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August 31, 1996

Alex O'Brien


Q. Alex, after the winning the first set very handily, did you feel like you were still sort of sailing along on this ride you've been on for a while, still hot?

ALEX O'BRIEN: No. I felt like I was just playing good tennis, just outplayed him the first set. I was on the ball, seeing it well, hitting it well, moving my feet, really taking it to him. I wasn't thinking about the wave I've been riding, just kind of playing.

Q. What happened in the second set? When did it turn around? Did you feel it turning around?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I felt like I outplayed him in the second set. I got unlucky on that game when I got broken, that turned the tide. He started playing well and started serving like Harry Houdini. You can't do anything when he serves like that. You have to say, "Too good." You tell yourself to have a nice trip home.

Q. I believe he did that at one point, have a run of four aces.

ALEX O'BRIEN: Every time I got a chance, I felt like I was putting pressure on him, he came up with some aces. You have to take off your hat and say, "That's great playing, Dave."

Q. Had you gotten used -- for a while you were getting used to the feeling of losing. Have you now gotten used to the feeling of winning, and is it a shock to your system?

ALEX O'BRIEN: No, it's not a shock to my system. I'm very disappointed. I wish I could have won. You can't win everything. Everything can't go your way all the time. I gave it my best effort today and it just wasn't good enough.

Q. You played almost every day in the last month. Were you feeling a little tired toward the end of the match?

ALEX O'BRIEN: No. He just played better than I did towards the end of the match.

Q. How many days have you had off? If you go back to that challenger?


Q. You've actually played a match every single day?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I think I've had maybe two days off.

Q. That you didn't play?

ALEX O'BRIEN: That I didn't play.

Q. That you didn't play a match?

ALEX O'BRIEN: That I didn't play a match.

Q. Between singles and doubles, you've played every single day?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I'm pretty sure, yeah.

Q. Were you traveling on the days you weren't playing?

ALEX O'BRIEN: The two days I think I didn't play, I think -- well, yeah, in New Haven I had two days off.

Q. But you had to have the day off that you traveled from New Haven to Toronto?

ALEX O'BRIEN: No. I played on Sunday. I had a day off there. I had Monday off, then I played on Sunday. I had three days off.

Q. What about going from Toronto to here?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Toronto to here? Yeah, probably like two more days there. I can't remember if we lost on Friday. I think we lost on Friday. I lost singles on Friday. I played here Monday, so I had two days off there. I had quite a few days off actually (laughter).

Q. That goes back six weeks, though? You're talking five or six days?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I think that's right. I'm feeling great right now, let me tell you.

Q. What are you going to do now? I know you still have doubles.

ALEX O'BRIEN: I really want to put in my best effort for doubles, so I'm going to head straight back to the training room, try to get back into it. I'd like to do well here in doubles. My partner and I fought out a hard match last night. We won 7-6 in the third. I'd also like to take this moment to say doubles is a great game and I hope you guys promote it a little bit. Last year I had one of the most disappointing times of my life. I made it to the finals of this Grand Slam. They scheduled us before a women's semifinal. There were maybe like, you know, 20 people in the crowd. They were yelling back and forth at each other, "Pass me a beer." We were playing the biggest matches of our career. It just seemed like kind of a who cares joke. We had some good tennis out there. I just wish that you guys would kind of promote it a little as well. It's a great game, fun to watch. It does get boring sometimes especially when you watch guys hit aces two thousand times in a row and there's no point play.

Q. You think you played so much in the last couple of weeks and having a big match against Washington that it's finally taken its toll on you today?

ALEX O'BRIEN: No. It's really hard. Yesterday in my doubles, it's -- he just beat me. I'm not going to make any excuses. The guy beat me. He served great. That's the bottom line.

Q. Going back to that 12th game in the second set, though, you start him off with two aces, and the lob was close to the line. I mean, did that upset you a little bit at that point?

ALEX O'BRIEN: You know what worried me a little more, I was on his serve every single game in the second set. I had so many breakpoints. Even at 5-All, I think I had four breakpoints. Every single time he came up with a big serve. You know, you shouldn't get frustrated. You should say, "Too good." I was like, "Gosh, I'm playing the best I can here, putting a lot of pressure on him, and he's all of a sudden coming up with aces every time." Maybe not aces every time, but that was a little disappointing, big service winners. I forgot what happened on the lob. I should have won that game, I think.

Q. It was very close. You were looking at it.

ALEX O'BRIEN: He hit a lob and I was looking at it?

Q. No. You hit a lob and it went a little long, they called it.

ALEX O'BRIEN: I felt there were a few shaky calls, but that doesn't change a match.

