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September 2, 1998

Marcelo Rios

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. What was the difference between this match and the last time you two met?

MARCELO RIOS: We played the -- we played the other tournament at night and it was really tough. I think I served pretty good that time. Every time he served I have no chance to return. He was serving big first and second, and I was missing a lot. I think I served pretty good today. I didn't return that good. It was really windy, but I think I returned a good three games.

Q. What is your motivation for this tournament? What are you hoping to prove here?

MARCELO RIOS: Well, I have been playing really bad like last week. I have been not having a lot of fun playing tennis. I think I am with a lot of like energy to come to the tournament trying to do good, and try to like to keep on going my ranking, try to get to No. 1 again, and I feel pretty excited coming here and playing.

Q. What is your confidence level like right now?

MARCELO RIOS: We talk about matches, like playing the game, I think I don't have a lot of matches. I haven't been playing a lot of matches right now. But like, physically and mentally I think I feel pretty like -- I rest a lot. I am not playing a lot of matches. So I have to play too much. I think the important thing right now is to have energy, and I have that right now.

Q. You have several thousand fans up there. They were telling me how much they love you and how well you play. They are so excited for you. Does that help when you hear them? Can you hear them?

MARCELO RIOS: Yeah, you can hear when you are on the court. I always say: Thanks. I think it is a great support playing here in a state far from your country. You feel like your playing Davis Cup at home, I think that makes you feel pretty good. I think the tough moments of a match that will carry on and help you a lot.

Q. Does that make the tough moments easier?

MARCELO RIOS: Yeah, I think when you are in a tough moment with the support of the public, it is going to help you.

Q. Are you planning to hire a new coach or do it alone? What are your plans?

MARCELO RIOS: Right now Nick is helping me a lot, and for this week. I have been -- I think I feel pretty good alone right now. I have no plans. I feel pretty good. I think there is going to be a moment that I will need a coach. I think there are not many coaches around Chile, you don't have good coach. It is tough to go in Chile and pick someone because right now I think there is nobody.

Q. You separated with Larry a few weeks ago. You said: I want to go in a different direction. That really doesn't tell us exactly why you decided to drop him. Can you share with us the actual reasons why --

MARCELO RIOS: I think it is -- I have been talking about this for three weeks. I think it is about time to stop talking about this. We just split and that is it. I think, like I said, it is no sense to keep on going talking about that.

Q. Did it feel good on the hard court? You probably hear people talking about you on the hard courts, and expectations or not expectations. How do you feel after today? Is this a good match for you to start with? It looked pretty easy for you?

MARCELO RIOS: Yeah, I mean, not playing many matches, like I say, on hard court, I didn't play since the Open, since Lipton, and I feel pretty good. I think today was not like a good conditions, really windy and -- but I am feeling pretty good on hard court, I think more than clay.

Q. You talked about having energy and being happy. Is that like a conscious new approach? I don't know if people would always associate you with enjoying yourself maybe during these big --

MARCELO RIOS: I think when you win a match and that easy you enjoy it and feeling pretty good. I think when you don't win match, everything goes down, like you don't feel pretty good in the court or out of the court. Like a win today, if I -- like I won today, maybe make me keep on going and I think it make me happy.

Q. 1 and 3 for the summer on hard courts. What has been the part of your game that has been letting you down? What do you feel you have to pick up?

MARCELO RIOS: I am having a lot of problems. I was sick; then came, the surgery, then I was not feeling really good and -- but I think I have been playing pretty good like maybe from baseline I have been missing too much, haven't been serving pretty good. I have been playing all matches at night that I really don't like it a lot, but I think I am not playing bad. Right now I need more matches and try to go in the Slam.

Q. You said you have a lot of energy. Anything you do before the match to get you pumped up? Do you listen to any type of music?

MARCELO RIOS: No, I am not the kind of guys that like have the music all that. I am more relaxed -- I still have energy - like I have not been playing that much I am really hungry for playing a match and trying to win and trying to win matches.

Q. There is a possibility that you and Michael Chang would face each other again at this tournament very soon. Would you be looking forward to that match particularly?

