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February 8, 2002

Pete Sampras


Q. Want to talk about that opponent and your thoughts about him.

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure, yeah. Never seen him play, so it is always a little tricky playing someone that I had no idea how he plays. I just heard that he stays back a lot and has got a good two hand backhand. He hit a pretty good first serve, kind of caught me off guard with a number of aces. He came out swinging away like I thought he would. He has got nothing to lose. And he was very flashy. He came up with some great shots. Definitely had to work pretty hard to get through the match. But it was a good fight to get back on serve in that fourth set and win it from there. I didn't serve all that great today, didn't have the rhythm, but to give him a lot of credit, he came out swinging away and he played a great match.

Q. He didn't have especially a big serve but what made it so effective?

PETE SAMPRAS: He hits it pretty hard. He served in the 120s, and I had a hard time getting a pretty good read on it. He was mixing it up, going out wide, going up the middle. He was had a pretty good rhythm, especially when he was ahead, he seemed like he served a lot better. He -- finally last few games of the match he finally gave me a few chances to see some seconds and -- but just a good serve that, you know, with the court being pretty quick, it's kind of an equalizer out there, and it's going to help out his game; going to help out his serve, and he can slap some shots here and there. That's what happens when you put down a pretty quick court.

Q. Did you feel like you let him into the match in the second set at all?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, big pivotal point of the match was that Love-40, that one game. I think it was 3-2 and if I could have possibly broke him there to be up a set and a break I think things could have gone a little bit smoother. That was a big part of the match for me. I felt like I kind of had him where I wanted him. He hit some good serves to kind of get out of that game and he played a really good breaker. The court is playing pretty quick; you can change within a couple of minutes and got to give him credit he stepped it up there in the second set at the end, and tied it up and played a good third and pretty good fourth. 3-2 game Love-40 I would have loved to have had that again, and I could have possibly broken him.

Q. What did you and Patrick talk about 5-4 in that fourth set?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well he just said that on his second serve do something with it, come in, put some pressure on him, move around a little bit because his second serve can be a little erratic, and, you know, fortunately I saw some second serves, he missed a few shots and maybe a little inexperience might have shown a little bit at the end of the match. You know, it's not much you can do when he's serving two aces a game. Any time you get a second serve, he said, do something with it. I was trying out there, trying to come in, but, you know, he has got some talent and he has got a pretty good future.

Q. Tell us about the overall experience of Patrick in the chair next to you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it was nice. I know Pat very well, and just encouraged me and telling me what he thinks I should try to do. He told me to move around on second serves, to get some doubles and it worked. Mix-up my service games, go into the body a little bit. Those are things I can't see but he can see and that's someone that has experience in the game of tennis. But his personality, he's able to mold himself around a lot of other personalities which in my eyes is a sign of a good captain.

Q. Your first serve, was that maybe because you haven't played a match since Safin or something attributed to that or just one of those days where it just wasn't clicking?

PETE SAMPRAS: One of those days where I just didn't quite have my rhythm. It's like a baseball pitcher not having his fastball, I just didn't quite have just at certain moments of the match, I had my rhythm, but most of the match I really didn't serve all that well. I think I served about 50% which is okay, but, you know, when I serve in the 60s I am much more dominant. I gave him a lot of looks at some second serves and just a result of, I don't think not playing, it is just one of those days where it just wasn't clicking.

Q. Did you try bending it in a little bit more later on or do you keep saying it is going to come?

PETE SAMPRAS: When I was missing a lot I tried to go into the body serve, so I could -- you know, I wouldn't hit it wide, just hit it longer in the net just to -- that's one thing Pat was telling me to go into the body when I didn't have my rhythm. But when I play my service game I play one way, that's a lot of pace and going for the lines and it is hard for me to step away from that. But you know, when it is not happening you need to pull back a little bit; take a little bit off, go into the body and slide it in there.

Q. Gully had said you were trying to pick up on your service returns too. Is it still your serve that you are mostly trying to rely on or trying to pick up the -- try for a few more breaks by picking it up on your service return now?

PETE SAMPRAS: That's a key to my game and success is return of serve. Holding serve does not -- it is not a problem for me. It is putting pressure on these guys, my return games and being able to break. Only lost my serve once today and that's pretty good. But, you know, in order to make these matches go a little smoother, returning better, and my defensive game could be a touch better, but that's one area that we are working on is my return of serve and mixing it up a little bit, and service games, it's like automatic. I don't have to really think too much, which is good.

Q. Along with that, you have had a couple of months with Gully, is there anything that also has impacted -- could you see the impact in your game of having him on board?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, if anything, it's more of a different voice, a different energy out there. Some things that we are talking about adding to my game, and -- but there are no magic pills out there. It's not -- just a little bit of a different voice I felt like I needed. So that's why I made the change.

Q. How does his voice differ from Paul's?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's a little lower and -- (laughter)- don't quite have that -- no, it is just more -- just a different -- I mean, it wasn't anything Paul did or didn't do last year. It wasn't a sign of result. It was a sign of just being out in the practice court and it kind of -- being motivated and inspired, I think we hit a point where it was -- I think we both felt it -- that we have been together seven years and, you know, and it happens in all relationships. Professionally we just kind of hit a point where I think we both needed a bit of a change. It is fine. We are still going to be great friends forever. It is one of those things that happened, and it happens in all sports. So working with Gully wasn't a tough transition. I have known Tom very well and he knows my game, and my personality, so so far it has been a pretty good change.

