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July 2, 2001

Pete Sampras


MODERATOR: Good evening, everyone. Pete for you.

Q. What emotions are playing out in your head now?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, just very -- I'm very disappointed obviously. I lost to a really, really good player today. He played great. He's a great shot-maker. He won the big points. I had my chances throughout the match, had a couple breakpoints there in the fifth. You know, he came up with some really good stuff at huge times. He played a great game to break me. I give him a lot of credit. He really played very well.

Q. As Centre Court debuts go, have you ever seen anyone quite so composed as that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, he was very relaxed. His demeanor on the court is pretty similar to mine. He's pretty relaxed. Goes out and plays. Doesn't get too emotional, too many highs and lows. He's got a great backhand, serves well. He's definitely got a good all-around court game. Doesn't have any holes in his game. Great athlete. I mean, he really played really well. You know, just getting off the court, I'm disappointed, I mean, obviously. You know, I had a few chances. I felt like I had it at 4-All. Hit a good return. You know, wasn't to be. You know, I came up a little bit short.

Q. You said against Cowan that you didn't think you were going to lose the match, even when it got to 2-2. Did you feel like you were in danger, down 2-1 today? That is a big difference?

PETE SAMPRAS: Two sets to one?

Q. Yes.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I mean, I let it slip a little bit in the third set, missed that overhead. You know, I felt like I had pretty good control of the match in the third. He came up with some good stuff. You know, down two sets to one, the way he was playing, I knew it was an uphill battle. But I played a really, really good tiebreaker. I tied it up and played really well. The fifth set, you know, we were both playing pretty solid, and he got the break. I mean, he really made me play on that last service game. But I can only know I had my chance there at 4-All in the breakpoint - backhand there, kind of hit it back to him. You know, it's tough out there. And he definitely has got a great future. I mean, he's already proven that he's a great player. He's got a good chance to maybe go all the way.

Q. When was the last time you felt so near defeat here at Wimbledon?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, four years ago.

Q. When you lost, when you felt so near, when you felt so much in danger of losing.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, there's always a threat of losing out there when it's close. You know, I've won my fair share of close matches out there over the years. And today, just came up a little bit short. You know, majority of the time I've gotten my breaks, I've gotten that crucial shot at crucial points in the match. Today, you know, I had a chance there, and I didn't convert. I give him a lot of the credit, you know, the way he played.

Q. You've had so many great moments on that court. What were the emotions as you were walking off?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it was his moment. I mean, he really played a great match. His first match out there. You know, I give him a lot of credit for handling it very well. It's grass court tennis, it goes by pretty quick. One minute you feel like you have it, and the next minute you're walking off the court. Just disappointed. It's rare that I've lost, you know, a close match here at Wimbledon. But, you know, you know something so great isn't going to last forever. Today I just came up a little bit short.

Q. There are other Roger Federers out there, as you well know. Jim Courier says they're coming out of the woodwork, young players with a lot of talent. For you, do you now redouble your efforts, work even harder, or do you sit down sometime after the emotions have passed and start considering what you want to do in the future?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, sure, there are a lot of young guys coming up, and Roger is one of them. But I think he's a little extra special than some of the other guys. I mean, he's got a really good all-around court game. You know, all I can try to do is rebound from kind of a disappointing year and get ready for the summer. It's going to take me a while to get over this one. But just keep trying to work hard, do the training, put in the practise hours on the court, and hopefully I can have a good summer. Maybe The Open can be a little bit better than here. It's disappointing. It's a tough, tough loss, you know, to deal with.

Q. Can you size up your run here at Wimbledon, now that it's over for the time being?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's the run, like I said, it wasn't going to last forever. You know, I've won a lot of close matches out there - last year's final. Over the years, you know, I've gotten a little bit fortunate. Today I didn't get it. You know, I really felt, you know, I was very much in contention out there, very much felt like I was going to win. But, you know, to have been so dominant over the years, it obviously gets more difficult as the years go on to keep on staying dominant. Today was an occasion of, you know, played really well at the right time. That's the key to grass. He picked it up when he had to. He played a great match.

