March 10, 1999
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA, F. MANTILLA/P. Sampras 7-6, 3-6, 6-3
MIKI SINGH: Felix picked up his first career win over Pete Sampras, his first career win over a No. 1 player. Again, opens the door for his countryman Carlos Moya to overtake Pete and gain the No. 1 ranking should he reach the finals at Indian Wells. For Felix tomorrow, he'll play Chris Woodruff in the Round 16. First question for Felix.
Q. You must be very happy the way you played tonight.
FELIX MANTILLA: Yes, I'm really happy because I knew Pete is at the moment the best player in the world. I went to the court very concentrate on my game. I think I played a great match.
Q. Very different from your first match against Di Pasquale where you played a solid match. Did you realize you have to raise considerably the level of your game?
FELIX MANTILLA: Oh, for sure. I must be more concentrate against the No. 1 in the world than one guy is improving, he's young. Today, I think I did not very much mistakes. I played very solid from the baseline. I served well. I think I played a very good match.
Q. How do you feel he played?
FELIX MANTILLA: Well, he served at his level, no? He served very well. On the baseline, he did a lot of mistakes. I think he must take more confidence.
Q. Could you tell that he was starting to lose confidence? He had the tendency to start hanging his head.
FELIX MANTILLA: No, I don't think so. But the problem is maybe Pete don't play a lot of matches. It's hard, no, to start the season, and every player that plays against him goes a hundred percent and do his best. Today I played really well. That's why I won.
Q. How concerned were you when he took the second set? Did that make it much more difficult for you? Were you beginning to worry a little bit at that stage?
FELIX MANTILLA: For sure. It was a tough match, no? I knew that the third will be very fighting set. When I broke him in the third game of the third set, I took more confidence in myself and my game. Then after when serving, when winning my games, the last game I returned very well and I won the match.
Q. Was there any point where you sensed that you really had a great chance to win?
FELIX MANTILLA: Well, in the beginning I knew was tough because if you play against the No. 1 in the world, you always go, "We'll see what happen." But today I start to play well since the beginning of the match. Then I was feeling very comfortable with my game. Every time that the match was going on, I took more confidence in my game. Finally, I did a very great match.
Q. The fact that Pete was so short of match practice, did that lift you before you went on court, as well?
FELIX MANTILLA: Well, that's one of the points. I knew that Pete played not very much this year. I said, "Well, I'm playing well. I'm feeling well on the court. I'm going to do my best and fight all the match." I lose the second set, but I continued fighting all the third set. That's why I won. I was concentrate. I believe that I could win him.
Q. How difficult do you think it's going to be for him to stay No. 1 this year?
FELIX MANTILLA: Well, will be difficult for him because all the players wants to be the No. 1. There are three or four players that can be in the next tournaments. It will be difficult for him if he starts to play well. Everybody knows that he has the best tennis in the world. He can be there, but if he don't play well in the next tournaments, will be difficult. The other players are very close. Maybe they play well.
Q. Do you think Carlos is capable of doing it this week?
FELIX MANTILLA: Well, he has a chance, no? If he reach the final, I think he's going to be the next No. 1. He has a tough draw, but everybody knows Carlos has a very good game, he's very good player. Why not?
Q. How good are Sampras' groundstrokes? How good were they tonight, from the baseline?
FELIX MANTILLA: Well, I think from the baseline, Pete don't play really well today. I played better. He did more mistakes. That happens. But everybody knows how is playing Pete. Pete has very, very good serve. If he broke you in one game, then it's too tight to broke him again.
Q. (Inaudible) backhand the first set. Was that a conscious change or not?
FELIX MANTILLA: No. In the first set, I wasn't doing a cross backhand. In the second, I tried to do the same as in the first set. In the third, the same as the first two sets.
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