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July 1, 2000

Pete Sampras


MODERATOR: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Pete Sampras.

Q. Justin just claimed that when you came out of your mother's womb --?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't want to hear the rest.

Q. -- god worked a little extra on your shoulder. Have you spoken with your mother about this? Can you confirm?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I haven't.

Q. Your right shoulder.


Q. What is the status of your leg?


Q. Better? Worse?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the two days off definitely helped. Yesterday I was praying for some rain and got it, which was nice. But it's sore, and it will probably continue to be sore. I just need, you know, to find a way to play, and play on it. Then the Kucera match, when it was quite severe at the end, two days definitely helped the inflammation. Just been icing it all day, taking the antiinflammatory, doing the stim, doing everything I can to play. The adrenaline definitely kicks in. Today I really was out of sorts in the beginning. First time I picked up my racquet in two and a half days. You know, I didn't play very well. But, you know, got through it. Definitely a struggle.

Q. Can you take us through the last couple days, particularly with emphasis on how much time you're spending at home working on the shin, sitting around basically waiting for the next treatment? How boring was it, et cetera, et cetera?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's a bit stressful, you know, doing tests, then the next couple days, you know, coming here twice a day, getting treatment on it pretty much with my foot up, icing it every couple hours for 20 minutes. I just did that all day the last couple days. It was nice not to play yesterday and have an extra day of rest. You know, this is what I'm dealt. Just got to make the best of it and do the best I can.

Q. Did you hit a ball prior to going onto Centre Court?


Q. Is that what affected you in the first set?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. My racquet felt like a foreign object, which doesn't happen that often. You know, it's not an easy surface to play on when you haven't picked up a racquet for two and a half days.

Q. Did you give any thought at all to attending the Champions Parade?

PETE SAMPRAS: I would have loved to have been part of it. For the hour before I played, I was doing whatever I could to play. Today, we're actually going to do something after the Venus Williams match. It would have been an honor to be out there with all the legends of the game.

Q. You mean getting ice or treatment?

PETE SAMPRAS: Oh, yeah, you know, getting treatment, warming it up, taping it, do whatever I can, making sure I'm as comfortable as possible out there.

Q. Was it taped again?


Q. Was it a break that your opponent today was a serve-volleyer; points would be fast?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, not necessarily. Justin has a big serve. It's not easy to return when you're a bit sore. But, yeah, quick points. Kucera is probably the toughest guy out there to play when you're not feeling great because he makes a lot of returns. Justin is more hit-and-miss. But still it's not easy, no matter who you play.

Q. Paul said it was when you were warming up before the Kucera match that it happened?

PETE SAMPRAS: I felt a little uncomfortable in this area when I was warming up, couldn't figure out how I did it. You know, a little concerned. Played the Kucera match. Obviously it was very, very sore. Got the tests done. I have what I have. I have some fluid in a tendon. It's uncomfortable. It is what it is. Just make the best of it. It was a freaky injury that I don't know how it came on.

Q. You had one groundstroke winner in the first set. Can you ever remember a match where you didn't have a groundstroke winner in the first set? At what point in this match did you finally begin to calm, when you felt like you were beginning to feel more comfortable?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the first set I was so rusty, you know, really had no rhythm on my serve. Normally you don't pick up a racquet for a couple days, you're not going to go out and play well, at least initially. Once I got that break in the second and I started feeling a little bit better about my timing, my rhythm, my serve started to come on a little bit, just start playing better. But the first set, I was completely out of sorts, you know, with my rhythm, my timing. It was probably one of the worst sets I played out there.

Q. How concerned were you when you got to 4-4 in the second set?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, obviously a couple points here and there, he could be serving for the set, down two sets to love. You know, I've been in this position before. You just try to hang in there, hopefully get a break. I got it.

Q. Any chance of you thinking deep down that it could go any moment?

PETE SAMPRAS: What do you mean "could go"?

Q. The shin?


Q. The injury could suddenly go and give you pain?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's sore. It's a little bit painful. There's not a risk of tearing my tendon. It's just I have some fluid in an area that unfortunately I have at the moment. This is not the best of timing.

Q. Where do you feel that pain? Does it affect you on any kind of stroke, particularly?

PETE SAMPRAS: When I serve-and-volley, when I put a lot of weight on it, when I lift my foot up, I feel it a little bit.

Q. When you leaped for the overhead, did you hesitate to do that? Did it cause you any pain?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. It's sore.

