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September 4, 1992

Pete Sampras


Q. Pete, can we get your general thoughts about the match and how it went and if you were pleased with the way you played today?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I was playing somebody I never played before. Never seen him play at the start. I started having-- I was a little bit sluggish. Not really sure what to expect out there playing somebody I never played before. But as the match went on, I thought I played a little better and better. I had a pretty solid performance today. I played a little bit better than I did in my first round. All and all, I think things are going in a right direction.

Q. Why are you doing so well this year? You have won three straight tournaments. You are doing well here. What do you attribute that to, if anything?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, just-- I think I made a very strong effort on playing on the clay court, this year more than last year. Last year, it was basically a disaster on the clay at the French Open. It was a surface that I want to improve on. The fact that I played pretty well, did pretty well at the French Open, it carried over on the hard court. I had a couple of holes in my game last year, which I think I filled up. My return service is a little bit better. I think I am just a little bit, you know, little bit more mature on the court, a little bit smarter. I did have a tendency to have some bad concentration levels. All and all, clay court tennis, I attribute myself playing better especially on the hard court. I am a little bit more solid off the ground and just, I think, it was clay court tennis, you know, end of the year I will play six, seven events. That is more than I have ever played. So--

Q. Also you hadn't been injured?

PETE SAMPRAS: That is true. I haven't had any aches or pains in the last, you know, year or so.

Q. Can it be said that you are playing in the zone, or the last couple of weeks or how would you say you have been playing the last couple of--

PETE SAMPRAS: Cincinnati, I started off a bit slow. I played a couple of three setters; down match point. Ran 16 matches -- results playing on clay; playing the Olympics. As each match went on, especially the semi and final in Cincinnati and Indianapolis playing extremely well against Courier in the finals, I was just very confident; in the groove; had a good rhythm. I was kind of concerned that I was maybe playing too well before the U.S. Open. That was concerning me, but I mean, I played my first round pretty well, and even better today. So, you know, it has been a very solid year. I haven't been injured all year, except when I was in Australia, that was in January. All and all, it has been a pretty solid year for me.

Q. Are you still waiting?

PETE SAMPRAS: Like I don't think I am in the zone my first couple of rounds. I think, I was playing pretty solid. There is still a little room for improvement as far as my tennis, you know, I played pretty well today. I didn't play great. I think each match, I will get a little better; a little bit more solid off the backcourt. Obviously, you are a little bit more nervous playing in the Grand Slam. I feel especially this one. I put a lot of emphasis on this tournament, especially -- so I don't think I am in the zone by any means. I think I am playing good tennis right now.

Q. Pete, you beat Boris Becker a couple weeks ago. I assume there must have been a time, maybe a few years ago, when playing somebody like him could be daunting; where now you have the upper hand over him.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, that is a good question. You know, going into that match in the semi, I kind of expected myself to win, you know, it was more or less, I felt -- the favorite more or less, when I played him in the past, he has always been kind of the favorite, 1, 2, 3 in the world and he has dropped to number 9. He has had some injury problems and his year hasn't really that great. I think when it comes to this tournament, you know, I heard he lost the first set out there. I think he will come around as each match goes on. It is a little bit different, you know, playing anyone today. I feel like I am not the favorite, but I am expecting more of myself than I was, say, couple years ago when I played Boris. Which is kind of strange a little bit. I am not really, you know, there is only one player that really has given me a hard time. That is Chang. He is 5 and 1 against me. I really don't mind playing anyone on the tour. Except Chang.

Q. Pete, you talked about the debate going on in tennis now about the power, debate about the power game just a little bit from your point of view?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I mean, I have heard a number of people talk about it, Connors, in particular, Drysdale, and I really don't understand it. I have been using the same racket I have been using all my life. It is not the technology, I don't believe. The top ten, everybody, 6' 2", 6' 3", Becker, Edberg, Courier, we are all over 6 feet. We are pretty strong guys hitting the ball extremely hard. I don't think it is the rackets. I have been using the same racket all my life. I am just a little bit bigger and stronger than I was, say, at 17. But, I mean, if you look at the top ten, there is not one guy that uses a wide body, and so, obviously, the game is very fast. I think times have changed from ten years ago, you know, guys are just so much bigger and stronger and there are more guys, I mean, look down the ranking, so many big guys out there. I think that is why you see a serve 120 miles an hour everyday.

