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August 26, 1997

Geoff Grant


Q. Seemed like it was a good atmosphere out there. The crowd really got into it?

GEOFF GRANT: Yeah, it was great. That was probably the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of. Would have been nice to have everyone. I'm sure if I was down in Brazil, everyone would have been against me, for him. It would have been great to have it the other way, but he's a Top 10 players, so obviously he's going to get people cheering for him. I had a great crowd for me, so I really can't complain about that. That is what is the most fun about playing professional sports, is that situation.

Q. Coming in, did you feel like your game was at a level where you could do this kind of damage against somebody that highly ranked or did you surprise yourself?

GEOFF GRANT: Yeah. That's the reason I did it. For the first time, I actually went into a big-time match like that and felt that I had a chance to win. I think in the past, I haven't been mentally ready to take on someone of that stature. This time I was ready, and that's what happened. It just shows how mental this sport is.

Q. I apologize. Who of that stature have you played in the past?

GEOFF GRANT: I played Muster first round at the Australian in January. I got straight into a Super 9 in Montreal and won my first round, played Santoro. He's a really good player, obviously. That's the type of match I'm talking about where it's main draw after a big, big tournament. It's just good to get experience like that.

Q. First time you really didn't feel intimidated going into a match like that?

GEOFF GRANT: Exactly, exactly.

Q. How quickly, once the match got underway, did you think, "Hey, I should have done this earlier"?

GEOFF GRANT: It would be nice to just skip ahead and be able to play that way the first time I'm out there, but it all boils down to experience. Took those matches to feel that way. I don't think there's any real shortcut to it, you know, unless you can really kind of trick yourself -- obviously I have the ability to do it. It's that mental game.

Q. Is he for real? I mean, is he just sort of colorful kind of character that had a great run at the French? Is he for real?

GEOFF GRANT: If you see those serves snapping by you at whatever he was hitting them down the T, I think he's for real, yeah. He's a good player.

Q. I mean, how good? Can he really contend here in a first time Open?

GEOFF GRANT: Yeah. I mean, he showed himself in Montreal. He lost, what, in the Finals, I think. That alone, he can obviously play some ball on hardcourts. You know, this is a great surface for me. That's why I think I matched up well with him. Sure, you know, he can obviously compete with anyone.

Q. Geoff, great match, great tournament.


Q. The fifth set, have you ever played a fifth set?

GEOFF GRANT: I've never played a fourth set (laughter).

Q. Did you get tired?

GEOFF GRANT: I mean, that's not really the reason why I lost the match, you know. Obviously I didn't feel like I did in the first set, if that's your question. But, you know, he was tired, too. I mean, I looked over and he wasn't feeling fresh as a daisy either. It was a battle. I wasn't quite tough enough yesterday. I definitely learned a lesson. It was a great match to play; made me stronger, that's for sure.

Q. Coming out of the French, what was your impression of him? I think among the media, American media especially, it was like he's a -- Spanish surname, claycourt guy. Did you think that was the feeling among the tennis guys as well, or did people actually think this guy's game could translate to hardcourt and he could do some damage?

GEOFF GRANT: I think you definitely have an advantage playing Kuerten on hardcourts, there's no doubt about that. He's obviously a great player on clay. Anyone that can win the French Open is a great player on clay. As far as the draw and an opportunity to win a match against a big player, it was actually a good draw to play him.

Q. Like Gimelstob out of Wimbledon?

GEOFF GRANT: Obviously. He knows how to compete, he knows how to win. You're going to have to play well, you're going to have to beat him no matter what.

Q. Do other guys, or if you were a fan, is that kind of personality, whether it's the clothes or a fresh, new face, is that something that's good for this game, for the sport, or do you even concern yourself with that kind of stuff?

GEOFF GRANT: Eventually there has to be a changing of the guards. I mean, anyone new that comes along, people immediately say, "Well, I don't know if that's good for the game because no one really knows him." But everyone has to start out that way, you know. Everyone has to explode on the scene. The clothes, things like that, I don't mind the flashiness. I think it's great. This sport needs to be publicized in any way it can. I think the Jensens are great and I think anything flashy like that, as long as it's done with taste, or it's not obnoxious, not a detriment to the sport or disrespect to the sport, I'm all for it.

