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April 9, 2000

Pete Sampras


USTA: Questions?

Q. Pete, can you tell us how you came through for today?

PETE SAMPRAS: Just a lot of, you know, great crowd support, a lot of adrenaline, and I played well. I mean, I played really well, got my serve going today and everything kind of clicked. I was so down in the dumps on Friday, the way I played and the way things went, that I wanted to kind of redeem myself and go out and play with more energy, play with more intensity, and I did that. It was a great day, a great day for American tennis.

Q. Pete, how did you hurt yourself and when exactly did it happen?

PETE SAMPRAS: It was the first couple games of the match, I felt my quad go a little bit. I'm sure I strained it. I'm going to do an MRI, another MRI tomorrow. But, you know, I was just on the changeover and got some hot cream on it and, you know, John just said just suck it up and just -- (Laughter.) I'm like, "I'm going to try and do whatever I can." Fortunately, I can serve pretty well at times, and, you know, adrenaline, like I said, is an amazing drug that can get you through a lot of tough situations. The crowd was tremendous. It really was a nice feeling to play out there today. But my serve was the best part of my game. I really felt first hand, second serving them big, you know, hit some good passes and returns at times, and it was a pretty solid day.

Q. What did you do the last couple days to regroup, get it back together?

PETE SAMPRAS: It was, you know, I don't think I played badly on Friday, I just ran into someone that was kind of in the zone and I was pretty disappointed on Friday night and, you know, Saturday we lost the doubles and I was -- it was time to regroup. It was time to kind of put what happened on Friday behind me and go out and play the tennis I could play and remember who I am and that, you know, I didn't want to lose two matches here and cost us the tie. I wanted to go out and play well and, you know, hopefully play better than Friday. And I did. It was a good day.

Q. Were you aware that your captain said you didn't play very hard on Friday?

PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, when it looks like I'm not playing well, you know, it looks like I'm not trying hard. But that -- I was trying hard. I was doing whatever I could. I was just frustrated more than anything. I'm sure John was frustrated as much as I was sitting there watching, that I couldn't get my game going and -- but today I came out with a lot more energy, a lot more focus and played a lot better. I just played a lot better.

Q. Can you put into words what it means to personally come out this big, win the quarterfinals for the United States, and the personal redemption involved?

PETE SAMPRAS: It was a redemption. I've never played a fifth match in Davis Cup. The way I felt on Friday with my family and friends here, it was more than a loss. I just felt really sad about it all; that they came out and I played the way I did. And my family doesn't really have a chance to see me play much, and that didn't really sit too well with me on Friday. Today, to play better and clinch it for us, it was just a great team effort. Andre's certainly one of the best teammates I could ever dream of having, and today was -- we were dominant. I mean, that's what we were hoping on Friday, didn't happen. But today we were much more dominant.

Q. Is your family here today?

PETE SAMPRAS: Uh-huh, yeah.

Q. Pete, you were having trouble on your backhand against Dosedel. How was his ball, either his serve, coming into you in relation to your backhand, and did you make any adjustments, particularly at the tiebreaker when you had the two winners on backhands?

PETE SAMPRAS: As John would tell you, I was pulling up a little bit and floating on the return and finally got my backhand in the court, and he hits a tough ball because he hits the ball very low, you feel like if you come up a little bit it's going to go long. Fortunately, I got it going in the tiebreaker and played a good breaker. It was all the coaching. (Laughter.)

Q. John, was it all the coaching?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. The key is to break your string at 5-2, then that takes a little pressure off, you know, so... Then the guy hits it back to you, which is nice, you snife it up the line. 6-2 is better than 5-3.

Q. John, seriously, what kind of discussion --

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Seriously? I was serious. (Laughter.)

PETE SAMPRAS: You cannot be serious. (Laughter.)

