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ATP TOUR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP


November 10, 1997


Greg Rusedski


HANNOVER, GERMANY

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think you've got all the serve and volleyers on one side, and you have all the baseliners on the other, I would say. I think it should be exciting. It's going to be a good first match for me playing Patrick Rafter. I lost to him in the U.S. Open final, so I'm looking forward to hopefully getting that match back.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think serve and volleyers can be very aggressive. The serve and volleyers are still going to be favored in the indoor tournaments. The ball is bouncing extremely high. The court takes the spins well. When you get in the rally, it's still flying around a little bit. I think it's going to be hard for the players that play a baseline style to have a really good shot here this week.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: By far, there's no question.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I'm feeling fine. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I've had a day and a half off now, two days. It should be exciting. Play Pat second match. I think Pete's first match might be a little quick tomorrow, so I have to get ready.

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Q. Do you see it as a three-horse race here?

GREG RUSEDSKI: If you look at both sections, it looks like in both sections, Carlos hasn't played the best indoor season this year, but surprises can happen. You never know. Pete, Pat, myself, I think it would be a good week for me to see if I can take another step up competing against those sort of players.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Not at all. I won the first set very convincingly. I had a few chances. I had a lot of deuce games. He played a very good tiebreaker. I played a poor game to start off the third set. He capitalized and came up at the end with some good tennis to win.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I wish that was true (laughter). No, I'm not making any excuses. He was the better player on the day. I'm just excited to be here. I'm fresh. Two days off. Looking forward to playing well here this week.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think I didn't have as much stamina as I probably would. But he still played better tennis. No, I'm feeling fit and healthy, looking forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow I think is a big match for myself and Pat. Whoever wins, sets them up nicely in the group.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Probably the hottest players at the moment are Sampras, Bjorkman, Pat's been playing well. I favor myself indoors, so I can't complain. I think if you play good tennis, you get through a group. If you don't, then you won't. Everybody here knows how to play at the highest level. I think if I play well, then I have a good chance to qualify for the semi-, but if it's a difficult group, you have the Australian Open champion, the Wimbledon champion, the U.S. Open champion in the group, so you only have the Grand Slam winners in my section.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: It's very special. You realize when you come to the draw, there's only eight players here. To have Pavarotti do the draw, it's very special, him singing a concert here last night. It's a very satisfying feat. Hopefully it's just the beginning of the adventure, shall we say.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I think it has a little bit more bounce, a little bit more grip than the U.S. Open court, I'd say. I think the true test is when you get the crowd in there. Court always plays differently. When there's nobody in there, it always plays a little bit more quicker. When you have a little more people, it might be a little bit slower with all the humidity. Tomorrow will be the testing ground. I think most players will enjoy this surface.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I haven't. No, never played in a round-robin before.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I don't think there's any difference. I think he wants me to win the rematch. I don't think there's any difference there in that respect.

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Q. (Inaudible) Do you really think you could win this?

GREG RUSEDSKI: If I didn't think I could win here, I wouldn't bother showing up. It's nice to be the top eight in the world. To come here is an honor and a privilege, but I think everybody is here to win. If you don't have that attitude coming into the event, then it's going to be difficult to perform well.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Make sure not to have three double-faults in one service game (laughter). I worked on my serve last night, returns, sharpening things up. Just making sure everything is a little bit sharper and crisper. I was pleased with practice today and the day before.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: The week after, I think I was in the gym training. I was working on my fitness for the year coming up already.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, it's just something very simple. I watched him a little bit. I just didn't take my time, played a poor game.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think the thing is, you have to have a standardized ball. In grass court season, for example, you use the Slazenger ball. Then the French, during the claycourt season, you use the French Open ball. Before the U.S. Open and the hardcourt season, you use the U.S. Open ball. You just make it simple so the players don't have to play week to week. To standardize the ball would be the simplest thing. I don't think the players are really bothered with whether you give them a hard ball or a soft ball, just as long as you have the same ball every week. Take away the problem of injuries.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: It's the same as in Paris and Stockholm, so that's fine.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I'm gradually building up. I lost first round in Paris.

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Q. Have you done anything different this week?

