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March 10, 1995

Pete Sampras


Q. Pete, who asks the better questions us or those little kids?

PETE SAMPRAS: Little kids are pretty good, but I think you guys will keep your job.

Q. Pete, can you tell us about that tiebreaker?

PETE SAMPRAS: I am just getting bad luck with these tiebreakers, you know, up 4-2 in the tiebreaker; things are looking pretty good; break a string. Couple of matchpoints; he had an unreturnable serve. He popped in an ace, and you know, just bad luck and I just told myself on the changeover, this guy is going to have to play another good set; even better set to beat me. I am not going to let him just roll over me so I beard down and just you -- cannot think about what happened in the tiebreaker even though it was a little disappointing. I had to regain my composure. That is what I did and won it pretty easily.

Q. If there was one thing you worked specially for today, what was that, one thing where you got up and said, well, today, I am going to work on what? Fill in the blank.

PETE SAMPRAS: I guess "win" is the one word. Then there is really nothing that I am working on. I think a big shot for me was the return of serve. I needed to return well; make him volley because he has got a big kick serve; on these courts and the conditions it is tough to get back the serve; something I need to work on when I go out and play him. I am not thinking "I am going to work on my chip and charge."

Q. Out there when you stopped, did the ball break?

PETE SAMPRAS: I hit my backhand. I thought the ball popped and he thought it popped and, unfortunately, the ball didn't pop. It just sounded like it did, so it was immediately his point.

Q. What is your thought on playing Todd tomorrow?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I played him a number of times and really let him off the hook when I played him in Memphis up a set and a break; 5-1 in the tiebreak; handed it to him, I need to return a little bit better than I did today. Todd has got one of the best all-around court games, but I got to take advantage of his movement; make him move and make him play as much as he can. But he is 6 foot 6; got real good big serve big returner; a match I feel like I need to play well. So we know our games inside and out. We practice all the time; played him four, five times. Usually when I play him it comes down to a couple of points here and hopefully tomorrow.

Q. Patrick thought you were not playing as well as you were playing a year ago; that it has to do with confidence?

PETE SAMPRAS: Today I didn't feel like I played that great. I think I was a bit up and down and probably should have won 4 and 4 just up a set; a break and in the second and I just look at this year and be pretty proud of my accomplishment at the Australian Open under the circumstances in the last couple of weeks have been a little difficult with some stuff off the court, but I feel like I am hitting the ball well; didn't play quite that well today, but there is a lot of time to improve before the next major Grand Slam tournament which is the French. So that is something I am thinking about, so, it is nothing to really get worried about just as long as I am winning; that is the most important thing.

Q. Pete, could you take a minute and talk about Tim Gullikson; what role has Gully had in your life on and off-court and his sickness, has that put things in perspective; put your tennis in life in general in perspective?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, Tim and I have gotten to be extremely close friends; probably my closest friend that I have. I have known him for three, four years now to see what he has gone through past three, four months with his health trouble as really, really broke my heart - to see what he has gone through. Now he most likely won't be able to travel for quite awhile. And you know, it has kind of opened my eyes how important our health is. Tim is a young guy. To have him go through this is just a shock to everyone, and you know, he is a good friend and, you know, it is kind -- we are just all praying for him that he can get through this and there hasn't been a day that has gone by that I haven't thought of Tim and we just hope that he gets back on his feet as soon as he can.

Q. Pete, do you talk to him on a daily basis? Does he still play a coaching role with you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think the most important thing right now is Tim's health. But when I do talk to him, we talk about different subjects, if it's the Davis Cup or my tennis, or the O. J. Simpson trial or whatever, you know, just I just want to be there for him just try to stay as strong as possible for him and, you know, he is back home with his family and so it is not too much tennis talk, you know, just he talks to Paul every now and again just to discuss what I need to work on and, you know, this and that, but there are more things to try to get him as healthy as possible.

