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September 7, 1999

Cedric Pioline

Flushing Meadows, New York

USTA: Questions in English first, please.

Q. What does the shirt say?


Q. What does the shirt say?

CEDRIC PIOLINE: I don't know. (Laughter.) It's soccer.

USTA: "Strength, speed, skill."

Q. Did you expect him to put up a bigger battle? Did you think you just played a smart match and kept him out of his rhythm?

CEDRIC PIOLINE: Yeah, I think so, yeah. I mean, a point was difficult to play out there because of the wind. I think I'm much better when I am with the wind because I try to mix up a little bit my game. It sometimes is trying too much.

Q. Kafelnikov made a prediction that either himself, Krajicek or Agassi are going to win this tournament. Haas, after his match with you, agreed. Do you think you're being overlooked here?

CEDRIC PIOLINE: I don't know. I mean they are top players, and they won Grand Slams already. So I'm just thinking about playing good tennis and trying to keep that level as I played today and I will see.

Q. With Rafter, the problem with his shoulder, and then you played two qualifiers, you come out in a straight-set, a young, hot player like Tommy Haas. For you, does this serve notice that you are somebody to contend here?

CEDRIC PIOLINE: Yeah, I mean I know I was playing well last few weeks and since Wimbledon. So I know I can beat a lot of players if I'm playing well. I'm playing qualifier; is not always easy, because these guy are very hungry and they want to beat you very bad. So I'm just taking my opportunity, you know.

Q. Several players have retired in the middle of matches. In the case of one player, at the very end of the match. We won't get into that now. You've had some very long matches in your career, particularly the French Open where you had several long matches in a row, but never retired. Do you think that there are some players that, perhaps, retire from their matches too early without trying to fight through the injury to the completion of the match?

CEDRIC PIOLINE: No. I think for this year US Open, I think these guys had a real problem. I mean when I played in French Open, I was exhausted because I played too many five-set matches. So I had no choice. I mean, I could play, but I didn't have any more gas, gasoline, you know. So I think these guy here had a real problem. Like Rafter with shoulder, or Larsson, the knee, or today, Norman, seems like he had a problem with his back. I mean, when you have a chance to go to the quarterfinal, I mean you do it. You don't blow yourself.

Q. Do you think that there's any reason why we've had so many retirements this year? Just go into this.

CEDRIC PIOLINE: It's always a long season. I mean, it's last part of a season. Here, it's very difficult. I mean, hardcourt here in States, it's usually very hot. We are playing since three, four weeks. We get tired. I mean, it's a difficult surface for everybody.

Q. What are your expectations for playing? You've beaten Kuerten twice before. What are your expectations for a third win?

CEDRIC PIOLINE: It's going to be difficult. He's a great player, and I think he will be very motivate and very, very aware because I beat him twice. So he's going to play very concentrating, you know. And so I have to play good tennis if I want to have a chance.

Q. What would it mean to you to win the US Open?

CEDRIC PIOLINE: I mean, win a Grand Slam, it's a dream. I think it's the biggest thing for a tennis player. I mean, I think it's bigger than be No. 1. Everybody says all -- all the players says they would prefer to win a Grand Slam than be No. 1.

Q. 1993, right here. You played brilliant tennis for six matches, then a final, not so great. Were you nervous? What do you remember about that final?

CEDRIC PIOLINE: It's long time ago. (Laughing). I don't know. I played okay, but, I mean, like in Wimbledon or so, I played okay. But two times I played some -- sometimes some guy not playing good as time as others.

Q. Are you a much better player now than you were in 1993?

CEDRIC PIOLINE: Much better, I don't know. But I know better in my game for sure. I know better what I can do or what I can, you know, cannot do. So it's -- it's more comfortable for me because I've experience. If I'm 30 years old, I don't have experience, I have a problem.

Q. Kafelnikov came in here and said that he thinks this may be his last shot in this tournament because he's 25. How do you feel about that considering you're five years older than he is?

CEDRIC PIOLINE: I don't have any problem. I'm enjoying to play tennis, and I don't care what the people are saying about 30 years old, 25, 35. I mean, it's not my problem.

Q. Do you feel like you're physically strong enough, if you had to play five sets in the quarterfinals, semifinals and final, to win the tournament?

CEDRIC PIOLINE: I played four sets the first match; five, second match; four, third match. So I mean, and I'm still here, you see? So I guess yes.

Q. I want to go back to the comment Kafelnikov made about there only being three players who could win. Do you agree with that?

CEDRIC PIOLINE: I don't have any thought about this. I mean, it's not -- if he's thinking this, I mean, well, I mean, it's -- it's all right to think that. So we'll see next Sunday if he was right or wrong. I don't want to go in this, you know.

Q. Does it bother you that, you know, you're not mentioned in that group; that you're not being taken seriously?

CEDRIC PIOLINE: No. I was not seed here. I never won a Grand Slam. He won two slam; Agassi, I don't know how many; and Krajicek won also. So I mean it's -- no, I don't have any problem with it.

End of FastScripts….

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