May 14, 2001
ATP: Questions for Pete.
Q. You played him three years ago in Atlanta. You beat him but it was a bit close. How did you feel today? What was the difference?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I definitely had my chances. I had a lot of breakpoints in the second and the third, especially the third and I didn't convert on any of them. Except for one in the third. I think I have to give him credit. He played well. He served real big at big points. I had Love-40 game; missed a couple of forehands but I thought I hit the ball pretty well, pretty patient out there. Got off to a bad start in the third set, which I started pressing a little bit and -- but I was hitting the ball pretty well and I was just unfortunate, I couldn't get a break. I needed a breakpoint to tie it up there in the third and then feel like my chances were pretty good. But give him credit, he served well when he was down and it is a tough loss.
Q. Quite a slow start for your clay court season. How concerned are you?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it would be nice to win some matches. That is what I need is to play and to winning and gain some confidence against these players. And it has been a tough beginning. I am playing next week in Dusseldorf so I am guaranteed some matches there and I just need to, you know, -- it is two weeks in a row I have lost 6-4 in the third so I am there, I am not converting the big points. Going into Paris it would be nice to have won a little bit more, but we will see what happens there. But next week will be a good week. It is disappointing, I feel like I played well enough to win today. Just came up short.
Q. Did you actually consider playing doubles as well next week just to get more match play?
PETE SAMPRAS: No. Probably not. I am guaranteed three tough matches, that is plenty. It would be nice play some more this week.
Q. To not convert big points is unlike you, here I think it is 1 out of 11. Is there an explanation as to why?
PETE SAMPRAS: It is a little bit of he served pretty well. I was just trying get the ball back in play. Played a little bit conservative. Just didn't play the by points well. I had a few cracks at it to break him back, I missed them. To do it over again I would have been more aggressive, chip and charge or do something on the aggressive side instead of playing safe and waiting for him to miss. When it is a big point you just, you know, you just kind of hope it works out. Today I never really on the big points seemed to play him that well, and 1 for 11 is not going to cut it. It's really not. Not going to win matches. I am there. I am close, but in order to break him I need to break him.
Q. In fact you won your points in a variety of ways, didn't you, during the course of the match, sometimes won points at the back, you serve and volleyed at one point, there were different avenues open to you?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I have to against these guys. I can't do the same thing every point. If I serve and volley, it's serve volley. It is tough to do that for three sets. I have to stay back and rally a little bit and I just want to be -- mix it up as much as I can - coming in a little bit, chip and charging, staying back, that is the only way I am going to beat these guys if I change it up and today I feel like I was doing a pretty good job of it - mixing up my serve staying out wide which was effective. I played fine. Just didn't win. I needed to win the big points and I didn't.
Q. In two weeks it could be the French Open. How do you feel about that? What does the mean for you? It is a special event?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, all the Slams are very special and the French as we all know is the one I haven't won so it is important to do well there; be nice to go in there with a little bit more confidence having won a little bit more last week or this week. I am not too picky, either week would have been fine. It's a special event. I mean, it is a lot of character in Paris, a lot of great players that are capable of winning there; probably 20 guys that can win there. So it is pretty wide open. And I am looking forward to it. I am disappointed at the moment, but I am sure in the next number of days and next week I will get going and I will look forward to playing.
Q. Are the conditions a little faster in Paris than they are here or in Rome?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, a little bit quicker. The ball here is a little bit on the soft side and Paris they are a little bit firmer, so it would help out a little bit. So it is a touch quicker than Paris. I am looking forward to it.
Q. Did you have any physical problems?
PETE SAMPRAS: No.
Q. Absolutely fit?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yes.
Q. Are you doing a special program to have your game fit to clay?
PETE SAMPRAS: There is no program, just my training is a little bit different. I am running a little bit more, longer distance to play these long tough points, spending more time on the court doing a lot of different drills just trying to get my legs in shape, and we had some points today and we both were feeling it a little bit, I feel like I recovered pretty well and could have gone a little bit more, but it didn't happen.
Q. It is the first time you are doing these kind of things this year or is it just the normal?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's the normal result taken. As soon as Miami is over you change your training a little bit. You run a little bit more and longer distances and because the clay you are going to play longer, tougher points, it is different.
Q. You do play on clay courts simply to try and win clay court titles or do you do it with an eye to building up your physical strength for other tournaments later in the year?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, each week I play I want to win. I know playing back-to-back weeks, Rome and Hamburg I knew would be tough to win them both. To do well, it hasn't been the best of years, but I am looking forward to Paris, but you can't just turn on your game in Paris because it is a Grand Slam. You need to do well at these weeks to gain a little more with your game and get -- especially going in there and -- kind of not a ton of confidence, but I know I can get it going, win a couple of matches. That is my goal at this point. I am still optimistic about my chances. I can't get too down, which I am at the moment, but next week will be a good week to play some matches and, I am looking forward to it. It is going to be tough. But definitely it is a challenge.
Q. Is age a special factor on clay?
PETE SAMPRAS: Age? Not really. I don't think age really has much to do with it. It is the game and how you are playing. Age might if I played 4 matches like this might be tough, you know, or -- hitting almost 30, but I felt fine today.
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