September 9, 1995
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
Q. How happy are you with the level of your game?
PETE SAMPRAS: I thought that the quality of tennis today was at a very high level; which kind of reminded me of the Australian Open match we played in January. I was very pleased with the way I served, hit the ball pretty well. I think huge turning point of the match were the 2-All, Love-40 game in the third set. That kind of really turned things around for me. I started playing a little bit better from that point. But when you play someone like Jim, I don't feel like I am playing someone 15 in the world. I feel like I am playing someone in the top 5. He has got a big serve and backs it up with the some big groundies. And, you know, when you play, Jim, it always comes down to a couple of points and I just happen to hit the right point today and I thought the level of tennis was pretty high.
Q. But, Pete, do you really just happen to get the big points, or do you do something -- is there some sort of confidence or something that you do on the big points?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, my game matches up pretty well against Jim. My record with him is pretty good. I am just trying to keep the ball away from his forehand, that is the bottom line against Jim. If you can do that and hopefully, you know, get some errors off the backhands side, but when it comes down to the big points, I am just trying to stay aggressive. I am trying to be the one that is trying to, you know, really produce a winner, because sometimes I am getting screwed as -- when I am in the kind of defensive position banging to my backhand, banging to my backhand, I needed to stay aggressive and really, just, hopefully, let my serve kind of carry me through the match. That was the one shot I relied on. Like I said, at Love-40 game, hit some big serves when I had to, and, you know, I just kind of, you know, a little bit lucky at the end.
Q. He likes to open up the court inside out forehand, then he plays the ball to the open court. And you come up and you are able to hit your classic shot. How much does that little tid-bit help you?
PETE SAMPRAS: One thing I was trying to do, I recall on -- in the match, was hit the backhand down the line and try to use the whole court because the times where I'd get in trouble with Jim when I keep on going, trying to go to his backhand, he just -- he's got the best inside out forehand probably in the game. Andre is in the same league. I was trying to hit the backhand down the line early on in the match to open up things a little bit. Once I saw him going to my forehand, you kind of leave that whole side of the court open. I said, you know, I will just hit it crosscourt and hopefully -- that is my favorite shot.
Q. As good as his forehand is, does he hurt himself at times when he runs around his backhand to get to his forehand, then leaves that right side of the court wide open? Do you consciously, when he does that, try to open up the court that way?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I mean, that is just kind of a risk he takes because that is his best shot. When he moves over he is probably seven, eight yards from the center stripe and he leaves that whole side open, so I can hit a backhand up the line or if he goes to my forehand, I can get him crosscourt. That is just the risk he takes when he does that. But it is a good risk because he has got a huge forehand.
Q. What is at stake tomorrow for you, Pete?
PETE SAMPRAS: U.S. Open final. Doesn't get any bigger than that. That is a pretty rhetorical answer, I guess. Most likely, I think Andre and I are going to do some battle. I see him winning this match today and just have a chance to beat the best player in the world.
Q. How much better will you have to play?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I thought I played pretty well today. Andre might return a little bit better than Jim, but Jim's serve is a little bit better, so it is a pretty similar match and it's not a whole lot of time to rest up, you know, just have to, you know, get a good meal and massage and before I know it, I will be playing 4 o'clock tomorrow afternoon.
Q. You said he doesn't really seem like he is No. 15 in the world. I have asked him about this earlier in the week; he didn't really respond too much. Say if the rankings were done on a vote like college football or something like that, where do you think he would be top 5?
PETE SAMPRAS: I see him as a top a player. I mean, at least when I am playing him I feel like I am playing one of the best players in the world and it is kind -- it is good to see him playing better because he is, in my mind, he is a tough guy to beat. He is a tough guy to beat.
Q. In your mind is the winner tomorrow -- if you do play Andre or if you win, regardless whether you play Becker or not you become the No. 1 player in the world in your mind, forget about the rankings, if we were voting --
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you can kind of look at it both ways in my mind, you know, the major titles are the most important events of the year. And if I win tomorrow, then should be a strong possibility I should be No. 1, but on the other hand, as far as consistency is concerned, Andre has been a lot more consistent than -- he has won a lot more titles. As far as the points are concerned, I think he has a pretty good lead on me, so -- but, you know, the Majors, that is in my mind, should be a reflection on your ranking.
Q. Andre's return of serve automatically put him above the rest of your opponents in terms of being the major difference?
PETE SAMPRAS: By far, he has got the best return in the game and that is what I think makes him the best player in the world is his return of serve; is his passing shots his groundstrokes; that is what gives me problems. He puts a lot of pressure on my service games. If I don't hit a big enough serve, if I am not quite aggressive on my volleys, he is there. I mean, that is what has made him No. 1 is his return. It is a great contrast when we get together, really is.
