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July 17, 1999

Tom Gullikson


Q. Pete, the 8th game of that fifth set was pretty amazing. We can talk about that for a long time. What was going through your mind during that particular game? You guys finally broke?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is all kind of a blur to be honest with you. I am not sure exactly what happen.

ALEX O'BRIEN: I think it is hot out here. Pete played a great game to break him.

PETE SAMPRAS: I think Mark at that point maybe got a little bit tight; he threw in a couple of doubles. Serving for the match I was jumping out of my skin, 30-15, point I basically almost knocked his head off.

Q. Was that a play --

PETE SAMPRAS: Got a little carried away.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: He forgot he was playing doubles.

PETE SAMPRAS: Broke the string there. Was down breakpoint. Doubles is a matter of a couple of points here and there. IF we lost that game, it is a completely end to the match. We gutsed it out. Worked very hard. It was very, very hot day today. We both were feeling it; talking about it earlier in the third fourth set. We mentally got a little bit tired because of the heat and we just hung in there and Gully gave us the inspiration in the fifth set. All we need is a break and we got it and it is a sweet victory. The crowd was tremendous. The crowd was behind us 100% and it was great atmosphere and that is what it is all about.

Q. (Inaudible.)

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Todd struggled on Friday certainly against Lleyton and he was really feeling it. And Jim got a little bit of a break; wasn't quite as hot when he was playing. But all the players I think coming from -- being in England for like a month and then coming here to this heat and where it was four days ago it was 63 degrees here, we would have liked that this weekend, but it is tough for all the players, Australians obviously included.

Q. Either of those two players, Jim or Todd see a doctor today today?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: We have a team doctor but he watches out for all our players.

Q. The fitness is of such a concern that you are asking him to see a doctor?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Sure, it is always a concern. But we have got a team doctor and he monitors everyone including the captain.

PETE SAMPRAS: He needs it, trust me.

Q. Any suggestion that Pete might play tomorrow?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: It is a possibility.

Q. Why is it a possibility?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Because some of the players aren't 100% fit.

Q. Todd is not 100% fit?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: That is all I will say right now.

Q. Doesn't that seem a little cynical to you at this point?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: No, it doesn't.

ALEX O'BRIEN: Cynical is the wrong word there, I think.

Q. What is the right word, Alex?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Well, I mean, it is just a choice.

Q. The rules of the Davis Cup are such that --

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: We know the rules; you don't have to quote the rules, okay.

Q. Pete, how do you feel about that?

PETE SAMPRAS: I am just happy to be here (LAUGHTER). Let me first say, I know Tom and you guys have been rough on him, been reading it in the papers and stuff and I think Tom is the only reason that I am here this week. My relationship with him over the years is why I am here and it is the reason why -- not only because I want to play more Davis Cup in the future, but after what we have been through together, for the past five, six years, I am only going to play for Tom Gullikson and that is it.

Q. Pete, are you willing to play tomorrow?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it is something we are, you know, going to talk about, and it was a warm day, I thought I recovered pretty well after the match. We will just keep everyone posted.

Q. Mark suggested he didn't think that it would be very easy for you to step on the court and play doubles today. Tom said yesterday that that was a little foolish to kind of dis you. Any motivation from that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Absolutely. I mean, even though I don't play much doubles, it is still tennis. I know Mark is a great doubles player, but in this situation playing Davis Cup, I have been here before and it isn't to easy step out there for the first match out there, but I thought we handled it very well. Alex and I have not played in the past just practiced a little bit. Little bit different when you play. It is fine, little motivation doesn't hurt.

Q. What was it like playing with this guy the first time?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Well, it is a thrill to get a chance to play with probably the greatest player to ever play the game. I was obviously a little nervous. I started off very nervous. I had a few spells in the third and the fourth where I got a little uptight, but it is great playing with him. He can step it up a level and the level that he steps it up to is amazing when he really decides he want to go out there and take over a match and it is was a lot of fun being on the court with him.

Q. Pete, when you were so tired in that third and fourth sets and you looked down, was there a moment where you said we can't pull this out or just thinking we will just --

PETE SAMPRAS: I think the first couple of sets with the energy and the crowd I think when we got broken in the third, a wind -- we just kind of -- the baloon popped a little bit. And it was hot out there. It is hard to keep up that intensity for three hours in the heat playing guys that play very good in doubles. But like I said, after the fourth set it is two sets all, you know, Gully gave us the inspiration in the fifth set. He said, all you need is a break, and play these two games as hard as you can and we did. It happened and we are fortunate we got the breaks we needed. But it was hot. You guys were watching it. We were playing. It was a little toasty.

Q. How often do you find yourself with some sound verbalizing -- on that smash in that second point of the fifth set, first game of the fifth set, you let out a yell. You were into that. How often do you find yourself doing things like that?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Depends on the moment and that was the moment where at that point we were a little bit down on ourselves and just to have the other guys know that I am going to jump through the roof and put a little yell out there and let them know we are not going to die. And fifth set of a match like today, you have got to put everything you have into it and at that point it wasn't exactly a huge part of the match, but I think it might have sent them a message that we are still -- we are going to fight and we fought 'til the end and we did.

Q. How surprised were you to see Mark in that 8th game of the fifth set doublefault three times?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it is a little -- a lot of nerves out there, no question. I don't care how many times Mark has been in that position, he has won many Grand Slams in doubles but when you are playing in the fifth set, you are going to feel it, I don't care who you are; how many Slams you have won. I am a little surprised but there is a lot of tension out there and it showed.