Q. Obviously, he doesn't do any of that.

GEOFF GRANT: No. He was fine. It was fun to play against him.

Q. What lesson do you take out of this one? You said you learned a good lesson today. What was it?

GEOFF GRANT: Just that I belong?

Q. Really?

GEOFF GRANT: I belong with these guys. It takes a while to feel that way, especially when you have to go through qualifying, no one knows you. You just kind of have to, at least in my situation, I've had to create everything on my own. I started back with no points and no help.

Q. What do you mean, for those of us that don't know what you mean?

GEOFF GRANT: Some guys, if they prove themselves when they're younger, whatever country they're from, their Federation will support them and pump them up and give them opportunities to practice with the big guys in that country when they're young, give them every opportunity to succeed and to see the big time without actually really earning it and going through the grind of getting there without any help. That's what I've had to do. I'm thoroughly satisfied with the way I've done it.

Q. I'm sure you've heard that after this generation of players, they say American tennis is going to be in trouble. You're of that next generation. I'm curious as to your thoughts.


Q. What I meant to say is -- I thought you were 24. I apologize.

GEOFF GRANT: I still feel young. My body feels great. I'd love to be part of whatever movement is going to be, whether I'm 30 or the other guys are 16. I don't really care.

Q. Actually, about that point, supposedly after these big four go, we're looking at a real --

GEOFF GRANT: I just remember being in Kalamazoo, which is our biggest national Championship, when I was 16, 17. Everybody was talking about who is going to replace the guys like Mac. There's always talk like that. Then, sure enough, three years later, Sampras and Agassi are doing damage, and they're incredible champions. I just think you have to wait. It's good to have concern over it. I would have loved to have had a bigger program when I was 16. I was eight in the country, and nine in the country when I was 18. It was just such a small program. I think they limited it. They just wanted to cultivate like five or six guys. Our country is so big that you have to make it a bigger program. I think the USTA has the resources to do that. I was watching CNN today. There was a big special on that, about how the person that did the piece said that the USTA officials admitted that ten years ago, whatever, they could have done things differently, which is fine, as long as they learn from their mistakes, that's all I want to make sure, that that happens. It would have been nice.

Q. Ten years ago is basically --

GEOFF GRANT: I was 17 ten years ago. I decided to go to college. I wasn't ready to turn pro. I wasn't physically ready. I was just a late bloomer physically. Mentally I wasn't ready either. Because I didn't turn pro, because I chose to go to college, I think I got hurt by that system.

Q. Do you look at a Gustavo Kuerten today and not during the match, but think, "That could have been me back when I was 20"? Not that that does anything for you now.

GEOFF GRANT: It's tough to really look back and say, "It could have been this way or that way." I still ultimately have to do it on my own. It's just it's always nice to have support and the help. I don't even really think back about that. You really never know.

Q. What was the difference in the fifth set? Why did he win the fifth set?

GEOFF GRANT: My serve definitely went off. My coaches told me I was serving 80 percent the first three sets, which is great for me. So I got a little comfortable. As soon as my serve, big first serve that was winning me a lot of free points, as soon as that went off, I had to work harder to hold serve. That kind of turns the tide. If he's putting more pressure on my serve, he gets confidence, starts hitting bigger serves on his end. That was a big factor. That was a big factor in the fifth set, along with the fact that I wasn't getting up, I wasn't moving well. I wasn't moving well on the returns, wasn't getting up on my serve.

Q. At 27, you obviously started late because of school and everything, how much time do you give yourself? Do you give yourself six, seven, eight years to do this?

GEOFF GRANT: Definitely, if I'm playing main draw of the big events for the next three or four years, maybe five years, I'd be very happy. From there, I'll take it from there. I know I can play when I'm 31, 32. I just feel that way. I don't feel like I'm really slowing down much. This is all new. It's just exciting in itself. It will keep me going for two or three years alone.

Q. Did you have a chance to actually enjoy today?

GEOFF GRANT: Yes. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I enjoyed it thoroughly. This is my first time doing it. We would come here every year when I was a kid. A guy like I think Krickstein took off Gerulaitis took him off on that court. I was happy when I knew I was playing on the grandstand court. It's big, but not overwhelming. The fans are right on the court. That makes it fun.