Q. Did you feel in trouble at all in the fourth set or did you think experience-wise you'd just get through it anyways?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I didn't feel like I was in trouble in the set. I was in trouble in the match. I felt you know he was having to have to close it out there and maybe a little inexperience with come into play, and it did. He missed a few shots here and there, and I managed to capitalize on a couple of his errors, but I was in a little bit of trouble there but I still felt pretty good for a fifth physically and playing fine and -- but it was nice to win it in four.

Q. Were you given advice on how he played? Did you talk to Andy about him?

PETE SAMPRAS: I talked to Pat a little bit about his game. But you can hear all you want, it is different when you go out and play someone you have never seen play. So it is: Where he likes to serve, where he likes to hit the ball, so it was just --it's always nice going out and playing somebody that you have played a bunch and seen a bunch. It is like seeing, you know, a different pitcher, once you see it, more and more, it can only help you out. So there was a bit of adjustment today just having to feel him out a little bit and as the match went on, I thought I kind of got it going a little bit. But still felt like I could play at a higher level.

Q. Guys on your team, they give a litany of things they admire about you and so forth. Do you feel comfortable sort being an idol to some of the younger guys on the team?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's flattering. I don't walk around the locker room or where we hang out like anything special, I am just pretty normal and -- but I feel a certain amount of respect, which is nice. But I don't walk around like I am sort of icon around the team. That's just not my personality. I try to lead by example; not by, you know, saying a whole lot. Just my attitude out there on the practice court, and going out and playing, and if that helps those guys, that's great.

Q. Along with that, they said they have learned a lot from you. Have you learned anything from them this week?

PETE SAMPRAS: There's not anything I am learning - it is more of these guys are coming out, bouncing off the walls. They have got a lot of energy, and, you know, they are watching the Simsons at night. And I am with Todd Martin watching On Golden Pond. So they are just -- they can't sit still for half an hour. They have dinner, they are up in the room playing games, and playing ping-pong in their underwear. That's what these guys were doing. But it is more just a -- practices they came out firing away and it just inspires you, inspires me to try to beat these young guys in practice, so in a way it has been fun. It has been a fun week of practice.

Q. Talk about that with Andy Roddick, since he has been talked about as the next you, talk about what it is like being on the team with him.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, Andy I mean, I have got to know Andy a little bit better this week. He has got a very mature head on his shoulders. Really he knows where he wants to go. He's a pretty focused young guy that I think he has got all the elements to go possibly all the way. His game speaks for itself. He has got a huge game. I practiced with him one day, he has got a lot of heat. That's what you look at in a young guy, what kind of weapon he has. But just a nice young guy that, you know, has a pretty good head on his shoulders that I think he's going to do just fine.

Q. Remember the days when you were kind of bouncing off the walls or were you never playing ping pong in your underwear?

PETE SAMPRAS: I just heard that. I didn't see it. That's what I heard. No, just personality. I have always been pretty low-key even when I was a young guy on the team, I just kind of kept to myself, and I still -- I do that today. I keep to myself, and, you know, Mardy and James are -- seem like they are pretty close friend, Andy seems like he's got some -- he has got some good energy out there, and so it has been a good match.

Q. Do you feel like a match like today where you let an opponent back in and then you retook the momentum can teach a guy like Andy Roddick just from watching you in that match regain your composure and retake a match back over like that?

PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, I don't think so. I think Andy knows what he's doing out there and certain points of the match where you play with a little urgency and times where you pick it up. If I can help him in any way, I mean, playing a match where I didn't play great and kind of get through it if that can possibly help him out but I think he's doing just fine; doesn't need much advice from me on how to play. His energy and mental attitude is very positive, so --

Q. Is he pretty high energy, animated off the court? Does he jump around or does he sort of --

PETE SAMPRAS: I think he's just pretty even keel just kind of goes about his business and pretty normal guy. There's just, you know, I mean, I don't know what else to say, he's just a good young guy that the -- just trying to get better and better and pretty focused and he knows where he wants to go and that's good, that's the first sign of where someone is going to go, is mentally if he wants it and I think he does.

Q. How do you feel physically I mean, working on your conditioning lately do you feel good?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I feel fine. Physically I felt fine today.

Q. Late in that -- late in the fourth set where there was at least you were looking at maybe the possibility of a going into fifth set, did the crowd generate you right there?

PETE SAMPRAS: All I saw was a little bit of trouble there in the fourth and they started making some noise. I think it kind of really affected him. He pressed a little bit; missed a few shots, and when you play in front of a tough crowd, it can affect you. I think it did at the end where, you know, he saw me pressing on and I think he kind of, you know, missed a few shots there, got a little tight I think it was a big part of the match.

Q. Do you like having Jim Courier there in an official capacity?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I think Jim's presence has really helped the young guys, just his work ethic, his intensity, going out there hard in practices, I have got a lot of respect for Jim and what he brings to the table. But for the young guys just to, you know, keep them focused, I mean, Jim is great at that and just Jim has had an unbelievable career, you can only look up to what he has done. I think it has been a great influence on these guys.

Q. You have made a year long commitment to play Davis Cup. Is this more than that a year long commitment or will you make that year-by-year?

PETE SAMPRAS: We'll take it one year at a time, Doug. Let's not get too far ahead ourselves. But I have committed to the full year.

Q. You mentioned, come out with nothing to lose, these guys. Do you think it is also you establishing that fear factor again and establishing that leverage again that you had probably for a large part of your career?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, that's a huge part of my game is setting the tone early. I did that today. And, you know, certainly hope he's a little bit fearful but I think he handled it pretty well. Things were going smoother there until that Love-40 game when he kind of got back into it. If I could have broken him there it could have been a little more dominating match. Give him credit, he hung in there and came out swinging and played a really good match. These matches are good to win. I think I can play better than today and -- but hopefully I won't have to.

End of FastScripts….

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