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September 1, 1997

Pete Sampras

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. What happened, Pete?


Q. Up in the fifth set, you looked quite comfortable in the match, 3-Love in the first. What was the key factor, in your opinion?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the key game was at 3-1. The game where he broke me back. I got a tough overrule, he got a couple good passing. That pretty much got him back into the match. I had a couple chances, but he played some unbelievable tennis, he really did, I give him credit. Especially in that fifth set from 3-Love on, he was hitting some huge serves, coming back with huge returns. Passed about as well as I've ever seen. I had my chances. I was up a break in the fifth, did a good job coming back in the fourth, had my chances and didn't quite convert. I played a very tentative tiebreaker. You know, didn't have it.

Q. But you had such a tough match with him at Wimbledon as well. Why is he such a tough opponent for you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Because of his ability to hit a winner from anywhere on the court. He's got a good lefty serve, some very good groundies, does everything quite well, moves well. When he gets hot, there's nothing you can do. You've just got to hang with him. I mean, he just raised his level from 3-1 on in the fifth to the tiebreaker. He played very well. I had my chances, but he's always played me tough. He gave me my toughest match at Wimbledon. He's a great shot maker. One of the best backhands I've ever played against.

Q. Pete, were you having any trouble physically at all in terms of dehydration or anything like that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it was a long day, with the rain and everything. You're not sure if you should eat or not. Physically, sure, 5-All in the fifth, I'm sure we were both feeling it. I felt pretty strong. It was very humid today. But I felt all right.

Q. The first point after 3-1 in the fifth when you queried the line call. Did you let that call bother you perhaps more than you ought to have done?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. No. Because I played a couple good points. I hit some good serves. He was just rocking them back just as hard as I was serving. Hit a great backhand pass at 15-30. You know, at this level, you know, it's just a couple points here and there. I gave him credit. I mean, he raised his level when he had to. I had to raise it in the fourth, and I did. But I just didn't put the clamps down when I had him down.

Q. When he broke you in the fifth set, then you lost your serve, was that because you -- you seemed to have trouble moving laterally at that point. Were you kind of lagging physically?


Q. Pete, talk about the Slams. Can you look back now and talk about your year. You win two, you lose this one.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, this is a good opportunity to make it three. I'vee never won three in one year. But I always look back at this year, obviously be very happy to have won two majors. Hope I can try to end the year No. 1 for another year. So I have no complaints about my year. But as an athlete, you always want more. And I definitely wanted this title. It's the biggest one we have in the United States. So, you know, kind of remind me of my match with Corretja last year when he came out of basically out of the match to winning it, ended up winning the tournament; maybe what comes around goes around. But it's tough to swallow. You've got to move on somehow.

Q. Do you think in favor, you could be more aggressive in tiebreakers?

PETE SAMPRAS: You try to play breakers, kind of controlled aggression. You don't want to come in on everything. I did get a little bit tentative. Hit a couple good serves. Tiebreakers can go any direction on any given point. I lost two of them today. Definitely wasn't, you know, obviously a good result.

Q. At times he seemed to be freezing you with his serve. What all was he doing with it?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, he's got not a huge serve as far as power, but he places it very well, mixes it up well. He's got a good ball toss to really keep me on high heels. As far as -- it was a little bit windy, not windy, but it was gusting. When he served from the umpire's left to right, helped out. Serving me some pretty big serves. I mean, the way I feel right now, I just feel I had my chance. 3-1 in the fifth, that's when I could have put the clamps down; I let him back in, and that was it.

Q. Five sets, you were serving 30-All, two forehands in the net. Looking back, was that the last great chance?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Yeah. Missed two -- the one forehand I really should have just made it and just made him play. I just felt I was pressing a little bit at that point. I was trying to win this match. You know, you get a little bit tight. A lot of pressure out there. I think it showed a little bit when I missed those forehands. That was another opportunity. It would be nice not to even be in that situation, if I would have held on at 3-1. You know, I pressed a little bit, missed a couple forehands. I went for it and didn't make them.

