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August 25, 1997

Pete Sampras

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Pete, do you think you enjoyed yourself as much as your opponent did out there today?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, because I won. It got a little interesting at the end with the crowd getting into it. I think he knew his tournament was going to end momentarily. So he seemed -- I haven't seen much of him. From what the guys have been telling me, he was haming it up. It was pretty nice to play tonight. The conditions were real nice. The lights were good. It's always a little bit difficult at first playing on a new court. So once I kind of got into the match, I felt pretty good about the way I played.

Q. How different are the conditions compared to the old stadium?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, with the wind, usually it's pretty windy here. On the old stadium, it used to kind of swirl around. And on this stadium, it wasn't windy tonight, but it seemed like it was going in one direction so you could get a pretty good feel for what the ball is going to do. You know, it's a totally different feel out there. New surroundings. The backdrop is different. I liked it. I had no complaints about the other court. I played pretty well there, too. This stadium is a really beautiful stadium. It was even nicer to play in it the first night match. It was a lot of fun.

Q. Do you feel the same feeling for the crowd as in the old stadium?

PETE SAMPRAS: It was pretty similar, pretty similar. I mean, I'm not sure from distance-wise how much closer we were to the people. But it felt like the people were close to the court and into the match.

Q. Were you debating if you wanted to join the ceremony?

PETE SAMPRAS: Since I played tonight, you know, I was in my tennis gear. So I wasn't really planning on it. If I didn't play tonight, there would have been a good chance I would have attended.

Q. What were you doing during the ceremonies? Did you watch them on TV? How did you feel about it?

PETE SAMPRAS: I felt it was a nice ceremony, I really did. I was watching it, seeing all the great players being introduced. It was nice to see. There were some good speeches, especially McEnroe's speech was pretty funny.

Q. Did you get a chance to chat with any of the old-timers?


Q. What did you think of Mac's speech?

PETE SAMPRAS: I thought it was pretty funny. I thought it was good.

Q. There were a lot of obviously tremendous collection of great players out there. If you had to choose one of all the players out there to play in an imaginary match, which one do you think you'd enjoy?

PETE SAMPRAS: That's hard to say. I mean, sure I wouldn't mind playing the greatest ever, which is Laver. But with the different times, I mean, sure to play McEnroe here, Wimbledon or the US Open, in his prime, is also pretty special, or Connors or one of those guys. It would be interesting to play Laver or Rosewall in today's game to see how those guys would fair with today's technology or racquets. I think they would be at the top of the game.

Q. Was it a special feeling for you to play the first night, inaugurating the stadium?

PETE SAMPRAS: A little bit. I felt walking out there that the crowd was pretty into it. But once the match started, I felt it was another tennis match, just go out and play. But it was a good night.

Q. Have you looked at your draw at all? Have you looked ahead at all?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not too far. I mean, in the men's game especially, you can't look ahead. You know, it's just one match at a time. Same old cliche we use, a lot of upsets have been happening. No reason to look ahead.

Q. Any thoughts about Goran being gone already?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure, it's surprising. But Goran has always been a little up-and-down playing here at the Open. Semifinals here last year. On any given day he's capable of playing great tennis and not so good. If he's a little bit off with his serve and in a bad mood, anything is possible.

Q. Were you watching the ceremony, did you feel you should have been out there walking on the court?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure, it would have been nice to be introduced with that class of players. But, you know, my priority tonight was to play well and win out there, get ready for my match. It would have been nice to have been part of it, but as the schedule worked out, I played tonight.

Q. First match in a Grand Slam.

PETE SAMPRAS: First match in a Slam is one you always want to get through, work your way into the tournament. I didn't hit the ball all that great, but I served quite well. It's nice to break the ice, so to speak, out there, just work your way into the tournament.

Q. Without us asking you again and again about whether you want to break, want to break Emerson's record, do you have sympathy with Tony Quinn, Hank Aaron, who were asked again and again and again if they were going to break a critical record?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, because it's something that's been asked quite a bit, but I've been giving the same answer. I mean, you know, sure it would be nice to break it, but I think we all have to understand that there are many years that Laver didn't play Grand Slams, for about six years. He could have won 15 or 20 majors. It's just a number out there. If I break it, doesn't mean I'm the best ever or whatever. It's just a number that, sure, I would love to break, and it's a goal that I definitely want to achieve. But hopefully one day I'll do it.

End of FastScripts….

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