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May 13, 2000

Magnus Norman


Q. Well, obviously congratulations, first and foremost. It's been a great week for you. What are your feelings at this moment? It's a bit of a landmark for you?

MAGNUS NORMAN: Yeah, well, I'm very relieved because, you know, there's been a lot of talk about the No. 1 position. When I was hitting the match ball and I won the match, I was very relieved because I've been thinking a lot about the No. 1 position the last couple of hours before the match, and I was just very happy to win the match actually.

Q. Where do you think your game is now compared with most of the matches you've played at the Australian Open?

MAGNUS NORMAN: I think, you know, it is difficult to compare because it's another surface. But I was definitely a little bit more confident on clay still, even though I improved a lot on hardcourt. I think my game is on top right now. I've played a lot of tennis this week, I've played doubles as well which improved my serve as well. I think everything is clicking for the moment, and hopefully now I can go out there tomorrow and play just as strong as I've done the whole week.

Q. It's a wonderful achievement to overtake somebody like Andre Agassi at the front of the Race. But does this give you as much a sense of achievement as it would have done maybe a year ago when you might have become World No. 1? How does that compare?

MAGNUS NORMAN: I mean, I don't want to say that I'm No. 1 in the world. That would be --

Q. Why not?

MAGNUS NORMAN: Ahh, come on, Bud.

Q. I see your name here, No. 1.

MAGNUS NORMAN: I'm No. 1 in the race. I don't want to say I'm No. 1 in the world. I don't want to compare myself to Agassi and Sampras, all these guys, no. They're way ahead of me. I'm No. 1 in the race; no one can take that away from me. After four months we played on almost all surfaces. It's a huge achievement. As I said yesterday, my main goal is to be in The Masters, to be in the top eight at the end of the year. That would be huge for me.

Q. Are you that scared to be considered No. 1? I mean, these days you always try to tell us I'm not really No. 1, I'm just No. 1 in the ATP Race. What do you think will change when you consider that you can be the No. 1? You are the No. 1, at least.

MAGNUS NORMAN: Yeah, well, you know, it is not going to change a whole lot. It's just two places from last week. That's the only change. I'm going to try to stay the same. I'm going to have the same motivation for becoming a better tennis player because I think in some respects my game can improve a lot. My volley can improve a lot, and I think my serve can improve a little bit. So hopefully, you know, I'm not going to change too much, and you guys better tell me if I do, you know. (Laughter.)

Q. Magnus, you say you're not ready to compare yourself to Pete and Andre. I presume that's because they've won a lot of Slams and you haven't won one yet?


Q. Do you think you're ready to win a Slam, the way your game is?

MAGNUS NORMAN: I really hope so. I mean I hope so. I definitely think so because I've been close a few times now, like in Australia and obviously in the US Open where I went to the fourth round and had to retire. So I felt like I've been there, you know, a few times, and I think I'm ready to take the big step, yeah.

Q. Kuerten or Corretja, which one?

MAGNUS NORMAN: Well, it doesn't really matter. I mean like I said yesterday, I have to go out there and try to play my game and, you know, just try to focus on the things that I have to do. And if they are better than me tomorrow, if either is better than me tomorrow, I'm just going to congratulate them because that's the approach I have to every match even, even if it's the first round somewhere far away or if it's the final like tomorrow. I don't try to change too much.

Q. A lot of players might have gone into their shell a little bit after an experience like you had in Melbourne in the Semifinals. Are you almost more pleased to have done what you've done considering that kind of experience that you've had? You seemed to gain some strength from that, rather than going the other way?

MAGNUS NORMAN: Yeah, I did, you know. I had a lot of expectations from back home, and I had a lot of expectations from myself to be in the final maybe in Melbourne, you know. And I have to be honest with everybody, it was too big for me. It was the first time I was in a semifinal in a Grand Slam. And as you said, instead of, you know, maybe being too negative about it, I'm trying to learn something from it. I think I showed that today actually, because I played under a lot of pressure, and, yeah, I played one of my best matches ever. So that shows that I learned something from that moment. And the next time I will be there in the semifinal or a final in a Grand Slam, I will know how it feels.

