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April 5, 2002

Pete Sampras


RANDY WALKER: Questions for Pete.

Q. You appeared pretty well in control of the match, 6-4, 6-4. How did it kind of slip away?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think a big part was had a few chances in that third. I don't think I had any break points but had some -- a couple love-30s. That was kind of a big part of the match. Once you get to a tiebreaker on grass, it's -- you can roll the dice. And he hit a couple good shots. I threw in a double. And before I knew it, he was up 6-love. The whole match kind of changed the momentum after that third set. He kind of grew some confidence and started playing a little bit better. I had a ton of chances; I really did. I had a lot of opportunities to break him. I have to give him a lot of credit, because he hung in there after being down two sets. He competed well. He played well. And I can only say I had my chances. I didn't convert on too many break points. And as much as I was dominating my service games throughout the match, you need to be able to win those big points. And I give him credit. He came up with some pretty good stuff when he had to, and he played really well. I mean, he definitely hung in there, hung in there well, and he gave himself a chance. And he ended up getting it done. But I'm kind of kicking myself a little bit. Just can't afford to take your, you know, your foot off the pedal on grass. Just for a moment. You know, it could change in a couple minutes out there. And anything can happen, and it did.

Q. Foot faults. I mean, I don't remember you ever being called for one let alone five.

PETE SAMPRAS: I ... I don't know. I mean, I... I guess I was. I don't know. My left foot must have been on the line at some point. You know, I got called on a couple tough ones when I put in some aces. But what can you do except to accept it and move on. There wasn't -- wasn't great timing.

Q. Is Corretja the best Spanish player you ever played with?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think over the years -- I haven't played Ferrero, but I think Alex, the way he's played against me over the years, he's a very, very tough player. I think he's the best player they have there - at least out of all the guys I've played. He's pretty good.

Q. Considering the match he put together today, is it kind of hard to figure out why he doesn't play Wimbledon and on the grass?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think he probably grew a little confidence today, and there's no reason why he can't play well. He serves pretty well, moves well. You can stay back on grass and just, you know, hit some big shots, and he did today. You know, it's a match I felt I was in control, that I should have won. But he competed well, and hung in there very well. But there's no reason why he can't play well on that stuff because he's a good athlete, and that's part of the battle of playing well on grass, is being a good athlete. And that's what he is.

Q. Confidence-wise, what's kind of going through your mind right now with this particular game, it being on grass?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I mean, definitely a match I should have won on paper. A match I felt like I was in control. And, you know, like I said, you take your foot off the pedal for just a moment, and anything can happen. It can be a craps shoot. I let that happen. I let that tiebreaker slip away. I let it get to a tiebreaker. Then all of a sudden anything can happen out there. I had so many chances to break him and to kind of close him out a little bit there, and I didn't get it done. Felt like I played fine. I didn't return that well. I think he did a good job mixing it up, coming in, staying back. I never really felt like I got a good rhythm out there. But I thought I served pretty well. Threw in a few doubles, had some bad opportunities at bad times. But I felt I hit the ball fine, just didn't return that well. And, you know, the confidence, I've played well all week, felt like I played well in the first couple sets. Even in the third I thought I was playing fine. And at times in the fourth and fifth, I felt myself rushing a little bit. And, you know, give him credit because he stepped it up a little bit there. But it's not the way I wanted to have the result. I wanted to, obviously, give us a 2-love lead and put those guys up against the wall. But now they feel like they have a chance, and we'll see what happens over the next couple of days.

Q. After playing Alex, what's your advice for Andy on Sunday?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I mean, where he serves. On the ad side he served 90 percent of the serves to the backhand. You know, when you're playing out there, you don't really see it. But looking back at the match, I mean, he did that on every breakpoint. And I should have just leaned a little bit more on that side. You know, Andy's got to, you know, serve big and come in a little bit. And Alex is a crafty player. He's a veteran out there. He knows what he's doing. There's not a whole lot of strategy when it comes to grass. It's having a few chances, it's converting. It's not slipping a little bit. And that's -- you just got to stay on your toes. You know, it's pretty straightforward stuff on grass. It's not a whole lot to talk about. It's just hopefully serving well and returning well, and that's really it.

Q. One thing like this of today, does it make you think your career is coming to an end?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, that's your opinion, isn't it?

Q. (Laughing.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Wait, is something funny? Do you think it's funny?

Q. Doubles. Alex has to play tomorrow and you can rest. So is this only -- I mean, this is a tie.

PETE SAMPRAS: Say that again.

Q. Yeah, you still have one day to recover, so it's only a little bit (inaudible).

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's happened. We're still in good shape. There's no reason to panic for the team. I'm disappointed that I let them down today. I felt like I could have given those guys a little bit of pressure off them, James and Todd, tomorrow, to go out with a 2-love lead. Now it's a must-win for us. I still like our chances, but at the moment I'm disappointed for the result and for the team. But still a long way to go. So we'll see what happens tomorrow.

Q. Pete, you've won so many big five-set matches on grass in your career. But today, you were out there, and it doesn't look like you feel like you're going to win it. It doesn't look like the Pete Sampras out there who knows he's going to win the fifth set. Do you have confidence in yourself? Are you kind of doubting yourself?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I have a ton of confidence. I mean, even though I was in the fifth, I felt like I was playing fine. You know, I had break points, I had chances to break him, you know. And I had -- I mean, that's all you can ask for. And could have changed within a couple shots. And all of a sudden, you know, he kind of hung in there, hang in there. I was in every service game. Over the years, sure, those were times that I raised it a level and got that big point and all of a sudden I'm serving for the match. Today I had chances. I didn't convert. I didn't return all that well in the big points. He hit a couple good shots to break me, and threw in a double. And that's -- it's not a lack of confidence, it's just the way it goes. You know, you just try, you know, try your best and try to hopefully get the job done and believe in yourself. I did, it just didn't happen. You're not going to win every close match out there. And today I came up a little bit short.

End of FastScripts….

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