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August 13, 1999

Pete Sampras


Q. Three doublefaults that game at the end of the first set and after that you seemed to dominate the match pretty much. How crucial a game was that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it was a huge game because -- I felt that playing Richard he puts so much pressure on my service games. You miss a couple shots, couple of doublefaults, you give him a lead and he is very tough to break. I think we both were struggling with our serve all day because of the wind, because of the sun, and you get a little bit tight. Certain situations it was 3-All at the time, he almost hit a forehand winner on the return of serve there. And I got through that game and, you know, hit a couple unbelievable shots to break him; hit a good topspin lob. That was really a huge part of the match that first set, first game and second game of the second, he put in a couple of doubles and next thing I knew I was up a set and a break and it changed within a couple of minutes.

Q. Did you have to, this match, really kind of concentrate on the mental aspect of your game more just knowing the record he had against you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, Richard has given me problems throughout my career. His game is kind of very similar in our styles of play. When he gets hot, he is very, very tough to play. I knew he has had a great record and going out I know Richard is going to pop in a day and try and stay positive out there. The key of the match was my return of serve against his second serve. I finally for the first time in a number of meetings felt like I got on a little bit of his second serve and made him play a little bit and I think that is why I got a couple of doublefaults there in the second. But, sure, when someone has a great record against you, you come out very motivated and it was good to get through it.

Q. That game where you doublefaulted three times he had a breakpoint; then you get through that game and you win it even though you didn't play very well. Did that boost you somehow?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, because I didn't feel like I was playing that well, like you said, and I got through that game and playing Richard, you only get a couple of opportunities and I felt that that game was just a good game to get through because eventually I felt my serve was going to come around and start getting a little bit more of a rhythm. Next thing I knew I hit a couple of good returns and I won the first set. That was really the key to the match. I think, you know, after I won that first set, it was pretty hot out there. And I think he mentally knew he had a lot of work ahead of him if he was going to come back and win. I can't say I played a great game to break him. He hit three doubles and a shanked return, but doesn't hurt having a little luck.

Q. (inaudible)

PETE SAMPRAS: Honestly I didn't feel like serving at 5-3 into the sun. Against Richard, you just try to take advantage of the second serve. I made him play; then hit a couple of good returns, and next thing I knew I was shaking hands. It happened pretty quick.

Q. How big a hurdle is this to get by him for you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it is a big hurdle because I mean, we all know Richard, when he gets his game going, he feels very confident against me. Today was big for me because he is the type of player that has given me problems throughout my career; the guy that serves big and to get through this match and feel like I have been playing well all week and really found like I got a hold of his serve a little bit and made him play, gives me confidence for the next time I play him. That certainly helps.

Q. Where does he rank in terms of players who have given you some problems and who are the other ones that come to mind? Obviously, Andre.

PETE SAMPRAS: (inaudible) is right up there. He is top two. Look at him, Andre, Ivanisevic, guys that obviously have big games. He has a huge game. There is no question, he plays well all surfaces and what can you say, when he gets it going, he is tough to break. But he has given me a lot of problems throughout my career.

Q. Hear about Steffi Graf's retirement; what are your thoughts on that? You of all people should have a good idea of what she has gone through over the years.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I haven't experienced the injuries she has had. She had -- she has also been out there longer than I have. She has been playing since she was 14. After coming back from an injury and having won 22 Grand Slam titles, I mean, I can kind of sympathize what she is going through because when you are on top it is not easy to maintain it and girls are getting younger and better and she has had an unbelievable career; obviously one of the best ever. Did it with a lot of class. She went out and got the job done and she made her racket do her talking. I have always looked up to her, the way she approached the game. She worked very hard and is a great athlete. But she -- nothing to be ashamed of after winning 22 Grand Slams. That is not easy.

Q. Did you have an opportunity to talk with here during Wimbledon.

PETE SAMPRAS: Just a little bit at the dinner. I think maybe two years we won it together. But just small talk.

Q. How hard do you think it will be to actually make a decision not to do this anymore?

PETE SAMPRAS: That is a tough decision for any athlete to make is when to stop and do something else. I have been playing this game since I was 7 and it is hard to think of my life after tennis. But as long as I am healthy and I am enjoying it, I will play as long as I can. I have been thought of an age where I will hang it up like, you know, these next couple of years and rest of my career - my schedule is obviously important, few things that can prevent me from doing what I want to do and that is overplaying an injury. And that is why I need to be smart with my schedule and do the right thing.

Q. Do you feel any responsibilities to the game for that -- what the game would be like if you weren't in it?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I mean, sure there is a responsibility, but it is your career; it is your life, and you have to do what makes you happy. But I will know when it is time. If I feel like I can't contend at Majors; I feel like I am not enjoying it and I am not having fun out here on the road, it is time to do something else. But that day is aways away.

