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August 31, 1997

Leander Paes

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Having won the third set 6-1, why couldn't you keep up the momentum?

LEANDER PAES: I thought I played really well, even the first four sets. I played a great third set. I figured I'd try to carry that over to the fourth. I was serving well, it's just I was struggling to get my returns down. Again, a lot of high volleys. I thought he served and volleyed more than he normally does. 4-5 in the fourth, up 40-Love on my serve, I had broken a string prior to that. I pulled out a racquet that was giving me a little bit of trouble. Missed one forehand, missed a volley, he hit a great return. Next thing I know, he broke. Right through from 3-4 in the fourth to about 3-Love down in the fifth, I was struggling and tinkering with my racquet non-stop. I mean, I was down two breaks in the fifth, dug a hole a little too deep. Tried to fight back 5-2, came back a little, but the hole was a little too deep.

Q. 2-5 in the fifth, did you still think you had a chance to win?

LEANDER PAES: Sure do. I mean, nothing's impossible. I've come back from 2-5 down in the third or the fifth. Today was my first fifth-set match that I've lost. I've played like about five or six of them. Even though I was down 2-5, I just tried to give a little extra effort. It's amazing sometimes what can happen. Just didn't have enough time today.

Q. You had a great match against Agassi last year, and a great match against Pioline today. What will it take for you to break through?

LEANDER PAES: I sort of made a little bit of a breakthrough this year. I just broke the Top 100 last couple of matches. Again, in singles, I'm playing much more solid than I have been in the last couple years. I'm feeling as strong as I've ever felt before. I'm playing really well. It's just a matter of recognizing the big points and playing the big points a little better, which I normally do. Yet today, I thought it was a very close match, a difference of a very few points. The support I got out in New York again was excellent.

Q. How do you like playing in New York, two great matches in two years?

LEANDER PAES: Well, I guess it's the environment. As long as you kind of keep it simple, as long as you don't get distracted with everything else that's going on, you can really thrive in this environment. At least I do. I won the Junniors here a couple years ago. I like playing here, especially with this new stadium. The atmosphere is a little different this year than last year. I mean, it's really enjoyable. Courts are quick. It's quite hot, so it goes to my advantage.

Q. Was it one of the most exciting match of your career today?

LEANDER PAES: No, not really. Again, it was exciting match. But I think you kind of view each match separately. This was different. Again, it would have been nice to have come back and won that match from 2-5 down in the fifth. Cedric is a tough player, very solid. He kind of served really well, I think, at 5-4. He hit like three second serves that were really good.

Q. If Chang wins today, there will be a match Pioline/Chang. Can you talk about this match? Do you think he has the ability to beat Chang?

LEANDER PAES: Cedric likes playing in New York also, looks like. Got to the Finals one year. He's very good on this hardcourt also. I mean, against Chang, Chang is fantastically talented athlete. It's going to be a little bit more different match because Chang stays back more, whereas I come and serve and volley a lot. Chang at this moment in time is a bit more solid than I am. It's going to I think be a different match. It's going to be interesting to see whether Cedric serves and volleys. I think he serve and volleyed a lot more today than he normally does. We'll have to see.

Q. How confident would you be in such a match-up?

LEANDER PAES: In the sense of today?

Q. If you were to play Chang.

LEANDER PAES: It would be a great contest. I mean, we're both very quick. We have different styles of playing: I serve and volley. He hits passing shots and great returns all day. It would be exciting to play him. I've never played him before. It would have been nice. Have to do it some other time.

Q. What are your chances in the doubles?

LEANDER PAES: Well, looks like the seeds are falling left, right and center. Last seeded team left, something like that. Again, each match is different. We've got a good match tomorrow. I think as long as we look after ourselves and come out playing solid, it will work to our advantage. We've been playing well of late. We both like the hardcourts. The courts here are very quick. With the court being this quick, you can't make too many mistakes. The difference in winning or losing a match is very minimal on courts this fast. You have to be really solid and take your opportunities when you get them.

Q. How do you like the support from the crowd?

LEANDER PAES: Oh, it's excellent. I think there are a lot more Indian people coming to watch the matches now than the last couple years. It's fantastic. Yesterday when we played doubles, in the third set, we were almost like Brazilians, banging, stomping our feet. They were shouting, screaming. One person with the voice gone came and said, "Well played" after. It's fantastic. Cricket gets a lot of the support. Tennis, it's a great game also. It's good to see Indians come out and kind of cheer tennis on like a cricket match or better.

End of FastScripts….

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