Q. You've always talked about your loss a couple years ago to Krajicek at Wimbledon as a matter of running into a really hot player. Is that similar here or not really?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's a little bit different because of the surface. I mean, he played well, Petr. He played well the whole match. Like I said before, at 3-1 in the fifth, he just raised his level and he got pretty hot. I mean, he's got the game, he can just do that. He can just pull out winners from anywhere in the court. It's different. I mean, it's a different type of match. I mean, he was staying back or whatever. You know, we can talk about it all night. I just had my chances and I didn't convert.

Q. Can he win it all?


Q. Yes.

PETE SAMPRAS: It would be very tough here for him to win it. Never know. He can get hot. A lot of good players left in his field. I see Agassi or Chang probably winning it now.

Q. Do you think for his career he's gotten everything he could out of it?


Q. Yes. Do you think he's gotten all that he could from his game?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I mean, he's been in the Top 10 before. He's come back from injury. He's got a good game. He's got a great game when he's playing well. Petr can also go off the boil and play some poor tennis. Today he was very solid, kept his composure. That's it.

Q. Where would you put the level of your tennis today, Pete?

PETE SAMPRAS: At times it was good. At times it was not so good. I mean, it was a little bit up-and-down. Up a set and a break, things are going well; the rain came. I came back, win the second and third. It was okay. From the time that we came back in the fourth till 3-Love in the fifth, I was playing great. Kind of ran into the wall a little bit as far as the way he was playing. He raised his level. You know, I played pretty solid, but not great by any means.

Q. You're known for rising to these occasions. Are you surprised with yourself?

PETE SAMPRAS: I've been in the situation a lot. The majority of the time I've come through. I'm not going to come through every time. Today was an indication that I just didn't have enough at the end. I just didn't play well enough. I had my chance, and that's all can I really say. I had my chances. That's all you really want to give yourself, is a chance to win it. I just didn't put the clamps on.

Q. Will this sit with you longer than the French?

PETE SAMPRAS: Say again?

Q. Will this sit with you longer than, say, a loss at the French, because you're American, your Championship, you've won here so many times?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm going to wake up tomorrow and be very disappointed. I'm not going to be sad. I mean, this is still the game, when you have a tough loss like this, you look back at your career; look back at what I've done; make yourself feel a little better about yourself. As competitive as I am, you want to be there, you want to be playing in the last weekend of this major. You know, you have to get over these losses. I'm not going to kill myself over this. It's a tough match to lose. I've just got to rebound. That's all I can really do at this point.

Q. You talked about his backhand. How does it compare to the toughest backhands you've faced in your career?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the passing shot, I mean, I thought I was coming in with some pretty good stuff. He was coming up with shots that were just too good. I mean, I couldn't believe some of the backhands he was pulling off. But he can do that. He can do that at times. You know, sure, I mean, he's got a good game. I mean, I'm kind of repeating myself here. He does everything quite well. He got hot at the right time.

Q. Would you prefer if they played out the fifth set as opposed to a tiebreaker?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, in a way, I can say that now, sure (laughter). Maybe not last year. Tiebreaker can go either way. If you play it out, you have to break the guy's serve. But, you know, that's the way they play it here. I'm happy with that. That's no big deal.

Q. Do you think that match at Wimbledon put him in a certain comfort level with you, knowing that he can go five sets on grass?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. Because he's beaten me before. He's played me tough before. I think he knew coming into this match if he played well that he had a shot. And he did play well and he beat me. You know, I can just only say I had my chance. I was up a break in the fifth. The way I was serving up till that point, I thought I was going to win the match.

Q. Have you watched Andre here?

PETE SAMPRAS: Just a little bit.

Q. Do you think his game is at the kind of level that you think he can win this thing?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think probably Chang or Agassi will win it.

Q. Last year you seemed eager to win, to do it for Tim, special motivation. Did you have --

PETE SAMPRAS: Whenever I come into a Slam, I'm always eager. This is what it's all about for my tennis and for my career are the majors. All these tournaments are great and all, but this is what it's all about. That's why we play this game. That's -- the way I look at it, as far as this year, it's kind of over for me. I mean, there's nothing really coming up until the Australian, just a lot of prize money. I mean, it's always disappointing. But, you know, that's it.

Q. How would this compare with the Grand Slam Cup match where he beat you?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know.

End of FastScripts….

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