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August 10, 1999

Pete Sampras


Q. How did the rain delay affect you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, he got off to a much better start than I did. Got off to an early break. You know, rain came at breakpoint, which is kind of tough timing. Went inside for a little bit. You know, he was playing well. He was serving me very smart. Not really giving me any sort of rhythm out there. And I got back to 4-4; had a couple set points, and it came down to the tie-breaker, and was pretty fortunate to have won that. He was up 6-3. He double-faulted, and I hit some of the best backhands I've hit in my career.

Q. We noticed.

PETE SAMPRAS: And kind of squeaking through the tie-breaker. But, you know, he's very tough to play. There's no question. He's got a very, very strong serve, and doesn't really give you any rhythm out there.

Q. When you've been playing the way you've been playing this summer and you're down three set points, it doesn't seem to matter; you didn't seem to find a way to win?

PETE SAMPRAS: It doesn't matter. There's no question. It was -- if he won that first set the way he was playing, he was going to be tough to beat at that point. Sure, it didn't matter. It's a good first serve. It's the first set. But, you know, I kind of hung in there. Hit the good lob winner and served pretty well on the tie-breaker. And really, you know, it's not an easy first-round match to go out and play Jan who pretty much breezed through the first match. He plays well against all the top guys. He's got that tough serve and volleys well, and not an easy match.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Just at that point it's just reaction. You don't have a lot of thinking going on. It wasn't like I was going to hit a backhand lob winner. It wasn't my strategy. I saw I had some time and saw him moving a little bit, and I decided to put up and managed to get it by him.

Q. Do you feel like you play a little bit less aggressively when you have set points or tie-breakers?

PETE SAMPRAS: He came in on both serves. I think the double, he got maybe just a touch tight there. But he played a good point there at 6-4. I had a good lob winner. He played as aggressive as you could play.

Q. Earlier today Jim Courier was talking about staying interested and staying competitive. Looking at what you've accomplished, is that a problem for you sometimes, staying interested?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, depends on the time of the year. But I love to play and I love to compete. And I've got a lot of pride out there, and I don't want to lose any matches I play through the year. But sure, there are times of the year where, you know, it's been a long year or end of the year and/or fall, and it's a time where, you know, just got to stay focused and stay motivated. You know, the older you get -- and Jim and I have been out here for ten years now -- week after week on the Tour can get a little monotonous. But it's our job, and I love to play. I look at when I'm done playing to not have any regrets on these years than I have.

Q. With New York only a couple weeks away, are you geared up for that already, or is it too early for that?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's maybe a bit early for that at this point. I feel like I'm playing well. I'm healthy. That's really my main concern, and it's important to do well going into the U.S. Open. And this tournament, everyone is playing. It's a Grand Slam field; so it's really a true test to see where you're at. And winning last week at L.A. and beating Andre in a good final was great for the confidence. And I've been on a pretty good roll for the last couple of months, and hopefully it continues obviously this week.

Q. You've hit a milestone in the past month. Do you find yourself at this point in your career kind of looking around for milestones that maybe keeping you motivated through the year?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Yeah, the coming up on No. 1 a couple weeks ago, finishing No. 1 end of last year, that's really going to be an issue for the next three or our years, how important staying No. 1 is, because you need to play a lot. And if I want to play in this game for many years, which is what I want to do, it's hard to say if I'm going to play 20 events like you have to. That's something that I'm going to have to figure out over these next three or four months to see what my goals will be. My goals will always be the majors. I harp on that a lot. But it's going to be kind of an interesting next three or four months to see what my schedule is next year. Davis Cup is certainly a possibility. And it's really a time to do some thinking about my -- next year.

Q. You've been up to this point chasing people to get the milestone. Maybe from here on out, you're going to be kind of the one establishing marks for future players. Have you thought about that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, when it's all said and done, I think I'll put some things up in the game that will be tough to -- tough to break. If it's the Grand Slams or No. 1, it will be tough to duplicate it. So we'll see. It's really going to be interesting.