Q. Did you use pain killers?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm on some antiinflammatory.

Q. Is this going to go away at any point? Do you have to stop playing on it and rest for a while? Have they given you a timetable?

PETE SAMPRAS: No timetable. I'm not going to hit any tomorrow.

Q. Is this something that if you play on for the next couple weeks, you'll have to take a break afterward?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I'm sure.

Q. How does that affect Davis Cup?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know. I haven't thought much about Davis Cup.

Q. You have an extraordinary record while playing injured or hurt, under adverse circumstances. Can you talk about that? Is that something you're proud of?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, playing hurt is something I've learned to deal with over the years. You just deal with it, you know. Everyone at times through their career, if it's Kobe Bryant in the NBA finals, I use him as my inspiration. Playing hurt, this is Wimbledon, this is what I play for all year. I'm going to do whatever I can to play. You know, I'm not playing and risking my career by playing this tournament. But it's something that isn't a hundred percent, but that's just what I've been dealt here.

Q. One of the things that Paul said a couple days ago was that you're confronting your own immortality, going through some of the injuries you have recently. Do you feel that at all?

PETE SAMPRAS: When I hurt my back, that's when it hit a little bit. You know, my body beat me that time. It definitely was a step back for me. I've had some niggling injuries here and there that I've gotten through, but the back definitely woke me up.

Q. As you get older, do you find yourself trying to protect your body or do things to protect your body more and more?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I mean, I'm on a treatment program for my back, keeping it strong and stretching it out. The older you get, your body changes. I have to be a little bit more aware of being warmed up when I play. My body has been a little fragile the last year or so. You know, it's an indication of playing a lot of tennis for a lot of years. But it's also preparation and doing the stretching, being a little bit more disciplined, which is something that I'm not always that great at. It's definitely been a wake-up call.

Q. Are you as confident to win this tournament as you were before the start of the tournament in the light of the injury you've gotten now ? Throwing any doubts in your mind whatsoever?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's not helping. I'm still in the tournament. I have a day off tomorrow. I play Bjorkman, who is going to make me work very hard. But I'm here to, you know, complete the tournament, win or lose. Guys are going to know that I'm a little bit hurt. I'm sure they're going to feel a little bit of pressure, whatever, for whatever reason. But it is what it is. There's no really sense of talking about it all day. It's an injury and I just have to play through it, do the best I can.

Q. The Royal Box and in it sort of tennis legends, including some of your boyhood heroes, is that sort of a strange thing to be playing in front of that kind of crowd?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I looked up and saw Borg and the Rocket. When I was playing the first set, I wasn't too proud that they were watching (laughter). But, yeah, definitely my idols I looked up to for years. So you know who's there. It was definitely a moment I would have loved to have been on that court with them during the ceremony. But, you know, 2:00 start, I had to get ready.

Q. Do you think their presence helped inspire you to pull it around, Pete?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, no (laughter). At one point I wanted to throw my racquet up there; they could play for me.

Q. There are signs that maybe your speed was not really inhibited that much. There was the run across the left sideline to retrieve Justin's angled volley. Would you say that your speed was not that far behind its usual standard, despite the pain?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, my movement is one of my best advantages out there. I'm not moving at a hundred percent, but even still when I'm 80%, I think I still move better than maybe a lot of guys on grass. You know, it's the way it is. There's no sense talking about it all day.

Q. By doing what you did today, did you send a message to the locker room that, "Hey, I'm not going away, I'm going to be here till the end"?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think guys knew I was going to play. How effective I was going to be, no one really knew. You know, still got a dangerous player on the top side of the draw. Getting through some of these matches, over the next day or two, with some rest and more treatment, I can get to the point where I'm a hundred percent. It's really hard to say at this point.

Q. Will you practise tomorrow or before the match?


Q. You think you will be a hundred percent at some point in this tournament?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know. I'm hoping so. I'm not at the moment, but Lord willing, do my praying tonight, I can maybe get to the point where it's comfortable.

Q. But you still have to take some time off after the tournament?


Q. Are you mentally strong enough on this surface at this place to win the tournament at, say, 70, 80%?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, as each match gets tougher and tougher, I'm going to give it whatever I have, do the best I can. I don't know if that's going to be good enough.

Q. Are you doing something after with the legends?

MODERATOR: That's why he has to go.

End of FastScripts….

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