March 15, 2002
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
MODERATOR: Pete advances to his fourth career semifinal here in Indian Wells, and the first in the 2002 season. Questions for Pete.
Q. How cold was it out there?
PETE SAMPRAS: Very cold. It reminded me of playing Hamburg a bunch of years ago when it was cold and windy. It was pretty nasty out there. We both were struggling. Under the circumstances, I felt like I hit the ball pretty well and moved pretty well. But just very tough conditions. I think he was getting a little frustrated out there. You could see it. Just, you know, you don't expect it to be that cold here in the desert at this time of year. The problem was the wind. If it wasn't that windy, it would have been okay. But it was gusting pretty good. You know, it was cold. I mean, 6 it was definitely to win that in straight and get inside.
Q. Your thoughts on playing Lleyton.
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, Lleyton, he's pretty much breezed through the tournament. He's playing well and dominated a lot of his matches. Playing with a ton of confidence. You know, what can you say? He's playing the best tennis probably right now. And, you know, he's serving well. We all know about his return of serve and his passing shots and his wheels. You know, I need to be patient tomorrow, but also stay aggressive and take some chances. He's a tough guy to play. I mean, he loves a target - and I'm going to give him a target. I'm not going to come in too much. I think when I played him at The Open, I was coming in on everything. He kind of got a groove out there. I need to mix it up a little bit. But he's a tough guy to stay back against, so I kind of need to pick my spots. But he's the quickest guy we have out here. He's oozing with confidence right now.
Q. Have you been looking forward to playing him since The Open?
PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, if the draw happened and I played him, sure, I'm looking forward to it. But it wasn't anything I'm dying to play him. I mean, I'm looking forward to playing him. And The Open was a tough defeat. I worked hard to get there. He played a great match, I give him credit. But, you know, as time goes on, you just have to back it up. Seems like he's been backing it up pretty well the past couple months. Looking forward to it.
Q. How slow is the court?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, in these conditions when it's cold and the ball doesn't go through the air that quickly, it plays pretty slow. I mean, a lot depends on the weather. The court seems a touch slower, a little bit more sandy, so the balls fluff up a little bit more. But I think it's a good mix in these conditions. In this dry weather, it can kind of fly a little bit, you know, but once it gets warmer, which I'll be playing tomorrow, it should be a little bit better, a little bit quicker.
Q. You looked a little frustrated at the end.
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, serving a set and a break, just the conditions, and wanting to close it out, I was frustrated. I was pretty much pissed the way I kind of lost my service game. You know, I was just kind of really upset and kind of, you know, rebounded and broke him the next game. I just felt like the conditions and thinking of an early start tomorrow, I wanted to kind of -- I was rushing a little bit. I just should have taken my time and get it done. Fortunately, I got the break back. But I wasn't a happy camper.
Q. What goes through your head? Down a couple breakpoints a couple games there, but you came right back. What goes through your head to get to that point?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's all instinct out there - at least for me it is. You get up to the line, you try to, you know, play a smart shot or a smart play. But you're not really thinking about anything during the point. It's just before the point you try to hit a good serve and play a smart point. It's all instinct, it happens pretty quick out there. There's not a lot of time to think. Breakpoints, it's time to try to utilize my serve, get it in, and hopefully be aggressive when I have to.
Q. You're going to have a fairly quick turnover. Just two out of three tomorrow, fairly quick match. Is that going to be a factor at all? He's been off the court for quite a while.
PETE SAMPRAS: It's an early start. With TV, they wanted me to play tonight and tomorrow. It's a tough turn around, it is. Would rather have played this afternoon to have some time to get ready for tomorrow. It is an early start. Come 8:00, you want to get some food in you and get a good massage and a good night's sleep. It's a disadvantage, it really is, to have a short turnaround. But it is what it is and I'll come up ready to play tomorrow.
Q. Speaking of short turnarounds, assuming you get this far, which you probably will, Sunday morning is an early start. Isn't that strange for a final?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'm not thinking that far ahead. But I don't know what time it is.
Q. 10:30 in the morning.
PETE SAMPRAS: We'll just worry about tomorrow (laughter).
Q. Going into the match tomorrow, is it easy to put what happened last year to one side and just go for this, or is that going to be in your mind?
PETE SAMPRAS: No, it's not going to be in my mind. It happened. You know, looking at what happened, you know, I accepted the loss. It was a tough loss. But you can't walk out there thinking of last year. It's in the history books. No reason to dwell on it. Just move on. I have a good shot tomorrow. Hopefully I can get it done, but it won't be easy.
Q. Did you know Phil (Knight) was coming down to watch?
PETE SAMPRAS: I heard rumors. I guess he's still a tennis fan.
Q. Did you catch Todd's match?
PETE SAMPRAS: Very little.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.