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September 21, 1995

Andre Agassi

Tom Gullikson

Todd Martin

Pete Sampras

Jonathan Stark


ART CAMPBELL: The players are pretty busy at this moment and I am sure you have got a busy day too. I'd like to open it up to questions, please.

Q. Any reaction to Enqvist and Sampras starting it off tomorrow?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I think, you know, Pete was ready for either seed playing, first or second, and I feel very confident with Pete starting us out and playing a good match against Enqvist. Enqvist is a solid player, but I think when our guys are playing their best tennis, I like our chances.

Q. Were you at all surprised they picked Wilander over Edberg?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Yeah, we were a little bit surprised, a little bit with the altitude with Edberg coming into the net, putting pressure on, it is not that easy to pass here, so we were all a little bit surprised.

Q. Could you comment on being the first match up?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, really doesn't matter. In my mind, just have to get up early; get a good breakfast in me and have a good warmup and hopefully play some good tennis. It is always nice if you are not playing well, you don't win, you got Andre in the back stage ready to kick some butt, so it is always nice to have him waiting. So I feel good. I am hitting the ball pretty well getting; used to this altitude. It's pretty much a straight forward match playing Thomas. I have played him a number of times. So he is going to give me some, you tough, matches. He had a matchpoint against me in Montreal.

Q. Any concern about the heat?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'd much rather be in this heat than the kind of humidity of Florida and throughout the summer. It was getting to me. But, yeah, I have been here since Sunday and pretty much I am acclimated; just have to get the proper foods and a lot of liquids in me to hopefully stay pretty cool, a lot of wet towels and really big fans out there to keep us cool.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about the state of the game in the U.S., just how you see the U.S. In the international arena as well as perhaps even a little bit about the international game itself?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I think internationally the game is stronger than ever. I think there is, you know, obviously great players from every country and as you saw with Borg in Sweden, one good player out of one country, can do wonders and create a tennis boom in that country. So, internationally, I think tennis is very, very strong. I know in Europe, they have probably more money and more events in Europe than we do even in the U.S., so internationally, the sport is in pretty good shape. Certainly in the U.S. with these guys you are looking at today, I think tennis in the U.S. -- in the U.S. Open we had out -- the round of 16, we had eight Americans in the round of 16, so on the men's side, it really doesn't get much better than it is right now. And I think in the U.S. We are stronger now than we have ever been.

Q. Pete and Andre, could you talk about that a little bit from your perspective as players?

ANDRE AGASSI: What was your question?

Q. Just the state of the game in the U.S. and where you see tennis in the U.S. as it relates to the international arena?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think that every country goes through cycles of a lot of top great players, Sweden had a big run for a while and Germany and America has been through -- a few years ago they said, "what is the matter with American tennis." Now, we have a lot of guys that are capable of winning the Grand Slam tournaments, so I agree with Tom in the sense that you can't hope for American tennis to get much stronger either in its best players or in its depth. And as far as the younger ones coming up, I am not quite sure where that stands. I don't think we are quite as strong as a few of the other countries as far as the younger players, but right now, we are enjoying being on top.

Q. Pete, can you talk about that a little bit, please?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not much else to say really. These guys pretty much wrapped it up. Like Tom said with Borg leading the Swedish charge eight, ten years ago, it was kind of when Andre made his big hit; I won the Open and Chang won the French; it seemed like American tennis was as strong as any country in the world. And, you know, it feels good to be a part of that. Tennis, for a while in America, was struggling a little bit and now with players like Todd and Jonathan Stark and Washington, just go down the rankings, American tennis is doing pretty well.

Q. Andre, it has been 21 years since you made your debut at Caesars Palce when you played here with Connors. How does it feel to play with your country in your hometown?

ANDRE AGASSI: Pretty exciting to be here for a lot of reasons. First off, I think Vegas is the one place I believe that can give the respect to Davis Cup that it deserves as far as being a great event to go and be a part of. I think that is something that has never been quite gotten the respect in this country that it deserves. It is also great to have a chance to play real top level competition in my hometown that I have always wanted to not only play here, but also to bring a big event here, and, you know, to be a part of that has been pretty rewarding and it comes down to this weekend and I think now, the only thing on my mind is, literally, inside those lines; not where I am playing or anything else, and -- but I have certainly enjoyed bringing -- helping to be a part of the event coming here and I have -- also am going to enjoy when this is said and done to hopefully make an impact to get a Tour event here.

Q. Andre, you and Todd both helped give some of these Swedes an extra week off at the Open and Enqvist went out early. Obviously, you guys battled out 'til the end. Does the extra week help them at all? Have you guys recovered from Flushing?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I personally feel like to have a good amount of time off is important and I don't think I have had a chance to have that recently and I think with the Open, Pete hasn't either. You know, but the only question is, is where is our game going to be tomorrow, you know, and we can speculate as much as we want as to, you know, who is coming in here more prepared, but that doesn't mean anything if we go out and play our best tennis tomorrow, so, you know, I am going to say that Davis Cup is going to bring out the best in all of us, and what has been is done and has no relevance.