GREG RUSEDSKI: I wish I could say yes. I just give it all every single week I play, try to play my best. It's going to be the same this week.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think by far it's been a change of life-style, a change of tennis, a change in a lot of respects in my life. To start the year off 56th in the world, to go to 4 in the world, when you're at home, everybody recognizes you and knows who you are, to be able to win the Sports Personality of the Year award was very special. It's been -- the last three months, I think my life has changed a lot.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think I worked hard. I had my moderate goals in the beginning, to get to the Top 30, then hopefully the Top 20. I think I would have been pleased if I finished the season in the Top 20, tried to move into the Top 10 the year after. I'm one year ahead of schedule. It's very satisfying. Everything happened so quickly. I got into the Top 20 and the next week I got into the Top 15 at No. 11, then the Top 10 the week after. Two weeks after that, the Top 5 in the world. So it's all happened very, very quickly.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think I want to keep my place in the Top 5. I'm sure I'll try to win Grand Slam Championships. That's where I'm working with Tony at the moment. He's got the experience of taking Stefan to two Wimbledon titles and to the U.S. Open, Australian Open championship. I think if I work hard and do the right things and listen to Tony, then anything's possible.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: No, I think I'm much wiser. I learned a lot of things from that match.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: No, about both. I think I'll have a good game plan for tomorrow. I'm not going to reveal any of it today, because I have to save it.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, we discuss what we do every evening. We work on things. We do a reasonably good job, I think. You'll find out tomorrow if it works or if it doesn't.

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Q. Will you do anything different from when you played Rafter at the U.S. Open?

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, you'll see tomorrow (laughter).

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: You probably will if you show up tomorrow (laughter).

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think it definitely would have helped. I think his knowledge of the game, you can't question it. It's unquestionable. He's a very, very bright man. I think it definitely would have helped. Who knows if I would have won, but I think it would have definitely been an asset.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, when you get to a Grand Slam final, you have to take your chance and you have to try to win. So if it happens again, I'll be better prepared for it. I think obviously you get to that stage, you're so close, but yet so far. It proves I can get there. Now it's to get over the next step and try to win.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think it's still a level below a Grand Slam championship. It's the top best eight players in the world, but it doesn't go over two weeks, doesn't take seven matches to win. I mean, it will be very special to win here because you've beaten the top eight players in the world to get to that stage, but a Grand Slam I think is still a class above. You could lose a match, yet still win. Even if you won five straight matches, it's still that extra two that it takes to win.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, if I could have gone into the fifth set, anything could have happened. But Pat played a very good serve and volley game. I think I've learned a lot from that match. I hope tomorrow will be a different story.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I think it's good fun. I'm actually excited. I projected before the draw was made, I was going to be on Pat's and Pete's side of the group. I expected to play Pete maybe in the first round. But Carlos is playing him in the first match. I think it gives me an incentive and it motivates me to want to do well because there's a lot on the line and there's players that I've never beaten before, Sampras; lost to Pat the last two times we played. There's a lot of motivation for me to want to do well.

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Q. In a way, Greg, this match could effectively decide it, a key game.

GREG RUSEDSKI: It is a key match. It's going to be a tough battle because I'd have to beat Sampras, most likely, to qualify for the semis. So this is definitely going to be a big match for me tomorrow.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I'm feeling fine. Had some rest. Looking forward to an exciting match with Patrick Rafter. Lost to him in the U.S. Open finals this year, and I'm hoping to get a little revenge tomorrow.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think Tony has done a good job. I think I'll have a good match tomorrow, just do my best.

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Q. Is there going to be a different approach?

GREG RUSEDSKI: Have to wait and see tomorrow (laughter). I think I'm going to try a few new things. If I do them well, I'll have an opportunity to win the match.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: It's very exciting, top eight players are here, Pavarotti doing the draw. It's a very exciting thing to have happen in your life. But I'm here now and I want to try to win the title here. But it's going to be a very difficult road with having Sampras and Rafter in my group.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I think I'd like to stay in the Top 5 next year, try to go higher in my rankings. I'd also like to try to win a Grand Slam championship. I think that's what sets any player apart from the others. I was so close this year, hopefully I can change that next year.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I hired Tony because he took Stefan to the top, No. 1 for two straight years, kept Stefan in the Top 5 in the world for many years. He's very good tactically. I think we've got a good relationship. Hopefully I can keep on improving.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I've been working hard with Tony on all facets of my game. I'm a different personality than Stefan. Sometimes things are different for different personalities.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think at lot of it has to do with the work I put in on the off-season. I think I did quite a few hours in December. I worked on the technical aspects of my game. I think things are different than the other work I put in the last 14 to 15 years of my life. It's nice for it all to come together. Hopefully, I can continue.

