home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 23, 2002

Pete Sampras


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Pete, please.

Q. That serve give you fits for a while?

PETE SAMPRAS: His serve? Yeah. It was safe to say I didn't really have any rhythm out there, especially my return. In the first set I was just struggling in every aspect of my game - serving, returning. He kind of kept me off guard. Finally got my game going a little bit in the second and third. But the most important thing is the win. But I feel like I can, you know, play a little bit better, play a little bit sharper. But he returns well, and he's got a tricky serve. Not with a lot of pace, but with a lot of spin. It was giving me some problems, as we saw in the first set.

Q. Now you have to play Fernando Gonzalez. What do you know about him?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know a lot. I've never seen him play. But he beat Moya sounded like pretty easily, so Moya obviously can play this game. I'm sure he hits the ball very heavy from both sides. I'm sure I'll figure out - not figure out - but I'm sure I will find out a few things tomorrow, what he plays like and figure him out come Monday.

Q. Do you mind me asking, I know it's looking ahead, but Davis Cup, playing on grass in Houston. Supposedly I'm told it's your first grass professional tournament in North America?


Q. Your thoughts on getting to do that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it's -- there's not really much of an opportunity to play on grass here in the US. Newport is the only tournament, and that's right after Wimbledon so it doesn't really fit in. But I'm looking forward to it. I hear the grass is a good grass court. But it would be nice to -- I think I've won 99 matches on grass. This would be 100 if I can get through a match there. That's a nice little credit on the resume. So... But it's nice to play on grass in the States so people here can see how I do it. Hopefully, I won't embarrass myself.

Q. You didn't just learn how to play on grass overnight, either. Looking back on that, can you talk about how that happened?

PETE SAMPRAS: For me, it was strictly mental. I went over to London thinking grass was going to be like a walk in the park because of my serve and volley. And I learned pretty quickly you need to return serve, you know, and be able to move and adjust. I always thought it was an unfair surface, I thought, you know, losing to a guy six and six that had no business beating me. And I just, mentally, when I broke through and got to the semis one year, I just was more positive out there, returned a little better, just felt more comfortable. Then the next year I won it and it just kind of exploded from there. But I really -- didn't really enjoy grass when I first went over. I felt the bounces were tough, and just mentally went out there pretty negative. And that's the reason why I didn't do too well in the first couple years.

Q. Returns, chipping more than hitting over the ball? Did you chip a lot before?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, for me, I took big cuts, you know. And playing on the California hardcourt, I've got some long swings. I learned pretty quickly on grass you can't do that. Especially in today's game, it's pretty quick. Working with Tim Gully, we shortened everything up, be more exact using the chip, taking it back more short. That's the key to grass. You don't have time to take a long swing, and guys are serving too big to do that. So just a combination of that, second serve's a big shot on grass. And movement, I think, is a very big part on grass. So those are two things that I do pretty well, and that's why I've been able to do pretty well over there.

Q. Is it a quick transition from here to there?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I mean, depending on how things go here, it's not a lot of time. But everyone's in the same boat and we'll be there four, five days before. And it's an adjustment. You know, you just spend a lot of time serve and volleying, a lot of time returning. You just do that for hours. Physically, it's not the most taxing surface, but you need to be in shape. But you just -- ton of returns and a ton of serve and volleys.

Q. Because the points will be a little faster on the grass, can you conceivably play three matches? A doubles?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure. I mean, I -- depending on how Friday goes, I feel like I can play a little bit of doubles. We'll see how it goes. And I'm sure we'll talk about it Friday night, see where we're at. And if I'm feeling okay, I mean, I'd be fit to go. I'd be fit to go.

Q. A person with your experience, how much discomfort do you feel when you drop a set like you did tonight?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, just -- not just dropping a set, just the way I was playing. I didn't really find the range, wasn't serving well. And it's a good effort to come through not playing well. It always makes you feel good. But you always want to hit the ball well, and I'm pretty tough on myself out there. I get a little down on myself. But, I mean, as you pull it around in the second, get off to that break, I just served a lot better as the match went on and kind of got out of a couple service games, you know, which was nice. So, you know, I'll get better the next match, you know. First match out, I just felt a little unsettled. Have a good day of practice tomorrow and come ready for Monday.