Q. Andre, seems like you have really stemmed up your intensity this week in practice and your dealings off the court. Is there any correlation between playing here at home and the intensity that you seem to have increased this week as you get ready to play in this event?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, you know, after a long summer, I just took a week off and, you know, you kind of get excited to get back out there again and, you know, Davis Cup brings out a lot of intensity in everybody, so being here at home is -- hasn't really -- haven't thought about it along those lines. I have -- more or less have thought about that with a certain amount of excitement; not really pressure or intensity. It is the Davis Cup that brings out the intensity.

Q. Todd, would you talk a little bit about the difference between playing for your country and playing for yourself?

TODD MARTIN: I really feel like it is an opportunity for us to play as a team; that, for the most part, we miss when we were growing up other than maybe playing on a basketball team or baseball team here and there. And to be able to represent the country on a team and wear your nation's colors on your back, then I think really that is the highlight of or the pinnacle of our careers, maybe. I think the highs are much higher. The lows are much lower, but that is what is so enjoyable about being a part of the team.

Q. Tom, how much of a revenge motive is there after last year?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: This year is this year. Last year was a completely different set of circumstances, entirely different venue, I think, and, you know, certainly, you know, we basically want to get to three. It is really simple. We want to get the three-way before they do this year. That is all we are thinking about, really.

Q. About your rivalry, talk about what it is now being teammates this week?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I kind of enjoy the thought of a guy that I consider, you know, to be the biggest threat out there on the court, being on my side of the net. I mean, it is a nice feeling to have that kind of strength on one team and I think like Pete had addressed earlier, you know, I am stepping on the court a lot more confident knowing that Pete is playing another match and Pete is doing the same thing, so it is like having a good lineup on a baseball team. You just keep bringing the pressure, so it is kind of nice.

PETE SAMPRAS: Like I said, you know, the times I have played Andre really been some of the toughest tennis I have played and thank God he is on my team. I like our chances. I think if we play the tennis we have been playing over the summer, I think we can probably come through with a victory. I am confident with our doubles team, and just have to go out there and play our tennis and certainly hope I stay healthy and hopefully -- hoping that we can come through with a win.

Q. Can you tell us how -- bring us up to speed what you have been doing since the Open and on how fit or how healthy you are.

PETE SAMPRAS: I am healthy. I am fit; ready to go. I took a couple of days off after the Open; played a couple of exhibitions in Phoenix and L.A.; got here on Sunday and I have just been practicing everyday since. Just getting used to the heat and the attitude. I mean, the attitude is more I am concerned about, than the heat. Because the ball flies a little bit more, but I feel like I am fit, ready to go. I have an early start tomorrow and hopefully I can play some good tennis.

Q. I know there is a lot of attention being given to both Agassi and Mr. Sampras. The doubles seems to be a little bit ignored. I know that Jonathan Stark is starting his first tenure with Davis Cup -- second year with Davis Cup. How do you two fellows feel being partners in the doubles in this particular Tie?

JONATHAN STARK: Well, actually last year's result after being up 2-0 after the singles, the doubles is real important if Jared Palmer and myself could have won that Tie. Pete's injury the next day wouldn't have even been a factor, so I think the doubles is a point and it is somewhat of a momentum swing to, you know, whoever wins that match goes into Sunday feeling confident and it is a big match.

Q. Todd and Jonathan, what is the difference now with Stefan playing on the doubles team and what sort of problems is that going to present?

TODD MARTIN: Well, I think Stefan brings maybe a little bit more game to the court than Apell would have, but also Apell is probably more comfortable on the court with Jonas. He is with Stefan, so I think it's going to be a little bit different for them to communicate, and to get along out there on the court, and -- but where they lack in that, they will make up with Stefan's play and obviously they are both great players and great doubles players and Jonathan and I will just have to go out and play well and give us that third point.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about the relative strengths of the U.S. Game and weaknesss to the extent you want to talk about them?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Relative to what?

Q. The relative strengths of the U.S. game compared to your opponents.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Oh! Well, you know, I would prefer for our team to concentrate on what they all do well and just to execute their own game. We all know the Swedish players. We all know what they do well; what they don't do quite as well, but I would like to think that we have the players when they are playing well, it really doesn't make much difference what the other guys do, so relatively speaking, I would have preferred for our guys to concentrate on their own game.

Q. Andre, I will direct this to you: Obviously you have made some great strides and a great turnaround. There was a book that Jimmy Connors came up with about his life and some things that he did. Did any of that influence you in any direction or anything that Connors has done that perhaps may have helped you turn some of the things around and to becoming as great as you are now?

ANDRE AGASSI: When it comes to authors I prefer more of the lines of C.S. Lewis as opposed to Jimmy Connors, so I haven't read that, no, sorry.

Q. Andre, I think folks in Las Vegas like to know if you had the guys over the house to see the pool table in the kitchen or in the dining room, have you had a chance to show these guys this town?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I feel like in a sense when the Davis Cup was being hosted by Las Vegas, there was a certain amount of responsibility I feel to make sure the guys enjoy themselves and getting kind of, in a sense, a different look at what it is like to live here and, you know, and we have and we are going to even more so.

Q. Where do we find the type of places, Andre?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't understand your question.

Q. What about the truck stops and places like that, where are the other places that you have been showing your teammates?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, just if I tell you then we got to worry about you guys showing up there. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER). Quite honestly, I have to deal with you enough, so...

ART CAMPBELL: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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