Q. Pete, obviously you played some big doubles matches in your career but you are not playing regularly. What was the toughest thing to adjust to out there playing doubles?

PETE SAMPRAS: For me, return of serve, and movement up at net is just a little bit different. The serve and volley is pretty straightforward stuff. But I think my return was a little bit up and down today. It is just -- it is not like in singles you get into a certain rhythm; it happens pretty quick; you have to stay on your toes; you can't make any careless errors. But it is still, like I said, it is still tennis; just takes you a little time to kind of find my bearings out there and we have had pretty good week of practice so we came out real strong.

Q. 8th game of the fifth set you saved a game point terrific return of serve; then the actual game point terrific shot by you. Talk about that.

ALEX O'BRIEN: I am kind of bad at remembering my good shots. I tend to remember my bad ones. But yeah, I just -- I just was thinking if I could fight off a few points there and give him another chance, I mean, he put so much pressure on the guys just serving them I was just trying to basically just give us another chance to play the game. Fortunately, I did because we ended up breaking them that game. Then the lob, Sandon is not like the greatest move up and back and I just hit a lob over his head and when he hit the backhand long I was probably the happiest man in the world. Especially because he was serving.

Q. Pete, you have said for three months consistently that you wouldn't play singles. What has changed now?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think we are all sitting up here pretty happy that we are still in this thing. Let's be honest here, I have said that the last three months. Our back is against the wall at the moment, we are going to, you know, talk about it tonight a little bit and go from there. But it is a very sensitive subject. I mean, Tom has been getting killed in the press about me not playing singles and it is not fair. It was my choice. I have said all along I wasn't going to play singles here. And Tom is the reason that I am here. Because I want to be here, my relationship with him is the reason I will play Davis Cup in the future.

Q. (Regarding the Rule change)

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: It has actually changed, I think we have these informal Davis Cup Captains meetings of the World Group nations at all the Grand Slam events and we talk about formats and rules and stuff. One of the rules I think virtually all the Captains felt was a good rule is that you should be able to play any player you want. Next year that is the reality. This year, that is not the rule. But I think it was a good change and I think it will make for a more exciting matches and it gives the captain and the coach more options like coaches in other sports.

Q. At any point before the draw Pete did Tom ask to you play singles?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, we talked about it and I had some discussion with Tom and Jim and Todd about me being part of the team. I just never felt comfortable -- I didn't think it was right after what happened in Birmingham that I was going to play singles. I felt it was their show and they are the reason we are here. You know, I have just said all along for the last couple of months I wasn't going to play singles. I wasn't sitting here lying to everyone. I am not trying to pull one over everyone and say I am going to play doubles and play singles, and I stuck to that. Win or lose this weekend this is our team.

Q. Did Tom ask you though?

PETE SAMPRAS: We discussed it, yeah. Tom I am sure would love for me to play singles. I just didn't feel like it was right. You can second guess yourself 'til you are blue in the face, but the bottom line is that we are down 2-1 and we have a couple of matches tomorrow and we will see.

Q. If Todd is not feeling well you will play?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure. If Todd is not, you know, up to par.

Q. Tom, to get away from the cynicism all that, if Todd says, who must pass on that? In other words, does it have to be certified by an ITF doctor?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: There is a neutral doctor that would have to examine whoever was injured or sick or whatever and once a neutral doctor authorizes it, then you can substitute.

Q. Neutral doctor?


Q. Can you talk about that service game that you had -- how big a confidence boost you had to fight four breakpoints and?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I think any time you start off a match especially in Davis Cup, there are a lot of nerves in the match, a lot of the guys with the exception of Pete, struggle with the first service game. I just said to myself, just hang in there and try to fight off. I do think that is a big deal if you can kind of fight off those first signs of nerves and get into the match. Once I got into the match I felt pretty comfortable.

Q. Pete, one of your serves was clocked at 149. Couple of us laughed; said, could that be right?

PETE SAMPRAS: It was right, trust me, it was right (laughter).

Q. You also talk about Gully's coaching style, just mentally like, let's go, or tactics, or what?

PETE SAMPRAS: In the fourth he was like: What are you guys doing out there, you guys look like a bunch of plumbers.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: No offense to the plumbers.

PETE SAMPRAS: There is not a ton of strategy involved at that point, in the fifth set, it is more inspiration. It is more guts it out and just -- raise it a level and this is it. It is either win or go home and -- but no, there is not a lot of talking. We were more concerned about getting our fluids and our towels and trying to stay as cool as possible. It definitely -- to be in Gully's shoes it is a little draining sitting out there in the heat, watching us stuggle a little bit but we did it. We are still alive.

Q. How much of an emotional leap were we seeing about Slam dunk overheads; you were the way the hell up there?

PETE SAMPRAS: This white boy can jump.

Q. How much of that was the emotion of Davis Cup?

PETE SAMPRAS: It was the scene and the atmosphere and the people got me very motivated, not only myself and Alex, and it is shot I love to hit. I love to hit it because the crowd loves it. I love hitting it. It kind of sends a message to my opponents that we are doing fine and I love hitting the shot. It is a fun shot to hit. You can look a little silly if you miss it, but fortunately, I hit a couple of good ones today.

Q. Tom, what specifically is Todd being troubled with today? What is his ailment?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Todd has been a medical marvel this whole year. He has been in two States since January 1st playing competitive matches and having the third or fourth best record on Tour, or rehabbing. He has really not been healthy all year and he manages to be able to win some matches, so he had assortment of problems.

End of FastScripts....

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