Q. Did you feel like your topspin (inaudible)?

PETE SAMPRAS: Say again.

Q. The topspin you have, did you feel it took him out of his rhythm maybe, maybe shake his confidence a little bit?

PETE SAMPRAS: Maybe a little bit. I started to make him play a little bit more. Pressed and missed a few shots. I think he actually -- we had a long point there, first game I broke him. I think it took a little bit out of him. But he hit the ball pretty heavy. He kept me on my heels throughout the match. But the backhand started coming around in the third, getting it deep and heavy. I could work the forehand a little bit better when I do that. I, you know, need to work on some things. There's no doubt that I, you know, feel like I can, you know, play a little bit better. Not to take anything away from him, but I know what I'm capable of doing out there. And, you know, as the competition gets tougher I need to be sharper.

Q. How do you rate his speed alongside Andre, Michael?


Q. Hewitt?

PETE SAMPRAS: He's very quick. He got some shots there that, you know, I thought I had a couple winners there off the forehand side and he came back with some good stuff. You know, I think Hewitt and Chang are probably in another league, but he's pretty close.

Q. Did you feel he hit some really good shots in the corners and down the lines in that first set that, you know, no matter how you were playing he couldn't sustain that quality throughout the match?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, he was playing at a pretty high level, but I think I was helping him a little bit in the first not really playing that well. You know, when I played him in Australia he was a little bit more nervous and I think he came out a little bit more relaxed and used to my game. He came out with some great shots, great passing shots, to break me a couple times there. But I felt like if I could just keep plugging away, get my game going, get the serve going - that's such a big part of my game - that I could come back and win this match, and that's what happened.

Q. If you don't mind, my understanding is your first match was with Sammy Giammalva. I was talking with him the other day. Have any recollections of being, you know, on the court at that age and what you learned, and how it's different on the court now for you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Just completely different - much more experience and just coming through quallies and playing at Levy - what was the name of the club there? I don't know. There was a club there I played. Then I was out at Philadelphia Arena. It was kind of overwhelming, even though there was about 15 people in the crowd (laughter). I was, you know, just starting out, you're just trying to play well, trying to learn, you're not too critical of wins and losses. You're just trying to get better. You know, as the years went on, I got more experience playing some bigger matches. You know, I think it takes time, you know. The way I play with the serve and volley game, it took me a few years to kind of feel confident, feel more secure in myself and -- but that first match wasn't pretty.

Q. The off-court training program you're into now, assuming you're able to continue it periodically throughout the year, do you feel like you'll be a different player if you have to go Saturday and Sunday at the US Open?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, I hope so. You know, I know it's a tradition at the US Open, but I think it's the worst tradition in tennis. Its really is. It's really, if you play the second match there, you get done late. Such an emotional big match, playing that semi. Then coming back the next day. I've never really had an opportunity to shut it down emotionally. That's a big part. Physically, I felt fine the last couple years. You know, this year I want to put a big effort practicing more, spending more time on the court rather than doing more off-court stuff. That's what I do when I play, I just need to spend more time on the court, which I'm going to do with Jose. You know, and it's a tough turnaround; there's no question. It's a tough turnaround.

Q. How do you attack it emotionally?

PETE SAMPRAS: You know, for me, I -- you get off the court winning a match, semifinal match, big match, and I never shut it down. Went straight to the press, you're stressed about getting a massage, eating good food, getting that sleep, and you never really have a chance to just kind of take a deep breath. You're kind of just going. So when you're 19, 20, you recover a little bit better than when you're 30. We saw that in Hewitt and Safin. But when I put in more time on the court like I will this year, practicing a little bit more on the court, you know, if I get to that situation, hopefully I can be in match shape and, you know, put in a better performance. Last couple years it's been a little bit disappointing.

Q. Pete, I'm writing a story about the coaches and I want to ask you if you think that it's absolutely necessary to have a coach to play at a top level, even for someone like you with a lot of experience?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think coaches are very important no matter what you've done in the game, how well you're playing. I don't see what I see -- excuse me. I don't see what I look like. You need someone that has a bird's eye view of what you look like, your ball toss, your movement, your footwork. Jack Nicklaus always had a coach. A coach is very important just to work on things, to see what you're doing out there, strategy. I think at this level, you need one.

End of FastScripts….

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297