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August 17, 1996

Pete Sampras


GREG SHARKO: Pete will be appearing in his fifth ATP Tour final of the year and will try to win his fifth title of year as well. And this is his third RCA Championships final, first time since 1992 when he won and. He is 11 and 2 lifetime against Todd Martin possible final opponent and 7 and 6 against Ivanisevic. First question for Pete.

Q. How bothersome is the off and on rain delay routine?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is bothersome. You feel like you are getting into the match; you are up and ready to go. You are in a good rhythm; all of a sudden it rains; you completely lose the momentum. It is the same for both guys, both just waiting around, waiting for it to stop. It is just part of tennis. You got to deal with these situations and I thought I came out each time pretty focused and ready to go and got off to an early break on the second time we came back, so it was something that really didn't affect me today. But it has affected me in the past. Some rain delays I have come out and not played quite as well.

Q. First final since April. Must feel pretty good.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I mean, I haven't played a lot of tennis over the past couple of months and I feel like my form has got better each time I played compared to how I played against Johnson. I am in a good groove, serving pretty well and things are looking very good. I needed some matches coming into the U.S. Open in a week's time, but it will be nice to win here and go in there with a lot of confidence.

Q. Pete, you established yourself very strong early in the first set. Can you just talk about that early play?

PETE SAMPRAS: My kind of goal was to get off to a good start and kind of, you know, just kind of, you know, I was just trying to set the tone as best I could. And I broke him in his first service game. From there, I just seemed like I got better and better. I just wanted to set the tone of the match and I did that pretty well.

Q. Talk a little bit about your relationship with your coach, Paul Annacone, and how he helps you stay focused heading toward the Open?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't think he has to, you know, keep me focused because he knows I am focused. I have been playing this game for many years. What Paul can do, he can give me hints of who I am playing, like Tommy Haas I have never played until yesterday. He told me what he was going to play like. He knows me well enough to know that I am ready to go and focused. And if there is a time where he feels that I am not, then he will tell me. So it is a relationship that has been great. I have been with him for a couple of years now and we really communicate well, and it has been really good for both of us.

Q. Pete, did you attack Ulihrach any differently than you did in Dusseldorf?

PETE SAMPRAS: That was my first match in quite a while on clay and I really wasn't on top of my game that. It is his best surface and so his second serve was a little bit on the weak side, so I tried to chip and charge, which didn't work too well. You know, much quicker court than Dusseldorf. So it was entirely a different match.

Q. Do you see this year's Open pretty much as open and who do you see besides yourself as some of the other frontrunners?

PETE SAMPRAS: Just go down the rankings, those are your favorites, You know. I think we all know the guys that are going to be there Andre, and Jim and Michael and it is anyone's ballgame. That is what has made the Grand Slams pretty exciting this year. Some guys have really stepped up an Yevgeny, Richard, you can see like someone like Thomas Enqvist getting hot and winning the Open. That is the kind of the year it has been.

Q. Talk about going down the ranking list, you don't include Muster going down the ranking?

PETE SAMPRAS: There no reason why he can't play well on hard court. I mean, it is -- sure, it is not his best surface, but he can play well, and beat some guys. I don't think he is going to win it, but he can play.

Q. Pete, seems like you have played a little better each round as you advanced in this tournament. Did you find some flaws or something from your first match on that you corrected or something?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, not really, just nothing technically that you'd really change in the middle at a tournament. It is Just getting in a good groove and getting confidence. That is what I did throughout each match. I feel like I am more comfortable out there and if I am still around hopefully by the weekend, I will be pretty tough to beat.

Q. Different look tomorrow from a bigger server either way. Can you talk about just the possibilities of facing either one of them?

PETE SAMPRAS: Goran not a whole lot of strategy when you play him. You just try and get his serve back. Best serve I have ever played against; get it back; hold my serve on and it is a pretty straightforward match. And Todd is a little bit more, I'd say, little bit more aggressive; comes in a little bit more. He has got a good all-around court game. Serves very big, returns very well. He has got the ingredients to beat me. He has beaten me before on the grass and so it will be a little bit different than today. These guys serve a little bigger than the guy I played today.

GREG SHARKO: Anything else for Pete? Thanks.

End of FastScripts...

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