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September 12, 1999

Todd Martin

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NEW YORK, A. AGASSI/T. Martin 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2

USTA: Questions for Todd.

Q. Considering how close you came to winning your first Grand Slam, how disappointing is this?

TODD MARTIN: Well, I watched the end of Andre's match yesterday. They interviewed Yevgeny when he walked off the court. They asked if it was disappointing. He said no. I certainly wouldn't call this disappointing. I felt very good about the way I played. I lost to a better player. I can't be disappointed with what happened today, or over the last two weeks.

Q. How good a player is he? Can you talk of him now with the McEnroes, Connors, up there with the real greats?

TODD MARTIN: I don't like to get into that comparison business. You know, he's great enough to have won on -- at all four of the Slams, and twice here. He beat me when I played a very good match today.

Q. What surprised you the most, the way he served or the way he lasted after 3 hours and 20 minutes, still running?

TODD MARTIN: More than anything else, I thought just the relentless pressure that he put on me, not just with his serve, not just with his feet, not just with his returns, but every game, he seemed to be there. Over five sets, under this type of pressure, that's quite an achievement.

Q. How did you feel after the third set tiebreaker? Did you think you had it, that you were playing very well?

TODD MARTIN: Yeah, I thought I had no chance of losing then. It was my match. Come on (laughter).

Q. What were you thinking?

TODD MARTIN: I felt like I was two sets to one up, and had worked real hard to be two sets to one up. I knew I had a chance to win; I knew I had a chance to lose. I just knew I was ahead at that moment. I knew I needed to keep playing well on my serve and better on his serve. Unfortunately, neither of those happened.

Q. You averaged something like 65% first serves in the first three sets, then began to take a dip in the last two. Saw you grabbing your elbow. How much was that a contributing factor?

TODD MARTIN: Not much of one. I think the biggest problem was that I lost my legs a little bit. When that happens, the serve is what goes. You know, I still played some good groundstroke points, moving side-to-side. The work you do in those points takes away on my serve a little bit. Then I started trying to force it a bit. My elbow was in a little bit of pain at the end of the match, but not -- and that didn't affect my serve, you know. I think my serve affected my elbow. I probably tried to force it so much with my arm.

Q. 40-15 in the final set, you played arguably the best point of the match and won it, then you lost like nine in a row. Did that take something out of you?

TODD MARTIN: No. You know, you play. I remember -- I think it was 40-15 on his serve, are you saying?

Q. Yes.

TODD MARTIN: Yeah. I remember the point. He played awfully well from there.

Q. Was the game where you could have got back to 4-All in the fourth a bit of a killer?

TODD MARTIN: Retrospectively, sure. That was a great opportunity. But, nonetheless, I still had some opportunities. You know, I was disappointed that I couldn't make more of all my opportunities on his serve throughout the course of the match. I think that's really the biggest key.

Q. When you walk away from this tournament, what is your feeling?

TODD MARTIN: A lot of pleasure. If you would have asked me 12 days ago after I beat Stefan how I felt about being here, I wasn't too pleased. I said a few things about having to change my attitude about being out there. Six matches later, I feel very good about being at the '99 US Open. I would have loved to have been the champion, but playing the seven matches I did, I feel very good about it.

Q. Is it a career-high ranking you have now?


Q. 4.

TODD MARTIN: You tell me. I think it is. Whoopee.

Q. When you say you "lost your legs," do you think the five-set matches caught up with you in the fifth set tonight?

TODD MARTIN: Well, the 1-1 in the first round, that had no effect on today. The fact that from last Sunday to this Sunday, this was my fifth match, that's a lot. Added on to what I went through in the middle of this week, I'm sure it had a bit of a cumulative effect, but also, I had to work very hard today and can't underscore what Andre's tennis did to my legs.

Q. What sort of changes, if any, do you make in your training to ensure that you don't hit the wall, run out of gas?

TODD MARTIN: Well, I'd like not to get a stomach virus on Tuesday or Monday, whatever it was. Listen, I felt in great shape. My body held up better than I ever could have expected. I think it's a sign that I'm doing some good things in my training. I'd like to keep doing those things.

Q. Very long match. The very first game seemed to be critical.


Q. Weren't you up 40-Love?

TODD MARTIN: I was up 30-Love, lost four straight points off of first serves.

Q. Did you realize how important that game would be?

TODD MARTIN: You know, midway through the first set, I was thinking to myself, because I felt like I regained my composure, was in a great, good groove. And actually, I had Love-40 on his serve midway through the first set, thought to myself, "Boy, it would be strange if sort of early-match jitters turned out to be a decider." I don't think it was a decider, but it definitely -- definitely had an effect on the result of the match. If you would have told me that I lost my serve in the first game of the match, not again until fairly early in the fourth set, and I won two tiebreaks, I'd have thought I would have won the match by then. I did not expect to go five sets without breaking his serve.