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Q. (Inaudible)?

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think the British public have always been tremendously kind to me, always very supportive. I think the press have always been fair with me. Tim was having (inaudible) at the beginning of the year. I think I've changed things around this year. It doesn't really matter as long as the game of tennis stays in the public eye, that's the most important thing.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: It was very satisfying because the award was voted by the public. It was very satisfying because it's people. It's probably the most special award I've won.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: It was a good result this week (laughter).

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: We had an agreement to finish after the U.S. Open. I decided I wanted to go with Tony because of his tactical knowledge and because he kept Stefan Edberg in the Top 5 in the world for ten straight years. He got him to No. 1 for two straight years, and he won six Grand Slam championships with him. I wanted to have the opportunity to try to win Grand Slam championships. Tony has been there, done it, and he's a very bright man. Knows how to keep me motivated.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I sat down and we talked for two hours. He decided to take the job. If I keep listening to him, I can keep him out here for a while.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, if he told you that he's not going to talk about them, them I'm not going to talk about them either.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: When I was younger, but I haven't.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Yes. I have a fitness trainer, Steve Green, who works for the LTA. I've been working with him for a year and a half and it's been going extremely well.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think it's a very exciting time for tennis. I mean, you have Gustavo Kuerten who won the French Open, Patrick Rafter who won the U.S. Open. There's a lot of new players coming up. Bjorkman has had a fantastic run. He had the finals of Paris, then he won Stockholm. He's playing some great tennis. Pat won the U.S. Open. I think it's a very exciting time. And hopefully if we can do anything as well as them, I think most of us will be satisfied. Boris has had a fantastic (inaudible) and still does. Stefan was a great champion. If we can do anything that they've accomplished, that will be unbelievable.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I don't think anybody will ever have the feel and talent that McEnroe had as a player. Stefan's quickness and volleys were above anybody. His backhand was a thing of beauty. I think if I can work hard, it's possible to achieve some good things. We'll just have to wait and see. Those two players have already proven themselves as greats in the game.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think every player wants to get to the top of the game and win Grand Slam championships. I just want to win as many matches as I possibly can, do as well as I can.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I think I always believed in myself. It's finding the right people to help guide you to where you want to be. If you work hard and you have the right people behind you, then anything can happen.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I'm looking forward to it. I thought I was going to be in Sampras' and Rafter's section before the draw happened. It's exciting. I've never beaten both. Hungry to play them. I play Patrick Rafter who I lost to in the U.S. Open finals. I'm looking forward to a bit of revenge. It's going to be an exciting match tomorrow. I'm just going to go out there and do my best. If I can win that one, then my group looks feasible to get into the semi-, but the key is going to be tomorrow.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I think it's very exciting. All the other players, eight best players in the world. It's been very well run. Everything has been very exciting.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: It's quite a privilege and honor to be here in the top eight. I think every single one of us that's here has the desire to win the championship. To get into that top eight, you have to have that desire inside.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: What's the highlight of being a tennis professional? Doing something you love and making a living from it. Most people don't have the opportunity to do what they like for a living.

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Q. Other than travel, what's the low point?

GREG RUSEDSKI: I think that's probably the low point. Being away from friends and family. You have sort -- it's the same thing as travel really. It just depends whether it's flying you consider traveling. I don't see really any low points from it other than travel. Things I don't like is flying too much and being away from friends and family. That's the biggest thing.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I think the tour is going to start marketing the other players that are coming up. People like Gustavo Kuerten from Brazil who won the French Open, Patrick Rafter who won the U.S. Open, Jonas Bjorkman who has come up, as well as myself, quite a few younger players. I think the idea is to (inaudible) so it just doesn't rely on one or two individuals. If you're talking to somebody in the street, they can name maybe 30 golfers without even trying. If you ask them about tennis, they'll say Andre Agassi or Boris Becker. I think it's going to be difficult for tennis, but if they can market it the right way, it's a possibility. Obviously in Germany it's going to have a huge effect because Boris is unbelievable for the German market, with Stich, Becker and maybe Graf very helpful to tennis.

