August 17, 1995
GREG SHARKO: Pete now reached the quarterfinals or better here in Indy the six years he has played it. He is 19 and 3 lifetime. He will be playing against Andrei Medvedev tomorrow who he leads 4-1 in their career head-to-head meetings. Questions for Pete.
Q. Comparing with the match you played against him in the Queens Club, was it a little bit easier, you were aware that it would be difficult?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I believe in that match he had matchpoint, if I remember. He serves pretty well. He has got good returns and he got great hits on grass. Out there, it is a different match, and I thought I played pretty well; wish I could have returned a little bit better, but I was happy with my serve and my groundies, but, you know, you can't take matches like this lightly. If you do, these guys are too good.
Q. First two games on your serve, tough moments because two free breakpoints?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, he had breakpoint first game and the first two games -- I was just a little bit off on my serve and he was returning quite well: Making me play a lot, and, you know, then I started mixing up my serve a little bit more; kind of hitting all the corners. He seemed like he had a difficult time reading my serve, but, you know, if I would have lost my serve, maybe the set would have gone a little bit differently, but, you know, that is the time where on breakpoint where you need that serve and I really had it tonight.
Q. Pete, when a player, an opponent has held matchpoint on you in a previous match, do you think about that at all when you are playing against him or is it just another match you put it out of your mind?
PETE SAMPRAS: Sure, you remember who you are playing; when you played him; how the match went; kind of patterns he played and I knew going into the match that I couldn't play like I did at Queens, but that -- it did happen a couple of years ago and I think the hard court is a completely different ballgame for both our games, and, you know, you just try to remember different parts of the match; where you have played him before because you need every little bit of information you can get, so you think about it, but you don't really dwell on it. You don't like, wow, I almost lost; it is just, you know, everyday is a new day.
Q. Do you feel so much fresher than maybe you were at this point in the Cincinnati tournament last week? Do you just feel so much fresher then after having played that tough 3 setter last week; pulling some day duty?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I have some day duty tomorrow. It is going to be pretty hot because you are playing at -- in the evening it is still very, very humid, but it is -- you don't have the heat, so tomorrow will be a good test for me and the heat is just, you know, part of of the game. I mean, it is one element that you have to deal with. Not only am I playing Medvedev, I am going to be playing against the heat, and I think I am pretty good in the heat. I just ran out of gas a little bit last week, but this week I feel pretty refreshed and I have been trying to spend more time in the humid weather and do whatever I can to play well.
Q. Is Medvedev one of those players that really makes you have to think out on-court, I mean, there is the match you played against him at Lipton earlier this year --
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I mean, it is a pretty straightforward match. He knows how I am going to play it; vice versa, he has got a big serve and big groundies so it's a pretty straightforward match. There really isn't any secret out there. It is just a matter of who wakes up tomorrow feeling better and he got me last time in Hamburg in a tough three-setter and hopefully I will get him back.
Q. Switch gears a little bit, recent article in Tennis Magazine under your byline detailed your transition from a two-handed backhand to a one-hander. Did Dr. Peter Fisher (sic) use any particular or special practice routines to get you acclimated to the one-hander and what did you find was the most difficult part of the transition?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, just at that point, my two-hander was a very solid shot; didn't miss it much and I basically abandoned that shot. I switched to the one-hander. I couldn't hit over. I couldn't really -- lost a lot of matches; lost a lot of confidence. He just told me to stick with it that it was a move for the long run, and more concerned about maybe winning Wimbledon versus winning the 16 hardcourts. I was more concerned about playing well than winning, which is kind of a different attitude than a lot of kids growing up today. He was the one that just orchestrated my whole game completely to a serve and volley game, to one day win a Wimbledon, and now that looking back, no one agreed with it except for him. I mean, he was the one that wanted to do it. I trusted him and had a lot of faith in what he was doing. It obviously -- now I can say it worked out, you know, if I was ranked 200 in the world, it didn't work out, but there it was -- right now, it was a very good decision.
Q. At this stage in your career do you have to do much different preparation in playing a left-hander as opposed to a right-hander?
