Australian Open - qF
Post Match Interview
Pete SAMPRAS defeated Chris WOODRUFF
7-5 6-3 6-3
Q. You were talking about rhythm the whole time. That was rhythm tonight, wasn't it?
A. Yes. It took a week and a half but it definitely came together tonight. I just felt like I could take a pretty good cut at it tonight and the conditions were cooler, a little bit heavier as a result of that. It was my best match so far. I played throughout the tournament, and in a couple of days it's going to be even tougher. It's a good match to get through and Chris has been playing great and definitely pushed me hard through that first set, but I was able to get my game going tonight which was nice. It was nice to play with confidence and serve well. I second served big so it was a good day.
As the match went on my confidence just grew and grew and I hit the backhand clean and my game was there tonight. It's always a good atmosphere walking out there. I was obviously pumped at at my first serve at 216. I was obviously pretty into it and the backhand was definitely on tonight and the forehand, pretty much the whole game was the A game.
Q. What was the deal with the trainer, Pete? Was it just a couple of pills or something?
A. Yes, just a few pills. My stomach was a little upset and I just needed a couple of Tums or Mylanta or something, to coat it a little bit. It wasn't a big deal.
Q. In view of the fact that we can have very hot weather in the day time here, are you more than happy that your semifinals are at night?
A. Yes. I have got through my matches during the day, but I haven't quite felt that comfortable playing it and I played Arthurs in the first round and I am playing Andre Thursday night, it will be a little bit cooler and the atmosphere will be tremendous and I think we are both looking forward to it.
Q. Have you watched any of his matches so far? Did you catch any of his performance today?
A.. All his matches have been too short. You turn it on and it's just about over. Sure, I have seen a little bit of his play; he is playing about as well as you can play, and hopefully we can go out on Thursday and play some good tennis and if we are both playing well at the same time, that's about as good as it gets.
Q. It's eight weeks since Hannover. Is that now history or is that still a fresh memory?
A.. That's history. I think we are both looking at it, like it happened a while ago, it was different conditions, indoor and obviously this is a Grand Slam, and I am not saying Hannover wasn't important, it was, but obviously it was a huge match.
Q. On the scale of your performances, looking back, how good was that?
Q. Yes, the final?
A.. All things considered going into the match, going into the week, I really didn't know what to expect and once I got to the semi and the final and playing Andre last match of the year, I surprised even myself how it went because I obviously hadn't played in four months, and to beat him when he was playing his best was pretty sweet.
Q. He said he had seen you play a lot better than that?
A.. In Hannover?
A.. I played well but I can play better and I am certainly going to have to do that on Thursday.
Q. What's your best matches against him and him against you?
A.. The Hannover match where he beat me two and two pretty much blew me off the court. I think that's one of his better matches and probably the Wimbledon final last year was probably the best ever I played against him. Probably the most exciting match was the US Open final in '96, I believe. That was a good one.
Q. Looking back on this week, first week so far, Pete, how important was your performance against Wayne Black? Do you think you had given him the type of momentum from a tricky situation you carried through subsequently?
A.. The Wayne Black match was a match that I really struggled to find my form and kind of coming down from two sets it was a good match, I competed well, I just wasn't playing that well. In a lot of ways that's a match you have to find a way to win, which in some ways means more than playing great, but as the tournament goes on you want to save your energy, so I don't want to say it was a wake-up call but I certainly was aware that I needed to start practising a little better and put my game to where it should be because obviously today was tough and it's going to be even tougher on Thursday.
Q. Two matches away now from the Roy Emmerson record. Has that entered your thinking at all?
A.. Not at the moment. Two very tough matches, but certainly if I win on Thursday I will have a couple of days to think about it and it's only natural to think about it, but it's not really my main focus right now. It's obviously playing Andre and trying to get through his game. He's got a good game to beat me so we will see.
Q. You talked before about the extra charge you get from playing Andre. Does that manifest itself by waking up a little early or not eating breakfast?
