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September 6, 1997

Jonas Bjorkman

Flushing Meadows, New York, NY

Q. Jonas, you were in pretty good position to break back in the fourth set. Had him down Love-40. Then at 30-40, hit that ball that just dribbled over the net. Went on to hold serve. Was that a key point, in your opinion?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I definitely think that. Unfortunately, at first we had a break each. Then, unfortunately, I made probably my first bad game, service game. And then I still came back with some great shots to Love-40. First one, second serve, I think I had an opportunity. Especially the last one was something that, you know, was on his side today. I may have been having days before in this week. It was just one of those days. I think I hit a forehand that hit the tape and came back on my side as well. It's small details; it's one or two points here and there. Unfortunately, it didn't go my way.

Q. You've played him five times before today. Did he raise his game today?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I think it was about the same, like before. The matches, I think all the matches we played has been looking about the same. Hasn't been any different really. You know, we both playing very aggressive. I think it looks about the same. But he didn't make too many errors today. He stayed tough. He was hanging in there. You know, he played well.

Q. One of the keys for you to win this match was service return. And he started out very strong that first set, in which you didn't really score very many points off his first serve. By the (inaudible) set, he barely won 50 percent of his serves. What happened after that? Did you lose your eye for the ball, get tired?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I think it more up to Greg a little bit. Of course, I returned really well in the second and the third. When Greg is up, he's more confident. When Greg is down, he's, you know, more trying to think how to change to win the points off his serve. If you could go up and be ahead of him all the time, it's much more pressure on him. I think he's more trying to maybe think and change his serve, instead of keep going. So that's why I thought, you know, if I could stay tough and keep returning like I did, you know, in the fourth set there, maybe get back 4-All, I definitely would have had a good chance.

Q. Did you change one of your shoes after the first set?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah. What do you say, the insole, I don't know, it got loose. I had to switch.

Q. Why do you think there's so many players like yourself and Greg who are producing now at the Grand Slams, the depth of the men's game? What do you think explains that?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I think it's a time when some of the greatest players are on their way to quit, like Edberg last year, now we have Stich and maybe Becker. You know, it's a time that opportunities coming up for some new guys to play good tennis and do well in the Grand Slams. That's something that I think is natural, is coming, time by time.

Q. Do you think the Grand Slams, is there a different approach as opposed to Super 9s? You won one. There's been a lot of different winners of these bigger events. Grand Slams seem to be following that pattern. What is your feeling for that?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, it's getting tougher and tougher. I mean, the men's tournaments has been improving a lot. Maybe before you had the top guys, you know, playing. There were maybe 10, 15 percent chance that they lost early rounds of somebody ranked over 100 in the world. Now you can lose to anyone in the top 200. If you're not playing well, not feeling good, all the guys are so strong and hungry out there, that it's I think just a tougher competition.

Q. Were you aware before the match that Rusedski was not feeling well, and do you think that affected, in any way, the way he played?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, if he felt really bad, I don't think he would have been winning in five sets. You know, I had that problem in my match against Korda. You know, I've been having a cold since last Saturday. I think, you know, I never, ever been complaining about it. It's a time where you just go out and play. This is a Grand Slam event. I think, you know, you just got to go out and play, don't have any excuses about anything else. You know, this is too big for that, I think. So if you win a match in five sets, then you can't be, I mean, really bad. Definitely not.

Q. Jonas, you're both players who have made big strides up the rankings this year in the singles. How would you assess how he's improved his game?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, like I said before, he's been improving his baseline game. He's not making so many more -- not too many unforced errors anymore. His level has been coming up, you know. I think that's probably the difference.

Q. How about yourself? Why do you think you've made such big strides in the last six months?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I think it's about the same. We always been playing very aggressive, both me and Greg. Now, you know, we still have a chance to win matches because we maybe moving much better from the back. We also have been improving the baseline game. I think it's about the same.

Q. Jonas, in the fifth set, you had a volley, and you lost your bearings. You let the ball come down, thought it was going to go outside. It was on the right sideline. At the last minute you realized it was going to be good, but it was too late and you missed the point. Did that signal some general uncertainty in your mind in the fifth set, nervousness at all about your game?

JONAS BJORKMAN: At what time was that one?

Q. Fifth set. You had a volley near the right sideline.

JONAS BJORKMAN: I know which one. No. I actually was not trying to get that one. Still, I was not -- just I didn't take away my racquet enough. It just hit my racquet. I was for sure it was going out. It was more you had the wind out there. You know, you just thought it was supposed to go out. I'm not sure if it was supposed to go in or not. I had no time to check that. That was nothing that I felt that I was nervous of.

Q. If Michael wins the next semifinal, what would you say Greg's chances are against him?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, you could ask him that one. I think he knows better what his chances is in the final. I'm not trying to follow that too much now. I've lost a five-set semifinal. You know, I'm not trying to go in here and say what his chance is to the final, you know.

Q. Without regard to the rankings, do you consider yourself today the No. 1 player in Sweden?

JONAS BJORKMAN: No. Thomas been having a really tough year. He's been quite unlucky with a few things. He was really unlucky here that he got a fever and everything. You know, he lost his ranking. He's having a tough end of this year. We have a lot of points coming up. That's something that maybe he will lose his ranking a little bit. I think with his experience from the Davis Cup and everything, he's still, you know, in my eyes No. 1.

Q. Are you No. 2 or No. 3?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, No. 2 sounds much better.

ANDRE CHRISTOPHER: Greg is under doctor's orders only to do this room. If the Swedish press will help me, we will finish Jonas in No. 2.

JONAS BJORKMAN: That's fine with me. I'm still able to walk over to the other side.

End of FastScripts…

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