June 25, 2001
MODERATOR: No need to introduce Pete Sampras.
Q. Was it too hot today, very hot, more than you expected?
PETE SAMPRAS: For England this time of year, yes, it was very warm.
Q. One of the warmest temperatures here at Wimbledon?
PETE SAMPRAS: Last time I remember it being this warm was the '93 final against Courier where it was similar. So it was quite hot.
Q. Seemed to push you pretty hard today.
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. He's a crafty player. He definitely knows how to play on grass. You know, served pretty well. He came in quite a bit. He had that good backhand slice that is tough to pass on. But I was pretty happy the way I was controlling the points, the way I was serve and volleying. I had chances in the second, Love-30 a couple times, got a little safe. But he competes well, he moves well. You know, I knew going into the match I was going to have to work hard - and I did.
Q. You were getting quite frustrated in the second set with some of the line calls.
PETE SAMPRAS: There were some shaky ones - on both sides. It's going to happen when the ball is being hit that hard. But there are obviously ones that were very questionable.
Q. Can you talk about how the court is playing today and then compare it also to other grass courts you might play on? Are they all trying to reach the quality that Wimbledon has for the lawns or are they all pretty consistent?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the court at Queen's, the week before, is a little bit harder. The court out there today is like it always is the first day, it's very slippery. They don't allow any tennis on there. It was tough to move out there. Lost my footing a couple times. But compared to the outside courts where they allow practise on it, the stadium, I knew coming in my movement was going to be a little bit suspect - and it was. I slipped a few times. You know, first day out there, it's going to be slippery.
Q. You've come out on that court on the first day of Wimbledon so many times. Is there still a little bit of a chill, some kind of special feeling on the first day of the tournament when you walk out there?
PETE SAMPRAS: There's no question, you walk out there, after winning it last year, you come back, the first match out, the tradition they have here, you feel that. The ovation I got when I walked out was nice. Also walking off the court. It's always a pleasure playing out there. I love the court. You know, when I step out there, I draw a lot of memories from all the tough matches that I've gotten through. So it was nice to be out there.
Q. Do you ever think about Willie Renshaw?
PETE SAMPRAS: Not really (smiling).
Q. You know who he is?
PETE SAMPRAS: You mention him on those interviews we do after the match. I still don't know who he is (laughter). No, seven-time champion?
PETE SAMPRAS: He had it easier back then because he just had to play one match. I wish that was the case today.
Q. Do you really?
PETE SAMPRAS: Play one match and win it again? Yes and no. One match, you could also be a little rusty.
Q. Do you look at your draw at all or do you completely avoid looking at it?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, obviously, you hear things, who I might play later on. But you can't look that far ahead. I look forward to my next match, whoever that may be. I try to figure him out, what I need to do out there. You know, you can't look ahead in today's game. Too many good players that can knock you off. There's no reason to look at the quarters or semis or beyond. You just get ready for your second round.
Q. So you didn't take a look and say, "It's kind of nice for me that Agassi, Lleyton and Pat are all at the bottom, I might be able to have a chance to really work my way in here"?
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't look at it like that, on who's where in the draw. I feel like if I'm playing well and I take care of my business, I don't mind playing anybody. It really doesn't affect me, who I play. Obviously, you look at the threats here. You have Henman and Rafter, Andre. But you can't look that far ahead.
Q. The first match after the six months you've had, struggles on clay, was it reassuring, make you feel, "Can I do it all again"?
PETE SAMPRAS: I've never had any doubts. I played okay at Queen's. Obviously, the year has been a little bit of a downer. But I can turn that around very quickly here, like I've done over the years. It's nice to get through the first match. It's always one you want to get through. I feel like I've got a pretty good chance.
Q. After the French, you went back and watched the Lakers a couple games.
PETE SAMPRAS: First game.
Q. Just the first game?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yes.
Q. Was it a hassle just to get home or did you have a lot of fun doing it?
PETE SAMPRAS: You mean, the trip?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I had quite a lot of time because I lost pretty early. But there was no sense of coming to London too early. I went home, chilled out a little bit, went to that one game. I got back over here on Friday.
Q. You saw the one the Lakers lost?
PETE SAMPRAS: Unfortunately, yeah.