Q. Is there something out there right now that comes to mind?

PETE SAMPRAS: Obviously, at this point the U.S. Open coming up in a couple weeks. And I'd love to win as many Grand Slams as anyone. We can always talk about the French Open, the one I haven't won. But honestly, other than that, I've done pretty much what I wanted to do. I never planned on never staying No. 1 for so long throughout the years, but it's happened. And so these next couple years will be interesting to see, you know, where I'm going to go as far as my goals and what I'm going to play.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, like I said, it's something I'm going to have to think about in the next three or four months. Figure out my schedule. It's hard to say at this point if I'll play all the Super 9s. You know, Davis Cup is definitely an issue that I'm going to have to address for next year. And it's definitely going to -- you know, have some thinking going on to see what I want to do, and, you know, we'll see.

Q. Even with all of the accomplishments throughout your career, do people still talk about your personality off the court?

PETE SAMPRAS: Probably a little bit. I think in my early 20s, people really didn't know me that well. I was a pretty shy guy. I still am today. But I think over time, I think people kind of know what to expect from me. And I'm not a celebrity. I look at myself as an athlete. But I think over the years, especially the last couple years, having won more Slams and staying No. 1 for a while, I've got more and more appreciation throughout years with the media and the fans, and it's been great.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I've felt that the last couple years. There's only so much you can write about someone's personality. I've already been through that in my early 20s. Now I feel more flattery than anything just being compared to Laver and Borg and being put in that league. If you withstand the test of time and you put up good results, that's really the answer to everything. And that's the way I've kind of approached it, and that's the way it's turned out.

Q. When you say you don't think of yourself as a celebrity, you don't put yourself in the same category as Gretzky or Elway?

PETE SAMPRAS: I just look at myself as an athlete more than a celebrity. That's where I'm comfortable in my life. I like my privacy. I like being able to go out in public and not be really bothered. And it happens, but if I decided to leave, I could do a lot more things, doing more commercials and premieres or the whole thing. And I've chosen not to do that. Just to live a pretty private life, and that's the way I've always been.

Q. There's a lot of people who have been more celebrated who have accomplished less have played that role --

PETE SAMPRAS: That's not me. That's not my -- the way I want to live my life. You know, to do a lot more things, and I chose not to. I think once my career is almost over and I retire, you know, I think that will be a time to look back. And not really from things I've said or personality, but what I did and how I did it. That's the way I've always looked at it.

Q. (Inaudible).

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know every time it's a grind. You know, I've played many Slams through the years, and it's really when a Grand Slam comes around you -- if lose three out of five, you have time to work your way into a match you don't want to take any match for granted out there. You're not going to play well every day. And in the course of seven matches over two weeks, you're going to win a couple tough matches. That's really the key is getting through the days that you really don't play well and just finding some sort of way of winning. Like I say you're not going to play well every day in every set.

Q. Is there any time you've said to yourself: I'm going to utilize my celebrity status to do this or that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I can play the best golf courses and pretty much get into any restaurant. (Laughs). So that's good enough for me.

Q. Is it striking about Agassi, how he as much as any player in the game has been able to rebound and get his game back on track, and also bringing out more fans? Can you just comment?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, Andre definitely brings the people that might not follow tennis to follow tennis. And what he did at the French was a huge jolt for the game. And for he and I to play two weeks later in the finals, there's a certain buzz in the game, and he's got a lot to do with that. There's no question that when he and I match up, it's the final denominator. Like at Wimbledon, there's a buzz through the media. There's a buzz in the city. And he definitely is a big reason why tennis has kind of come back; and so, it's been good.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Last few times I think. I don't know. The difference between he and I is a couple points. In L.A., it was a couple points and then a match -- I'm not going to beat Andre every time I play him. But the last few times, I've played just a touch better than he did. If we play again, it could go the other direction. There's not that much difference there.

Q. How has your game evolved this year?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, when you're winning a lot of matches, it kind of brings a lot of confidence and I've been on a pretty good roll. It started in Queens, and I tried to put what happened the whole year, especially the French, behind me and look forward to the next six months as a new beginning. At that point it's more mental than anything. Queens, I did well, and at Wimbledon. The run is not going to last forever, but I hope it can last the next three or four weeks. I've been through stages of my career where I haven't been hot. I've done a number of tournaments and then there are been points where I've struggled through some months. And when I play, I'm going to have my ups and downs. I take a lot of chances out there, and I'm not going to play well every time I step out there. But I'm confident at the moment, and so go from here.

End of FastScripts….

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