March 21, 1999
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
Q. How is that running forehand coming along?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I was 1 for 20 today.
Q. Got it at the right time, though.
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah.
Q. That was a beauty. How did you feel you played?
PETE SAMPRAS: Okay. I didn't feel like I had played great. We both kind of struggled throughout the match. I played so well against Jim yesterday and today just had -- took me a little while to really find the range of my shots. I didn't serve particularly well. I got through it and that's the main thing, but I would have been happier if I would have broke him a couple of more times, been a little more comfortable through the match. I just wish I would have hit the ball a little bit cleaner.
Q. Both obviously haven't played many matches this year?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, when you don't play many matches your confidence isn't -- you're not growing with confidence out there, you second guess yourself. He's dropped in the rankings. He was ranked 4 in the world at some point, you can tell we were both a little unsure in our games today and hit a couple of good shots, running forehand was one of the better shots I hit during the day. Tomorrow obviously it gets tougher.
Q. Pete, it seems like you have a good rapport with the crowd. How do you deal with sometimes the heckling or they say Pete, and they make comments and so forth, is it like the U.S. Open in New York City?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, U.S. Open is -- there is no tournament like the New York U.S. Open, that's a constant buzz. I'm so focused on what I'm doing, and the score, I don't really hear much from the match. The Open you can't help the crowd. The people are obviously into the game and the sport we're playing. So it is fun to play when the people are into it.
Q. Do you feel there is a little less attention at this point in the tournament on yourself and do you like it if you do feel that way?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think you guys know what I'm about. I've never been one in getting all the attention from the media or from anybody. It's not the most important thing to me. If you keep on winning, get to the weekends and finals, you get the attention, but that's never been my focus. If it was, I'd look a lot different than I look now. Maybe get a few tatoos, few earrings and maybe dye the hair blonde.
Q. What do you make of the results so far, Rafter, Henman, Philippoussis all going out today, do you think things are pretty wide open?
PETE SAMPRAS: Not that wide open because the guys they are losing to are playing well. The game today is so strong. You don't -- you don't have the same four or five games playing the semis and finals and quarters of all the ATP events. You see a lot of upsets, see a lot of guys come through. When you see Moya No. 1 and Corretja in the top five, I think people say if those guys can do it, I can do it. Guys ranked 10, 15, whoever that might be. That's why you see a lot of upsets. There's not much difference between the top four guys and the rest of the guys.
Q. Pete, your discipline and dedication to the game is already legendary although you are obviously still playing. Does it always come from within or sometimes do you need a little help, motivational tapes, if you will, or is it always quietly inside of you?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's from -- I haven't really got into any motivational tapes or Tony Robbins speaking to me. I don't need, you know, that's --.
Q. It comes from within?
PETE SAMPRAS: It comes from within, you know.
Q. What are you going to do to get No. 1 back?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, hopefully I'll have a good week this week. I can't be that disappointed losing No. 1. I knew not going down to Australia there was a good chance of losing it. The way the ranking systems works, it doesn't really matter so much what you're ranked in March or August. It comes down to the last day of the year. That's really a true indication of who has the best year. To get No. 1 this far in the year, it's just a matter of timing, who did what last year. You need a freaking computer to figure out this ranking system. It could be Kafelnikov could touch it, Rafter could touch it. It doesn't really matter that much. Sure it matters, it is nice, but it's not the reason I'm playing the game, to be No. 1 in March. It comes down to the end of the year.
Q. Is the fire still there, Pete?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it is still there. I felt last year was a big year as far as the ranking record. That put a lot of pressure on myself. I spent a lot of time in Europe to try and finish No. 1. There comes a point where you need to enjoy what you're doing and that's why I didn't go down to Australia, to take a break. The fire is still there. I still go out and I want to win, I want to compete, but I've been doing this for quite a while and have been pretty successful. There comes a point where you kind of have to take a step back and enjoy what you're doing. There have been many times where I've achieved goals and achieved Slams and I'm off to the practice court the next day. The older I get, it's like you want to enjoy what you're doing. But the fire is definitely still there.
Q. Pete, the talk about changes in the men's games, scheduling, marketing, rules and the game itself, specifically what are your thoughts about no-ad tennis and the possibility of trying that out?
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't like it.
Q. Why is that?
PETE SAMPRAS: Just brings a little bit too much luck into the game. It might be more exciting for the TV viewers and for the fans, but from a player's standpoint, I'm not crazy about it. The longer the match goes, or when you have deuce games, the better off I feel like I'm going to be. I've heard talk about no-ad scoring to playing lets. I don't think that's the answer, to fixing this game.
Q. Pete, what do you think about the new ranking system?
PETE SAMPRAS: For next year?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think the ranking system that they're putting in place next year is good. I think the way it is now, it is a little bit confusing and, you know, to have more of a race, not much of a ranking, more of a race I think makes sense because that's the way it should be. To really simplify the ranking system, that's really the key, to make it very simple for the fans to understand it. The way it works now, after 10 years I still get confused.
Q. From the stands it looks like you had a good day at the office, are you going to go home like other Americans and watch the Oscars tonight when you go back to the hotel room?
PETE SAMPRAS: Probably, yeah.
Q. Favorite movie that you have seen this year that you want to -- what was your favorite movie this year?
PETE SAMPRAS: I really thought it was a boring year in the movies, yeah, too dramatic. Saving Private Ryan, Jesus, talk about heavy -- Shakespeare in Love, you know, whatever. I never saw Life is Beautiful. Seeing that guy around for the past six months, that's a guy I would love to meet. That guy has got some energy.
Q. Costa, Albert Costa, you know his game obviously, do you think you are going to stay out there a while with him?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I mean I'm disappointed I'm playing on Grandstand tomorrow which is an absolute shock to me. I haven't played on grandstand in years, so I'm not happy about that, but how many Slams or how many tournaments do you have to win to get on stadium court at this tournament. That's a shock. With that being said, I've played him a bunch of times, comfortable with -- I don't think I've lost to him.
GREG SHARKO: Three and 0.
PETE SAMPRAS: I feel good, I feel like I'm playing all right. So hopefully it is a match I can get through.
Q. Can you remember the last time you were out there?
PETE SAMPRAS: You know that one year the court fell apart.
GREG SHARKO: The rain in '94.
Q. That's what it was?
GREG SHARKO: '94 it was.
Q. The courts were bubbling up.
PETE SAMPRAS: Probably since I was like 18 or something, 19. Sorry, I mean that's unbelievable.
Q. How anxious are you about getting married?
PETE SAMPRAS: Getting married?
Q. You got your tennis and your career obviously under control, what about any marriage plans?
PETE SAMPRAS: I'm sure when there is you will be the first to know.
Q. I'll be waiting for the invitation.
PETE SAMPRAS: I'll get your card after the interview.
GREG SHARKO: All right. Thanks everyone.
End of FastScripts....