Q. Stylistically, how comfortable were you trying to end points quickly? As the rallies were going on, it looked like something that would favor Andre, you would have to step forward and finish the points off. How comfortable are you doing that?

TODD MARTIN: That's typically my game. In the meat of the match where I felt very good about the way I was playing, I had a lot of first serves come in against me. When I did have my opportunities on his second serve, I probably didn't do enough with them. Not only did I miss some, but when I did make the returns, I didn't do enough with the returns. I was up Love-30 countless times. It seemed he came up with a good serve, usually came up with a good serve at Love-30, and then even if I got to a breakpoint or even 15-30, I'd have something to work with, usually have a second serve in that situation. I missed a lot of them; didn't do enough with some of the other ones. It was sort of trying to find a middle ground where I was attacking, but not going for broke. I wasn't able to do that. That's a lot due to the way he played.

Q. Do you have any goals for yourself?

TODD MARTIN: I have a goal of sleeping. From there, I'll reevaluate in a couple weeks.

Q. John McEnroe mentioned on TV a couple times today that he thinks the surface of the court should be slowed down.

TODD MARTIN: Absolutely, I agree.

Q. Why?

TODD MARTIN: I think it took two guys playing at the very, very top of their game today, one guy who's probably the best returner in the game, and one guy who's got a very good serve, in order to make today's tennis as compelling as it was. I don't think it needs to be slowed up a ton. I think some speed needs to be taken out of the court. The ball's great. I just think some speed needs to be taken out of the court so that, especially in the wind that we are having to deal with day-in and day-out here, the quickness of the court affects that. You know, the best chance you've got is the serve. Everybody's serve gets better with the wind if they are able to make it, the ball is scooting through the court, still blowing around.

Q. Could you tell us what it means to you to have come from 1997 where you were having a lot of difficulties, both on and off the court, now you're at a career high again, first US Open final?

TODD MARTIN: Well, I'm thrilled that I'm playing better tennis than I ever have. There are many times in '97 that I would have never expected that or even hoped for that. But in the same token, I wish my father could be here to experience it, too. I'm thrilled that my mother and my sister came out for this weekend.

Q. Andre had a point-blank shot at you in this match. How close did he come to leaving the words "US Open" on your forehead?

TODD MARTIN: Not very close because I was going to make sure I was under the net by the time he hit it. But my racquet was still up there, so if he had gone for my head, literally, if he had hit my head or been accurate enough, I think he did go for me, but if he had been more accurate, I think I would have hit a winner (laughter).

Q. In Washington, he beat you pretty handily. What kind of adjustments did you make today to give him trouble?

TODD MARTIN: I think the fact that the court was a little quicker helped me. He served better a couple weeks ago in Washington, and I served much better than I did in Washington. I think the fact that he served better a couple weeks ago allowed me to win the two tiebreakers and have more opportunities throughout the course of the match on his serve. The fact that I served better and I played immeasurably better the whole match than I did in Washington, DC.

Q. Which match ultimately will mean more to you, the one against Rusedski or this one?

TODD MARTIN: It's hard to say which one's going to mean more. You know, it's hard to believe that I'll ever forget that I was in the finals of the US Open, who I played, how I played. Then again, I had one heck of a great experience in my fourth-round match against Greg. I wouldn't expect to forget that either. One finished with euphoria, and one finished with pleasure in the moment, just thoroughly enjoying being in that arena, albeit not being able to win that last point.

Q. How different was the exchange after the match at the net with Andre than a normal match or any other match that you had in the tournament?

TODD MARTIN: Well, I think after a certain number of matches, you get into a situation where whoever lost still had a great tournament. I said the same thing to Cedric yesterday. Andre said, "Great job," even though I lost. I think we both knew that the level of play was very high in one of the most difficult situations to play good tennis in.

Q. Being amongst the top players of the Tour, how difficult is it to work amongst the administration of the Tour at the same time?

TODD MARTIN: Well, it's not difficult. It's enjoyable for me. Sometimes I wish that the meetings that we have aren't the day before a Grand Slam starts. It's a very nice distraction for me to have from hitting tennis balls because for as much as I enjoy playing tennis, it's not as -- it would not be fulfilling if that were the only thing I had.

Q. Is that something you might be doing after your active tennis career?

TODD MARTIN: Administration in tennis? Well, not immediately, no. I'd like to go back to school before I venture into too much else.

Q. Having played this well in this big of a match, does it change your expectations of what you expect from yourself in future matches of this kind of caliber?

TODD MARTIN: No. As well as I did some things today, it will change my understanding of what I'm capable of doing maybe. But, you know, I get asked, probably due to language barrier more than anything else, what do I expect of the upcoming match, what do I expect of myself. There's only one thing I expect: that I'm going to give it my all and work hard in, hopefully, a focused way, doing what I need to do. Listen, if I do that, then I'll hold my head proud and high, regardless of whether I lose to Stefan two weeks ago or to Andre today.

End of FastScripts....

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