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September 1, 1999

Jan Michael Gambill

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. You have a chance in your next match to do something you haven't done since last March: win two in a row.

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Thanks for reminding me. I've won two in a row in doubles.

Q. Very clever Fabrice Santoro?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Is that who I play? What were the scores?

Q. Five sets, three hours. That's all you need to know.

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Not a long five-setter.

Q. Played him?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: I lost to Santoro in the Lipton this year.

Q. Knees feel good?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Knees feel better. Knees feel great. Right knee is healed.

Q. Still have to do some therapy with it?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: I haven't been. I haven't been having any problems. I had a little bit of problems in the final of the Hamlet Cup last week in dubs, but that's about it.

Q. Koubek is a pretty dangerous on-and-off opponent. Talk about the match a little bit.

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Koubek is a great groundstroker. He hits a lot of topspin. I felt like I was in all the groundstroke rallies. I don't think I hit my groundstrokes quite as well as I would like to. I hit a bit too much topspin for myself, wasn't moving as well as I could. He gets you out of position with high balls and moves you around the court. That might have been the problem. But I served great. I served great. If I continue serving like that, I don't think it's going to be very easy to break me.

Q. What are your expectations at this tournament? Are you looking at it match-by-match? Are you thinking, "This is a chance for me to recapture some of the magic I had at the beginning of the year"?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: I think there's always a chance to recapture it. I've been playing okay tennis. There's no reason. I've had just tough draws, had just some unfortunate matches. I think there's always a chance. But I'm definitely just looking match-by-match. I don't even know who is ahead in the draw. I'm not even going to look at it. I just want to go out and play the best I can. I'm actually playing better tennis. I think I can get a steam going and start playing better each day.

Q. You're resisting looking past your next match. Surely you're aware that Pete Sampras is out of the tournament.

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: I would have to be comatose to not be aware of that (laughter). Yeah, I know about that.

Q. Are you trying to simply put that out of your mind that he's out?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: That doesn't affect me. It doesn't. If I had played Pete, that would affect me. It's unfortunate what happened to him, but it doesn't affect me in any way. I won't play him, no matter what now. I play Santoro. If I got by that, I would play somebody else. It won't be Pete. It affects the tournament, surely.

Q. What do you remember about the match at Lipton with him?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: I remember that I made a lot of errors. Didn't serve especially well. Didn't do anything especially well. But Santoro is crafty and really knows how to play the angles, different little shots that a lot of guys don't play. I don't think a lot of players like playing him, except Agassi. Agassi usually does him in. Besides that, he's a tough guy to play. Most people have trouble with him.

Q. How do you deal with playing someone who hits a slice forehand that much? You guys almost never see that. He hits it constantly.

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Yeah, that's a strange shot. I think he invented that one. He hits it well. He can take it and hit it off of anything. Just got to hit it back deep. He's not going to pass very well with it.

Q. You both play with two hands from both sides. Have you thought of incorporating that shot?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: I don't have the same grip as he does. I switch my grip top to bottom so I have a drive hand on both sides. I think that he has this hand on top on his forehand, so he's able to slice it (indicating). I'm not able to do that. It would be a long time before I'd be able to use that shot. It's not worth it.

Q. What is your goal in this?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: My goal is to play the best tennis I can play, you know, to go out in matches and stop being nervous, just go out and be intense. I made a vow as early as last week. I figure the best way for me to play tennis is to be intense, an animal, forget the opponent, forget the crowd. I'm out there to win, to play my best tennis. That's it. I've had problems with that this whole year, getting nervous, thinking about the match, thinking about the wrong thing, not playing point by point. I'm going to stop doing that. If I go out and play fiery tennis, look up to my idols like Andre and Connors, that's how they used to play and win, that's how Andre still wins, that's the way I'm going to do well. I'll walk off the court knowing I did it the right way.

Q. What were the wrong things you were thinking about?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Getting into a position where I'm serving for the match. It happened twice this year, in Montreal and in Washington, up a break in the third set against two different players. Think about, "Here is your chance, win the match," whatever. It's just point by point. I think I played a great final game today. I just went out there, played each point, served big and put it away, didn't think about it.

Q. You said to be an animal. That's a pretty wide scope. What kind of animal?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: I don't know. A rabid dog, a cat, a mean ferocious animal, not a lemming or something like that.

Q. How do you control your nerves, especially at a tournament like this? How do you get control of them?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: That's how I figured out how to control my nerves. I think for everyone it's different. For me, I've just got to be intense, almost pissed every time, win or lose the point, "Next point, this is it." It's like it's the final point, the point of my life every time. That's the way for me.

Q. Have you put the Moya match out of your mind from last year?


Q. Completely?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Until the next time I play Moya (laughter).

Q. How long did it take you to stop thinking about that?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: You know, it took a while. I had to go home, just be with my friends and just forget it. It was hard. That was another match, another example where I was up, really should have been able to put it away, thought about the match, winning the match, getting to the fourth round of the US Open.

Q. Do you think this is going to be your breakthrough year? Are you angry that it wasn't able to be because of things out of your control?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: What do you mean by "breakthrough"? Last year was my breakthrough year.

Q. Breaking through even to the Top 20 now.

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: You know, I've got to stop thinking about that. I can't worry about it. It's going to happen if I play well. I can beat the guys up there. I've done it this year. I've done it last year. Just got to keep on playing. When I think about it, when I think about the wrong things - that's one of the wrong things - that's not going to help me.

Q. You guys know from experience on the Tour that anything can happen, as you said before.


Q. Something like Rafter and Sampras, they're suddenly gone, gone early, do you think in the back of people's heads it might reinvigorate that, "Anything can happen, including me"?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Yes, absolutely. None of us on the Tour are invulnerable to injuries. I can't think of anybody who hasn't been injured this year. Andre was injured against me at Scottsdale. Pete has been injured, now Rafter. I've been injured. Everybody I can think of. We have a tough schedule. Depending on how many tournaments the player chooses to play, it's year-round. There's not a lot of time off for rest. A lot of times an injury that you think has healed isn't healed. You go back out on the battlefield, it flares back up.

Q. I meant it the other way. "There's some sort of karma that maybe some of us might use this as a breakthrough," something in the back of your head, "The big cats are away"?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: I'll tell you what, if that's in the back of my head, I'll keep it there, it's great.

Q. I think if I get your point, you've been talking about intensity and focus in your play.


Q. Of course, some players, McEnroe, Connors, come to mind, they have it. How is that something that you develop?

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: You know, actually that's my nature. I've kind of subdued it over time, thinking that I need to play more like, I guess, a robot, just go out, play. That's just not the way I play the best tennis. I grew up idolizing those two guys and Andre, the real fiery players. That's built up over time. That's the way that I need to play. That's all can I say.

Q. Interesting, because I perceive your dad as being a fiery guy.

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Exactly. We all looked up to those same guys. That's how he thinks my tennis should be played. I don't know. It hasn't been that way all year. Some of the time it was. At Scottsdale it certainly was.

Q. If you get past Santoro, it's probably Safin in the third round.

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Marat Safin plays great tennis, hits the ball as hard as anybody, harder than most people. Pretty straightforward, he's a great player.

End of FastScripts….

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