SAMPRAS: I hit the ball okay. I feel like I can play better. The first match out there, it is not an easy match. I have got to get used to the conditions and the court. I feel like I can play better and obviously for my next match, I am going to have to play better if I play Boris or Richard, so, I was pretty happy. I felt like I could get a little bit better.

Q. Specifically what can you do to get better?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think I can serve a little bit better. My first serve percentage was probably a little bit low, probably okay and hit my groundies okay. I feel like my timing isn't quite there. But, with another day of practice tomorrow, hopefully, I will play a little bit better on Thursday.

Q. If you remember the Final last year here, would it be something special for you to play against Boris once again? Maybe the last time.

PETE SAMPRAS: It is always very special whenever I play Boris, but especially here in Germany, it is very difficult to beat him. I lost a very tough match against him in the Final here. He is one of the best players I have ever played in my career and it could possibly be the last match that I will play against him in Germany. So, I am kind of looking forward to it. But we will see what happens tomorrow and it is definitely -- definitely brings an electricity to the stadium when he plays and when I play him, we seem to bring out the best in each other. We will see what happens.

Q. How long did you take off after Basel without picking up a racket?

PETE SAMPRAS: Two weeks.

Q. Without hitting a ball?


Q. How would you rate Germany's crowds with other crowds in Europe?

PETE SAMPRAS: Up there as far as electricity and noisewise, but I have always felt the people here are very fair. They are obviously rooting for their player, but they are not rude; they don't make noises while you serve where you play sometimes in France, and other countries, where they will make some noise during play, which isn't that much fun. But, I have always felt the people here have always been very fair.

Q. I remember when Becker made a comment once that in '94 you were probably better than you were in '96. He was commenting on '96. Do you figure that you are still going to peak sometime or did you reach your peak maybe three Wimbledons ago or how does that work?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think the peak hopefully is still there. I mean, obviously, you know, winning two of the majors this year, that is kind of where I put the pressure, the emphasis on those tournaments, but I am not going to play well every week I play. There are those certain times of the year during the Grand Slams that I hope I can raise my level to the point where I am playing great tennis and, you know, I still feel like, you know, I got four, five really good years left in me, you know, to keep on playing at this level. It is not easy to win every week I play, but those weeks that are important, like the second weeks of Slams that you know you want to be playing your best and so that is kind of what is going to keep me working hard and motivated to play this game and because I still enjoy it and I love to compete. So, hopefully I can continue this for many years.

Q. Is playing a guy like Gustafsson a big advantage for you, aside for maybe talent, that you know you are going to win this, winning it even close in the second set?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, in the men's game, especially, there are really no sure things. I mean, no guaranteed matches out there. A lot of upsets today, but I feel like if I play well, on a court pretty quick, that I know, playing Magnus, who stays back majority of the time, if I play well and I do the things I should do, I should come out ahead. But, there are days where you are not going to play that well or he plays above his expectations and you have upsets. But, I felt like I have been hitting the ball pretty well this week and if I did the things I wanted to do out there, then, I felt like I was going to win. When it comes to crunch time or breakpoint, those are times when you raise your level a little bit and get that important point and did I that tonight.

End of FastScripts….

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