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March 25, 2001

Pete Sampras


THE MODERATOR: First question.

Q. Do you think the tiebreaker suddenly made him feel invincible?

PETE SAMPRAS: Pretty much. You know, I got a little unfortunate there in the breaker. Get that miss-hit lob and made it 4-love. He really played great. He was kind of in the zone there for a while and serving big, and second serve had a lot of pop on it and hardly missed. You know, things really didn't go my way today and I give him full credit. He really played great, played with no fear and -- but the first set was a big part of the match, you know. Start serving there in the first couple points of the breaker, it's not easy. But he played great.

Q. Impressed with his returns?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I mean he was, you know, making me play quite a bit. Hitting a lot of low volleys, didn't miss much. Was just swinging away and having fun. That's always definitely the case when you're just starting out. So he, you know, he's got a big game. He's got a big serve. He's serving consistently in the 130s and making them. That's pretty tough to play against. So you put that, you know, with his returns and the way he was hitting his groundies, I mean, he was kind of on fire there.

Q. You saw the trainer close to the end. Is there a physical problem?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. There was no trainer.

Q. Can you talk about Roddick as a promising young star in American tennis? Is he the real-deal?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I mean the way he played today, he's definitely the future of American tennis is looking very good. I mean, the way he competes and the way he plays, he really is the future. You know, he's still very young and he's -- he can go out there and kind of swing away. Once that P word hits him, things are a little bit different. But when you have a weapon like that, serving that big, it's a -- nice to have that in the arsenal. And he possesses a big cannon. That's a big, big shot for him.

Q. You're as aware of everyone else as the hype around a match like this, the future of American tennis, hot young guy. At this stage of your career, at one point that would fire you up, kind of maybe not rivalry, but does it still matter to you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure, sure. Absolutely. I mean, he's the beginning of a new American breed. I'm obviously a little bit older than he is so I'm trying to fend him off. Not only Roddick but a lot of the young guys. I knew he was going to come out swinging away and having fun and it was a big match. I mean, he just, you know, played great. I mean, I give him all the credit. I was definitely pumped up for it. I was ready and doing fine in the first set and lost the first set breaker pretty quickly. He went from there. But I was definitely ready.

Q. "To be continued," check mark in your mind, in a match like that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, yeah. I mean, I, you know, it would be hard to say if he can play like that again against me. I mean it's always difficult having played Andy for the first time, just getting used to his serve, the way he likes to play, and he was on. Everything just didn't go my way. I got a few tough calls here and there that just felt like it wasn't my day.

Q. Is it possible to tell off a hardcourt match what kind of a player he might be on clay even at this young age?

PETE SAMPRAS: On clay it's, you know, with that serve, I mean he's still going to be very, very tough to beat on clay. Hits a lot of spin on both sides, whips it around and hits the ball heavy. Sure, it slows down his shots a little bit and his serve, so -- but he's young enough; he'll just get better and better.

Q. Do you see a young Sampras in him, in his game?

PETE SAMPRAS: Just a different game. I mean, still a lot of power but when I was his age I wasn't serving that hard, you know. I mean, he's got that wide body racquet, he can crack it pretty good. Just different games. I mean, he stays back a little bit more, just cracks it from the back court. Reminds me a little bit of like an Enqvist or Philippoussis, someone that serves big, cracks the first ball. That's the future of the game. I mean, serve-and-volley tennis is pretty much extinct today. Just different styles but still with a lot of power.

Q. What's your program?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, just get ready for the clay.

Q. Where will you go in Europe?

PETE SAMPRAS: Most likely Monte Carlo and then all the way through.

Q. All the way through? Rome?

PETE SAMPRAS: (Nodding.)

Q. In that second set when you were down 3-1, in the fifth game you got up love-15 on him, then came that point where you stood there for quite a while.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Tough call.

Q. How was it? Did you see it way out or what?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it was close enough to be out. You know? I mean, I felt like it was out and I, you know, thought -- I mean, I thought it was out.

Q. How big was that?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's a big point. Love-30, serving 15-all, maybe he starts feeling the pressure a little bit, it didn't go my way.

Q. A couple of those serves of his when he really jammed you, seriously, you're not very used to that, are you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not with that power, no. I mean, mid 130s, he just throws it up and swings as hard as he can. And a couple of them went into my body, just kind of caught me off guard. He really can crack it pretty good.

Q. Think it was going to decapitate you on that one?

PETE SAMPRAS: Or something else. (Laughter.)

Q. He had two or three backhand returns that almost seemed to freeze you. Were you having a difficult time reading it? Is there something about that shot that makes him special?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, he was placing it pretty good, taking a short swing, blocking it, and taking the pace off my serve. Hit it inside-out, which is a tough shot to hit. Just was on top of it. I mean, really returned well.

End of FastScripts....

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