Australian Open - Round 4
Post Match Interview
Pete SAMPRAS defeated Wayne BLACK
6-7(9) 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-3
Q. Pete, you obviously were struggling at the beginning. Where did you go and how did you get yourself back from there?
A. You're right, it's safe to say I was struggling to find my range, not only in the first couple of sets, but throughout the whole match I didn't really feel like I was hitting the ball that well. But it was more of a mental effort than anything. Being down two sets, it's kind of a tough uphill battle, and I just kind of hung in there and my serve kind of saved me and I got the serve going a little bit. When I won the third, I got a little bit of momentum on my side and went to the fourth and the fifth and just kind of hung in there.
In a match like today, where I wasn't playing well, you know, you've just got to hang in there and really try to find a way to win. But Wayne played smart, he definitely kept me on my heels and made me do a lot of running. But it was a good one to get through. I feel like my form wasn't great, but you know, it was a good match for me to come back and compete hard and I did that today.
Q. Is this the kind of match that frequently a guy has to win to get through a Grand Slam? Does that happen a lot?
A. Well, I've kind of been part of - through winning majors, I've won some that I've played great every match, I've won some that I've played poorly in a couple of matches. It's hard to say what's going to happen the rest of this tournament, but I'm still in it, which is obviously the main thing. The way the court is playing, it's making it pretty difficult to play and I'm still going to be tough to beat with the way I serve at times.
Q. In the seventh game of the third set, you were shaking your head. Was that a sign that you didn't believe that you could win this match?
A. It wasn't a sign that I didn't believe, it was a sign more that I was getting a little bit frustrated with the way I was playing and just the way the match was going. You try to be positive, you try to stay upbeat, but there were times when I got a little bit down on myself. You know, you go through a bit of a rollercoaster in a five-set match. I've always taken pride in myself in fighting hard until the last point and every now and again you'll win one of these and today I was a little bit fortunate and got through it.
Q. You said the match was like one you had once with Corretja at the US Open. Does that make you believe that you can still make it if you are down?
A. Well, that was more of a physical problem playing him and today it was more of a tennis problem, because I was struggling, like I said, to find my range and I just kind of hung in there with my serve.
You know, you're not going to play well every day and today was certainly a case that I didn't play well. But you have to give credit to Wayne, that he was making me play, mixing it up, serve-volleying and he was definitely playing great tennis.
Q. If that was the Davis Cup tie, you've got to play against the guy in a couple of weeks time, what do you think your new captain would have been saying to you in the chair at the changeovers?
A. "You're playing like the pits of the world. What are you doing there?" When you play a match like that, I've played Davis Cup matches, there's not much you hear. Certainly John will - he brings a lot to the table, but I know what I'm doing out there. So I'll let you know when it happens.
Q. In a match like that, people start to call out and say things; how aware are you of what they are saying or do you just try to screen it all out?
A. As far as the crowd?
A. You are just focused on what you are doing. Occasionally you hear someone say something but when you're playing in competition, everything is pretty much tuned out.
Q. Before the match started and you realised it was going to be indoors, were you pleased or did it not matter to you or what?
A. Well, it really didn't matter to me. I mean, it's playing quick indoor or outdoor and certainly with it indoor, you don't have to deal with the sun or the wind, which is nice to play. But it is an outdoor tournament and certainly you try to do whatever you can to play outdoors. But with the weather, I just wanted to play. I was asked before the match what I felt and I said, look, let's play and that's what happened.
Q. Were you then a little more surprised at the fact you didn't manage to get going so quickly, bearing in mind you usually sweep everyone off?
A. Well, when you feel like you're not finding your range and I really haven't felt I've found my range throughout the tournament, I'm going to struggle. But I still have to remember who I am and the fact that I've got one of the best serve/volley games in the world. It's tougher to return, tougher to play from the back court, but you've got to stay positive in conditions like this. Even though I'm not crazy about them, there's nothing we can do about it now and just go out and play hard and not give up, and today I didn't give up.
Q. Is it a coincidence that the Australian Open has been very kind to you in five-set matches, your record is now 8-0?
A. I was asked that in my Channel 7 interview. You don't think of that when you play, you just try to focus on what you are trying to do. The fact that I'm 8-0, it's great, it's nice to have that record and be able to go the distance. It just happens that I've won a lot here but I'd much rather make this a little bit easier on myself.
Q. You served 36 aces today. Do you remember what the most is that you have ever served in a match?
A. Not 36 aces. I don't think I've ever served this many in a match.
A. I don't think so. You can ask one of the stat people, but I don't think I have. I mean, that's just a result of how fast it is.
Q. Is that what helped save you today a little bit, that serve?
A. Well, you look at it both ways. Sure it helped me, but it certainly would have been nice to have a little bit more time to play from the back court so I can take a bigger cut at it. It helps out the serve, but I can serve well on any court, no matter how slow it is. So it is an equaliser, there's no question about that.
Q. When Vacek lost to Kafelnikov yesterday, he said that he felt this court was faster than Wimbledon. Do you think it is?
