June 29, 2001
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. No break points to face today. Does this mean you're back on track playing your ball?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I didn't really feel like I was off track. But it was nice to close it out today in straight. You know, it was a similar type of feel when I was up a couple sets against Cowan and we got into that breaker. It was nice to close it out at 6-5 and win it in straight. I feel like my form is pretty good. I'm playing pretty well, so... You know, it's been a pretty good first week. Today I got it going a little bit more than a couple days ago. I hope I can build from here and raise it a little next week.
Q. Somebody's going to ask you this about the ball and the conversation with the ball boy. Rolled up your pants. You were laughing. The kid seemed very shy about what was going on.
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I said it was all his, he can pick up the ball if he wants. He declined. I guess he didn't want to go up my shorts. But that never happened to me, really, ending up in that location (smiling).
Q. Do you worry that maybe some people might have taken that to be a little bit off-colour on your part?
PETE SAMPRAS: Sure, yeah, yeah. You know, it was a funny moment. Didn't want to let it slip away. Take advantage of that, that personality that I have (smiling).
Q. Speaking of that, what do you attribute to you maintaining your character and your demeanor in your career up to this point? Especially your last year, you haven't done maybe as well in the majors, yet your character out there, your personality still seems to be the same. Anything you attribute that to?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's just my nature as a person. Just if you know my parents at all, they're very introverted people; they don't show a lot of emotion. You know, more of the mold of, say, a Borg or an Edberg, kind of keep things to yourself. That's the way I've always been. You know, everything that I'm trying to do, I'm digging deep and I really don't show it outwardly with whatever it may be. There are certain moments in a match where there are some tense moments and I will show emotion. As far as losing my cool, I've always kind of kept that in check. I've never let my emotions take over and let it affect me, because ever since I was a junior growing up, I had a temper. You know, I was a young little spoiled brat, threw my racquet occasionally. My parents definitely, you know, didn't want to see that and were strict on me. Just kind of I learned at a young age to, you know, not lose your cool. And that's just kind of how it's been over the course of my career.
Q. Is that as much your parents' influence? At any moment of watching a former match, did you have any idols that you identified with them and how they handled it?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, just they -- those guys definitely just went out and played their tennis. I've always looked up to that. Everyone had a different personality, a different way of looking at their game, as far as expressing themselves. I've always, you know, done it my way. It's what I'm comfortable with, going out there and just playing the tennis that I can play and not getting caught up in the outside activities of the game. Just kind of let my racquet do the talking. That's the way those guys did it. That's the way I've done it over the course of my career. You know, you need different types of personalties out there. You have someone like Goran, who's a lot more expressive than I am, where I'm a little more, you know, laid back, just go out and play.
Q. Jennifer was in here earlier talking about how excited she was to be playing with her brother here. Have you ever thought about dragging Stella out to play any of the Grand Slams?
PETE SAMPRAS: I'm sorry? Mixed doubles?
PETE SAMPRAS: No. Maybe one day. Maybe when I'm in my last few years out. She's not playing much, she's coaching. So you never know.
Q. At a Grand Slam, taking a day off, playing, taking a day off, seems like a nice way to keep the momentum going and gives you a rest at the same time. Does two days off have any effect whatsoever?
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't think it's a huge effect. You get into a rhythm with just one day off. Two days, it's -- you have a chance to rest from a tough match a couple days ago and you get into a rhythm out there and, you know, I'll just have to go out and practise hard. That's all you can try to do. You know, just make sure I'm sharp and hitting the ball well. But like it starts over on Monday, after two days off. You have to build up. You know, as far as your game. But it's important to have a good weekend to practise.
Q. Do you then increase the intensity of your Sunday or Saturday workout?
PETE SAMPRAS: I might hit a little bit more. You know, usually on a day off I'll hit about 45 minutes. Tomorrow I might hit a little bit longer, maybe an hour, play a set or something. Then Sunday I'll take it easy and get ready for Monday.
Q. You obviously had a tough match with Andy Roddick in Florida. As an American that's loved tennis for so long, what are your thoughts on his emergence as this star in the making? What impact do you think it will have on American tennis?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think it's going to be a huge impact. The more I see Andy play, the more I'm impressed. He really is, for someone to be so young to be out on the stage he was with Johansson, today he played a good player in Goran, I think he's handled himself well. He's played well. He has the tools. Whenever I see a young guy coming up, I look at a weapon. There's no question with the serve he's got, that's the shot that's going to make him a great player. And he's got a bright future. Really is going to be a potential Grand Slam winner one day. 18, he's just going to learn over the next number of years and just get better and better. He's got a very good future.
