August 30, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Was it as exciting for you as it was for us?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yes.
Q. How do you feel about how you played tonight?
PETE SAMPRAS: Pretty happy. Pretty happy the way it went. Wasn't really serving too well in the beginning. Finally clicked a little bit in the second. I put the pressure on him, kind of set the tone early. And it's pretty smooth.
Q. You're 18-0 in night matches here. What is it about the lights at this place?
PETE SAMPRAS: Just, you know, the energy from the people. It's always -- you're just a little more keen at night than you are during the day - at least I am. My body's awake, I feel pretty good out there. The energy's good. So it was a good night.
Q. I saw you jogging underneath the stadium. Is that something you always do?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Well, when it's a little cool like it was tonight, I've had my share of injuries when I'm not completely warmed up. If you go out there, you know, with a broken sweat, I just feel that much better. You know, I start off a little bit better. It's something I've been doing for a while.
Q. Can you talk a little bit more, it seems like you're chipping and charging a bit more. Can you talk more about the thinking behind that.
PETE SAMPRAS: Just putting pressure on the guys. You know, even though I might not win every point, just as long as I'm setting the tone on my terms. You know, I'm tough to pass, tough to lob. If he hits a great passing shot, too good. I'm going to play him my way. That's to be aggressive. Chip and charge is a great play out there. The courts are not that quick. It still stays pretty low if you get a good slice. It's something I've been trying to do in these first couple matches.
Q. Lendl always said he would never get married while he was a tennis professional; that he couldn't have a devotion to two things as important as that in his life. You obviously don't feel that way. Why not?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't know. I mean, I don't know. I mean, I was ready to get married.
Q. But for you, there has been the criticism that that has detracted from your game. You would argue against that?
PETE SAMPRAS: Sure.
Q. Would you elaborate?
PETE SAMPRAS: Let's -- when I broke the record at Wimbledon a couple years ago, I was -- it took a lot out of me. You know, after that, you know, victory, I didn't have that steel will week in, week out. I just feel like I hit the pinnacle. Ever since then, it's, you know, it's been tough to kind of get going in certain places. I happened to get married a couple months later. It was the best thing that happened to me. You know, it's what life's all about. You meet the woman of your dreams, you have a family. That's nice. It's nice to have that balance.
Q. Have you talked to Andre at all about impending fatherhood?
PETE SAMPRAS: No.
Q. Do you actually need to sort of get your will in shape like you do your body, physically? Is there a way to, I don't know, over time, round it into tournament shape, Grand Slam shape?
PETE SAMPRAS: You just kind of go along and hopefully get through your matches. You know, you can't turn it on and off, get ready for majors and all of a sudden start playing well. So it's the US Open. This is what I play for. It's been a struggle this year. You know, I know where I'm at here as far as how important this tournament is to me, and hopefully I can get it going here.
Q. Do you feel as if anything is starting to click? You just look a little, I don't know, quicker, maybe more confident all of a sudden. Do you feel like things are coming more than they have this summer anywhere else?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I feel really comfortable playing here. I like the conditions. First couple matches, I have no complaints the way it's going, pretty smooth. The summer wasn't great, but, you know, I feel like I'm pretty confident right now. Feel like it kind of clicked tonight. So it's been a good start.
Q. In terms of that confidence - and I know you've talked about this - after the loss at Wimbledon, even out on Long Island last week after the loss, you didn't feel that confidence. You thought that you maybe needed a close match, to pull out a close match to get it back. Did maybe a couple blow-outs do the same thing?
PETE SAMPRAS: Sure, blow-outs and winning straight sets help the confidence. As long as I'm hitting the ball well, feel good out there, that's really all I can ask for. Competition does get tougher as we go, as each match comes along. But I feel pretty good out there. The game's still there. I mean, I feel that when I practice. I feel it when I play. Week in, week out, yeah, it's tougher to be anywhere near as dominant as I once was. But I've let that go. I'm going to try to do what I can here in the next year or so to win a major. That's my goal. Being No. 1 is over. You know, still feel like I've got it out there.
Q. How long is it since you've felt mentally this comfortable and this confident?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's been a little while. I felt decent in Toronto, lost a tough match. Cincinnati, didn't play too well. But I feel pretty good. I mean, I'm practicing hard. That's all you can do when you're struggling a little bit, is to go out there and practice with purpose. You know, it's kind of where it all starts. Hopefully, you can transfer that on to the tennis court when you play matches, and I've been able to do that here.
Q. What do you think you want to improve from looking at tonight's match? What do you think you can do better?
PETE SAMPRAS: Serve a little better. I mean, served well. Hit the second serve well. But didn't really have the rhythm early on. But felt like I returned well, put the pressure on him. Was pretty solid.
Q. At a night match in particular here at the Open, people yell stuff in the middle of your serve at times. Didn't seem to disturb you. Do you hear that? Does it disturb you at all? Did it at one point? Didn't seem to.
PETE SAMPRAS: No, not really. You're so focused on what you're doing out there, doesn't really faze me. I mean, you kind of expect it. You go out, been out here for quite a while, so it's nothing new.
Q. Doesn't help you, though? Or does it?
PETE SAMPRAS: Really no -- it's nice to have that support. You can feel it from the people. You're focused on what you're trying to do and not thinking about any comments or noise. So it's always nice playing at night here.
Q. Can you talk about the James Blake-Lleyton Hewitt match tomorrow? What do you think about that? Obviously, there's extra interest because of the controversies from last year.
PETE SAMPRAS: What happened last year is over. I'm sure from a media standpoint it's something you can feed off of. But Lleyton and James are just going to go out and play, play another tennis match. It's a big match, two young guys breaking through. Should be good.
Q. If it is Greg Rusedski on Sunday, how would you view that match?
PETE SAMPRAS: Completely different than my first two matches. It's gonna come down to my return. Hopefully, I can get a hold of his serve. He's obviously -- can be very dominating. But should be a tough match.
Q. First two matches, your body language looks like you're much more relaxed. Is that correct?
PETE SAMPRAS: Good energy. Feel like I'm ready from the first point. You know, this is what I play for. It's different than playing a tour event, and, you know, I feel like my energy's been good, moving well.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.