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September 3, 1995

Pete Sampras


Q. Pete, did you feel you dodged a bullet today?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it was a dangerous, dangerous match. I mean, in a way I feel like I did, but on the other hand, I am just -- I can't believe I was up 4-Love, 40-Love serving; I lost my serve twice. I don't remember the last time I did that. But he is the type of player you get absolutely no rhythm. I mean, he is going for huge second serves. I was having a problem returning both his serves the whole match. I thought I served pretty well, but I just needed to raise my level of tennis. I really needed to play better. I was happy that I competed well and I fought hard, but I think I can definitely have some time to improve my game a little bit.

Q. He is only 18 years old. Do you get a sense that he is the real thing or is it just you didn't play that well today?

PETE SAMPRAS: When you look at someone that young, you look if he has a weapon and he definitely has a weapon, his serve. And he has got a huge game. I mean, he doesn't really play with a high level of percentages, but that is what makes him so dangerous. I absolutely had no rythm out there. He was just going for huge second serves going, for big groundstrokes, and you just need to be on your toes a little bit. And I just, you know, am so upset at myself from being up so easily in that third and I just can't believe -- I just let it back into that set.

Q. You mentioned you had a hard time lining up the serve, and, I mean, there aren't that many guys on tour, I mean, Ivanisevic, Krajicek, there is not, how do you prepare for that? You can't get too many hitting partners who throw 130 at you.

PETE SAMPRAS: You just have your coach stand on the service line and hit big serves at you. His second serve is the biggest I have played, by far. He was hitting his second. I was looking at the gun every time, 95, 100. I can't think of another player that does that. He just goes for it, he will double. He was making them and I was just having a hard time just getting them back, and wasn't sure what to really do; if I should chip it or go over it, and just a player you just feel like you got through it, you just got through the match. You won. You know, I competed well, but I could have played a little bit better. So I feel I can just get better as the week goes on.

Q. Does this type of match set you back a little bit because you won't play another guy like him? Even though you competed well, could it leave a lull in your preparation of how you want to advance --

PETE SAMPRAS: Not at this point. I have one day off. Every day you wake up, you feel like you can play great tennis. Today I just wasn't really flying on all cylinders, but I got through it, that is the important thing. So I don't feel like I am dejected. I feel like I competed well, but I definitely feel like I can play a little bit better.

Q. Somebody asked if you thought he was the real thing. Do you feel this is a guy you are going to be seeing?

PETE SAMPRAS: He is only 18, and I just feel that as the older he gets, the more mature he will get; he will just play a little bit smarter out there. He definitely has the tools, that is the first thing you look at when you see someone so young. He has got the big forehand and moves pretty well for a big guy and hits huge first and second serves. He has got some definite talent there and potential.

Q. A lot of times in these matches, in the Grand Slams, some guy will play really terrific for two sets, maybe three sets then completely go away. Were you surprised that he didn't just kind of completely go away there?

PETE SAMPRAS: At that point, at 4-Love, I was the one that just went away. That is the not the way it should be. You know, he was kind of going away a little bit, but he hung in there and he saw that my level of tennis dropped about 500 percent after losing my serve there. He hung in there and competed well. I thought I competed just as well and played a little bit better, but on the other hand, I feel like I can play better tennis.

Q. You say it was dangerous, but were you worried in a sense that you were out of control at any point?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I was a little worried. I never played him and I have only seen him play, but it is not the same as seeing his serve, seeing the speed. I just didn't know what to expect from him. That was a real dangerous thing for me. I didn't really know where he kind of, like today, serve on big points where his second serve was going. You know, he can slap three forehand winners and he can hit the backstop. That is what makes him so dangerous, and just a match you are happy to get through and just move on.

Q. Any part of his game now that reminds you of yourself when you were 18?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, a little bit. I mean, I see a lot myself in him. I mean, we both serve pretty well and hit pretty big off the ground. I just think he cannot hit the ball so hard every time he tees up and hits; just play a little bit smarter out there and he just got a lot of time to improve.

Q. You played the big points well at the end of the second and third set. Did you consciously bear down or move up a level; were you aware that you charged him about three times?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I just was having a hard time with his serve and I just said I am just going to chip and charge and try something different, but I am always try to play a high level throughout the whole match if it is the first game of the set or the 7th game of the set I am trying to win every point I play, so, you know, it is just when you feel one you feel like you just got through and put it away.

Q. At the Australian Open you will big support of the Greek community. Both of you are Greek origin. Any feeling of having something in common with him?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. Not really. Other than that we are Greek - thick eyebrows and dark hair, pretty big guys.

Q. Pete, you had some tough matches with Todd Martin. Does this match put more pressure on you in a match like that coming up or does competing well and coming out of it make you feel better going into another tough match?

PETE SAMPRAS: In one way I feel that I didn't play that well today and I certainly hope I play better on Tuesday, but on the other hand, I competed well. I fought hard. I didn't get down on myself when I let him back in the third set. I just, you know, trying to look ahead at the next point and that was -- I was happy with that, but I just need to work on some things tomorrow and hopefully return better and hopefully I can just play a better match because if I play like I did today, Todd is too solid of a player to let me, you know, to just give it to me.

Q. How do you keep your concentration in a match? It more emotional like stay cool, stay cool, take one at a time, or is it more like, this is what I am going to do if he shoots me, this....

PETE SAMPRAS: Playing against him, it is all reaction. There is no time to think during the point. I mean, you are just trying to get his serve back and once the point is in play, you are just trying to just stay aggressive, so there is not a whole lot of, you know, playing someone like Chang there is a point you might think about where you are going to hit, but against him you are just trying to get it back anyway you can.

Q. Two years ago could this have been a match where you would have gotten down on yourself and not competed hard?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'd say a little bit more. Maybe five years ago when I just started out I may have gotten down on myself. I think the fact -- couple of years ago, you know, I feel like I was to the point back then that I was competing well and winning a lot of matches; not really playing that well, but you just have to try to find a way to win, and -- because you can't play great every time you walk out on the court. And today was certainly the case. So you just have to dig deep and find some sort of way to get through it.

Q. Can you elaborate on the keys to the match against Martin in terms of your respective styles?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, we played each other many, many times, so there are really no secrets out there. He is going to be, you know, he has got a big serve. He will be coming in quite a bit; got one of the best returns in the game. Something Todd maybe doesn't do that great, he doesn't really move that great, but so, I think we both play pretty similar, you know, it is just a matter of making him move; changing directions and hoping I can return a little bit better and make him play. We both play so similar that we kind of know what to expect, just a matter of, you know, what happens on Tuesday.

Q. They said at Wimbledon, Pete, that you were talking with Gullikson, with Tim. Have you done anything -- have you been in touch with him at all you know, during this week of the tournament?


Q. Yeah.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Speak to him just about everyday. Just talk about my matchups when I play Yzaga or Meligeni and today it is not the same as him being here, but, you know, he has been watching on the TV and obviously knows my game as well as anyone, so he is just more, you know, he knows what I need to do and, you know, there is only a couple of things here and there that we talk about. That is really it.

End of FastScripts...

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