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September 27, 1997

Pete Sampras


Q. Pete, couple of sets, really tough indeed. Did you feel that you just lifted your game a bit more then or what do you think turned it?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, first of all, as far as the first two sets, I was absolutely overwhelmed with his power and his placement on his serve. That was probably the best anyone's ever served against me for two sets. If he was going to maintain that, that level and that high percentage, it was just going to be too good. The only thing I was hoping for was that I would get a couple second serves and make him play a little bit; hopefully his first serve percentage would drop off. That's kind of what happened as the match wore on or went on. I think I kind of wore him down and started making him play a little bit, returning better. If he was going to maintain that level like he did in the first set and a half, my hat's off to him. But it's tough to do that, to serve that hard and that accurately for the course of a three-hour five-set match.

Q. How much have you noticed an all-around improvement in his game, last year, 18 months or so?

PETE SAMPRAS: Greg's always had the huge serve and the volley. Obviously, the area of his game he's worked on is the return of serve and the passing shots. You know, that's really the difference for him. He's going to hold serve 80 percent of time. It's just he's improved his return, he's passing better. You know, it's hard to say because the court is so fast here, tough to break. But I've noticed an improvement. Obviously he's playing some of the best tennis of the year, and, you know, that's what's going to make him dangerous, once he returns like he is returning and serves as big as he is. He's going to be someone that's going to be around for a lot of years.

Q. Pete, if you were kind of ranking him on a fast surface like this, where would you kind of put him in the world as a dangerous opponent, in these kind of fast conditions?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, in these conditions, I got to put him in the Top 5. I mean, when he's serving that big, there's nothing you can do. You just start praying for rain. Unfortunately we're indoor (laughter). But indoor, I really think with the altitude here, we're playing at two thousand feet, on a Supreme Court, which is so fast here. It's like playing on grass court. It's like playing grass court, even faster than grass. That just makes his serve that much more difficult to return. But on a fast indoor court like here or throughout the rest of the circuit, you know, the way he's playing, the way he's serving, in the Top 5.

Q. He said that you occasionally give him a little bit of stick in the locker room. We asked him to expand on that. He said we better ask you.

PETE SAMPRAS: We'll keep that between he and I (laughter).

Q. Would it be something to do with his nationality?

PETE SAMPRAS: I asked him who he was rooting for in the Ryder Cup. Since he was born in Canada, that's North America, whatever, so. But he's rooting for the English, the Europeans, which I'm sure he's having a good day with the Ryder Cup result today, so. It's not over yet.

Q. Pete, before Wimbledon you spoke about Tim Henman and tonight you said Rusedski has improved as a player. Which of the two do you think is the better player or will be the highest ranked in the years to come?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, that's really hard for me to answer because, on any given day, Greg has got the game to beat anyone in the world. Consistency, you know, is something that he's improved over the past six months to a year. That's going to make him a better player. Whereas Tim, I feel like in the long run with his game and the way he looks at the game, I see a very promising future. I mean, he's still quite young. But I like his game. It's very controlled. He reminds me a lot like a Stefan Edberg, whereas Greg is a lot more dangerous and a little more flashy. Tim is just a solid pro, and I think as the years go on, I think he's just going to get better and better because he's got a very good all-around court game.

Q. How about Patrick Rafter?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I just played him a week ago. Very familiar with each other's games. It's going to be serve and volley tennis. Just depends on the return of serve. If I can return well, like I did today, hopefully I can come out. You know, he's playing some great tennis, one of the better athletes on The Tour, moves well, competes well. You know, he's playing well. So it's going to be good tennis. I mean, you know, the court, I really wish it was a little bit slower so we could have some rallies out there. I mean, I don't mind it obviously because I play well here. But if they could slow it down a little bit, I think it would be more enjoyable to play and to watch.

Q. Pete, losing the US Open, at the US Open three weeks ago, and here you are again facing the top players, does that sort of add extra motivation to reaffirm your position at No. 1, not point-wise but simply psychologically?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think psychologically the Davis Cup was a real booster for me, beating Rafter there, after he just won the Open. You know, sure I'm disappointed what happened there. But there's nothing I can do about it now. Just got to move on and try to finish this year No. 1. I can always look back at this year and be very happy to have won two majors. You know, I can't complain about that. But, you know, I feel like my year has been really good and I just hope I can finish strong.

Q. Have you tried on the Lederhosen yet?

PETE SAMPRAS: Say again?

Q. Have you tried on the leather pants yet?

PETE SAMPRAS: Don't even know how to put it on. No, I haven't.

Q. Pete, you seemed to get a little rattled there towards the end of the third set. That's the moment where your game went up a notch, or so it seemed.

PETE SAMPRAS: It was breakpoint. I had a backhand up the line that I thought caught. I hit it, it was one of those that looked like it was going out. The linesman pretty much told herself "I'm going to call it out." I thought it caught. That's pretty much the set. If I break him there, that's it. It's frustrating. You work hard to get that breakpoint, you get a bad line call. I wouldn't mind seeing it on the replay. Kind of fired me up. Got the fire going inside of me. But, you know, I wasn't a happy camper at that point.

Q. The point before was a nice one, dribble over the net.

PETE SAMPRAS: What comes around goes around.

Q. What do you think in the near future, maybe not so near, would ATP agree to give computer points for this tournament as it gives for the World Championship?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think one day they're going to try to combine these two events, which I think the level of tennis, I think we deserve points. It's obviously not going to happen. You know, it's obviously a very political game that the ATP and the ITF play. We're playing very good tennis, it's high-level tennis, we're all being very competitive, we want to win, even though there aren't any points involved. But hopefully one day they can maybe bring these two events together and have a huge event. So we'll see.

Q. Are you going to give (inaudible) or something?

PETE SAMPRAS: Am I going to what?

Q. During the meetings, would you ever favor points for this tournament?

PETE SAMPRAS: I've never really been asked what I thought. Points at this tournament, sure I'd like to have some points. It's a political game that I've never really been involved in, never asked me really about it. It's been going on for seven years, since 1990, since The Tour started. Now they changed it a little bit early, which is better for the players. As far as having points, it's something that is not really up to me; it's up to the committees, the Grand Slam Committee and the ATP.

Q. I'm sorry if this was asked, I'm sure it was, could you comment on playing Pat second time in a week? You have the last six victories over him.

PETE SAMPRAS: Like I said before, we're very similar in the way we play. I know what he's going to do, he knows what I'm going to do; just a matter of who does it better. The key for me is the return, if I can return well, make him play, hopefully wear him down. Hopefully I can come through with a win. He's playing well. I mean, he pulled a Houdini today, down three match points. But he made his breaks, he's playing well. Pretty straightforward match. Played him a week ago. Looking toward forward to a good fight.

End of FastScripts….

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