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August 8, 1997

Pete Sampras


JOE LYNCH: Pete Sampras clears the quarterfinal hurdle here for the first time in three years. He'll play Albert Costa in the semifinal. This is their third career meeting, most recently at the Australian Open. And obviously, Pete won that. First question please.

Q. How's your arm?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's fine. Just a little sore. A little ice will do it some good, but it's not a problem.

Q. Is that just from having time off and not using it or?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. You know, I'm going to take this off so you guys don't have to ask any questions. Actually, it's just a little sore. It always can be every now and again.

Q. Were you expecting such an easy one against him?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I didn't really expect it to be this easy. I played just about as well as I could; I couldn't play any better. You know, he missed a few shots here and there. He I think started to press a little bit because he saw me serving very big, and missed a couple shots on his service games, but I had a great rhythm from the backcourt. I served just about as well as I could serve. To beat Yevgeny two and two is something I didn't really expect, but my game can get hot like it did today, it's possible.

Q. Did you have some sense of this when you were training before this, that you were going to be at this level right away?

PETE SAMPRAS: I didn't really know what to expect with such a long break, one of the longer breaks of the year. Four weeks, to come back you're not really sure how your form is going to be, but what I needed was matches. And I feel like I'm match tough and I'm playing well. You know, I just played today as well as I could.

Q. Has it been easier the older you get coming off of long breaks to get immediately back into it because of experience?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. I don't think so. I don't -- you know, just the better player that I was four or five years ago, that's pretty much it. But you know, I practice quite hard. I have two weeks off, and then I made a concerted effort to really train hard and get used to the humidity and the heat. And I really focused on really grinding and hopefully having a good summer and leading up the U.S. Open, you know. I really put in the time after Wimbledon.

Q. How tired were you (inaudible)?

PETE SAMPRAS: Oh, I wasn't tired physically, because you know it's all very quick tennis. Mentally, sure, through the French and Wimbledon is a very stressful time of the year. It was important that I just get away from the game and just play some golf and just get away from it as much as I could. It's very important to come back. For the summer circuit you have to be very fresh because of the heat. I always enjoy coming back to these tournaments, the hardcourt surface. The surface that I love. But the time off is so important in today's game, as much as I'm playing through the year. There really is no off-season. It's important to have in your schedule -- you really have some breaks to, you know, mentally recharge the batteries.

Q. (Inaudible.) Yevgeny doesn't seem to take those breaks, and he's telling us he's tired?

PETE SAMPRAS: He's also playing doubles every week, and that's a lot of tennis. I can't do that. You know, I need to have some breaks, take a week off before all the majors, which I do. You know, to get mentally fresh. I can't play every week. I can't play 30 tournaments a year. I play between 18, 20, 22. So that's kind of what's best for me.

Q. So you look at somebody like him going, well maybe he thinks it works for him. But maybe he's crazy or something?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. He can't complain with the results he's had. He's just going to get better and better. I mean he likes to play a lot and, you know, I like to play, but not every week. Everyone's a little different.

Q. You said before at Wimbledon is as good tennis (inaudible)?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, he's so used to having days off after a match at Grand Slams, and this year I played just about everyday from Monday on. And it was a little bit different, but everyone was in the same boat and he just had to, you know, wait the rain out. So physically I felt pretty good. Obviously you're a little sore in some spots, but it's not like playing on hardcourts where you really feel the pounding of the cement.

Q. (inaudible)?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Oh, yeah. To play back to back. I mean I played everyday. To do it on any surface but grass. You have, you know, the heat in Australia, you have the long courts at the French, you know it's tough. It's tough on the body. It's more conditioning than anything, but at Wimbledon the heat wasn't really a factor and the points were really quick, so it wasn't problem.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, once I got off to that early break to the second and then I broke him again, I knew that was pretty much the match. But not until that point did I feel like I had him, because he's got the game that can come back, and anything can happen out there in today's game. I was pretty much on a roll from there.

Q. You hit some kind of groove this week?

PETE SAMPRAS: I played well against Gimelstob. I struggled against Rafter yesterday, but he's always given me problems. And today everything just clicked, you know, my serve, I was hitting my groundies quite well, and you know tomorrow's match will be good. It will be good to see how I play against another Spaniard.

Q. Is there anything that you would like to do better or any shots that you would like to make better?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, today there was really nothing I could do better. I got a little help, you know, he missed a few shots. Every point I needed I seemed to get. All the breakpoints and 15-30, 30-All points I came out with a big serve. I served very well, so I have no complaints about the way I played.

Q. Can you tell when you're going to have a day like today when you're warming up and things like that?

PETE SAMPRAS: You never can tell. I've had great warm ups and not played very well and had bad warm ups. It just depends. And then once you get into the match and you get to early break, you feel like you're going to be tough to beat if I keep on playing like this.

Q. Can you talk about Albert?

PETE SAMPRAS: I played him in Australia and he's proven he can win on hardcourt. The key thing is to keep the ball away from his forehand. Use the courts to my advantage. You know, I don't want to get into long baseline rallies. I don't mind doing that, but his game it that: Playing with long rallies. So I look forward to mixing it up and doing some different things.

Q. (inaudible)?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Yeah. I'm playing Davis Cup and then Grand Slam Cup and then Basel and come back for a little bit and then I go over to Paris and Stuttgart and Hannover. It's a lot.

Q. (inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: It's official. I've reached another goal.

Q. You made good (inaudible). Sometimes when you have a better serve a better ground stroke and you have it all above, then you've got the mind to play the game?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think it's something I've learned over the years is the mental part of the game. Because when I was, you know, starting out on the Tour 19, 20, 21. Used to get down on myself and look a little dejected. Where now mentally I feel like I'm a little bit better, not great, but I feel like I hang in there and don't get down on myself like I used to. So I think that's been a difference over the past couple of years. And I feel that I have the game that I have some -- have the options out there. I can stay back or come in. But, you know, it's a very mental game out here and that's the key for me at this point in my career is mentally staying fresh and eager to play.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: A lot had to do with my coaches that I have had, Tim and now Paul. You know, obviously I mentally stay positive and not get down on myself and that was one thing Tim really tried to instill when we were working together. Because mentally he was very strong and so if I could have a combination of the way I can play sometimes mentally being fresh and good then I'll be tough to beat.

JOE LYNCH: Anything else for Pete.

Q. How's the arm?

PETE SAMPRAS: (Laughter)

End of FastScripts….

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