Q. Do you think this result will make you think more about not playing here in the near future, that you may not be back a year or two years from now?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, let's not get carried away. I mean, I just lost. I plan on being back for many years. I mean, this is why I play, for these tournaments. You know, I feel the reason I'd stop, it won't be because of my ability; it will be because I don't want to do it anymore. There's no reason to, you know, panic and think that I can't come back here and win here again. I feel like I can always win here.

Q. Who is your pick to win it this year?

PETE SAMPRAS: I haven't really thought about it.

Q. Was there any sense even from the start of the Championships that perhaps something inside you said, "It might not be this year"? You had tough matches all the way through, surprisingly tough from what we've seen of you in the past. Was there something nagging in the back of your mind?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, there's always a fear of that, like my run's going to end. Those are thoughts that come in and out of your head. But when you go out and compete, you compete, and you don't thhink about negative thoughts. But, you know, like I said, nothing is so great, like this tournament has been over the years to me, is going to last forever. Occasionally you're going to lose a tough match, and it happened today. You know, I lost to Roger, who was playing great at the time. I thought I played pretty well. You know, I felt like I had some chances. But it's unfortunate it's over.

Q. A decade ago you had a match against Lendl at Flushing Meadows that you had your breakthrough on, similar round I think, too. Did this match have that kind of feel, but you were on the other end of it?

PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, not really. That match -- no. I mean, I really haven't thought about that. You know, I lost to a talented player that's a great shot-maker, similar to the way I was when I was younger, and still today. He's got a great grass court game. He's got all the tools.

Q. You hit with Roger before. When he beat our guys in the Davis Cup, did you ask Todd or Jan-Michael about him at all?

PETE SAMPRAS: I've seen Roger play. I've practised with him. I had a pretty good idea of what he wanted to do out there. You know, he's got a good all-around court game. Doesn't have any holes. It's a little different when you compete against him. His serve, I couldn't really get ahold of. His shots, he was on. You know, I've seen him play enough over the years to kind of know what to expect.

Q. Take us back to that ninth game of that fifth set when you had some break opportunities. What was he doing to prevent you from getting through, where normally you would get through in that situation?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, on one of them, one of my best forehand returns, got it down to his feet. He kind of picked it up and had a backhand there that I didn't hit all that well. The other one, I kind of hit it, a conservative chip to his forehand. He hit a good forehand winner. You know, I give him credit, he came up with some good stuff when he had to, won the big point. I could possibly break him there, I think I could go on to win this match. But it wasn't to be.

Q. This weekend when you're home, will you tune in and watch the matches?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm not planning on it. Just going home and getting away from it all.

Q. Do you think when you're having an "un-Sampras-like" year, without a title coming in here, you struggle against a guy ranked 265, your opponents in the locker room begin to sense that there just might be a little crack in the wall, does that confidence factor - whatever boost they get from it, if any at all - does it have an effect on how they play against you?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't think so. I mean, even though I struggled through one match, I've got that ability, I can turn it on in the next match. You know, I think the fear factor has been there. I'm sure it was there today. But, on the other hand, he's got nothing to lose. He can go out, swing away. I'm obviously the one with the pressure here. I didn't feel my game was lacking at all. I had a pretty good first week. And today, you know, I could be sitting here as the winner. But, unfortunately, I didn't get it done.

Q. You've said you felt you could come back here and win again. How much more difficult do you think it will be than coming back after Krajicek?

PETE SAMPRAS: You know, I mean, I feel like I can, without any question, come back and win here. You know, if not next year, then maybe the year after it. I've got the game. There's no reason to feel like I can't do it anymore. I feel like I've got the goods out there. Today I didn't, you know, quite get the breaks that I needed. But, have to give him a lot of credit. He played great.

End of FastScripts….

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