Q. Do you like the attention that has been focused on I mean, since this tournament started about a lot of people hoping you guys would square off? Do you welcome that?
PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, I understand that that is what everyone wants to talk about, but now I am thinking about it. Up until this match, you know, make the final against Andre was the last thing on my mind. I was just concentrating on who I was playing; what I was doing. Now there is a good chance that we will meet. I will think about it tonight.
Q. Do you see this rivalry becoming a McEnroe/Borg and things like -- the rest of the '90s; do you hope that happens?
PETE SAMPRAS: Time will tell if it happens and because we have only been 1-2 for this year, so we will see over the next couple of years if it can be compared to, but I think it has the ingredients to be compared to Borg/McEnroe with our contrast of style and our personalities, I think it is a great matchup.
Q. Are you going to be rooting for Boris a little bit just because the way Andre has been playing against you?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I am rooting for both guys. But I have got to be as diplomatic as I can. I like to -- it is always a little different when Andre and I play, and I think I don't think I will feel when I will walk out on the court with Andre you can feel the electricity at least when I played in Montreal, you can feel electricity on the court. Hopefully we can raise the level of tennis to a level that hasn't been seen before.
Q. Is there a balance there, I mean, obviously if Boris would win maybe there might be a chance that you would be more favored, but at the same time to beat Andre in the final would really be ...
PETE SAMPRAS: Would be -- either way, I am prepared.
Q. "Go Boris."
PETE SAMPRAS: I am sorry.
Q. Go Boris.
PETE SAMPRAS: Either way I am ready to go.
Q. Pete, Jim said that difference today was the big points. How much of that is mental toughness and has Jim's mental toughness gone down since he was in his prime?
PETE SAMPRAS: I do not think we could ever questioned Jim's mental toughness. I have always felt he is mentally one of the strongest guys on the Tour. It is just instinct; that is all it comes down to. I don't think mentally -- there is nothing really negative about my mental game or his mental game. It is just all instinct and hitting the right shot at the right time.
Q. When you all used to practice together, I know you don't do that too much anymore, couple of years ago when you all were practicing a little bit more at Saddlebrook, did that build a foundation for this rivalry that you all know each other's game?
PETE SAMPRAS: Me and Jim?
PETE SAMPRAS: I remember I practiceed against Jim in Holland; one of the most competitive sets I have ever played. I am not the most intense guy. We all get together, if it is me and Michael or Jim and Michael, it is pretty competitive and when Americans get together, I mean, it is pretty fun to watch.
Q. Some talk about you and Jim playing the Davis Cup doubles.
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know. I don't know. Davis Cup isn't exactly in my mind at the moment.
Q. Third set game you were talking about, could you describe that a little bit more down Love-40, how do you dig in there?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, at that point I was just trying to get my first serve in and try to get to the net. That is what I was thinking about. He really was starting to get a read on my serve that game, and I just felt I needed to get my serve in and try to, you know, be the one that is doing the damage; not letting him do the damage. And I just played some solid points; hit a couple of good first serves in and that for some reason just kind of changed the way I was playing after that. It just kind of got a little bit of momentum even though I didn't break him the next game, I felt that was a big turnaround for me.
Q. Any advantage when you play early match on Super Saturday?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah.
Q. Especially when you have to play the next day?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's an advantage in my mind. You have a little bit more time to recover. Andre and Boris have to wait for the women's final, they could be out of here 7, 8 o'clock, so it is anm advantage to play first.
Q. What kind of problems does Boris present?
PETE SAMPRAS: A bigger serve. He brings a lot of experience. He will be a lot more aggressive. Chipping and charging against me. I have played him so many times it is a pretty straightforward match. You know, he presents some problems, I mean, he hits his groundies pretty well. His service is his main part of his game, so that is the one shot he really brings to the table, so either way I am prepared.
Q. Pete, could you talk about how you and Andre decided to play Davis Cup this year?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it was a tough decision, especially for me, I mean, going to Palermo wasn't the one thing I wanted to do after the Lipton final and we just talked about it, myself Jim and Andre as far as trying to put out the best team and, you know, Jim really went to bat going to India and always been available for Davis Cup; I felt, okay, I will suck it up here and go over there and that is how we did it. Fortunately we got through that Tie, so...
Q. Did Andre initiate the talks?
PETE SAMPRAS: He asked me and I initially didn't think it was the best thing for my tennis and we talked about it at Palm Springs tournament and we just, you know, he just said let us try to put our best players there and I thought about it and tossed and turneded on it. I just -- end of the day I felt okay, I will play for Tom Gully our captain, and -- but it was a tough decision, I mean, I just went back and forth on it. But end of the day it worked out pretty well.
Q. Just Palermo or rest of the year?
PETE SAMPRAS: I made myself available the whole year.
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