August 15, 1999
Q. How often do you hit a shot that goes clean?
PETE SAMPRAS: That doesn't happen very often. I can't remember that happening. It was more important I get a first serve out of it, which was nice.
Q. Do you remember much about that serve?
PETE SAMPRAS: That I missed it? No. I've done that before. I've actually had guys serve to me and it's gone through my racket, but, you know, it was kind of a fluke thing.
Q. Been a long time since you've won a Super 9.
PETE SAMPRAS: (Laughs.) Good questions, George. Is that the best you can come up with? But you're right. It has been a while. You know, it's a very tough week to win. There's no question the field here is strong. It's a Grand Slam field. And to come through and beat some good players, you know, it gives me confidence; obviously, going into next week, and then in a couple weeks time at the Open. It's good for the confidence, and I'm playing well. I mean, I'm playing good tennis, good consistent tennis. And, you know, this is probably one of my better weeks on Tour. You can look at Wimbledon and how well I played there, and I think this definitely compares to that.
Q. You're playing so well now. Is there any chance of maybe becoming overconfident?
PETE SAMPRAS: No. That's really something I have to be aware of that even though I am confident, things are going well, you know, this coming week could be a different story. It's good that I have the week off before the Open to kind of take a couple days off and kind of gear up again. You know, I've been in this position a few times before going into the Open confident, and just, you know, I'd rather go the Open playing well and winning tournaments than not. Overconfidence isn't really a worry. I know what I have to do at the Open,, but this definitely helps. There's no question that to win tough matches and to beat the top players in the world is what I'm trying to do.
Q. When you say "one of my better weeks on Tour," do you mean this year, or in general? Recently?
PETE SAMPRAS: No. I think probably this year. The first three or four months of the year, I was struggling and not really playing much -- Australia, I felt like my game aren't really in sync. And then since Queens, winning that tournament and getting the confidence that I needed to get going in the Wimbledon, it's just kind of all just carrying over to the summer. Was a big relief winning Wimbledon because I felt like a achieved my main goal this year, which was to win a Grand Slam title. I'm just riding the wave, and I hope that wave doesn't crash any time soon.
Q. You overcame the Krajicek thing, and then Patrick won a couple matches against you in a row. Is that also important to sort of stop these little winning streaks that people have had against you?
PETE SAMPRAS: I look at the Krajicek match as a hurdle, because he's been pretty dominant and blowing me off the court a couple times. And Pat beat me the last three times; so, sure it kind of helps the bleeding procession of guys being dominant. It was a good week. I just got into a good rhythm. Played really well, and I'm definitely going to enjoy this for, you know, the next five minutes until I go to Indy. (Laughing.)
Q. They were talking on television how your serve was quicker --
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the conditions, and just talking to Pat on the court, we played at a time where it was warm and it was hot and dry, and the ball is going through the air very quick. Two guys who serve and volley very well on a quick court with really quick conditions and balls, I think we both were struggling to return serve; and to really feel like we were playing good tennis. We were playing well. We were serve and volleying well, but it was almost too quick -- it was almost too quick due to the conditions. It was fast. You know, I was serving pretty consistently in the 130s, and I normally don't do that. And you kind of would hope that they would kind of slow it down just a touch, especially in these conditions. I'm sure Pat will say the same thing. The ball was moving through the air very quick today.
PETE SAMPRAS: Everyone might think I like playing on really fast courts, and I really don't. I would rather have a little bit more time to play. And I think Pat feels the same way just to kind of get the serve back and get into some rallies, and have some time to pass. And these conditions, the balls were kind of going through the court quick and skidding. It kind of made it tough to play. It's more fun to play.
Q. Is there anything that should be changed?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, maybe just slow down the court. I know they resurfaced all the courts at the same time; and historically, this court has always been a little bit quicker than the normal Tour event. And they can probably put a little more sand in the court or something.
Q. So you wouldn't change the ball or the net?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think they should change the ball. Obviously, the Wilson ball is what they use at the Open, and you know, each ball is different. I think one of the complaints that the players have is you want to have all the tournaments have the same ball, especially leading into a Grand Slam. And the ATP Tour ball is a good ball, don't get me wrong, but you definitely like to play with the ball that is going to be used at the next Grand Slam.