Q. Is that good for the game, from your point of view?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think people are still watching this game. A lot depends on the fan. If the fan wants to watch Ivanisevic serve 125 miles an hour, he is going to watch Goran. If he wants to watch some longer rallies, he will watch Chang. I think tennis is still pretty popular. They are still watching. I played Cincy and Indy, it was sold out, semi and finals. I think people are still very interested in the sport.

Q. After winning the championship here couple of years ago you talked about the pressure of being the champ. Is there any handing over from that now that you are playing and doing well?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think last year I put a little bit too much pressure on myself to do well here. The defending champion I got to the quarters; played pretty well. I think it showed, the pressure got to me when I played Courier in the quarter-finals. It is, you know, I am still pretty young, and I have never really have been in that situation before coming back as the defending champion, especially in a Grand Slam. So it was something that is over and it is in the past. I have to learn from, that hopefully, not do it again.

Q. You have used the word solid a couple of times. It has been a solid year. Is it still-- are you still waiting for that to make it more than a solid year, and can it happen here or does it have to happen--

PETE SAMPRAS: It is going to hopefully happen here. It has been a solid year as far as my results in Grand Slams. Did pretty well at the French. Did very well at Wimbledon, but I am not satisfied, you know, I feel like -- I mean, the French is a surface that is tough -- as well as Courier was playing, he was untouchable, but at Wimbledon, losing to Goran, that was a very big disappointment to me. Because obviously, it is a surface that I improved on. I am not satisfied just getting to the semis, I want to win as many as titles; as many Grand Slams as I can. This is basically the last chance for me this year, to give it my best shot and hopefully I will play a little bit better as the weeks go on, and that is it, really. I am just, you know, I am having a more solid of a year versus last year. Wimbledon wasn't good, and the French wasn't all that great, so this year has been more solid. I haven't had too many injuries all year. All and all, it has been pretty good.

Q. Would you turn it in for one big win; forget about the solid year?

PETE SAMPRAS: Oh, yeah. I mean, for sure. If -- I would take this event, you know, let's see, how am I going to say this? I mean, you know, it is hard to say. I mean, I am not saying to trade off the first round defeat in Wimbledon to win the Open. I don't want -- kind of a tough thing to say. I mean, what was your question again? I am confused.

Q. I mean, you have said solid, solid. Would you trade in for being solid a couple of losses, if you are going to win here?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yes. I mean, I would -- well, I mean, it is -- it has been a good year. But winning a Grand Slam, that is what I think people most remember. Even though Agassi hasn't had you know, a solid -- I mean, especially in the beginning part. He could look at 1992 and that is a great year for him because he won Wimbledon, and he always will be a Wimbledon champion. In that respect, the Grand Slams, I feel, is what people remember.

Q. Pete, you will probably play doubles with McEnroe for Davis Cup. What kind of a team do you think you will be and how effective will you be against Edberg and Jarryd?

PETE SAMPRAS: If we play together, which I think we probably will. I have never played with John. We have to go to Minnesota and have a solid week of practice. Hope for the best. I kind of know what to expect. Never been in this situation as far as just playing doubles because I haven't played too much doubles all year. When I have, I haven't really been too successful. I am playing with probably the greatest doubles player of all time, McEnroe, hopefully our games will kind of click. He is more of a touch finesse player. I am a little bit more power, so hopefully that combination will work.

Q. Have you played Todd Martin?

PETE SAMPRAS: I have never played him, but I have practiced with him in the past. He is with the USTA development, and you know, I basically know what to expect. I played him before. He is obviously playing very well. Taking Courier 6 and 6 in the semis in Indy winning his first two rounds, obviously he is playing good tennis. It is a match where he is going to have nothing to lose and I will go out and give it my best shot. It's a player unlike today, I never played or saw Martin Damm play; where I have seen Martin play and I have practiced with him in the past.

Q. What do you expect?

PETE SAMPRAS: A tall guy, hits very solid from the backcourt. Returns quite well. Pretty good all-around, you know, court game. It is a match where I am definitely going to have to play well, so you know, it will be a good test.

End of FastScripts....

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