A. Um-hm, yes. Wimbledon, with the ball they are using here; Wimbledon, even though it's quick and the ball bounces low, when it hits on grass, it doesn't really go to the court that quickly. Here it skids through the court. So if you combine all the weather, the balls and the court, this is the fastest conditions I've ever been a part of.
Q. Is that the reason that you were not finding your range?
Q. Or you just woke up sluggish?
A. Yes, that's pretty much the reason why I was struggling with my range. It's tough conditions for me to stay back, I feel like I'm just not quite there. But as much as I'm struggling, I still feel like the way I can serve and volley, these guys like when I serve and volley the way I can and it's that quick, so I have to remember that in a match like today.
Q. If the court is that quick, why is it that it seems to suit Agassi; Goran lost last night; the court seems to suit Hewitt. You've got a lot of different games that seem to be suited to the court?
A. Well, if - a court like this isn't necessarily going to help a big server. Goran and myself, we are all going to serve just about anywhere. It helps the guys that don't serve as well. Certainly someone like Hewitt or Andre who doesn't have a huge serve, it's going to make it even that much better on this court. They serve well enough, and where they play on the court, they might hit the ball flat and early. That's more of an advantage than a guy with a big serve.
Hewitt, who's a very quick player, moves very well and hits the ball early and those are perfect conditions for him, much rather than a slower court where he will have to work a lot harder to win his point. On this court he can be a little more aggressive and get a couple of cheap points with the serve and that's why he's still in the tournament. Not only that, he's for real. I mean, there's no question he's going to be around for many years.
Q. Have you adjusted your racquet to the balls?
A. I string pretty tight, about 34 kilos, which is around 80 pounds. But yes, I'm working on it, working on trying to find the combination to feel like I can at least take a swing at it.
Q. Can I clarify something. You talked about being asked about the roof, is that right?
Q. Was that Peter Bellenger and, if so, how usual in your experience is it for a player to be asked about that?
A. Well, he just came to me and asked how I felt about it, that it wasn't raining at the time but it could rain and how I felt about playing. I said, "I'm ready to play right now." I didn't want to wait 30 minutes for the roof to open, and Wayne was asked the same question about playing and I believe they're playing indoor right now. So it really wasn't a big deal, to be honest with you.
Q. Was that before the first match of the session was played or before your match?
A. It was before my match.
Q. My understanding was that once the roof was closed at the start of a session it had to remain closed for the entire session?
A. You are talking about my match or the ladies' match?
Q. The entire session?
A. I don't think that's true. I think if the sun comes out and it looks clear, I think they open it. That's my understanding.
Q. On the surface, do you think they did it on purpose like this or maybe they are surprised themselves having made it that fast?
A. I don't know the answer to that. Certainly a court like this would favour Pat Rafter and Mark Philippoussis, and they are Australian. But you know, I haven't had an explanation. The court is different, the balls are a little quicker, so I really - I don't know. You hear about the ITF kind of slowed it down, bought bigger balls and stuff like this, I read these things quite a bit. And it's just kind of ironic to come here this year and have it be that fast.
Each year you come down here and it's a little bit different. The year
I played Moya in the finals, it was like playing on clay, the balls were
soft and it was tough to play, and three years later you play a court that's
as quick as glass. You want some sort of consistency when you come down
and play, especially a
Q. I'm confused about what you just said. Philippoussis is a big server and you just said it's not favouring the big servers?
A. Not necessarily, but with his serve, it's pretty overwhelming. But he's going to be obviously a threat here, there's no question. But it's still - I'm a little confused with your question. Just because I'm saying it doesn't help the big servers, I mean, it doesn't. He's someone that can hold serve on a slower court. If anything, it could hurt him in a way.
Q. Pete, have you expressed your concern about the speed of the court to Paul McNamee?
Q. What was his response?
A. Well, he - he really didn't have much of one. I mean, I told him when I first got here, it was playing really quick this year and he said, well, yeah, they changed it a little bit. But with the court this quick they can certainly make a much better ball. The ball is just a little bit too hard and too light. You combine those two and it's going to be flying. You know, we can talk all day here about the court; it's still tennis and you still have to really adapt to the conditions and - but there's nothing we can do about it at this point.
Q. How are you going to adapt? What do you feel you need to do to conquer the surface?
A. I'm still trying to figure it out. You look at each opponent and figure out how you are going to win your points; should I chip and charge, should I stay back, should I try to find a rhythm. On my service games - my service games, I'm going to come in on everything. I've just got to hopefully find my range.
The bottom line is you just need to come in and be aggressive out there. Any time you're safe and conservative, like I was today, balls are going to be flying a bit further and you get into a tough hole out there, because it is very tough to play defence out there. If anything, I'm going to try to be a little more aggressive in my next match.
Q. Are you still feeling that at practice, you are not hitting the ball well?
A. Yes, you know when it's there and when it's not. It's not where I want it to be, but again I have the ability to play a bad match one day and come out and play great, and I know that deep down, so it's nice to rely on that.
Q. Did you feel your game was coming back towards the end of the match?
A. A little bit. I was hitting the ball better in the fifth than I was throughout the whole match, getting into a little bit more of a rhythm, which is nice, but hopefully that can continue to my next match and I can get into more of a rhythm.