PETE SAMPRAS: No, no. Let's get realistic here. I know, but that's cockamaimee stuff. I don't know what they are talking about when they talk about making the ball bigger. I don't know who's making those decisions or those thoughts. It seems a little farfetched.
Q. Are you like a baseball pitcher at all when you go out? Do you try to gauge if your serve is on or not?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's interesting. Similar to a baseball pitcher. I always want to put in the gas, put in the big 130 up the middle, and it can be intimidating to play against that. But when you play great returners like Pat or Andre, it's important to use the change-up and mix it up and go into the body and using all my spins and speed. The last thing you want to do is serve 130 every time up the middle. So it is like a pitcher in a way. You just want to either get a high volley or a miss, or just kind of go from there.
Q. Is that your best shot growing up?
PETE SAMPRAS: My two-handed backhand was my best shot when I was young, and didn't really have a serve when I was a Junior. I was a short little kid and had bad technique. And as I got older and stronger and getting taught very good technique as a kid, having a loose arm is just kind of the ingredients to have a good serve. But not until I was 16, 17 my serve started to come around. But as a Junior, it was pretty pathetic.
Q. The serve seems so natural and so effective -- (inaudible.)
PETE SAMPRAS: I spent a lot of hours hitting a lot of serves. The drill I always used to use was use the same toss for every serve, and really disguise my serve; and it makes returning it pretty difficult. Just hitting hours and hours and buckets of serves as a kid. From age 8 to 14 is the time where you develop your habits. When you're 19, 20, it's a little bit late. So I was taught very well and I spent hours and hours hitting severs.
Q. Rest of your game (inaudible)?
PETE SAMPRAS: My serve is.
Q. That's what you're known for?
PETE SAMPRAS: That's what I'm known for, but I kind of take pride in returning and hitting passing shots. It's a almost more of a challenge to be able to do everything. And playing someone like Pat who serves so well and so smart, it's a challenge returning his serve. I mean, his serve is -- kicks up very high on this court. It's very lively. But the serve, in some ways, you take it for granted that you should serve well all the time and hold serve easily. And this week, I served very well.
Q. Who would you compare your serve to?
PETE SAMPRAS: You know, Krajicek's serve is similar to my serve, but I can't answer that. I don't know if it would fair, but Krajicek and I serve pretty similar; big serves; big second serves. And when he gets it going, it's overwhelming.
Q. At the beginning of the year, were you really concerned or did you always feel like it was going to work out?
PETE SAMPRAS: Sure, you're concerned. You can't turn it on and off like a light switch. You need to go into majors and go into tournaments playing well. Up until the French Open and after the French, I was about as low as I've ever been, personally, professionally, it was a very tough time. But I looked at Queens and the rest of the year as a new beginning and try to put what happened at the French behind me, and the whole year just behind me. I learned from it. That's a sign, or a time to really show your true colors when things aren't going well. How do you get out of it. You just get out on the practice court and just start playing again. That's really the best formula for me over the years.
Q. Having been that low now that you've turned it around, does it feel even better?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, in a way, sure, it makes you feel good about yourself that you're able to get through a bit of a slump. At the beginning of this year, I was struggling to really find my form, and to get through it, and to get the confidence back and to get on the winner's circle again really means more than having -- you know, saying I had a great year. Through the years you go through your little lulls in the year, and I've been through them a number of times. It's just mentally kind of getting back -- back to the drawing board and back to practicing, and that's what I did.
Q. Do you count on your serve?
PETE SAMPRAS: You kind of rely on it. It's playing someone like Pat, it has to -- or playing someone that's in the Top 3 in the world, it has to be on. And it's a shot that I just really on. From the first couple games today, I felt like my rhythm was there. I felt I was hitting big, and I was hitting close to the line. And you combine those two, I think he felt it was going to be tough to break him -- or break me. So, you know, you just get into a certain rhythm, and my rhythm is there at the moment. And the challenge is just trying to maintain it for the next couple of weeks.