MARCELO RIOS: I don't think so, I am going every match taking it like really slow and I think everybody is playing good and everybody, I think, wants to beat me and wants to beat everybody. I am going match by match. I think when I play Chang, if I play him, I can tell you.

Q. How bad do you need to win this US Open in your own mind?

MARCELO RIOS: I have not been doing really well in the summer and this is the last tournament I play on hard court in the year. Like I said, I feel pretty good and I am looking forward to do much better than the other years.

Q. Do you think you have something to prove here? There has been so much criticism about you getting to No. 1 without a Grand Slam. Do you think you need to prove here that you can do it?

MARCELO RIOS: I don't think I need to prove nothing to anybody. Like I think I am playing the game like everybody says I haven't won a Slam. Like I said, let's make a ranking of who wins more Slams and don't like take all the other tournaments we play during the year. I think we play a whole year and ranking is like that, like take the point for the whole year, and then let's do a ranking to win more Slams.

Q. Does that bother you? Does that upset you?

MARCELO RIOS: I don't think so. I think everybody can talk like whatever they want and like I saw article the other day said, well, how can a guy be No. 1 without winning a tournament on clay? Saying that clay is a surface that you have to play like all the shots and you have got to be complete to win. Well, they are -- people talking different things and you have got to read everything.

Q. Would you be satisfied with your own year if you didn't win a Grand Slam in 1998?

MARCELO RIOS: Well, I have been looking forward -- this year my goal was to get into the Masters. I think I am already in and yeah, sure I would like to win a Slam, last Slam of the year. I am trying to do as good as I can.

Q. Any different reaction from other players having -- being the fact that you have risen to No. 1, noticed anything different around the lockerrooms?

MARCELO RIOS: I don't think so. I think when you improve your ranking, everybody wants to beat you. That is the only thing they want to. I think nothing changed. I think everybody is quite the same.

Q. Do you think of yourself as a hero?

MARCELO RIOS: What do you mean a hero?

Q. A figure who is unanimously popular.

MARCELO RIOS: I don't think so.

Q. Celebrity?

MARCELO RIOS: I don't think so. I play the sports I am doing pretty good and I think when you do good people start knowing you, but I don't think -- I don't feel like a hero.

Q. In Chile are you a hero? They were telling me next to the national team you are the star.

MARCELO RIOS: I don't know what you mean by hero. What are you trying to say like hero?

Q. That people look up to you.

MARCELO RIOS: I think so. I think no one ever was a tennis player like that in Chile and people obviously like if you are doing good, everybody wants to be with you and support you and I think it is pretty fair like that.

Q. Petr said that whoever wins here it would be fairly fair to say that they would be No. 1 for the year. Do you feel that way?

MARCELO RIOS: I don't know. I haven't seen the ranking. I don't know how even how the points work, so I can't tell you the one who wins here is going to be No. 1. I think we have some more tournaments during the year, but I think maybe it is a good chance like the one that win can take some points.

Q. How did it feel to you inside when you went back to Chile this year and stood in front of 10,000 or so cheering people?

MARCELO RIOS: I think it is a great moment and I will always remember it being there, all the people supporting and going down the street and everybody going crazy, I think, you live that one time in your life and it is pretty good moment.

Q. Why are you always so guarded with your answers with the press? It is almost as if they are afraid to let anybody into your life and know what your real feelings are.

MARCELO RIOS: I don't think I am like that. I think I say what I think and I hate these stupid questions.

Q. Your fans say you are a real funny guy.

MARCELO RIOS: Yeah, I am pretty funny. (laughter) yeah.

Q. That you have a nice sense of humor. That is one of the things they like about you.

MARCELO RIOS: Yeah, I think I am -- if I am with people that I like, I am pretty funny. But I have all my - like different type of being. I think sometimes I am really mean and sometimes I am really funny.

Q. How big of a win would it be for you if you happen to get to the final and face Sampras and beat him?

MARCELO RIOS: I think it will be a pretty good week.

End of FastScripts....

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