March 28, 1996
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
Q. Sun bothering you in the face?
PETE SAMPRAS: You think that's funny or are you talking about the hat?
JOE LYNCH: Pete Sampras who came out to a little Pearl Jam, played better than he probably has all week. He is one match away from his fourth consecutive Lipton final here, 21st of the last 22nd. Questions for Pete?
Q. Who do you like in this game? Who is he kind of like, Agassi (inaudible)?
PETE SAMPRAS: He is not that poor, yeah, but his game reminds me a lot of Andre's, he has a real good backhand, he serves pretty well, and just a real good counter-puncher. He will come in if you give him the short ball, which is obviously good, but he is kind of a counter-puncher, he is still really a pretty young guy. It seems every time I played him over the past three years, he's gotten better and better, just get some more matches and some more experience and he has a pretty good future.
Q. Was there ever a point today you did not feel in control of the match?
PETE SAMPRAS: I felt pretty much in control. I was up a break in the second and I just needed to kind of, you know, refocus and play some good, solid tennis and I was serving real well, pretty well, and holding serve pretty easily, I was down a couple breakpoints, I thought throughout the match I was playing with a lot of confidence, hitting the ball pretty hard and played really well.
Q. Vince said he felt he had an opening, what point do you think that was that he said he thought he had an opening? He said you probably didn't even know it.
PETE SAMPRAS: I would think it would be the breakpoint he had after the long point, you know, where I definitely was sucking wind and he hit a good forehand there and that was it.
JOE LYNCH: That's what he said, too.
Q. (inaudible) you did some sort of benefit there?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah.
Q. How did it go?
PETE SAMPRAS: It went all right. Why?
Q. Just curious. Was it fun?
PETE SAMPRAS: It was a little different. I would much rather have a tennis racket in my hand than basketball.
JOE LYNCH: Roughly you shot the same percentage for the Heat for the night, low 40s.
Q. Along the same lines, Pete, I see you are listed among a number of French tennis players as supporting organ donations, in France for organ donation, how did you get involved with that?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, honestly I am not really sure, I don't really know -- I'm sorry, I don't know what you are talking about.
Q. I'll show it to you.
PETE SAMPRAS: Okay.
Q. Pete, you describe Vince as a young guy, yet when you -- the two of you are really not that much difference of age and you are both young guys. I mean, does that strike you as a little --
PETE SAMPRAS: He's only been on the tour for three years and I've been on the tour now for about seven, so, in that way, he is young as far as playing on the tour. What is he, 23?
JOE LYNCH: Just turned 23.
PETE SAMPRAS: I was just kind of speaking --
JOE LYNCH: Actually 21.
Q. When he had the breakpoint right after that, you went serve and you went right forehand inside out to the sideline, when you struck it, did you have any feeling at the moment it was -- it did land, of course, it just hit the edge of it, he really thought it might go out at that time, did you feel it was a winner as soon as you struck it?
PETE SAMPRAS: I knew it was going to be close. I wasn't really aiming for the line. I was just trying to hit it far enough from him for it to be a winner. It was a little bit better than I thought it would come out by the line.
Q. He thought it would be a turn if he got a chance to break you and got back even?
PETE SAMPRAS: Could have. He was picking up his game and, you know, but I felt like I was pretty much in control. The way I was playing, it seemed like I was pretty much in control of the majority of the baseline points. I felt like I was hitting the ball solid.
Q. This doesn't relate to today's match, but how would you compare playing Agassi, Lendl, and McEnroe?
PETE SAMPRAS: Very different. I mean, Agassi, of the three returns the best, you know, McEnroe's serves and volleys doesn't give you any time to breath, Lendl is just a workhorse who kind of wears you down. So, they are all very unique in the way they beat you. So, I mean -- that's kind of quickly how I would sum it up.
Q. The 1990 match that you played against Lendl at the U.S. Open, the tennis you played in that match, do you think that's as good as the tennis that you play now?
PETE SAMPRAS: No.
Q. How are you better now?
PETE SAMPRAS: I just -- just better, just improved over the past five years. A little bit stronger, in better shape, and, you know, that match, it wasn't, you know, what I can remember from it. It wasn't beautiful tennis to watch,.
Q. I thought it was?
PETE SAMPRAS: I just kind of gutted it out in five sets. I think I am a much better player today than I was then.