Q. You would come down here every year?

GEOFF GRANT: Pretty much. My dad was big time into tennis. He made sure we got here every year. He loves it.

Q. He was here tonight, I guess?

GEOFF GRANT: Oh, yeah. Wouldn't miss it for the world.

Q. Geoff, there were quite a few people rooting for you today. Did you have a lot of supporters, friends and people coming to see you?

GEOFF GRANT: Yeah. We were struggling to get as many passes as we could. I'm asking every player in the locker room for his four passes. Had to get everyone in. I think we got them all in. I'm not sure. Hopefully I picked up a couple new ones along the way, too.

Q. Was there ever a moment during the match when you sat back and said, -- (inaudible)?

GEOFF GRANT: I don't know exactly when it was. I just looked around and it was a flashy moment, because I didn't want to dwell on it when I was on the court, but I definitely stepped back for a moment and just thought about how great it was. I'll never forget it. Hopefully, I can do a lot more of it. My goal is to have it become commonplace. I think playing in the Finals of the French and winning helped him a little bit dealing with that situation.

Q. Geoff, where do you go from here? What is next?

GEOFF GRANT: I'm taking a vacation.

Q. How about a little longer term?

GEOFF GRANT: Longer term? I think I'm going to try to mix in. Obviously I'm still playing some Challengers. I still need to work my ranking up, my confidence and everything, up to where I'm playing full-time Tour events. For now, and for the fall, I'm going to mix in some big Challengers and some Tour event qualifying, things like that. Maybe I can work a wildcard somewhere into that situation. I'm not going to bet on it.

Q. Geoff, a couple of years ago, you gave up the game for a while?


Q. You've only been back for a couple of years.

GEOFF GRANT: Two years exactly this tournament pretty much.

Q. Were you tired of it then? Is that why you gave it up?

GEOFF GRANT: I was completely disenchanted. I wasn't enjoying being out there. I wasn't really making any money. I was finding it hard to keep working hard. I think I worked pretty hard for the two years right out of college. I wasn't seeing results. You can only do that for so long. I just wasn't happy, so I stopped. It was a much better existence if I was like everyone else that I went to school with, kind of getting ahead in the business world, finding my way there. I got a sample of that. Didn't taste too good, so I came back to the game. I didn't think I had given everything that I could to the game. I think it's pretty evident that I didn't now that I'm back playing.

Q. What did you do in the time between? This was after school.

GEOFF GRANT: After school, I played for two years, about two years. I stopped. I was down in Tampa training. I basically just tried to figure out what I wanted to do. I had no clue.

Q. Did you work?

GEOFF GRANT: I taught tennis. Obviously, the most lucrative way to make money was to play money tournaments. That's always the trap of tennis players, because it's just such easy money. If you go down after playing pro tennis, to go play money tennis. Actually in hindsight it turned out to be great for my game. I didn't quit cold turkey. For that whole time, I was at least hitting the ball. It made the transition back into playing easier.

Q. What made you snap and say, "I got to get back"?

GEOFF GRANT: My dad was pretty smart in that department. He put me to work for him. I was sitting at the telephone making cold calls for about a week and a half. That just wasn't too much fun. I mean, that along with the fact that I just missed the traveling. I really love traveling. I didn't realize it when I quit, it's just so much fun to go over to Europe and the Far East and see the world. You can't really beat it. I think all Americans should have to leave the country for a while.

Q. What was your dad's business?

GEOFF GRANT: My dad has been president of Penn tennis balls. At the time he was working for himself doing headhunting. He was trying -- also trying to do -- working with some sporting good shows, things like that.

Q. What are your impressions of this facility?

GEOFF GRANT: The courts are great. The courts are absolutely great. As far as the locker rooms go, there could be a little bit more space in there. Everyone's kind of crawling all over each other in there. It's a little disappointing. What can you do? You know, the showers are nice, things like that. There doesn't seem to be enough space for everyone. I mean, you have five lockers on top of each other. If there are three guys in one little cluster, you can't even move.

Q. But you're loving it?

GEOFF GRANT: Yeah. It's the US Open, man. It's the greatest tournament ever, as far as I'm concerned.

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