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March 26, 2001

Thomas Johansson


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. It was some unbelievable ground stroking out there, Thomas. How long has it been since you played that well against a top player?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Well, I felt really good out there today. I had -- I had some bad games in the middle of the -- or in the beginning of the second set. But I think Guga was -- he started to play a lot better. So -- but in the third it was really, really tight and I was lucky to break the last game of his service.

Q. He plays so far behind the baseline receiving serve. Can you take advantage of that? Deuce court, where you can slice the ball wide.

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Well, that was a little bit of my tactic today because we knew that Guga was staying far behind the baseline and then it's -- if you can slice your serve out wide, it's a big advantage and then maybe go to the net afterwards.

Q. Did you feel that worked very well for you tonight?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Yeah, I mean yeah. He was hitting some really good returns sometimes, but I think in the long-term I had a big advantage.

Q. Do you think -- other players besides Pete have been at the top of tennis now, Moya's been there, Rios has been there. It's a hard thing to stay up there. People are gunning for you. Do you feel extra motivation knowing you're playing a guy who's No. 1?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Yeah, of course. Because you go out there and you're just trying to have fun because he has all the pressure. I mean, on the paper, he has to win. So -- but I mean if you -- all the guys in the draws nowadays are so good so if you don't play well, you lose. It doesn't matter if you're Pete Sampras or like Andre Agassi. If he's having a bad day and the other guy is having a great day, then it's a tough match.

Q. Was today's match easier for you than you thought it would be?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: No. No, no. Not at all. I was playing really well in the first set, but then Guga started to play a lot better. He was hitting the ball harder. Then in the third I think we were both serving really well and he made a double-fault when he was -- when he had the ad to go 5-all. So I think I was lucky to win this match.

Q. Do you think he became a little unnerved when it became clear to him that you were going to be able to hit with him from the baseline and stay in the long rallies with him?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Yeah, maybe he got little bit surprised. But we've been practicing with each other. We've been -- we played each other as a junior, and we always had, like, long rallies from the baseline. So I think we both knew how the game was going to be today.

Q. Talk about playing in a somewhat pro-Brazilian crowd cheering for Guga most of the time.

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Well, I think it's fun. I think it's nice that they cheer for him because he's such a nice guy and he's playing great tennis. But I'd rather play him in Sweden, of course, when I have the crowd on my side. But I think it's nice to have such a big crowd on this late match.

Q. Was there a point where you felt that this was going to be your night?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: I think after the first set I felt really, really good. But then as I said, Guga started to play a lot better and he was hitting the ball a lot harder so I had to work harder to, you know, stay with him from the baseline. As I said, in the third, we were both serving so well so it was not so many rallies from the baseline as it was in maybe the first and second set.

End of FastScripts....

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