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September 28, 1997

Pete Sampras


Q. What are you spending $2 million on?

PETE SAMPRAS: I haven't really thought about it. I'm sure I'll just deposit it in the bank and keep it for a while. Hopefully something I can find something I can spend it on.

Q. Pete, did you sense from early in the match that Patrick might have been tired and/or nervous, and you were able to capitalize on that pretty quickly?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't think he was nervous. If anything, I think he was a little bit tired. He had a very, very long match against Korda and squeaked a win out. I felt in the beginning he seemed a little bit slow. But as the match went on, it seemed like he picked up his energy a little bit. But I played well. I returned about as well as I could. I served really well. That's really the key to playing well out there on a court this fast. It's hit-and-miss tennis. I just played real solid. I think he was just a tad tired.

Q. Pete, with these two victories over Pat, successive weekends, is that the best you've played this year?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I mean, it's up there. It's up there. I mean, couldn't play any better at the Davis Cup, and this week I went through a little bit of an up-and-down week, but the last couple matches I played real solid. You know, Patrick has improved quite a bit. The fact that he won the Open, you know, it raises my level of intensity and my play because, you know, he's an established player, 3 in the world, so you come up a little bit more fired up. So it was a good week. Played real well.

Q. In your whole career, is this the peak now?

PETE SAMPRAS: As far as the big picture?

Q. Yes.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, sure, when you look at a tennis player's career, it ages from 22 to 28 is probably the prime physically and mentally. And this year, you know, the way I played at Wimbledon is probably the best I've ever played in my career. It's hard to keep that level as much as I'm playing. These past couple weeks, you know, I played real solid, played real well. Hopefully can I finish this year strong.

Q. Were you aware that you didn't give up a point until your sixth service game? Has that ever happened for you before?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't think so. But it did cross my mind when I won the first set. "I haven't lost a point on serve here, let's see if I can keep this up." It's not easy to do. But, you know, wasn't really threatened on serve except for one game.

Q. I think you only gave up eight points on your serve the whole match. Can you ever remember having that kind of result before?

PETE SAMPRAS: Probably not. You know, I don't think. You know, maybe on grass a little bit. But, you know, if you get the first serve in and volley well like I did on this court, you're going to be tough to break. I was holding serve pretty easily. You know, kind of set the tone for the match. Once I felt like I was holding serve easy, it just gave me an opportunity on my returns to go for a little bit more, be more aggressive. But I don't think I've consistently served and volleyed as well as I did today.

Q. Every other player that comes in here talks about setting themselves new goals. Apart from winning the four in one year, you've more or less done everything in this sport. How do you keep setting yourself goals?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the goal for me at this point is really the Grand Slams. I mean, as far as being No. 1, that's important, but that's the one thing that will always stand out and probably will keep me playing this game for a lot of years, are the Grand Slams.

Q. And doing the Grand Slam?

PETE SAMPRAS: Doing the Grand Slam, sure. In a perfect world, you'd love to win them all in the same year. But in today's game, it's very difficult. But for me right now, you know, the only thing really left is to try to break this record, try to win the French, and just try to show up to play every week. And the Grand Slams are the most important thing to me and to tennis, in my mind. That's what will keep me going, I think.

Q. But just regular APT Tour events, like next week Basel and places like that, do they become a little mundane?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, I've always kind of prided myself on no matter where we're playing, when we're playing, I come up ready to play. But, sure, when you're playing as much as I'm playing, there's not really a lot of time off, sure it gets a little bit tiring. But, you know, I enjoy playing, I enjoy competing. You know, I love to play this game. So that's really the heart of why I'm playing, is because I love it.

Q. Pete, is the French becoming a bit of a monkey on your back in the sense that it's the one you still haven't cracked, despite playing some great tennis there?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't look at it like that. I look at it as a challenge for my career and for my tennis, to try to win on clay. I think I can. It is obviously not easy. I think there are a lot of times that, you know, I win a lot of matches on reputation out there on a fast court. But on clay I think guys come out feeling like they got a pretty good chance against me. It's going to be a challenge, I'm looking forward to it. Every year I try to improve something on clay and hopefully one year I can break through and win there. That's really all I can really do at this point.

Q. How did you feel when you beat Patrick Rafter? What was it like, the feeling?

PETE SAMPRAS: How did I feel when I beat Patrick Rafter? It feels good (laughter). Whenever you beat a top player like Patrick, to beat him in straight sets, you know, it's a good test to see how I'm playing. So I'm very pleased the way things have really been going for me as of late.

Q. Are you going to allow yourself a beer tonight?

PETE SAMPRAS: One beer, I think I'd be smashed. You know, we'll see. I'm really interested in this Ryder Cup. It's getting close as we speak.

Q. We won.

PETE SAMPRAS: You guys won?

Q. Yes.

PETE SAMPRAS: It's 13-10. I just lost my bet to Henman. I can afford to buy him dinner now.

Q. To get back to the motivational thing, it's an old one, I know, but when you and Andre had the rivalry, it probably added a bit of motivation. Is there a possibility that you and Patrick could maybe work out something like that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's hard to say right now. You know, with Andre and I, it was very unique. We're both Americans, 1, 2 in the world. Different personalities, the whole nine yards. Patrick has improved and he's a top player. We'll just see over time how much I play him, if I play him in finals. That's really a key to a rivalry, playing each other in Grand Slam finals. Andre and I did a couple years ago twice. We'll see over the course of not only this year but next year to see how we play.

Q. What was the main reason for the victory? Your serve, volley, returns?

PETE SAMPRAS: The serve is important, but to beat someone like Patrick is the return. If I can return well, make him play as much as possible, and hopefully get a couple breaks, that's really the key. I mean, playing against him, he reminds dollars me a little bit of playing against Edberg. Comes in a lot. If I can return well and hit my passes well like I did today, I think I look like a winner. It was a good day.

End of FastScripts….

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