Q. After that you went to 30-30 and he came up with two great shots?

ALEX O'BRIEN: He did. He hit a good return on breakpoint. Hadn't been making his backhand. He hit a great backhand down the line. That's the way he plays, kind of comes out of nowhere with three or four slap shots. That's why he's hard to play.

Q. You guys were not at Stanford together, were you?

ALEX O'BRIEN: No, didn't go at the same time.

Q. When he breaks that way, with the little half volley at the net and then the backhand return, does that kind of take a little air out of the balloon at that point, kind of? You're on top of the match and then all of a sudden.

ALEX O'BRIEN: Maybe I was just trying to say, "Keep playing, hang in there, keep playing your game. You've been beating the guy." I was beating him up to that point, playing better than he was, moving well. I don't know. I don't know what happened. The wheels fell off.

Q. Can you reflect a little bit what this run or experience has been like in singles?

ALEX O'BRIEN: It's been fun. It's been exciting for me. I've realized that there's a lot of added things to take care of. I got home at 12:30, the night before I got to bed at 4:00. After the match I was amped up. The night before I got to bed at 11:00. I'll be happy not to see this place, maybe take a little break. I've been going, going, going, doing a lot of things. I'm not complaining in the least bit because I've had a great time, I've had a great run. It's tough because there are a lot of demands placed on you. There are a lot of things going on. That's part of the deal. That's why it's fun.

Q. You've become kind of a hot property in the last really three weeks. Do you feel like your world has spun around you? A month and a half ago, you were barely in the top 300 in the world.

ALEX O'BRIEN: Maybe when I get back in Amarillo and have a few beers, think about it all, kind of sort it all out. It has been pretty fast. I've gotten some great coverage. The press has been awesome. I'm not just saying that. Seriously, I mean, I've gotten some nice press. Things have been going my way. I want to be bitter right now and feel sorry for myself, but I can't really complain.

Q. You played him five times before?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Yes. He's beaten me every single time.

Q. Did you think the way you started out and the way you've been playing leading into this --

ALEX O'BRIEN: I really felt like I had a perfect game -- I have a perfect game to beat him. I return well, serve well, move well. Just didn't stick with my game plan. I didn't move quite as well as I would have liked to today.

Q. Was the reason you didn't convert a breakpoint after the first set?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I didn't convert one after the first set?

Q. No. Then you had a lot after that. Was it the serve, even in the fourth set?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Yeah. I don't know if you watched the match, but I felt every time I had a chance at a breakpoint, he was hitting some big serves.

Q. Do you look at yourself a little differently now that you've had this tremendous success as a singles player here? Do you reevaluate your career in any way, where you're going to go from here?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Yeah, I feel like I can do a little more damage maybe in tournaments, that I'm a legitimate player more. I also realize that I have a lot of things that I still need to work on, that if I can improve those, improve mentally even more, that will help me as well.

Q. If you could point to a reason for this burst of success, what would it be?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Just tenacity, perseverance. Things weren't going my way, and I hung in there. I got a few lucky wins or a few wins that gave me a little confidence. It just built and built. I beat a good player here, beat a good player there. I just felt like I was a good player.

Q. When you say things weren't going your way, was that on the court or were you having trouble with confidence and stuff as well?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Yeah, on the court I would get to a position of 5-4 and serve for the match, just play a terrible game or choke, get nervous. I had a lot of matches like that where I didn't come through in the clutch. Then I kind of turned that around. I started thinking, "Hey, you know, I'm here for a reason. I'm up 4-2 in the third for a reason."

Q. Where will you play after this? What will you do after that? Will you go home?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I don't know yet. I'm trying to figure out my schedule. I entered some tournaments in Europe, didn't get accepted. Maybe Asia.

Q. Have you had to readjust your life from probably 265 in the world to I imagine top 50 after this?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I've had to readjust my schedule. I've been playing doubles in the big tournaments. I kind of still wind up going to the same tournaments.

Q. Are you sad that August is over?

ALEX O'BRIEN: No. I had a good run, played some good matches, fought hard. I'm disappointed I didn't win today. I felt I did the best I could today. That's all you can ask for.

Q. You're 26?

ALEX O'BRIEN: 26, yeah.

Q. Does it strike you as strange when you've had this sort of breakthrough, mystify you in any way that Edberg, who is four years older than you, is retiring?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I started when I was 22. I think there's a certain maturation period for tennis players. Mine was pretty long time. I don't think it's that strange that I'm coming on at 26. You look at most of the guys like Courier, Todd Martin, took all them a couple years to work things out. I've looked to them and looked at previous precedence.

End of FastScripts....

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