A.. I never wake up early. Sure. Once six, 6.30 comes around you get the nerves going and you feel like "this is it" but we have played each other 20 times and we are always a little bit nervous in the beginning of the matches but once we get into it we are fine. Same day, same preparation, get up at the same time, eat at the same time, get into the same routine and just go out and play.
Q. You were talking about your junior matches at Wimbledon. What memories do you have from them?
A.. Distant memories. It was a long time ago and I remember playing Andre in a couple of junior events around LA, Northridge or somewhere around there, and I remember he took a drive from Vegas to LA to play some tournaments and it was just kind of amazing, our careers, and where we are today, you know, two kids hitting in a local park and now we are competing for major titles.
Q. You have beaten him in your last couple of Grand Slam meetings. Does that help you psychologically?
A.. Not necessarily. Andre and I have played each other so many times and it's so close, the Wimbledon finals, obviously was a one-sided affair but conditions will be a little bit different out there. He is playing great. He is pretty much breezed through this tournament so far. I feel like my form is getting better but he's won big matches against me, I have won my share and obviously Thursday will be a big one.
Q. Normally you play Agassi in the final. Playing semifinals, is that the same?
A.. No, it's different. It's much different playing a semi than a final. It just is. It's the way the draw worked out and it's the way it is.
Q. Has the court condition changed at all since your thoughts on it right at the start of the event?
A.. The speed?
A.. No, it's still pretty much the same. It's just a little bit slower at night, a little bit heavier, which I like, and tonight it definitely helped.
Q. How is it different playing in a semifinal?
A.. It's just different. There's a final and there's a semifinal. I would sooner walk out on Thursday with the atmosphere like a final but we know there is a lot of work ahead, if he beats me or I beat him, so it's different, there's no question. The atmosphere, Sunday you can have that trophy sitting on the court. It will be different because we usually play each other in the finals but that's the way the draw worked out.
Q. Pete, you said a couple of times this tournament about the speed of the court means that you serve and volley almost mandatory on second balls. Against Andre's return serve game when he is passing shots will you be coming to net more infrequently?
A.. No, pretty much the same. To beat Andre I need to come in and be aggressive and he's too much in the back court for me to beat him. If I stay back with him some I want to come in. If he can pass me returns like he did in Hannover it's going to be a long day, so I will be coming in quite a bit.
Q. If you serve as well as you did tonight and play as well as you did today do you think you can beat him?
A.. Sure, I think I can beat him. I am not showing any disrespect to Chris, he's had a great tournament, but Andre is certainly at a different level and a different talent out there and hits shots that a lot of people can't hit. But, there are times when I am serving, it doesn't matter who I am playing against, and tonight I certainly was in a good rhythm and it doesn't matter who I am playing against if my game is going I'm pretty tough to beat.
Q. Woodruff said it was like playing one on one with Michael Jordan. Do you have any comment on that?
A.. It's flattering. That's very flattering to hear, even though Jordan's retired. He is he still one of the best players in the NBA. It's a great compliment. Jordan is one of the best athletes ever, one of the best players ever and to have your peer talk about it in that way it's very nice to hear.
Q. When you are playing so frequently and so hard, playing a fearless game, is there anything about Agassi's style that throws any fear into you when he is on?
A.. His return. He pretty much stands on the baseline and is basically looking you in the eye and saying "ace me" and if you don't ace him or whatever he is going to pounce on that second serve. He's got the best return, probably, of all time and I think Andre, this past couple of weeks, is serving well. He is getting a lot of cheap points and the occasional ace and starting off his point in a positive way because he is able to serve well. It's going to be good stuff. There's no question we are both looking forward to it and there should be some good tennis.
Q. There's a story that you are getting some physio on your shoulder. Is that true?
A.. Where are you hearing these things?
Q. Somewhere around.
A.. Sure. When you serve as hard as I serve it's not great for the arm but it's just precaution, just icing it down. It's no problem.
Q. The hip?
A.. How do you know these things?
Q. I just heard.
A.. The hip's fine. Did you find anything else out?