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September 10, 1998

Thomas Johansson


Q. That was an incredible match. There were a couple of times when you must have thought you had it. How do you feel now?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: It's tough to say. It's too bad that it should end like this. I mean, I made a great tournament. I'd rather lose 2, 2 and 2 than this. I mean, this is the worst that can happen almost.

Q. Is this the worst loss of your career, do you think?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: I mean, losing against Mark when he's playing like this is not bad. That's not what I'm saying. But how the match turned out, I mean, I broke him to 4-2, lost my serve to 4-3. Then he had, I don't know how many breakpoints to 5-4. I managed to make that. And then in the breaker, 6-5, my serve. I mean, -- I mean, I'm really satisfied with the tournament. But it's too bad that it should end like this.

Q. Five-setters are always tough physically. Tell us about how tough it was mentally and what you went through at some critical moments of the game?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Physically, it was not that tough. Mentally, it was really tough because playing a tiebreak against Mark, it's really tough because you have to hold your own serve all the time. And when he serves like this, I mean, I didn't get a chance to hit on one -- I think maybe one or two second serves. In the breaker, I mean, he's hitting second serves 120. I mean, not so much to do.

Q. Were you surprised that he was going for those second serves, because some of us were surprised?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: I knew that he was going to go for it, but not -- I mean, when the score is 4-All, 5-All, 7-All, whatever, I mean. But he did it, and he made it, so. He played a great match.

Q. You double-faulted a lot today. Was it the wind?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: The reason was a little bit of the wind, but thatt's the same for both players. But the biggest reason is that he's coming in on my second serve all the time. And he has a really good slice, and he's good at the net. You know, you feel kind of stressed when you hit a second serve on him. That was why I made a lot of double-faults.

Q. As a fellow unseeded player, what advice could you give him in the semifinals as the only unseeded player?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: I mean, if he's playing like he did in the end, I think he has a big chance to win the whole tournament. I mean, he's got a humungus serve, good volley. He's hitting the ball very well. So I think he has a very good chance to win the whole tournament. But now he's playing Moya, which also is playing very well.

Q. You've been around for a good while. Hard to talk about your opponent's game, but have you ever had an opponent make a more courageous effort in crunch time?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: No, I don't think so. I mean, he's really tough to play. You never know what's going to happen. If he misses his second serve, he hits another one.

Q. Sampras is known for his great second serve. Have you ever faced a tougher second serve than that?


Q. And is it primarily the speed or does he have a lot of variety?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: He has a lot of variety of his serve. He kicks his second serve, and also his first serve, very well wide to the ad side. He hits his second serve very well wide to the deuce side, too. So it's tough. I mean, some players you know all the time what's going to happen. I mean, if he misses his first serve, you know the second serve is coming on your backhand. But that's not the case with Mark.

Q. In Queen's, Mark was talking about giving the game away, he was at the bottom of his career. Do you think that would have been a tragedy or great loss if he had gone through with that?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Yeah, of course. I think Mark belongs to the Top 10, Top 10 or Top 15 for sure. I mean, he's the guy who can beat anyone.

Q. Have you seen his game develop since you first saw him? Is he a different player now than he was when he beat Sampras a few years ago, for instance?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: I think he's more solid both physically and mentally now. He's not saying anything on the court, he's pretty calm all the time. He takes his time. It's good.

Q. Bjorkman had a great run here last year. Magnus, if I recall correctly, did real well last year. Then the three of you did great here up until today. What do you think that says in terms of Swedish tennis and the Swedes as a group?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: I think all the Swedes, they enjoy themselves here in New York. We like the surface. It's nice also that some young players are coming up, like me, Norman, Enqvist has been there for a while. I mean, I think it's good for the Swedish tennis that some young guys are coming up now.

Q. Does it help that a lot of you stay together during The Open? Is that a plus, that you see each other?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Yeah. I mean, we all stay at the Roger Smith Hotel here in New York. I mean, in the beginning we were maybe 20 Swedes. We have a great time there. The manager, Joachim (phonetic) is very, very nice. He's arranging barbecues, pasta nights. We enjoy ourselves very good -- I mean, very much here in the hotel, and outside.

Q. Is that kind of a home away from home?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: It's like a home. I mean, he makes Swedish food. We have a great time there.

Q. Looking at the last four players that are left, as you've watched them and played against them, how do you sort of assess things? What do you think might happen?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: It's tough to say. I mean, if you made the semifinal in a Grand Slam, you obviously play very well. So it's tough to pick a winner. I mean, Sampras of course is the favorite. But now he's facing Rafter, who has been playing very, very well. On the other half, it's Moya against Philippoussis. It's really tough to pick a winner. Maybe I would pick Sampras against Philippoussis. That's what I think personally. I'm not a good -- I'm not that good to guess who is going to win. I'm always wrong, so.

Q. So it will be Rafter against Moya?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Rafter against Moya.

End of FastScripts….

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