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August 1, 1996

Leander Paes


Q. Leander, Andre thought your game was a little unusual because of all the drop shots you hit on him. Is that the way you usually play or was it something you saw in the way Andre was playing?

LEANDER PAES: For one thing I don't hit that many drop shots as I did today. I do like to throw them in to keep my opponent off balance, because the way I come in I look to approach deep and come in a lot, so I like to throw in the surprise drop shot. Today I felt like I was doing it a little too much. I was probably a little anxious not having played him before. I thought he hit the ball a lot harder than he did, that's why I was throwing in a few drop shots. But he was too quick for that today.

Q. You also chipped and came in a lot, sometimes it worked, sometimes it cost you. Do you feel like you did that too many times, as well or was that the only thing you could do?

LEANDER PAES: Not the only thing. When you play Andre, you don't look to beat him from the back of the court. And since I had that option and that's my strength I look to use that as much as I can. I felt that his serve I could try and take a little more advantage of, so that's why I felt I could hit more approach shots and come in, but I missed a few at crucial times. That really cost me.

Q. What were you thinking when you were up, you had two set points until the first set. What were you thinking during those points?

LEANDER PAES: I was thinking of making the return, especially that first ball, at 15-40 I had a second serve. I was looking at making a good return. And sometimes when you play someone that passes that well, and you haven't played them before, you go for it a little too much. And that's what happened at 15-40. I came in and I read the second serve, and I went for it a little too much, missed by an inch and that's all he needed. The next point I hit a good approach shot and he hit a better passing shot, missed the volley. So there's a few good things there that you learn from. You learn to beat the guys who are No. 1, No. 2 or top ten in the world you've got to take advantage of the few opportunities that you do have. And I certainly had any opportunities today the first set.

Q. How did you feel about the crowd support that you had, obviously they tried their hardest to get as loud as the Americans. Did a pretty good job.

LEANDER PAES: I'm surprised there's so many Indians here. I love the crowd, they're a lot of fun. Whether they're for me or against me, I thrive off that. I'm really happy I had a chance to play on center court. It was fun to play at the Olympics, and I'm sure they'll be here on Saturday.

Q. How has this helped your game to have this kind of a couple of weeks here?

LEANDER PAES: Good question.

Q. More confidence now?

LEANDER PAES: Yeah, more confidence, for sure, more belief in myself. I've been playing a lot of challengers the last couple of years on a few tour events. Unfortunately with my ranking being 127, and the Olympics not helping it, I need to work in a ranking spot so I can work in the main draw so I can play guys like this on a more frequent basis. I think that would be fun to play the Agassis, the Samprases, the Washingtons, the Brugueras of the world on a more frequent basis, because that's something I dream of.

Q. Why do you have such a great Davis Cup record? You played so well here and yet on the tour it doesn't seem to happen for you?

LEANDER PAES: Once again, it takes a little getting used to on the tour. On the tour I'm mostly alone traveling. The last nine months or so I've had a companion traveling with me for the day-to-day routines, just to sit and have a friend; whether you win or lose. Instances like today. Today I've got my whole family with me. So taking a loss would be a little easier rather than being alone. If one was alone, I would go back to my hotel room and in order to relax I don't really -- it doesn't make a big difference to me as a person whether I win or lose, I'm still the same guy. But when you go out there, you lose a match you need someone to sit and chat and lay back with, learn from the match, go out to a movie, have a meal together, and you feel better the next day. But when you come from a country like India and you only have one or two boys whose rankings are separated that much who don't travel that much together, that's one of the things you have to mature and get used to.

Q. Will you go into the match for the bronze medal as motivated as you were today?

LEANDER PAES: You better believe it. I'll give it everything I've got.

Q. How much would it mean to you to win a medal?

LEANDER PAES: I'd love to have one of my own.

Q. What was the turning point in the match?

LEANDER PAES: I think the 6-5 game, 15-40, both those two points were very, very big, especially with the physical shape I'm in. I feel very fit right now, myself. And if I'd won that first set, who knows what would have happened. I'm sure he would have come back harder fighting in the 2nd and 3rd. But you never know. I think that's the real point the match turned around in his favor.

Q. Given your country's medal history, does that make the bronze match that much more important?

LEANDER PAES: It's just another match for me. I've played the Olympics only twice, last time I was in the position to get the bronze and so am I this time. Last time helped me get prepared for this match. No matter what the past is of our country, there's no reason we can't do well again.

Q. How do you rate Bruguera?

LEANDER PAES: He has a lot of talent. We have somewhat the same styles of playing, very flashy. I haven't played a lefty all week, so it's going to be a little more difficult. I'm going to try to get someone to serve left-handed tomorrow to get used to that. I played him once before, and had a win, but that was many years ago in Brussels, Belgium in the Juniors, in 1990, just before he won Wimbledon. And I won that one. Saturday is a different match. We've both grown and matured a lot since then. Whoever plays better on Saturday is going to win.

Q. Do you like playing someone that gets as emotional as you do? Do you like when your opponent is that way?

LEANDER PAES: Either/or. I just read the person. I'm lucky I can read people really well, on the court, I mean. I know when someone is feeling good, or not feeling good. Sometimes, not all the times. But either/or, doesn't make a difference.

Q. You talked about you wanted your own bronze medal, how excited is your father?

LEANDER PAES: He just gave me a big hug back there, so he's pretty excited.

Q. What did Andre say to you just after the game?

LEANDER PAES: Well, he let me know I was having a great week, played some good tennis. He congratulated me. We wished each other best of luck on Saturday's matches.

End of FastScripts...

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