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August 18, 1996

Pete Sampras


GREG SHARKO: This was Pete's fifth ATP Tour title of the year and he becomes the first player to win the RCA Championships three times since the tournament was switched over to the hard courts in 1988. First question for Pete.

Q. After losing, serving for the first game, serving for the match, you kind of got retooled pretty quickly.

PETE SAMPRAS: When I served for the match?

Q. After losing it at 5-4, you came back broke him; didn't let it bother you?

PETE SAMPRAS: When you play Goran it is like riding a roller-coaster, it really is, so many ups-and-downs. One moment I thought I had him. Next moment we are back to even, and, you know, that was one chance. He played a great game. He hit some big shots, but at 5-All game, you know, I finally put a couple good groundstrokes together. He doublefaulted at breakpoint. That was really it. Played a solid game to win the match. Goran is so difficult because he so up and down, serves three aces in a row; doublefaults twice, you are not sure what is coming, you just have to stay very solid on your service games and hopefully have a chance to break him and I did that a couple of times.

Q. You always say you have trouble playing lefties, yet you have a pretty impressive record against them.

PETE SAMPRAS: I have won a lot of matches against lefties, but they have always given me problems. It's not like I go out and beat these guys 2,2. Forget and Leconte in Davis Cup one year gave me a lot of problems. I have kind of figured it out where to stand on the serve. You can't play, you know, a lefty like a righty. You have to give up a little bit of court in certain areas, and just stand over a little bit more; take away his best serve and -- because early on in my career, I really had problems, but over the last couple of years it is something that I have handled pretty well.

Q. He (IVANISEVIC) came in here and said he doesn't think you are in "top, top form." But you are going to be very tough to beat at the U.S. Open.

PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, I felt pretty well this week. There were moments that I played real well and moments that I wasn't there and I felt I was reasonably sharp today; wasn't didn't serve quite that well. Hitting my groundies pretty well, but I feel like I can get better. I will take the next day or two off and get up to Flushing on Tuesday or Wednesday, and get into a good groove over there; get used to the courts and -- but there is definitely some room to get better.

Q. Can we say that this success comes at the right moment?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, whenever you win it brings you a lot of confidence and that is one thing I was looking for here and going into Flushing I feel fit, and ready to go. So I am not guaranteeing a win, but this is definitely a good step for me.

Q. Pete, early on it looked like you were just willing to rally with Goran. Was that by design or just the way the match --

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I was trying to make him work on his service games; not give him the cheap point; make him hit a couple of groundstrokes because he can go along, you know, holding serve like it is no problem, and the first -- his first service games, I kind of was safe and keep the ball in play; he got a little impatient. I got the early break. That was kind of a strategy I had just to make him work as much as possible.

Q. Was part of that strategy to really work on his backhands early too?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, his -- both his sides -- his groundies are pretty solid. His backhand is maybe a little bit weaker, but you always want to keep the ball away from his forehand because that is the wing that he can hit a lot of winners, but also hit some errors. It is a side that I always wanted to stay away from.

Q. Did you surprise yourself even on that last point that you got that in?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, incredibly lucky than good. That was one that was so lucky that I just put my racket -- he hit a great return; I put my racket down; next thing I knew it went over the net for a winner. I just surprised myself. Got lucky.

Q. Which opponent is more taxing mentally for you to play, Goran or Andre, assuming Andre is playing very well?

PETE SAMPRAS: I have to say Goran because at least with Andre you can feel like you can kind of get into the rallies and, you know, have a rhythm out there and Goran is just like -- it is just impossible sometimes. You just -- he serves big aces, you get no rhythm out there; goes for big second serves. You are not really sure what is happening. In some ways, he is a lot more difficult.

Q. Can you see him winning the Open the way he is playing?

PETE SAMPRAS: He has got the capabilities. He has got the game. It is just -- I think it is up here (pointing to head) for him. He has got the biggest shot in the game. His serve, if he gets hot at the right time, sure, he is capable of doing it. But in order to win out there, you need to win seven matches and that is hard to do. You are not going to play well every match, and, you know, he has come close, obviously, at Wimbledon getting to the finals there a couple of times, but he is on the verge, I think, of maybe winning his first major in the next couple years.

Q. You said delays bothered you in the past and didn't yesterday. Didn't appear that it did today either.

PETE SAMPRAS: I played him at the Lipton. I was up 6-2, 1-All and rain came. I came out, lost the match. It is always nice to -- it rained today, but we went out and played. We didn't have any interruptions like we did yesterday, so it has given me some problems, but fortunately it cleared up and it was okay.

Q. Are you going to practice very hard this week, next week, I mean, or are you going to take it easy?

PETE SAMPRAS: Take it easy for a couple of days; then come middle of the week, like I said, I will go up to New York and get into, you know, some good practices; get used to the conditions of the balls and the courts, but it is time to go back to work in a couple of days.

Q. How does this tournament compare to the Open, I mean, I know it is voted best tournament of the year, but the media attention -- obviously, it is a Major, but talk about the differences.

PETE SAMPRAS: That is a huge difference. I mean, the media room is twice as big as this. The stadium is twice as big. I mean, it is just -- it is a Major, and, you know, as far as convenience is concerned, I mean, this is convenient. The hotel is five minutes away; great players' lounge; great food and U.S. Open sometimes isn't quite as convenient as we all know, so it is different, real different.

Q. Andre always said he is coming back after his short trip. You have a theory about -- do you always come back to defend a title, is that pretty much --

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know. I don't know what I should say to that. Yeah, I don't know, I mean, we will see what happens for me. You know what I mean? (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) But it is a good chance I will come - free TV.

GREG SHARKO: In addition else for Pete?

PETE SAMPRAS: I hope you don't take that the wrong way.

End of FastScripts...

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