Q. Were you also thinking --
PETE SAMPRAS: Oh, yeah. I was like the first two, three service games that he was serving, and I was having a really hard time picking it up. And he was kicking it wide of my back and going out wide, and I was like, it's going to come down to a breaker if I keep on serving well. When you play a breaker against Pat, it could have gone either way. 6-All, and a couple things happen. He missed volley at 7-6, and that was really the turning point at the match. And almost kind of really like a grasscourt mentality today, because it was so quick today and just get a hold of the serve. But it's, you know, two guys that serve and volley very well. And we worked today; it was going to be tough to break.
Q. Is it as tough as Krajicek?
PETE SAMPRAS: In some ways. He doesn't have the speed of a Krajicek, but he's got the accuracy and the spin and the movement up the net to be very tough to break. One of the tougher guys out to try to break. And he's a smart server. He's close in the body. He mixes it up. Playing Pat, you're not really -- you're kind of off-balance. I felt like I was in the first set. I wasn't sure what was coming, and I, you know, just kind of hung in there and played a good set point. But he's not a two-time U.S. Open champion by not serving well. He's got a great serve.
Q. He hasn't been broken all week, and you broke him twice in the second set. What was the difference?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think he -- I think he might have hurt his arm, to be honest with you, on a return serve. In the ESPN interview sounded that he like pulled it or something, and I could tell he lost a little bit of pace,, and I noticed it in the middle and the end of the first set. You know, put in the double and the breakpoint and hit a couple good passes, and, you know, that really was kind of the difference. Just kind of an interesting day of tennis, really. It could really be slowed down just a touch. I think the fans would enjoy it a little bit more and the players certainly will.
PETE SAMPRAS: You know, a lot of things have been set through the press or whatever. I just said it's a pleasure playing him. He's a great guy, and we just go out and play. There's no mind games out there with Pat, and he's a true professional on and off the court. And I just told him that.
Q. Are you glad that that was all settled before you walked out there?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I mean, it was -- I don't enjoy -- I don't have any enemies on the Tour. Sure, you go out and you compete hard and you try to beat everyone you play, but, you know, Pat is a solid guy. And to have the media kind of stir things up between he and I -- I know it's exciting, and it's kind of whatever you want to do with it. But there really wasn't much there. We talked on the phone a couple weeks ago and kind of cleared the air.
Q. How aware were you that he was having a shoulder worked on during the second set?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, when I saw the trainer. I know historically he's had some arm trouble over the years. I just figured it was a little sore, and he was going to be fine.
Q. This was an exciting week. Do you feel like you can keep the momentum next week into Indy and into the Open?
PETE SAMPRAS: That's what I'm trying to do is to try to keep this confidence going and go into Indy and take a few days to relax a little bit and gear up again. It's not easy sometimes after a big win, like this week, to get going. But I've been in this position a few times before to start over again. And Indy is a great stop on the Tour, and I've played well there in the past. And I certainly hope this continues for at least the next five years. (Laughter.)
Q. Is it almost harder to win five matches in five or six days than at a Grand Slam?
PETE SAMPRAS: From Krajicek to Andre to Pat, back-to-back-to-back is -- you don't find that at a Grand Slam. So in some ways, you can have an easy match at a Slam with a fluke of the draw. And in some ways, this is -- I don't want to say tougher to win, but certainly you don't have many breaks. You don't have a day off. You don't have -- occasionally in a Slam you might have an easy third round or fourth round match. And this week, I was faced with a lot of different players, serve and volley players, to Andre, being a great returner, and I got through it.
Q. When it comes down to Saturday and Sunday in the Open -- (inaudible)?
PETE SAMPRAS: No. That's for the players, the worst thing in tennis. You know, it really is. All the other Slams have the Friday/Sunday, and you play the third match on Saturday. You have a long match and play one of the bigger matches of the year on Sunday and not have much time to recover. I've been through it. I've been through the late match on Saturday. You come out tired, and the tennis isn't great. And certainly would hope the USTA would be sensible and have a Friday -- have a Friday semi, have a day off to recover go out and play well on Sunday.
PETE SAMPRAS: No. That makes too much sense to do something like that.
Q. Have you ever had a sore arm?
PETE SAMPRAS: Constantly. When you play week after week and as tight as I string my rackets, depending on the conditions, if they are cold or playing indoors, my arm can be dead. I've had arm trouble on and off my whole career.
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