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November 28, 2000
MODERATOR: Questions for Pete.
Q. Can you remember when you last lost a set 6-Love?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it was probably since the juniors. I mean, I don't know how long
it's been. It's been a while since I've lost 6-Love.
Q. Was it simply a question of you haven't played for two and a half months? Is there
more to it than that?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it definitely wasn't pretty out there. I don't know if it was a
case of not having played for a while. You know, I knew coming into here I might be a
little rusty in the beginning. But I thought I played fine in the first set, but really
kind of struggled from the back court, especially off my backhand, missing quite a number
of shots. You just hope you gain confidence as the match goes on. To be honest with you, I
just lost a bit of confidence. You know, I'm hitting the ball fine. I'm practicing fine.
When you go out and compete, you know, the nerves are there. You're just a little bit
unsure, and it showed today. It showed I didn't quite have it, as we saw. It's not the way
I wanted to start this tournament. You know, I don't have much time to get disappointed. I
have to rebound and get ready for tomorrow.
Q. What does it do to somebody like your's pride, achieving nearly everything in this
game and then get beaten 6-Love?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's not an easy one to swallow, losing 6-Love. That's not what's
really in my mind right now. The mindset is that I lost and I didn't play very well,
didn't hit the ball well. You know, 6-Love, 6-1, 6-3, I still didn't feel -- I didn't feel
like I really found my game at all during the match. But, you know, he got it going. I
played a couple loose games in the second. It happens. Certainly, I can't, you know, have
it be on the top of my list of priorities at the moment. You know, it is getting ready for
tomorrow. That's really the only choice that I have.
Q. Seemed to be picking up your first serve, good success against your first serve. Did
it have the usual pop tonight?
PETE SAMPRAS: I felt like I was serving pretty hard, where I wanted it to go. I think
we all know Lleyton has one of the best returns in the game. The way he returned my serve
at Queen's, I mean, he's got a great return. He started to pick it up as the match went
on. I felt like I still had pretty good pop. It's just from the back court, it's an
accumulation of when you're struggling from the back court, you put that much more
pressure on yourself on your service games. All of a sudden I was down a couple
breakpoints, and, boom, that was it. But I felt like, you know, I served pretty hard, I
mean, the way I normally do.
Q. From the booth it looks as if it's pretty slow, the court, the balls through the
air. Was that your impression?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. The court is the same. The balls are a little bit on the soft side.
It gets pretty heavy, pretty big out there. So it's not the best serving court. But I like
the court because it's slow enough where you can have some rhythm and play some baseline
points. As I showed today, I didn't do a very good job of that.
Q. In other year-end Championships, you've lost matches. How does this compare to those
in the past?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the years that I've lost, I lost a tough match to Moya, lost a
tough match to Becker. Even having lost those matches, I still felt like I was playing
fine. I wasn't panicking. Whereas today, I feel like I didn't really hit the ball well.
Somehow I need to find a way to just kind of put this match down in the dumps (smiling),
just try to rebound as best I can tomorrow. You know, I know what's ahead. I just need to
win every match from here on out. Definitely wasn't a good start.
Q. With your involvement with Paul Annacone, how much of a role does he play in helping
you with your successes, and following a match like this?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, we just talked for a couple of minutes after. You know, you try to
be somewhat optimistic. He said, "You played a pretty good first set, served pretty
well." You know, my groundies, especially my backhand, didn't really have the timing;
didn't have the rhythm. It's something I'm going to have to find tomorrow. But it's still
being optimistic. You know, I'm not out of it. Yet, again, it's not the way I wanted to
start off the event.
Q. How well do you think Lleyton played tonight?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think he's got a good chance to get to the weekend. He always plays
well. You know, he's tough to beat even when I'm playing well. But when I'm not playing
well, it's an uphill struggle. I mean, he returns well, he passes well, he moves well, he
can occasionally hit the big serve, hit the big ace. You know, I've played him enough to
know what his strengths are. He definitely is a tough guy to play when my game wasn't
Q. How much tougher do you think it is to stay away two and a half months from the game
now with the level where it is, come back and be strong?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I look at what happened last year. I can kind of draw on that, not
having played at all pretty much since The Open, went to Hannover, got through and won
there. I know it can be done. During that week, I kind of gained with confidence and got
through some tough matches, whereas today I didn't really hit the ball well. So it's
different, but it can be done. I mean, I know I can do it. It's just a matter of, you
know, going out there and finding that form that I can get -- when you get into that
rhythm, when you get into that mindset of playing matches. You know, it showed today. I
showed that I was a little rusty. I'm not taking anything away from the way Lleyton
played. He made me play that way. It's pretty simple from here on out what I need to do.
Q. Did you fear this sort of thing could happen, leaving it alone for so long?
PETE SAMPRAS: I thought it was possible that I would, you know, be a little bit
vulnerable. You know, when you win matches, you gain confidence. It's all second nature.
Whereas today, I'm trying to find my form. Sometimes it just takes me three games or a
set. Today it was kind of like I was okay, then I kind of slowly dipped after I lost the
first set, kind of just struggled from there on out. 6-Love, just wasn't -- it just kind
of -- that's the way it is. It's just not good.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.