Q. Any days where it crosses your mind?


Q. Yeah.

PETE SAMPRAS: No, not stopping, but taking a break. I mean, taking -- no, never thought of stopping.

Q. Can you see yourself playing at No. 5 or No. 10 instead of No. 1?


Q. You could do that?


Q. How have you sustained it over the years just the mental side and actual also the physical side?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, in order to stay on top I believe tennis has to be your life; has got to be an obsession and through the years I have been willing to do what it took to stay No. 1; if it was playing more or whatever. My life definitely would be a lot easier if I was ranked five or ten in the word. I wouldn't have the stuff to do off the court and being No. 1 is more than just playing good tennis. It is a way of life and that is something I have been dealing with throughout my career. When you are No. 1, you are the man to beat every week but these next couple of years, I am looking past the ranking; looking obviously to the Majors, and that will always kind of keep me motivated and playing.

Q. Did you feel sadness for her? What was your reaction when you heard about it?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think we all kind of knew it was coming. After winning the French she was not going to come back and Wimbledon, she was talking about it, so I don't think we are all that surprised. I mean, she has had an unbelievable career and I am sure it is time. You know it is time when you wake up in the morning and to get whack on the practice court or go for that run, she has been doing it since she was very young and been on the road since 14, so that is a long career when you look at it.

Q. Is she a friend of yours, do you know --

PETE SAMPRAS: Not really. More of an acquaintance, hi and bye.

Q. Have you thought at all about what you might want to do afterwards? I know obviously you probably won't need the money, but you probably want to occupy your time.

PETE SAMPRAS: That is what you have to figure out. I have been very active and busy over my life and that is an adjustment for any athlete; especially a tennis player, because you are so consumed by the sport and all of a sudden it stops, wake up in the morning with some sort of goal in mind and playing rounds of golf and having no responsibility that can get boring after a while. Find something -- I have no idea what it might be if it is involved in tennis, I don't know. I will figure it out over the next couple of years.

Q. Becker retired after winning the French, would you consider doing the same?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know. Good question.

Q. You talked this week how tough it is to be No. 1 and the things you had to give up. Is there anything that you would like to do that you haven't been able to because you had to practice? And I don't mean having an extra desert or something like that.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you definitely like more time off and for the first time in many, many years not playing Australia really gave me sometime to really not think about tennis. Even though I am not playing a ton of tournaments you are still -- the year just kind of keeps on going, you always have a tournament in a couple of weeks. This year was really, I felt like I had a normal life, sleeping in my house for about a month. That is something I have not done in a while - going on vacation and just waking up and not having to train or practice and do whatever you want, having no responsibilities gives you a little freedom.

Q. I don't mean to take away from the ATP Final but it would seem on paper that skipping that for (inaudible) skipping a major, Hannover, as opposed to skipping an Australian Open which is a Grand Slam, probably had more weight I would think.


Q. Sorry --

PETE SAMPRAS: That is all right. Like I said yesterday I am going to have to figure it out these next couple of months. Last year I wanted to play Hannover and finish No. 1. That took away from Australia. Definitely a lot of events in this tennis year and I just have to think about it of what I want to do.

Q. Talk about the prospect of playing Andre again tomorrow.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, what can you say. It is not going to be easy for both of us. He is playing well. I am playing well at the moment. I have gotten through some close matches. Won a couple of weeks ago in L.A., you know, the differences one point or two points against him and I have to be playing at my best and firing on all cylinders and really I need to be on top of my game to beat him. If I am not, then it is going to be a long day.

Q. Are you at that point at the top your game?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, you could wake up tomorrow and just play poor. I have been on pretty good roll here and I am confident and winning today's match was a good hurdle to get through. But I am feeling good. I am healthy and getting through the heat here and tomorrow's match will be even more difficult.

Q. When you wake up in the morning of a match against Andre, do you have a different feeling, got extra bounce?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not really the morning. It is right before the match. You walk out and you warm up with him and it is just a little bit different than playing another player that I have played through my career. Just the history that we have and playing in the Finals of Majors, just kind of adds on to a rivalry we have had through the years. When we are both playing well, it is fun tennis to play and fun tennis to watch, I am sure.

Q. Can you talk about your serve in general? You have had -- 134 was the fastest this week. Is that something you pride yourself on?

PETE SAMPRAS: The speed?

Q. Yeah.

PETE SAMPRAS: No, the speed is really secondary. It is the accuracy and sure speed helps, but if he knows where it is going, it doesn't help that much. But I tend to look at the radar gun to see how my arm is loose and where it is going. But the key is obviously winning the point. Doesn't matter how you do it if you are serving at 92 out wide, get the job done, that is fine with me.

Q. What does speed --

PETE SAMPRAS: Loose arm, that helps. Just good technique and little bit of strength give it a good rip.

End of FastScripts….

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