Q. Did you watch the match last night?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, little bit.
Q. What are your impressions of Taylor?
PETE SAMPRAS: I practised with Taylor. His serve's huge. He's got a lot of energy - if anything, too much energy. Really just needs to, you know, hold back a little bit at certain times. But there's raw talent there that, you know, he just has to just maybe calm down just a touch. But that's his personality, and he's got the tools. I mean, he's got a huge serve, he returns pretty well. Really also has got a good future. He's got that big weapon, you know, serving 140. That's a nice shot to have.
Q. Back to talking about your two days off before playing again. Could you share your perspective on what it's like now for you after ten years being here? Has anything changed in these years of what you might do when you entered into this final run now?
PETE SAMPRAS: No, there really -- there's nothing different, really. Same ol', same ol'. Depends on where you are in the draw. I've had one day off on the Sunday and, you know, just varies from the draw to draw from each year. Has a little bit of an effect but not really enough to really, you know, set you off.
Q. Your perspective then going into this final week versus entering into that first week?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the court's playing a little bit different, chewed up a little bit, couple bad bounces. You know, when you come Monday, you just raise it a level. You know, you know your opponents are going to get better and better. I play Federer, who's a talented player. It's a second week of a Slam where you just raise it a notch and hopefully you can do it.
Q. Last year obviously you were going for No. 13; put a lot of pressure on yourself. Put a lot of pressure on yourself to be No. 1 and break that record as well. Is it different now, all those things are gone in terms of the pressure you put on yourself? Lighten up on yourself?
PETE SAMPRAS: If anything, I'm a little more relaxed coming in this year. But it's still a Slam, and this is what we all play for. And there's still pressure just being here and playing here. But, you know, last year I was -- thought about the record a lot and, you know, I'm glad I've done that, and I'm not resting on what I've done. I'm trying to add on to it, and that's the pressure I'm putting on myself, just trying to do it again here. There's always pressure. It's just the nature of what we do. You're gonna feel it out there. But it's not quite as severe as last year.
Q. What about Federer? He's considered one of the real promising talents. What are your sort of apprehensions about playing him?
PETE SAMPRAS: I have practised with him one time; never played him. He's got a good all-around court game. Doesn't have many holes in his game. Serves and volleys well; returns quite well. He's got a good one-handed backhand. Saw him play a little bit against Bjorkman. Just is a solid player that's gonna be tough to beat.
Q. When you really get into the zone with your athleticism, your racquet skills, can you try and possibly put into words the feelings, the emotions when you're right there at the peak of your game and everything's just flowing?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's a good feeling when things are clicking. When you're serving well and you're moving well and seeing the ball well, it makes the game fun. You're not always going to play well every day. You saw that a couple days ago. It's a matter of getting through those tough matches. But, you know, this surface is the athlete. I mean, the athlete usually does well here. My movement, I think, is something that is underrated. But when the game's there and you're clicking on all cylinders, it's fun to play.
Q. When that track begins to get beat up on the way to the net in the second week, maybe a little bit of dirt is showing through, does it also make the footing a little bit better so the volleyers who have to do quick reacting have sure footing up there?
PETE SAMPRAS: If you look at the court, it's really not that chewed up in the net area. There aren't that many serve and volleyers here. But the more play on the court, it roughens up. It's not quite as green. It's a little bit easier to move at net versus the first day I played Clavet, I was struggling with my footwork. As the tournament goes on, it's easier to serve and volley, easier to change directions. Second week, like I move, you know, I can move better, a lot more aggressively than I can in the first.
Q. You mentioned earlier about the record last year, how much that meant to you, and also about Borg's demeanor. How important would this year equal in the five-in-a-row? How big a thing is that for you?
PETE SAMPRAS: I haven't thought about it much. I didn't even really know about it until someone mentioned it when I was at Queen's. Five in a row, those are things in the game you don't really focus on, you don't -- you can't really plan on, you know, winning five in a row as a youngster growing up. It's just kind of evolved into something that I have a chance to do it. But it's not really a big focus of mine versus last year that the record certainly was a big focus. But, you know, seven out of eight, I'll take that, those numbers. Five in a row, it's tough to do.
Q. Looking back over the last year, have you just one explanation, or maybe a few, why you haven't won a title for a year.
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, combination of not playing that well and just haven't really got into a rhythm out there at certain points of this year. You know, last year was difficult because I did well at The Open and got pretty much buzz-sawed against Safin. I've been in contention at a lot of tournaments. I just haven't closed it out. A tough final against Agassi in Palm Springs. I haven't really got into a rhythm in quite a while. Hopefully that can change this week.
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