Q. What kind of discussion did you have with Pete about motivation after your comments here yesterday, or did you guys talk about this --

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You know, we talked a couple times. It's just that this is different and I think it worked out. But, I mean, it's like we were getting our own feet wet, just the first time we had sat next to each other. It was a shocking match. I mean, Novak played well, and I think the key is to learn from your mistakes. And I think the energy level was different, and to come out firing at least in the beginning, you know, from the start, and then, you know, Pete pulled a muscle a little bit and just, you know, to be able to sort of settle and fight through that. He obviously served huge. That made it easier. Then I felt like he did what he needed to do, I think what he wanted to do to get into it. It was more difficult Friday. Things were going poorly, you know, no doubt. But if it means being a little artificial in this situation, I think it means just to show that, you know, you're going to be intense and feel his presence. You know, when that happens, it's not too often he's going to lose.

Q. Pete, when's the last time you can remember winning a match and going into the crowd and celebrating?

PETE SAMPRAS: Doesn't happen much on Tour. I think the last time it happened was in Washington when we beat the Australians. That was a big tie and that was the last time I did that. So it's been a while since that's happened. But it's a fun atmosphere; that's what Davis Cup is all about. These are the times that I look forward to over the, you know, over my next couple years, is playing Davis Cup. And certainly the atmosphere will be different in Spain, and we'll have to deal with that. But to play in LA and a lot of buildup with the tie, I definitely didn't want to be the guy to lose it.

Q. What family members were here?

PETE SAMPRAS: Everybody.

Q. Mom, dad, sister?


Q. It looked like you gave your dad a really heartfelt hug. Was it a special moment in the stands with him?

PETE SAMPRAS: It was because my parents are -- obviously raised me the right way. They really raised me the right way, and my dad hasn't seen me play much and I definitely wanted to have them be a part of my tennis over the next number of years. Because up until this point, they haven't really been to Wimbledon and they haven't, you know, been a part of it. And it's definitely something I'm trying to get them to do, is come out. And the Forum's pretty close to their house so they had to come out. (Laughter.) So there's no excuse.

Q. Just because they're nervous about watching you play or they make you nervous?

PETE SAMPRAS: Probably a little bit of both. They've always, you know -- I'm a pretty independent person and when I'm playing, working, they like to, you know, leave me alone and -- but, you know, my goal in the next couple years is to bring them out more and bring them to Wimbledon, which is such a big part of my career and such an unbelievable place to see. I would love to bring them out more. But today was a great moment for my dad, and to be on the court and to share with the team, it was fun.

Q. Speaking of family, John, do you think this win brought more unity to your team?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I think so. We have gone through some adversity already. These have been two tough ties, so... The scary thing is it's going to be tougher, if anything. So, hopefully, we'll just have a better start the next one, we got to go to Spain. It's nice of them to play us on grass, but...

PETE SAMPRAS: We're the underdogs.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: We're playing some tough players over there, so... As I said, though, that's what makes it exciting. I think that definitely it's going to help us a little bit. But, I mean, the end of the day, we still got to perform.

Q. John, can you tell us the first thing that occurred to you when you became aware that Pete had suffered the little injury?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I think my heart temporarily stopped. You know, 'cause it was like the first game, you could see he pulled up, and I just -- I sensed there was something different with Pete today. I think he was more ready to go, and the circumstances -- this is it. Then it just sounded like he had some thump on his ball, you know, in the beginning. He was really hitting the ball. His serve was just out of this world, and -- but also off the ground, even in the warmup, I was like, "Man, he's really -- that ball sounds like a big, big ball. Dosedel's going to be intimidated by that." So, obviously, it was a horrible feeling to see that he was hurting. But as the match went on, I became more confident because it seemed like he was able to settle into it and he was just serving -- Pete was serving so big. That's the type of serving that, you know, I dream about.

Q. Pete, could you talk about how it was being Andre's teammate this week and how that contrasted that Tour rivalry?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think we both feel that our rivalry is over this week, you know. I mean, our goal here is we're part of the same team and the goal is to win. And certainly having him on the same team is great. He's one of the best players of all time, and to have him in the locker room, the way he played today, it's almost like a shoo-in point. But I'm sure the next couple months we'll get back at it and try to beat each other. We usually are, but this week and throughout the rest of our careers as far as Davis Cup, it's something that we'll just put aside and hopefully we can be a part of a so-called legacy that we could possibly have one day.