PETE SAMPRAS: A little bit. You try to warm-up with a lefty or stand over a little bit more; kind of take away -- just try to take away their best serve which is the one out wide to the backhand. Majority of your shots are going to go out wide to his backhand, so it is a different type of tennis, but just you kind of placing the ball a little bit different on the court, and it is -- just takes a little bit of adjustment. Once you get into a match, I have played a number of lefties in my career so it is just a matter of getting used to it.
Q. Pete, what part of his game gave you trouble tonight?
PETE SAMPRAS: His serve gave me a little trouble; not a huge serve but a serve that is tough to read. He returned pretty well, but I thought I was holding my own pretty well on my serve, but I wish I could have returned a little bit better and he was cruising through his games pretty easily for the most part except for the times that I broke him, so his serve just gave me a little trouble, and that was really about it.
Q. A lot of talk this week about the balls flying. Seems to suit you just fine as far as you didn't have an adjustment --
PETE SAMPRAS: It is different playing at night. The balls do fluff up a little bit because the times I have hit during the day -- these balls are pretty poor, to be honest with you. These balls are way too hard for professional tennis. It is good for someone playing at the club level, but these balls are just going through the air too fast. It is like playing in 3, 4000 feet altitude. They are just flying. It is good for your serve, but I like a ball that is little bit slower and softer. I mean, if you just felt -- these balls are like rocks; not a whole lot of fun to play with little -- like playing with little golf balls; that is what it feels like. It really does. And -- but you just have to go out with the attitude that it is the same for both guys; you can't have a negative attitude towards it; just try and stay positive. It is just a little disappointing that the ball didn't come out that good. Supposedly, it's the same ball for the U.S. Open, and...
Q. You prefer the ATP Tour ball?
PETE SAMPRAS: Absolutely.
Q. These are the balls that you are going to use at the U.S. Open?
PETE SAMPRAS: Supposedly. I mean, but I don't know if you can sense the tennis, but it is -- at least during the day, it is very, very fast. You can't keep the balls on the court.
Q. I have heard though that you have made an adjustment in your racket now?
PETE SAMPRAS: I string my rackets at 37 kilos, which is in the mid-80s and I have been -- last couple of weeks I strung them at 34, 35 kilos, so with the heat and the balls, I string them a lot tighter to keep them in the court, and it is very simple. I had my experiences with the stringer. He is having probably having ulcers stringing my rackets because they are so tight. He has broken about five, six sets of my gut, so it has been kind of a strange week.
Q. You don't think that because of the heat that is adding to the speed of the ball?
PETE SAMPRAS: No.
Q. Let us say the fraction cooler weather in New York, it won't make that much of a difference?
PETE SAMPRAS: Sure, if it's cooler, it is going to slow it down a little bit, but, you know, I have been playing this game long enough where I can sense the ball -- I can feel the ball, the first five minutes I hit with Paul, you know, the balls were just flying, you know-- Jim -- I noticed Jim had a little trouble and maybe Todd had a little trouble today. It is just an adjustment. It is really not good for the game. The ball is not a good ball.
Q. Is this not similar to the ball they have used in previous U.S. Opens, though? Is it a problem that you experienced at last year's U.S. Open?
PETE SAMPRAS: I didn't have any problem last year. I have always been pretty happy with the ball at U.S. Open. For some reason, this week, I don't know what they have done to it. But they are different, and...
Q. Did they make a change -- the ITF made a change back in the early part of the year that maybe you fellows didn't know about, but I have heard that there was a change in the hardness of the balls, that the manufacturers ...
PETE SAMPRAS: Oh, yeah, specifically at Wimbledon they softened them up, is that what you are talking about?
Q. Do you guys have a say in that?
PETE SAMPRAS: No. No. Unfortunately, we don't.
Q. Do you find yourself playing conservatively with these balls babying your strokes?
PETE SAMPRAS: A little bit. You almost feel like you are kind of playing a little altiude. You try to take shorter swings; maybe put more spin on the ball because it is very tough to hit the ball flat and keep it in the court. I mean, that is what I have found pretty difficult, you know, warming up, it is just -- it is an adjustment. You just have to adapt. It is the same for both guys and not and try not to think about it; go out and play like everything is normal, but the truth of the matter is that it is really a shame that that they are pretty bad. Pretty depressing, huh?
GREG SHARKO: Thanks, Pete.
PETE SAMPRAS: Okay.
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