Q. There was a report this week that your ideal would be to win this tournament and stop. Is that not true?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's not true. I remember talking to Jim in an interview for TNT. It was a conversation that we were just having about one day I might stop, how I would want to do it. Whoever took it, took it the wrong way, that this may be my last year. It's totally false. To end my career, sure, I'd love to go out there and win it one last time - this year, next year, five years from now. I plan on coming back for many years.
Q. The French, an odd quarterfinal result with Andre and Bill Clinton. Do you think it's possible Clinton could have put him off? Ever been in a situation similar to that?
PETE SAMPRAS: Very similar. Semis of the US Open. I was trying to get into the stadium. I couldn't get in because of the president. I knew he was there. When you go out and compete, you don't think about who's watching. The middle of the match, he came out, gave a wave. He got a few boos. In Paris, I heard he got cheered. It can set you off for a minute, but you get down to business, go out and play.
Q. You don't think Andre had such a dramatic change winning the first 6-1?
PETE SAMPRAS: I didn't see what happened. I heard about it. Andre's a great player. He can handle all different situations. I wouldn't think it would set him off that much. But, you know, when you see the president or the former president there watching, it shouldn't affect you, I wouldn't think. But I really don't know.
Q. Isn't that the essence of concentration in sports, no matter what's going on, you're thinking about the next putt or the next shot, and if you're not, your concentration is bad?
PETE SAMPRAS: Sure, sure. If you're thinking about who's watching you, who's coming into the stadium and leaving, it can set you off. The only thing that you should be focused on is who you're playing, what you're trying to do out there. You lose your concentration for just ten minutes, it can change the whole match. Just got to be careful.
Q. Andy Roddick is going to play his first match in the main draw here. Do you remember your first match? Do you have any insight as to what he's feeling or getting ready to go through?
PETE SAMPRAS: My first match was against Todd Woodbridge on one of the outside courts, I think it was at Aorangi (laughter), Court 18, I don't know where it was. At that point I didn't like the grass. I just didn't like it. I didn't enjoy playing on the stuff. This is where I thought I'd make my break as a young guy. Andy, at the same age, I think he's got a little more experience maybe. I was trying to make my way in the rankings. All of a sudden, Andy, he's doing very well. But I'm sure he's going to come out a little nervous. When you've got that serve, that weapon, he's going to be tough to beat. Grass is a different game out there. It's tougher to return. He's got good hands. He'll adapt very well.
Q. How much of a role are you taking with Taylor?
PETE SAMPRAS: I practised with Taylor in LA. We talk occasionally. I haven't seen him much here.
Q. Maybe a mentor's approach?
PETE SAMPRAS: Not necessarily. I'm not one that's going to sit down with someone and give them my advice. If he asks for it, sure, I'll try to help out the young guys. Taylor and I practised in LA. I think he takes a lot out of that. He definitely has a big game, he's got a lot of potential.
Q. The young players we have now, particularly Roddick, Gambill, not that young, Mardy Fish, they all seem to be very close, good friends, maybe much more so than you and Jim and Andre were when you were around that age. Are they going to be able to sustain that once they have to start playing each other?
PETE SAMPRAS: Once they start playing each other, once their careers get better and better, if one day they reach the top of the game, it gets more difficult to have that bond. I think Andre, Jim and I, Michael all got along very well. We were all at the top of the game. Things will change as they get older and better; it gets more and more competitive. They're very young. They're just going to deal with the changes of their relationships. Right now they're young enough to kind of go out and have fun, play each other and practise against each other. But once you're 1, 2 in the world, things obviously change.
Q. The Swedes and the Spanish, they seem to be able to sustain that right through their careers. It's different?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's different. The Americans have kind of more or less always been on their own. You're right, the Australians, the Spanish guys, more of a bond. That's just the nature of the US being a very big country and everyone kind of going their separate ways. That's the way it's always been.
Q. Were you surprised that you didn't like grass the first time?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I was. i was a little surprised. Growing up, I obviously went to the one hand, serve and volleying. I felt this was the one place I was going to break through. I just realised it was a lot more difficult than I thought. It was easy to serve and volley. But in order to win here, I needed to change a few things in my strokes, I needed to start returning better. Obviously, the biggest shot on grass court is the return. That was one thing I had to improve when I came back over the years. You know, it was a struggle - more of a mental struggle, because I kind of had a negative attitude towards grass. It wasn't till I started working with Tim that he helped me out mentally, changed a few things here and there with my strokes, my return especially, shorten it up. Everything kind of exploded.
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