Q. John, can you talk a little bit about Andre winning the match for the second time this year, keeping you guys alive in the Davis Cup?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: He just brings such an intensity and energy, I mean, to the team, and he was very, very focused. He's very, very into making everyone a part of it. That's why he's a great team player. I think it's going to help all of us. It's exciting to sort of figure out a way that we can become better for this. I mean, Pete and Andre obviously have this great rivalry, and they can look at each other, you know, because they're rivals, but at the same time we can come together and then there's just an energy. And Andre's got that, so you feed off that. You can't help but feed off that. Pete's right, he's a little bit of a shoo-in at the point, but at the same time, we don't want to -- Andre's a human being and we don't want to take it for granted. He's got to go out there, he's nervous. He was nervous today. He feels the pressure to come up with a couple wins, and he's done it for us. But, I mean, given his due. He worked extremely hard. He played extremely well these two matches.

Q. John, Jan Kukal said yesterday you were potentially the greatest captain U.S. ever had, but lack of experience made you sometimes live too intensely each point and sometimes you should relax a little bit. What do you think of that, and, Pete --

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Tell him thanks for the advice. (Laughter.) I would recommend he work out a little harder. (Laughter.)

Q. In what aspects do you feel you lack experience yet?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: It's not a question, you know. Listen, I'm not used to being in this position. I believe in the Davis Cup, but it's not -- to sit there and not be running around, I'm not used to that. So there's no question that I've got a lot of work to do. It's not the easiest thing to know exactly what to do, and the key is to try to get these great players relaxed and able to play up to their ability. That's anyone's goal. As I said, there could be times while I could be in here while they're playing and they could do the job. So knowing sometimes to pull back and to let it happen, but that's something that the only way you can experience it is being on the court. Hopefully, I get a little bit better.

Q. Pete, did your serve give you confidence early considering the early injury, considering the very first set you didn't play that well?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't think I played badly. You know, I got the -- one of the best serves in the world, and I might as well use it.

Q. I don't mean the first set, I meant the first game. I'm sorry.

PETE SAMPRAS: I just had to deal with the injury and figure out how I was going to play with it, and I felt a great rhythm. My arm was nice and loose, I just got into a great rhythm. Even though I missed my first, I felt just as confident in my second, I could hit it just as hard and to the line. Even if I threw in a couple doubles, I was that confident. And every now and again it could click, and it definitely clicked -- really clicked today as far as my rhythm, and I just served about as well as I could.

Q. Pete, I know you don't like to lose. Has it perhaps worked out better for you and the image of tennis in America that you were able to play a live fifth rubber as opposed to winning on Friday?

PETE SAMPRAS: It was the master plan. (Laughter.) We just wanted John to sweat a little bit more.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Wanted me to lose some more hair.

PETE SAMPRAS: No, but sure, the way it worked out, it was a live match today. I know the Masters was on. Hopefully, a few people saw the tennis. So I'm sure we would have loved to have clinched this on Saturday, but Sunday I'm sure was good for tennis, especially in the U.S. The main thing is that we won.

Q. How was it for you, Pete, we all know Davis Cup pressure is different from tournament pressure. Here you were, after ten years, being in a spot you've never been in before, fifth match, John has done it a couple of times?

PETE SAMPRAS: Last night, when you're trying to fall asleep and you're a little restless, you tell yourself, I played the biggest matches in the world, Finals at Wimbledon, it's one-on-one, my ability is better than his. That's the way I look at it. And, you know, as nervous as you are when you step out on the court, the warmup, you know, once you start playing, it just clicks. John can tell you that the nerves go away and you just play, just like another tennis match. And definitely, you know, the experience of playing some Davis Cup or playing the Finals of Slams, you're more nervous for that than anything. You can kind of use that on a day like today.

Q. John, you talk about dreaming about serving like that. You obviously had a very good serve in your playing days. What about Pete's serve makes it so great?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: It's unbelievable, it really is. It's the best serve in the history of tennis in my opinion. He can back it up with excellent volleys; he's quick. Also, he mixes up his power with playing spins. There's a few guys that hit it harder, Becker had a great serve. I think Pete brings more to the table than he does. I think he's got the best serve in the history of the game. I've never seen anyone that's, you know, has had a better one.

