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March 10, 1999

Xavier Malisse


MIKI SINGH: 18 year old Xavier Malisse into the Round of 16, which is perhaps the biggest win of his career. His first time here at Indian Wells. He's picking up his first couple wins this year, ready to go. First question.

Q. Is this the biggest win of your career?

XAVIER MALISSE: I think it is. I mean, I had a good run in New Mexico, I played finals. I think I played great here. I mean, I have nothing to lose. They got to win, they're the seed. I'm the young guy. I can just go out there and have fun. I feel fit. I feel great. My confidence is going up. I think it's definitely one of my biggest wins.

Q. What was the key to you winning today?

XAVIER MALISSE: I think the biggest thing was I hung in there, even though he was serving aces in the second set. I mean, you have to expect it before the match. I think the best thing was I just hung in there and I stayed fit.

Q. The fans are really loud out there. Do you enjoy playing in front of a crowd that gets into it?

XAVIER MALISSE: I love it. I think it's a dream for everybody. I'm 18. I'm a young guy, so I like to have fun. The more the people get into it, the more I get into it. I think that's definitely what tennis needs where people go a little bit nuts, a little bit crazy. The more people, the more fun.

Q. You mentioned being 18. You saw Goran play at Wimbledon when you were a little kid. Do you ever look on the court, see all these people, saying, "What am I doing out here playing Goran Ivanisevic"?

XAVIER MALISSE: Yesterday I was thinking about it. You see these people on TV three years ago, four years ago. You wish you were there. Then one day they see you out there. But I think I'm 18, you know, I don't really realize what's happening to me right now. But I think the more you get into the tennis and the more mature you get, the more you start realizing that you're there, you're one of them, you can play. You know you can beat them. You can't think that it's still Ivanisevic, I can't beat him because he played Wimbledon. You have to go out there and hang in there and try the best you can do.

MIKI SINGH: Interesting note on Xavier, played his first professional match in Philadelphia, drew Pete Sampras in the first round, pushed him to 7-5 in the third set. He was ranked 851 at the time.

Q. How did you get into tennis?

XAVIER MALISSE: I have a brother, he was playing tennis. I went with him. I was just kidding around with the ball and the tennis racquet. There's a lady that came up to me that said it would be good if I played one hour a week, you know, just for the feeling. I loved it. Since then I've been playing.

Q. Where was that?


Q. Which town?

XAVIER MALISSE: Waregan. That's where I started playing tennis.

Q. Do you know yet whether you'll play Davis Cup?

XAVIER MALISSE: Well, I'm selected. It's also who plays the best at that time is going to play. I'm happy I'm in the team. Davis Cup is fun. You're not winning for you're own; you're wining for your country. It will be good to play Davis Cup.

Q. You had your first experience in Indianapolis.


Q. What was that like?

XAVIER MALISSE: It was fun. I was a little bit nervous in the beginning, the first time. Once you get out there, it's like you play for your own, but in your mind it's still for your country. There's people watching, the whole Belgium is watching. It was a great experience. I love Davis Cup. I think it's one of the good tournaments of the year.

Q. How do you think you guys will do against the Czech Republic?

XAVIER MALISSE: Well, we'll see. Can't really say. I mean, I think they're favorite, but we're playing in Belgium, it's our surface. I mean, you never know. I think we can win. Very a good chance of winning. Nobody is playing bad. I think we can win.

Q. Do you care who you play next or just bring on all comers?

XAVIER MALISSE: Actually, I don't know who I play next.

Q. You don't really care, do you?

XAVIER MALISSE: Well, no. If you start looking at, "If I win, I play this one." I just take one at a time. You can't think three matches ahead. Every match in this tournament is tough. I don't know who I play next, but we'll see. I'm going to look at the draw and see who I play.

Q. Do people have any nicknames for you?

XAVIER MALISSE: They call me the X Man.

Q. Are you going to dye your hair if you get to the finals?

XAVIER MALISSE: I might. If I'm going to cut it, I will definitely put some color in it. Right now, I'm just growing it out. It brings me good luck so far. I don't think I'm going to cut it if I go to the finals. Maybe next month might be different.

Q. Got to go into LA and find out who does Rodman's hair?

XAVIER MALISSE: No. I've been doing my own hair so far. We'll see. I think it's good for the people. Some like it, some don't. You got to do something new in tennis so people get into it.

Q. Did it surprise you that Goran stayed back so much today?

XAVIER MALISSE: I've never really -- I didn't see him play yesterday. I think his second serve was a little bit weaker today. But it did surprise me that even though on his first serve he stayed back sometimes. I got more comfortable out there because if I could just bring it back and play, you know, the point was open. No, it kind of surprised me a little bit though.

Q. What happened to your brother the tennis player, he's not playing?

XAVIER MALISSE: No. He was a great player, he was one of the best in Belgium. He was good for practice. As soon as the matches started, he got stressed out. He couldn't hit one in. He started studying. He's studying law, third year.

Q. What's he studying?


Q. Do you have any understanding of why you received the wildcard?

XAVIER MALISSE: No. I mean, I'm very thankful everybody who helped, the person who gave me the wildcard. That's why I'm sitting here right now. It would be different if they wouldn't give it to me. Every chance you get, you got to take it. It's not just a wildcard in an easy tournament. This is one of the toughest draws of the year. I'm very happy that they give it to me.

Q. You going to go out and play golf now in the afternoon since you did so well this morning?

XAVIER MALISSE: Yeah. I love golf. Probably at 2:00 or something, I'll get out there.

End of FastScripts....

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