ITALIAN OPEN 1997
Semi-final: Lost to Alex Corretja, 6-7(5), 6-7(4)
Interviewers - black
Goran - sage.
Why did you play unbelievable shots and then made incredible mistakes?
I had to play like that with him. This was my first real match on clay and I was playing one of the best claycourters in the circuit. I didnít play tennis for 5 weeks. I canít still play 100%. I had some break points and a few chances, though. I am happy with the way I played in this tournament. There are a couple of things I have to improve before Roland Garros.
The day before yesterday you said you were unbelievable. Yesterday you were OK and how do you rate yourself today?
Today I was there. I think I played good tennis. I didnít expect much from this tournament and Iím happy to have reached the SF. He improved a lot since I played him two years ago. He plays a good top-spin backhand that he didnít play before.
Apart from that, what else do you think he improved?
He was moving very well. He was everywhere on the court. His top-spin forehand made me run all over the court. After ten consecutive shots like that I had to go for the winning point because I couldnít play all points like that. Although his serve is not so good he often gives it a kick. He plays like all the other Spanish players. They make you run.
Were you annoyed by the fact that he was not playing a spectacular game but just returning the ball?
Thatís the way he plays and wins, why should he change it?
You looked more relaxed when playing early this week, while today you seemed nervous.
I didnít have any pressure on me. At the beginning of the match I was having problems with my stomach and couldnít run much. After breaking him I was concentrating on my serve games only. Then I had bad luck. I broke the string of my racket and made a very silly mistake. I was not nervous. I just made more mistakes than usual.
The best moment of this tournament was your tie-break against Becker and the worst was your backhand in the second set today. Do you think you still lack something?
I donít think thatís true. On important points I sometimes play an ace or a great shot. When your game is risky you have to expect that. When playing the backhand I jumped up because I just wanted it to look good. But that was very stupid.
Would you rather become No.1 or win a Grand Slam title?
My goal is a Grand Slam title. I was very close to it twice. I think I have everything to win it. What you need is good luck and lots of concentration because itís a two-week tournament. Players like Pete Sampras may play bad the first week and very good in the second and win the tournament. There are still three to go and I hope I can win at least one of them.