Q. Pete, was there ever a point where you thought, "Geez, I might have to quit"?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think John would have choked me. (Laughter.) You're playing no matter -- you know, I definitely could see it in his eyes when I told him I kind of hurt my leg. He didn't want any part of it. (Laughter.) And, you know, there was no way I was going to quit. Maybe I would have been struggling to play, but I wasn't going to stop and let him just have a walkover. I wasn't going to let him -- if he was going to beat me, deserve it, play three sets or whatever it was going to be. But, you know, adrenaline, like I said, really helped out. And the crowd. John's words on the changeover were a huge inspiration for me to, you know, suck it up and just have the next couple weeks off and, you know, suck it up for 45 minutes so we can get out of here. (Laughter.) How many times did you tell me that?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Just a couple times. (Laughter.)

Q. John has once in a while said a couple controversial things, Pete. Are you getting a real comfort level now working with John as captain? Can you go into some detail of what it is like having him on the sideline for you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, he knows what it feels like to be nervous in the fifth match of a Davis Cup and, you know, he told me before I played today, you know, make sure I was warmed up. I moved my feet out there. You know, when you're nervous, you don't move as well. That was a nice thing to hear and just more encouragement, just, you know, just keep it going, you're playing fine, and just hang in there. I know your leg's not feeling great, but just do the best you can. But it was just a focus. It was an intensity that was lacking on Friday and definitely was there today. And, you know, just kind of kept me on my toes, which was great.

Q. When exactly did you hurt it? Was it with the forehand when you broke serve there?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know exactly when, but I felt it go in the first couple games of the match, and it kind of hindered my play for a couple games. But then I kind of settled in to figure out how I was going to play with this, and then I just said, you know, I'm going to play and I'm going to do whatever I can to win here.

Q. Left quad?


Q. Doubles together in Spain? Kind of fun to see you guys play doubles together in Spain?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I'm available. (Laughter.)

Q. John, you actively campaigned for this job, yet you've had two really tough ties in front of the --

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I actively campaigned to play doubles.

Q. No, you actively campaigned for the job as captain.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I campaigned to play doubles, but I have to convince people like this that I can play first. I think everyone wants to be, you know, I'm not sure there's a lot of people I know that don't want to be Davis Cup captain. Hopefully, there's not any of those people around. But --

Q. Are you thinking to yourself, "What was I thinking" a little bit at all?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Let's just say that it's not the healthiest of occupations. But I still believe --

PETE SAMPRAS: What are you complaining about? I mean -- (Laughter) -- it's a couple weeks of the year.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: That's what I've been telling him. (Laughter.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Look at Parcells.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Look at him, exactly. (Laughter.)

Q. No choking, please.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: No, no, they have it much tougher. No doubt.

PETE SAMPRAS: It's a stressful week.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Much tougher than I do. It does give me a perspective of how tough it is to be these coaches. It tells you how great a coach Phil Jackson is, he maintains a Zen vibe that's amazing. These other guys, you live with it. These guys, you know, live with it, like, 24 hours -- I don't know how they do it. For this week, it feels like more than a week, like, "God, I need a break." Now I know why it's so spread out so pathetically over the year.

Q. Pete, was there a time in your career when you didn't want your family around like a lot of young guys, you go out, don't want their parents around and stuff, and has that changed with you, too, to want them to be around?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. The older you get, you start, you know, I moved back here a year ago and you spend more time with your family, you want them to be a part of it. In my early 20s, I was so focused on my tennis that I kind of lost sight of, you know, the important people in my life and that's my family. And definitely the older you get, you really appreciate your parents and what they did for you. And definitely, you know, having them here today and -- was a great moment for my parents to see it. And so hopefully -- I'm sure my dad is going to go to Spain. He's going to ask for that ticket. He was set to go to Zimbabwe, but -- so, he'll be there.

End of FastScripts….

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