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Q. Do you think it's the responsibility of the tour itself or the tournaments and the tour?

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think it's the tour, the tournaments, and the players. I think it's kind of everybody getting together.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think my goal was to get into the Top 20 by the end of the world. If somebody said that, I would be pleased and happy with myself. Now that I'm here and excited to be here, it's a great privilege. I'm here to try to win. I think that's what all the top eight players are here for.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I think Brian did a fantastic job technically with me. He really helped me on my return of serve, my backhand ground stroke. He showed me new and different things. I think he did a very good job for me and I owe him a lot of credit for that.

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Q. This is your first time in Hannover?

GREG RUSEDSKI: Yes, it is my first time here.

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Q. What are you doing in Hannover besides the Championships?

GREG RUSEDSKI: The World Exposition is coming here in the year 2000. I visited the shops in Hannover. It's my first time here. Everything has been very nice. I'm having a good time. Hopefully I can have a good time on the tennis court as well.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I think it's an exciting first round match. I'm going to try to get a bit of revenge tomorrow. I'm sure Pat is going to be up for the match. It should be a great match. If we both play our best, who knows what will happen.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I think the serve and volleyers are definitely going to be favored on these courts. But I guess we'll find out by the time the championships arrive on Sunday. You have two groups here: one group with all the serve and volleyers and one group with all the baseliners. You're going to have contrasting styles of tennis whether you're watching one group or the other group.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I'm going to go relax, try to start playing a little bit of golf. I'm going to do some things I normally don't do. I'm going to see friends and I'm going to go out. I'm going to do things that normal people do, just get away from tennis for one week.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I'll probably do that for a week, then get back into the gym and start getting into training again. I've only got six more years to go before I'm 30, so I've got to make the best of it.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Should be exciting tomorrow. First match is at 2:00, right? I'll be on at 3:00. I'll be on at 3:00.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: There's only one way to go when you haven't beaten Pete Sampras. That's to try to win. So I have nothing to lose. Pete's expected to win. I'm just going to go out there and try to play my best tennis.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Obviously Pat played a very good match at the U.S. Open finals. I'm looking forward to getting revenge against Pat. We'll find out tomorrow. I'm a much better player now than I was then.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, he hasn't won too many matches in the indoor season. Anything can happen in tennis, as they say.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: It's something very special to be the first British player to play in Hannover. Hopefully it's not my last. I hope to play in many years to come. Hopefully I can do my best here. I think everybody that has come here has the desire to win the tournament.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: It's great for my serve. I can serve well, doesn't matter what surface you put down. If I play the tennis I know I can, I'll have a chance to do it.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I don't think it's humanly possible, but I won 50 out of 57 points last week. If I can do that every week, I don't think I'd lose too many matches.

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Q. (Inaudible)?

GREG RUSEDSKI: I think the Grand Slams are always the pinnacle of tennis. I think the championships is a level below. This is an event you can still win even if you lose a match in the round-robin. In a Grand Slam, you have to win seven matches. This is a very special thing, but I still think the Grand Slams are the tournaments you want to win.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: I think the issue here is to try to win. It's going to be difficult with Sampras and Rafter, but anything can happen.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: No, there's no problem there. I guess we don't have any doubles players this week so there's no need for that this week.

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Q. You heard the decision from the ATP that they made the court a little bit slower than the past years, of course. Is it a disappointment for you because of your serve?

GREG RUSEDSKI: No, not at all. I'm very happy about the court speed. I'm looking forward to playing here. I think I have a very good chance with this court. I can serve on any surface; doesn't make any difference.

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Q. How do you see your possibilities?

GREG RUSEDSKI: I think every player coming here wants to win the event. That's my goal this year. It's going to be difficult with Sampras and Rafter in my section. If I do the right things on the court, I have a good opportunity.

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Q. Are you happy to play Pete Sampras after the first round? Does that give you motivation?

GREG RUSEDSKI: I'm always motivated, but this time I'm more motivated for it. I think I've probably got a more difficult group. If you play your best tennis, then you'll get through.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: No, I didn't. I heard him in rehearsal but I didn't come down for the show.

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Q. (Inaudible)

GREG RUSEDSKI: He's got a fantastic voice. I needed the rest because I knew I was going to play tomorrow.

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