Q. Is playing on the clay in the Davis Cup actually going to be a help for you given that I believe you are going to play more clay this year; is that going to sort of work to your advantage?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't think I will play. It is not like a lot of time to prepare for the Davis Cup Tie. If I do well at Lipton then four, five days and I am not going to be playing as well as I am playing, hopefully, as I will be at the French. It really fits into my schedule, as a surface standpoint, because I get right on the clay and will be on the clay basically a good month and a half before the French. Problem I was having with Davis Cup was the scheduling going over there and coming back. USTA helped us with travel; putting us on the Concorde; that really helped my decision. So it is something that, you know, I am glad to be a part of and it is good to see Andre and I sticking together in this and hopefully can win this thing.

Q. You won't have to change back to any surface after Palermo?

PETE SAMPRAS: I will be on the clay all the way.

Q. Are you worried about a small stadium full of 4,999 Sicilians? What do you think it's going to be like?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't think anything will compare to what happened in Lyon for me, I mean, that echoes in my ears two years after that whole experience with the crowd there, it is something I have just got used to playing in that Lyon Tie; playing in Holland; you get used to the crowd not being for you. One thing I have learned, you have to take your time; play at your own pace and that is what my plan is.

Q. Andre, last night spoke about the USTA and Les Snyder, in particular. Do you think there is a change in that group? Do you sense that there is any movement there in terms of their approach?

PETE SAMPRAS: He is someone that, you know, seems pretty accessible; you can talk to him about different issues as far as Davis Cup, U.S. Open, whatever, and basically Andre and I said, let us see if you can help us out here and spend some money on the traveling; try to make this trip as easy for us as possible. He definitely stepped up. He knows we were sacrificing. It is nice to see that he is willing to help out, and so it is always nice to have a powerful man like he step up and hope really listens what the players have to say.

Q. What is the travel plan; you get to go on the Concorde, but that only gets you as far as London; you still have to fly to Rome; then Palermo; it is not that easy?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, we will make it easy.

Q. Charter plane, maybe?

PETE SAMPRAS: "Air Andre" something, maybe.

Q. Everybody gets their own plane?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I am sure we will plan one. I mean, they are planning on just trying to make it as easy as possible for us.

Q. So you could actually take a charter from somewhere to somewhere like Palermo?

PETE SAMPRAS: That is true. That is possible.

Q. Pete, were you aware of the fact that if you would have lost today and Agassi would have won the tournament that he would have become No. 1, did you think about that before going on the court?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. Not really. You know, good possibility he could overtake me even if I do play well because I have a lot of tournaments coming up that I have won. I think not playing the whole summer last year; not playing that well at the Open really hurt me in a lot of ways and -- but he has won the last two majors and he deserves to be No. 1 if that happens which could happen, so, you know, obviously great for the game and, you know, the rivalry, hopefully, can be built up and time will tell if it can be compared to a Borg/McEnroe rivalry. It is something I just can't think about when I am playing. If I miss return, I am not thinking I am dropping to No. 2. You just can't do that.

Q. How much more exciting is this year's French Open the fact that both you and Andre have won the three majors; this is the only one that neither you have won?

PETE SAMPRAS: How exciting am I?

Q. How exciting how much more exciting do you think it is going to be?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't see any difference this year versus any other year. I played the French. It's the one I haven't one; obviously a lot of build up for me because I am especially built my schedule to play a lot on clay to peak at the French, the one that I haven't won, and what I need there, I need just a little bit of luck on my side; get a good draw and hopefully come through with a win there. I feel like I can win there because the court is quick enough, so it is going to be exciting with Andre and I, 1 or 2, whatever where we are at. It should be great for the game. That is what we are trying to do, I guess.

Q. Other times before last year you were losing in earlier rounds and then last year you won the tournament; now you are in the quarters. I mean, what has happened here; you just matured, what?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't have any idea why I didn't pass the third round. I don't have a reason, but last year I broke through it; won the tournament. This is a great surface for me and nice pretty slow hard court. I love it. I really do. I don't know. I don't know what happened last year compared to the years before. I just played a little bit better.

End of FastScripts!

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