Q. Why do you attack less than you did then, coming to the net less?
PETE SAMPRAS: I feel like over the years I've gotten to be real comfortable from the backcourt and I can rally pretty much with anyone, if it is Courier and Agassi, so, I don't come in quite as much, which is fine, I can stay back, but I am still trying to be aggressive and I'm trying to dictate as much as possible.
Q. Pete, do you think as you get a little older you might have a little bit more of a return to that style as when you first came out?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's hard saying, you know, it's worked pretty well over the past four, five years, there is no reason really to change things. If there is a point where I feel I can't compete from the backcourt with these guys, I will chip and charge and come in a lot more, you know, I am trying to add that to my game and improve that area of my game, but, you know, I don't really see a huge, drastic change over the years the way I play.
Q. I was just going to ask you kind of like Martina a little bit, she built her game where it was really able to carry through her whole career playing different styles as she got older not staying back as much?
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't mind staying back, you know, I'd rather be the one up at net, but I don't mind trying to hit returns and passing shots. I feel that area of my game is the one thing that's improved over the course of my career and -- but I am still trying to serve and volley and get into the net and be aggressive.
Q. Steffi was saying earlier there was a time when she was getting bored with tennis, she won a Grand Slam, so she tried to go out and run with the track team, you know --
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't see what's boring about winning Grand Slams.
Q. Have you ever felt that way?
PETE SAMPRAS: No.
Q. Is there anything else, anything you do to -- before tournaments to try to give you a bit of a more variety?
PETE SAMPRAS: No, I don't.
Q. How do you see the ranking for Vince, where can he go with his game?
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't see any reason -- what is he ranked, 50?
JOE LYNCH: He is actually 90.
PETE SAMPRAS: There is no reason he can't break top 50 by the end of the year. It is hard saying, you know, he has some things he has to improve, it seems each time I played him, like I said before, he has just gotten better and better, you know, there is no reason he can't break the top 50.
Q. Do you feel you've been getting better as the week has been going along?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yes, I feel pretty good, you know, whenever you're winning, you're confident. I am very used to the conditions, the wind, I've gotten used to over the past week and feel each match I am starting to hit the ball cleaner.
Q. Will it be a test for you to find out if your game is now the hottest, in '96 (inaudible)?
PETE SAMPRAS: Absolutely. Chang, Chang has given me -- both those guys have always given me a bit of a problem. I think Chang may have a bit of an edge, that's what makes him so dangerous. It is going to be a test. Those guys have great years, been very consistent, I feel like I am playing well and there is no reason why I can't beat him.
Q. How much basketball do you play?
PETE SAMPRAS: Obviously not enough. It is a little dangerous to play any sort of game, you know, with turning an ankle, but I have a hoop court in my home and I tend to, you know, throw it up every now and again.
Q. Do you think it helps your tennis at all?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, as a kid I played quite a bit of basketball, it is similar type of movements with the side steps, but, you know, I don't play in any league, I don't play to, you know, anything like that. I just shoot around a little bit.
Q. How good do you think you could have got if you focused on basketball instead of tennis?
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know, first of all I'm too short and -- but I have a decent shot, not a great shot. I jump pretty well, so that's good.
Q. Pete, you've probably been asked this question already before I got here, but have you made any particular plans about the French Championships this year? I mean this time last year you were particularly focused on it.
PETE SAMPRAS: I thought about it and I've decided I am not going to do it. Last year, obviously, it didn't work out too well, kind of play a little bit more, this year. I am not -- I am going to go over to Asia and play a couple of weeks there, just play in Rome for the Team Cup. I've played well at the French and, you know, it's an ongoing situation I am trying to figure out. It's just difficult, difficult for me to win there, hopefully this will be the year.
Q. Pete, last night Andre hit a shot between his legs, pretty spectacular shot, I am just curious if you've ever done that in competition?
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't think I have.
Q. Pete, how much trouble was the heat out there today?
PETE SAMPRAS: It was warm. It was definitely the hottest day of the tournament and you certainly feel it a little more, you can tell, my shirt was drenched after about three, four games. You just get a wet towel around your neck to keep cool and drink a lot of water.
Q. Why did you leave the court at the end of that first set?
PETE SAMPRAS: I went to the bathroom.
JOE LYNCH: A lot of bathroom quotes this week.
PETE SAMPRAS: It's a pretty boring week then.
JOE LYNCH: Anything else for Pete? I guess that covers it. Thank you.
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