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They said it ...

Quotable quotes from Sunday's play at Flushing Meadows

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Posted: Sunday September 13, 1998 08:47 PM

  Patrick Rafter: "Generally, all the Australians, we pull together a lot, especially around big occasions like the Grand Slams and around the Davis Cup." AP

FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- Below is a sampling of some of the best quotes to come out of the U.S. Open.

Pete Sampras on a possible budding rivalry with Australian Patrick Rafter: "It's not going to happen in one match. If I play Patrick over the next number of years in big matches like this, that has a possibility. But we'll just see over the next couple of years."

Rafter on whether Sampras was bothered by a fitness problem in their semifinal: "I don't look at it as fitness. If he's chucking up in the corner 5-all in the fifth, you know, then that's something else. But that's different. He obviously pulled a muscle and that's just bad luck."

Rafter on whether his victory over Sampras would be considered tainted because of the leg injury to Sampras: "I was a lot more offended by the last occasion, Cincinnati, when everyone thought that serve [on match point] was out. First of all, I had match point and I missed the first serve. I still had a second serve to go. It was like people thought because of this bad line call, he lost the match. That thing worried me. That got at me a little bit. But today, that's something else. That's different. He was genuinely injured."

Rafter on the role of tradition in Australian tennis: "Generally, all the Australians, we pull together a lot, especially around big occasions like the Grand Slams and around the Davis Cup. We usually are always there for each other. We always put in 100 percent. That's not to say the Americans don't. They do, you know. They've got great examples as in Pete [Sampras] and as in Michael Chang and you've got [Jan-Michael] Gambill coming through, Todd Martin. I believe a lot in cycles. You might look ten years down in time and our tennis might be [expletive] but someone else might be fantastic. Just goes in cycles a little bit."

Women's champion Lindsay Davenport on being the first American-born female since Chris Evert in 1982 to win the U.S. Open: "It means a lot. A lot of people have said for a lot of years, 'Oh American tennis, especially women's tennis. There's no hope. There's no future.' Really, I think it's looking better than ever. It's a tremendous accomplishment for me to win here and I think there's going to be many more American champions in the next years with the Williams' and so many great players coming up. No one's done it in a long time and I'm proud to be the first one."

Davenport on winning the title on her mother's birthday: "It's great. It's just a coincidence, obviously, but it's just a great story. She's the one that used to drive me hours and hours and hours to go practice, since I was six when I started playing tennis. It's great to have them all here. If I had been in any other Grand Slam final, my family wouldn't have been able to come."

Davenport on advice she got before the match: "I talked to Billie Jean [King] over the last few days. She's been great. She gave me a long speech before the Olympics, the finals. And today she just kind of winked and said, 'You know what to do. I don't need to talk to you anymore.' That meant just as much to me. She knew I could do it and believed in me. I talked to Mary Joe [Fernandez]. I think she was great. She told me, 'I always thought I'd be back there a million times and I never did. You've got to take advantage of this one and win it. It was great advice. I wanted to do that when I got out there."

Davenport on Hingis' reaction to losing: "She's always been fantastic. Obviously it's a tough loss but she's always been one player that to me has always been very nice, very funny, very gracious. She shook my hand today and said, 'Too good'. I think she's great. She's always been so nice to me, so outgoing. I've always been happy for her when she's won. I'm sure she's disappointed but I'm also sure she's somewhat happy for me."

Former star John McEnroe on today's longer and more powerful rackets: "I definitely think it's helped the women's game. It's given them a little bit more zip. Now all of a sudden, the women -- at least some of the women -- are serving at over 100 miles per hour but not at the stratospheric levels. It's given them more power off the ground. I really think it's done more of a service to the women's game than the men. The men -- I think it's gotten out of hand. Some of these big guys -- Magnus Larsson, Goran Ivanisevic, Richard Krajicek and Mark Philippoussis -- you play these guys on a grasscourt surface when they're hot and I mean forget about getting some returns back. I think that needs to be addressed at some point."

McEnroe's suggested solutions: "My recommendation is for serving. I don't think we should ever go to one serve because I think that's an integral part of the tennis game to have two serves. But what I think they could do perhaps is move the service line in an inch or two. That would force a player to take a little bit of pace off the ball and would require a little bit more placement. I still think the best servers would be great servers. They just wouldn't be able to hit it quite as hard. At least give the returner a chance."


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