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June 24, 2002

Pete Sampras

Wimbledon, England

MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, questions.

Q. How is the injury? Did that affect your game?

PETE SAMPRAS: The injury's fine. It didn't affect my game.

Q. Could you take us through the process of yesterday, what time you asked to play? Did you ask for a Tuesday start? What happened? What was the response from the club?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, yeah, I asked to play on Tuesday. I figured it was a longshot, which I understand. I mean, they want to keep all the halves the same. He just said, "How about playing third?" I said, "I'll take that." That's what happened. Pretty simple.

Q. Did you think that playing third made a difference?

PETE SAMPRAS: Probably helped a little bit. You know, not having to play quite as early, you know, gives you a little bit more time to prepare and get ready. It wasn't a huge difference, but every little hour helps sometimes.

Q. Does it feel okay now?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it's fine. I just kind of strained a little bit of something off my rib, and it's fine. It really -- didn't feel it much today. You know, I didn't practice yesterday. A little concerned. But today I felt like I had a good warm-up. Just went out and played, and it was fine. It's not going to be an issue.

Q. Saturday, what was your level of concern right after it happened?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure, it's a big concern whenever you feel anything. You know, there's always a little bit of soreness here and there. But there are things you can just play through. I was concerned two days before the tournament. You don't want to be feeling anything. You want to be feeling fresh and ready to go. Any time you feel a little thing and you can't practice, sure, it's a little unsettling. But, you know, I practiced this morning, got a little bit of a rhythm out there, and played okay today.

Q. As first round matches go, given the fact you're playing a Brit on Centre Court, was that as good a workout as you could have hoped for?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I felt pretty good. I felt like I played in spurts. Martin, I thought, played really well. I thought he served well and returned quite well. Always a little bit tricky when you play a lefty on grass. Down a couple set points, a couple tense moments. I felt like I played a little bit up and down, but I think he played very well and served well. But all in all, first match is always one you just want to get through. You know, I was happy I won in straight sets.

Q. After the year you've had so far, I know you talked about coming back here. Anything encourage you in this match that you may go a long ways in this tournament?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, whenever -- you know, when you struggle a little bit, you get through it, it feels good. You'd much rather dominate. But, you know, as long as I'm still in, I still feel like I'm a big threat. It was nice to play today on the Centre Court. It felt good. It has been a pretty difficult year. Stepping on there, it was like coming home again. So I'm always pretty comfortable out there.

Q. Did you do things today in a sustained fashion, not just one or two points, that felt very much like the way you played when you were winning this tournament year after year, and that you haven't had in matches earlier this year?

PETE SAMPRAS: My serving. You know, there are times today that I felt like my serving was unhittable. I didn't maintain it too long, but I felt like it was a pretty good rhythm today. I felt like there were spurts I did play at a pretty high level. But there were spurts I was playing careless, missing a little bit here and there, missing some volleys, just really not that sharp. But there were signs I was playing at a pretty high level at times. As the tournament goes on, you need to play at a high level more consistently. Today I wasn't that consistent.

Q. Any part of your game you're not quite happy with?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, looking at some stats, I didn't really serve all that well. Missed a lot of first serves. He had a lot of looks at my second serve. I paid the price a few times. But I need to serve a little better. But, yeah, I think I'll get better as the week goes on. First one is always kind of one you just want to get through. But I can serve a little bit better.

Q. Does this remind you a little bit of 2000 when you had the rumor of being injured and you won?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, that was a little bit more serious. This was not anywhere near in the same ballpark.

Q. You talk about feeling at home, coming home here. Obviously you played on grass at Halle. Do you feel so much more comfortable here, even though it's the same surface, but the fact you're at Wimbledon compared to Halle?

PETE SAMPRAS: You know, no disrespect to Halle, it was a great tournament. You know, the court, you know, isn't the same as it is here. A few bad bounces. Here it's very true, it's very consistent. You step out on Centre Court, it's like a mecca out there. You just feel that more here than anywhere else in the world. US Open, French Open, those are great events, but Centre Court at Wimbledon, there's something very special whenever you step out there. I feel like I kind of came back home today.

Q. Feeling the back, when you wake up in the morning, is that when you knew you were going to be okay?

PETE SAMPRAS: Once I warmed up, had a pretty good hit up, that's when it wasn't really bothering me, that's when I felt I had some peace of mind. Yesterday was a little uncomfortable. Took some tests. It wasn't anything serious. It's just something that happened. You know. It's going to be a non-issue.

Q. What was it actually diagnosed as?

PETE SAMPRAS: A muscle kind of -- microtear off the rib that, you know, isn't serious. It's going to be a non-issue. I mean, really .

Q. Did it come on a hit? Did you feel it as you swung the racquet?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I felt it, sudden movement. You know, it was kind of a cold morning getting ready for the exhibition. You know, I felt it. That was it. I just stopped.

Q. It was very warm today for London. Was that significant in terms of helping you stay warm out on the court?

PETE SAMPRAS: It helps. It helps for your whole body. Whenever it's warm, you feel a little bit looser. Your body's all loose, the back is loose. It's nice to see it was a warm day, which helped me out.

Q. You got to an enormous number of dropshots today.

PETE SAMPRAS: I felt like I was moving pretty well for an older guy (laughter).

Q. You were supposed to be first on Centre Court, is that right?


Q. Any thought to you taking over that spot from Goran?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's always an honor when you step on there first match out. For the tournament to select me felt good to open it up again. But, you know, obviously I was more concerned about other things. Playing later helped me out a little bit. It would have been nice, but I'm just happy with the win today.

Q. Are you needing any medications for the pain?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm always on medication, can't you tell (laughter)? Rogaine (laughter).

Q. Is it working?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm not on it. I'm looking for a sponsorship, you know (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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