Q. Magnus, do you feel with the new system with the race that obviously you're excited about getting to the top of the race board at the moment, but do you think it's important to sort of keep a sense of perspective, a sense of proportion, because it is so new and there is the difference between sort of heading the race and being No. 1, which will be at the end of the year? And every time somebody new goes to the top, we now have this sudden excitement, but, you know, as you pointed out, it's only really a stage of the race, isn't it? There's still a long way to go. Do you think that's going to be one of the things that people have got to get used to?

MAGNUS NORMAN: Yeah, I think so. But from now on it's getting more and more exciting because in the end of the year, I was a little bit negative about the race, you know, all the changes. But what I feel right now is just -- I mean -- (Laughter.) -- is just obvious. I mean it's getting more and more exciting, and the more and more we come to the end of the year, I think the more and more exciting it's going to be. And let's just see how I end up at the end of the year.

Q. I have a question for the ATP Tour. If the entry system is still called the world rankings, where would this week put Magnus in that?

ATP: I have to check it out there. He would probably go up a place.

Q. So far. And maybe tomorrow higher?

ATP: Absolutely. I'll check it out for you guys.

Q. Magnus, do you think now that you are leader of the race it might awaken a bit of media interest at home?

MAGNUS NORMAN: Hopefully. Let's hope so. There were not Swedish journalists here, all of a sudden we had one yesterday. They woke up. They realized that, you know, this guy might be No. 1 in the world on Sunday. So let's hope so, I mean --

Q. Did anybody call you?

MAGNUS NORMAN: Yesterday, yeah. All of a sudden they woke up from the dead and everybody called me. So... You know, I'm happy about that.

Q. Just a quick follow-up, just tieing in with this, why do you think that is?

MAGNUS NORMAN: I don't know. I think -- I mean, obviously they're spoiled with good players throughout the years. When I made the semifinal, for example, in Australia, there was nothing at all. They compare me to Borg or Edberg or Wilander, you know, and that was one of the biggest moments in my career. But I cannot get bad press because I lost the semifinal like I did. But it's a shame. I hope this will change a little bit.

Q. Magnus, what is in the sports news then? Obviously there's the buildup to the Soccer Euro 2000. Or is it ice hockey?

MAGNUS NORMAN: Yeah, probably ice hockey. But they're useless for the moment, so... (Laughter.) I don't know. But it's ice hockey and there's soccer. There are other sports. Like bandit, for example.

Q. You gave us a lesson in Australia.


Q. Maybe one day not long on people will be saying, "There he goes, one of those boring Swedes. Magnus has won another Grand Slam title." (Laughter.)

MAGNUS NORMAN: Let's hope so. (Laughter.)

Q. Magnus, I knew you in 1998 at the end of the Davis Cup final. In these two years you are showing correct, you are fair on the court, always very concentrated but without seeing anything about you out of the court. You seem almost perfect. (Laughter.) You don't give us journalists too many things to write bad, but the things you do on the court which maybe can be your defect, if you have some defect. By the way, do you sweat when you play? It doesn't seem so.

MAGNUS NORMAN: Yeah, I sweat a lot. But it's a difficult question really. I mean I think it's -- I should not answer that question. Someone else should do that. Maybe David can. But... No one is perfect. I mean, I'm absolutely not perfect, and I have a lot of things to improve and, you know, both on and off court. And, you know, what can I say? You know, I'm looking for a girlfriend, for example. It's something I haven't found.

Q. Is that with the new hair style?

MAGNUS NORMAN: Exactly. I'm trying all the ways, but no way seems to work.

Q. Magnus, this is a good capitalist question, I'm just curious. In the old days if you made No. 1 you got bonuses from your sponsors. Has it been changed around this year because of the way the system is now? Do you get any bonus from anybody for being in the top spot?

MAGNUS NORMAN: I don't know. I haven't looked at it. Hopefully, yeah.

Q. But you don't know?

MAGNUS NORMAN: No, I don't know.

End of FastScripts…

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