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September 3, 1996

Pete Sampras


Q. Pete, were you kind of looking forward to this match?

PETE SAMPRAS: Kind of. It's a match that is very dangerous. I mean, I've never played a guy that, you know, kind of hits that big off the ground, serves as hard as he can on both serves. It's a match that you just need to stay on your toes, play solid service games, and hopefully get a break. I mean, that's all you can -- that was my mind set going in, just try to get a serve back and make him play as much as possible. Once the rally starts, I feel I can kind of move him around because his movement is the one thing I think he has trouble with. Played some good, solid service games and returned pretty well.

Q. When you look at the match, would you call this routine, workmanlike, methodical?

PETE SAMPRAS: It was solid, it was solid playing. I was only down breakpoint one time. You know, playing Mark, he's going to hit his aces. You just have to stay patient with him, hopefully get a chance to convert. I just thought it was solid tennis on my part. I returned pretty well, made him play. Probably my best match coming into the Open was today. You know, I'm a little concerned coming in under the lights. Maybe that helped his game. After the first couple of games, kind of got used to it and got real solid.

Q. Can you give us an assessment if we were sitting here in a few years, how far do you think Mark will have gone at that time?

PETE SAMPRAS: I've always said Mark has a huge game, he's got the weapons, huge serve. That's one thing you look at in a young guy. Maybe the one thing that he might work on, I mean he's still very young, hits the ball so hard. He doesn't need to hit the ball 100 miles an hour, every ball, every area of the court. Take a little bit off of it, maybe five percent, and make it. But he's got a lot of talent, a lot of big weapons, forehand, his backhand. His movement is one thing that I tried to expose a little bit. That's what happened. He's got some talent.

Q. When you looked at your draw coming into the tournament, did you look at this match perhaps as a barometer for where your game really is at this stage?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not really. When I looked at the draw, it was fourth round possibility, if we both won our matches. I really don't look ahead. There's no reason to. Just look at my second round match. I was not playing well, could have lost that match. No reason to look ahead. To beat him in straight sets, all the hype, all the media hype, to come out and beat him straight was pretty solid.

Q. Pete, you're receiving serve on the deuce court and a large part of the match you're playing him always on the single's sideline. Is that where you played him to receive?

PETE SAMPRAS: I lost you there.

Q. You're receiving his serve on the deuce court and you're playing almost on the single's sideline. Is that a tactical change or did you play him there on the previous matches?

PETE SAMPRAS: That's kind of where I always stand. The only thing I did returning serve was stand back a little bit, maybe a yard or so, to give me more time to get used to the pace. You kind of lean in a certain direction, if he goes the other way, it's too good. I don't think I moved over side to side any more than I have in the past.

Q. Do you think he showed either his inexperience or frustration on that one breakpoint he had? Do you remember that, he had a second serve?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Maybe it's a time to just make me play a bit and get the ball in the court. Like he always plays, you kind of live and die by taking a huge cut at it. If you're playing well and hot, like in Australia he just overwhelmed me. If you're a little off, you're going to miss.

Q. Pete, at Wimbledon, motivation (inaudible)?

PETE SAMPRAS: The way I looked at this match, Wimbledon, the fastest surface in the world, did a pretty good job of returning his serve. I felt if I could do it there, I could do it here. Australia, he was just too good. He was in front of his hometown fans, he played at a very high level, and just outplayed me. The last couple times, I just played a little bit more solid than he did, and there you have it.

Q. Can you elaborate what you meant on by reading his serve, able to read his toss?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think with his serve, it's very hard. You can kind of see by the toss maybe which way it's going to go. He likes to serve down the middle a lot. You kind of lean that direction. If he goes the other way, it's too good. You just try to, you know, pick it off as best you can.

Q. That's something he needs to work on?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't think he needs to work on his serve really (laughter).

Q. Even when you get to a big match like playing Pete Sampras?

PETE SAMPRAS: The game I broke him, in the first set, he served three or four double-faults. He was going for his second serve hitting it at 110. That's very good if it goes in. You're giving me free points. That's maybe a little inexperience, but that's the way he plays and that's what makes him dangerous.

Q. Pete, when you were his age, was there a tendency to fall in love with that power and not switch it up as much?

PETE SAMPRAS: Games are still a little bit different. When I was growing up, a lot more conservative the way I played, kept the ball in play. He just goes for it. We both serve pretty big, both Greek, both dark complected, both bushy eyebrows.

Q. Different accent?

PETE SAMPRAS: Different accent. There's a lot of similarities, but a lot of differences there. He just goes for it. Even though I play the way I play, I feel I'm a little more conservative than he is.

Q. You've had a lot of success on this court. Looks like this would be the last year. Are you at all sad about that or is it time to open the new place?

PETE SAMPRAS: Like I said the other day, you look at all the new stadiums in baseball, football. Tennis, there comes a time when I think this place needs to be upgraded a little bit. With the new stadium, new locker room, a little more convenient for everyone, is something we're all looking forward to. This court has always been good to me when I beat Wilander in '89, I think. I'm going to miss it, but time goes on, you have new stadiums. We're all looking forward to that.

Q. Speaking of new stadiums, referendum vote in Tampa today.

PETE SAMPRAS: What happened?

Q. So far 85 percent precincts reporting, 52 percent for it. Did you get a chance to send in an absentee ballot or vote or anything?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I didn't. I didn't. It's going to stay?

Q. Looks like it.


Q. On TV you said you wouldn't mind having Andre's return, Michael's speed, would keep your own serve. Can you just quickly take it a step further, who do you think has of the contemporary players, the best volley, best backhand and toughest mentally?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think you look at the best volleyer today is probably Edberg. Best backhand I'd probably give it to Agassi. What was the other one?

Q. Toughest mentally.

PETE SAMPRAS: I'd say Chang or Courier.

Q. Second serve?

PETE SAMPRAS: Philippoussis or maybe Stich.

Q. What about you? If everybody else is the best at that, how come you're No. 1?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'll be humble.

Q. Can you describe Corretja's game, your next opponent?

PETE SAMPRAS: I've played Alex before. Obviously he's going to be staying back, hitting a heavy forehand, plays pretty well on hardcourt. It's a match that I'm going to need to keep the balls back and serve well, come in a little bit, use the court to my advantage, go out and play. I kind of know what to expect, just keep the ball away from the middle of the court and make him move.

Q. You kind of had a bounce of confidence in your step today, jogging back to the chair after you won one service game. After kind of what's been a hard year in many aspects for you, is this as confident as you've been this year at this point now?

PETE SAMPRAS: Hard to say. I was confident leading up to Wimbledon, playing the first. Breezed through the draw, ran into a hot player. Each day you wake up and you hope you play great tennis, some days you don't. I don't think I'm playing at a higher level than Wimbledon for the first four rounds. I'm playing well, feel I can play better. That's really where I'm at.

Q. Up till now, what is your sweetest memory from this court out here?

PETE SAMPRAS: Last year's final. '90 I didn't really know what I was doing. Second time I won, I beat Pioline, which wasn't the most dramatic match. Last year with all the media hype, Andre and I getting to the final, that was one of the biggest matches of my career.

End of FastScripts...

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