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April 23, 1999

Felix Mantilla

MONTE CARLO, F. MANTILLA/A. Costa 6-4, 6-7, 7-6

ATP: Questions for Felix.

Q. So you are starting to come back with him? I mean, 5-1 head-to-head. What's the difference? You feel how to play against him more and more?

FELIX MANTILLA: Well, I think both of us, we have a very similar level, no? Once I can beat him; once he can beat me. In Estoril he played better than me. He beat easy the match 2 and 4. Today I was leading 6-4, 4-1. I thought that I could win the match in two sets. But he come back, he start to play better and better. At 6-5, I had a match point. Well, he play really well this point. After the tiebreak, I had no chance. In the beginning of the third set, I just start to think in the second set, well, you know, I'm a fighter. I have a very confident in myself. When I was 3-Love, 15-40, I was a little bit lucky there because if I lose this game, I had a really bad. But after that, I came back in 3-1, 4-1, 5-2. I just still believe in my game. When I break back in 5-4, I said, "Okay, come on, you can do it." The tiebreak was too tight. Finally I won the match, but both of us I think we play a really interesting and a really nice match.

Q. How much did it help you to gain self-confidence with your victory in Barcelona when you were down Love-3 in the third set?

FELIX MANTILLA: Yeah, that helps me a lot, no? I came from winning in my hometown, Barcelona. It was a really nice tournament for me. I came here to do my best because next week I have rest. I'm really tired, you know. But I'm enjoying play and fighting. Here in Monte-Carlo for me is one of the best tournaments in clay in all the year. That's why today I fight until the last ball. I had four match points, but that's tennis. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. I'm really happy because Alberto was playing unbelievable in the beginning of the first set. Today I felt that I believe in my game all the match, no? I'm really happy because now I'm in the first semifinals in this tournament. For me is one of the three best tournaments on clay in all the season.

Q. I think after such match, you respect your opponent very much because it was really close. What did you say at the net? Did he say anything?

FELIX MANTILLA: We didn't say anything because both of us were too tired. But we hug each other. Say, "I'm sorry because today I was lucky, was a very tough match." I said, "Sorry." When he beat me in Estoril, he say, "I went to the net, he say to me, "I'm sorry, Felix." I said the same to him because it was a nice fight. I said, "Sorry, Alberto, but I won today."

Q. Were you disappointed of not having been selected in the first round Davis Cup match? Did that motivate you for the following weeks?

FELIX MANTILLA: Well, you know, I was disappointed because I wanted to play in Lerida because it was a very nice city. That's tennis. Alex and Carlos, both of them are really good players. One was in that moment the No. 2, the other was No. 6. I was 20. The captain say, "Okay, let's play Alex and Carlos." I was there. I wanted to play.

Q. But you knew that Alex didn't feel very good at that time?

FELIX MANTILLA: Alex was like all of us, no? We came from a long season in hard courts. Well, he say that I think in the beginning of the week that he didn't feel really well. But I think Thursday, the day before the first match in Davis, he felt okay. If not, he don't go to the court, I think.

Q. Could you tell us some words about your next opponent, both of them because we don't know? Let's start with Gustavo.

FELIX MANTILLA: Well, if Gustavo wins, it will be a very difficult match for me because he serve really well and he hits the ball very hard. You know, every match is different. We'll see. Vince as well is a really tough player. Here he do very well. He plays on the baseline and going to the net. Both of them will be very a very tough match.

Q. Is the Felix Mantilla of 1999 stronger than the one of '98?

FELIX MANTILLA: For sure I am stronger because I want to do big things in the big tournaments like that, like in Barcelona, like in Grand Slams. I prepare really well in the season, when I was working in Barcelona with my coach and my physical trainer. I'm motivated to do my best here in this year, no? The tennis is very tight, but all the players can beat each other. You know, I think I'm in the way to do good things.

Q. Was your win against Sampras decisive? Where do you rank that?


Q. Your win against Sampras in Indian Wells, where do you rank that? How big is this for you?

FELIX MANTILLA: Feel really well for me because I won the No. 1 in the world on his best surface, hard court, his hometown. I said, "Okay, if I can beat him, why I can't go up in the rank, no?" If you have confidence in yourself and you work, you can do really good things.

End of FastScripts....

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