September 2, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. You say that you are playing to win majors, but on a night like tonight, do you play just for a night like tonight?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it was very exciting. The people and the atmosphere out on Louis was something that I was enjoying. Made it a little bit sweeter with the win. But those are moments that as you get a little bit older, you kind of cherish a little bit more. The people were really, really pulling for me. It was nice to get through it.
Q. Did you feel that Greg was trying to stall you on a return of serve? A couple of times you looked over.
PETE SAMPRAS: He was slowing me down at certain times.
Q. Were you asking the umpire to try to speed him up?
PETE SAMPRAS: He said that some people were behind him or something. There's always someone moving behind you at this event. He was definitely taking his time.
Q. On the racquet exchange, did you see that as a legit replacement of the racquet?
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't have a problem with that. The rules, you can do that, so it's fine.
Q. On the third point of the third-set tiebreak when you hit the backhand passing shot, the return, you let out quite a bellow. Was that just effort, or did you hit the ball wide?
PETE SAMPRAS: It was a big, big point. That gave me a mini break, a double mini break, which was a big point. Finally hit a good couple returns there in the breaker. It was more of, you know, the crowd got into it. Hit it good. Finally made one. It was a big point.
Q. On TV, Jim and McEnroe were talking about some of the strategy Courier had, he may get nerves a bit, you hang in there, hang in there, see some of the nervous shots that may come from Greg.
PETE SAMPRAS: I didn't see many nerves by Greg. He maybe missed the one volley at 30-All. I thought he played pretty flawless. Really mixed up his serves, first and second. He kind of had me guessing a lot of the match. I thought Greg played well. I thought he really handled the nerves fine. It is a battle of nerves in the fifth set when you have two big serve and volleyers. It's a couple points here and there. I managed to hit a couple good returns there and a couple good passes at the end.
Q. Why is Tommy Haas giving you trouble the last couple times?
PETE SAMPRAS: In Toronto he served unbelievably well. He served about 30 aces. I had some chances to maybe pull that match out. Tommy Haas improved quite a bit the last couple years. He's developed a big first serve. He backs it up with good groundies. He's moving well. He's a good player.
Q. What is your thought now, you're in the Round of 16. What's your thought about your tennis?
PETE SAMPRAS: My first thought is to get back to my hotel room and get ready for tomorrow.
Q. And overall?
PETE SAMPRAS: I feel pretty good. I feel like it's a tough match. Playing Greg is very difficult. You don't get a ton of rhythm. It's kind of hit-and-miss tennis. You kind of hang in there against Greg. Tomorrow's match will be different, a lot more baseline rallies. I feel like my game is pretty good. I didn't really return all that well tonight, but I got through it.
Q. In the past against Greg it seemed like when you would swing him wide to your backhand, you could control your service games comfortably. He made some good low awkward returns. Did that make it tough to decide to stay behind the second serve?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yes, it's tough. If you go there too much against Greg, he actually hits it pretty well. On the second, I don't mind staying back, usually that chip will go short so I can come in or do something. If you go to a spot too often, you're going to pay the price. I did. I got my serve broken three or four times.
Q. In the fifth it seemed like you tried to get in behind the second serve.
PETE SAMPRAS: I wanted to get in, period. I didn't want to hit too many passing shots. He was chipping and charging on me. If I want to go out and play, it's going to be on my terms. If I throw in a few doubles and lose the match, that's on my terms. I managed to kind of squeak it out.
Q. Can you talk us through your experiences late yesterday afternoon when the schedule was changing every five minutes.
PETE SAMPRAS: It's rough, rough, rough couple days for everybody, especially if -- you know, Greg and I were just hanging around all day, waiting to play. Nothing you can do. You don't know when to eat, when to practice. It's just a very, very tough day for everyone. It was good we got it done.
Q. Yesterday, there was some speculation you were still in the city.
PETE SAMPRAS: I was in the city. They changed it to 6:00. I thought I was second after 5:30. I got here at 5:40, told I was going to play at 6:00. I was a little bit frazzled. It showed a little bit when I went out there. But they gave me a little bit more time.
Q. How important was it to get the break and not lose the first set yesterday before you went home?
PETE SAMPRAS: Huge, huge. Being down 6-3. Went to sleep a little easier. Got into a breaker today. Not easy, play two games, play a breaker against Greg. Scary moments. Big break to get back right before the rain.
Q. It used to be in early summer conventional wisdom, Wimbledon is coming, Pete is going to step up his game. Sort of in recent years it's been like your game has taken a bit of an edge here, been energized. Has there been a shift?
PETE SAMPRAS: I enjoy playing here. Usually when I have subpar years, Wimbledon is a tournament that gets me going. Hasn't happened the last couple years. But the US Open the past two years I've gotten it going. I just love playing here. I enjoy this facility, the courts, the crowd. It's our Super Bowl here in the US so I'm pretty pumped.
Q. Do you feel more at home on Louis Armstrong than Arthur Ashe?
PETE SAMPRAS: Louis, he's been pretty good to me over the years. Arthur has been pretty good. I enjoy playing both stadiums. Louis is a little more intimate. You can feel the people a lot more. I tend to like that. The court's a little smaller. Arthur Ashe court, it's a great court. I mean, it's so big, you don't really feel the people as much. But when it gets packed, it's a pretty impressive stadium. But Louis, I'm won my fair share of matches out there.
Q. What did you show yourself by what you did tonight?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, just hanging in there, maybe not playing great, but playing pretty solid. Just hang in there. Hopefully you get a little fortunate. Playing someone like Greg, it's a couple points here and there. I just hung in there when I wasn't really on top of my game. You know, I was just going to keep on fighting. Playing a breaker, which I thought we were going to go to, it's a little bit roll the dice. It was nice I broke him there.
Q. What does it say about your emotional state of mind when you can laugh at a gaffed overhead?
PETE SAMPRAS: 4-Love breaker. I was a little embarrassed. Kind of got overanxious.
Q. You didn't look irritated by it.
PETE SAMPRAS: You can't be. You've got to move on. You miss a shot, a bad shot like that was, you just have to shut it out and move to the next point. You can't dwell on it too much. It was a bad miss at a bad time.
Q. Given the difficulties you've had in the last few tournaments, are you enjoying the early rounds here more than you might have in previous years?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, enjoy winning, enjoy winning these close matches. You know, not quite as dominant as I once was. But the first two matches, I feel like I played pretty well. Today, a tough match-up against Greg. I enjoyed playing. That's why I'm still here, is because I look forward to the challenge, and each match gets a little bit tougher. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
Q. You hit a couple of your signature overheads tonight that did go in. Can you talk about what kind of weapon that's been for you over the years, that shot?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's a high-percentage shot because it's an overhead. It gets the crowd going. It gets me pretty pumped. It's a fun shot to hit when it's there and the timing is there. I enjoy doing it.
Q. Are you available to show Mark Philippoussis how to hit that ball?
PETE SAMPRAS: I'll show anyone how to hit it (smiling). It takes a little timing. He's got to worry about his knee at the moment.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.