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November 20, 1996

Pete Sampras


Q. Pete, give you mixed feelings beating Agassi who claims to be ill?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. Not really.

Q. No?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. My tennis today was the best I have played in a long time. I mean, everything just clicked. I was in a zone, pretty much, from the beginning of the first set until 5-Love. I mean, everything I tried, from returning serve and my groundies were sharp as it has been in many, many months. And, those are days that you wish you had everyday. He didn't play quite as well. About 4-Love in the second set, I think he pretty much saw the end and so did I. So, I couldn't play any better. I mean, I took him out of the match. And, he wasn't at his best maybe not feeling that well, but I couldn't play any better.

Q. Do you think he was really ill or kind of an excuse for him?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know.

Q. Pete, you said much the same sort of thing after beating him in Stuttgart. Which was a better performance, this or that?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is hard to say. Stuttgart, I thought I played as well as I could. I think maybe this out does it. I mean, I didn't lose my serve as many times -- didn't lose my serve at all today. Stuttgart, I lost it a couple of times. I think today -- what can I say? Maybe I played just a little bit better than I did in Stuttgart. But, Stuttgart, I was pretty happy. I was just in a zone. And, hopefully I can maintain this level tomorrow and maybe over the weekend. But, it is tough to play like this everyday. Playing against Boris tomorrow is going to be a completely different match. But, I have no complaints about the way I played today.

Q. Agassi said that he is considering to withdraw. Do you think it is a fair rule that Enqvist will come in then?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, that is why he is. He is the alternate. In case somebody gets injured or sick, he steps in. He won the last couple of events and will be dangerous to beat. He will be tough to beat here.

Q. It means you play Enqvist in the group. Do you think that is fair?

PETE SAMPRAS: That is the way the draw goes. That is the rules they have put into place here at this tournament. That is fine. I mean, that is the way it has been every year I have played the ATP Finals.

Q. Did Agassi say anything to you after the game about how he was disappointed?


Q. Is there kind of a rivalry going on after beating him four times in a row? Do you think the gap you made with Agassi is even to big to have a rivalry?

PETE SAMPRAS: I guess that is for everyone else to talk and write about. He is the one guy I have always felt that I needed to play at a very high level to beat him and the way I have played the last couple of times, I had to play great tennis. And I have played him indoor which maybe helps out my game a little bit. But, it is not quite the media hype it was last year with the Nike commercials and everything. It has died down quite a lot this year. And he hasn't played quite as well as he was last year at this time, but it has been okay for me.

Q. Pete, if we look a little bit further, let us say, in September. We will go to Davis Cup. We will go to Grand Slam Cup and Basel. Three weeks in a row. If you want to decide the place where the Davis Cup is held will it be the decision for you to play all three tournaments?

PETE SAMPRAS: I am sure if we are in the semifinals of Davis Cup, I will be playing and then with the Grand Slam Cup now earlier in the year, if I win a major, I will probably end up playing. If I don't, then I won't and Basel I have committed to play.

Q. You'd like to play there in Basel this year?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it was a good event. I won there.

Q. So it will be difficult next September all three, three weeks?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, that is a lot of tennis. After the U.S. Open, all the Majors are done with. So, just trying to finish strong.

Q. How often in the course of one year do you touch the sort of perfection you felt you have reached in the last couple of indoor tournaments?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, there have been matches where I have played at this level, but not for the whole match. I mean, the whole match I was kind of in a zone. And, through the Majors, at the U.S. Open and I have had spirits of tennis like this. It is tough three out of five. It is tough in such pressure at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon to play at a high level. And, today, I don't know, you know, you really can't plan on playing like this. It just happens. I have always played my best tennis when I am not thinking. Just reacting and doing, not thinking about much of anything except trying to hit winners.

Q. Is it all tied into the fact that you said you are coming into this tournament a lot more relaxed because you know you are No. 1?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, probably. Knowing that that is pretty much locked up, yeah. I feel a lot more relaxed than if the No. 1 ranking was still up for grabs and now that it's locked up, yeah, I am a little bit more relaxed.

Q. Looking back to this year, how difficult has it been for you to reach your highest form? You had to go through all kind of emotions....

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it was difficult -- really the toughest loss for me to go through was Wimbledon, losing to Krajicek, really one of the streaks to continue at Wimbledon maybe win four in a row and go from there. But, I ran into a hot player and that was disappointing. And the U.S. Open, you know, kind of saved my year. It wasn't a bad year. It was just a little bit disappointing. To end it winning the U.S. Open put was -- I put so much emphasis and pressure on myself to do well at those tournaments and to come through and win there was awesome. I mean, I still think about it every now and again. It feels quite good.

Q. If you woke up tomorrow morning and you were really feeling ill with flu and everything like that, would you pull out or would you give it a go?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I have had matches -- I have had mornings that I have felt ill and stuff. You try to go out and practice; maybe sweat it out and go out and maybe the adrenaline of the crowd and the situation can get you going, get the blood flowing. If I was throwing up or something, I would consider not playing. But, I don't know how serious his illness is. I am sure you are talking about Andre's condition. I am sure if he is sick or something, he will bag it. I don't know.

Q. You think the crowd has a right to react the way they did not maybe knowing the background?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think you have to look at it from both sides. These people here in Hannover have spent their own money coming out to see a competitive match, to see something, three-set match or something like that. And, they were obviously not happy. But on the other hand, I was playing great tennis. He wasn't maybe feeling that well. I thought he was still competing very well at the end. Maybe not so much, but people came to see, you know, 7-6 in the third, 6-4 in the third and they didn't get that today. Maybe tomorrow when I play Boris -- I hope he doesn't win 2 and 1. Hopefully, we will see some good tennis.

End of FastScripts....

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