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August 12, 1998

Pete Sampras


ATP TOUR REP: Questions for Pete?

Q. (Inaudible).

PETE SAMPRAS: Just not read really do too much. Go back and have a dinner and get ready for tomorrow. Have a little desert or something, treat myself. (laughter).

Q. Any family members here for you, Pete, to help you celebrate?


Q. All by yourself?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. (laughter).

Q. (Inaudible).

PETE SAMPRAS: I haven't played Martin -- I don't think I've ever played Martin -- six years ago. He played well. I thought in the first set, he was holding his own and he was hitting good shots. And I was hanging in there pretty good and then come up 5-4 and put a couple about points and broke him. But it's a good start. I always enjoyed playing on that or the court. I always enjoy playing here. Played very well here last year. Not an easy first round match for me. It's always an advantage for a guy that's already played a match, he's used to the balls and the court and everything. It was a good start. It was nice to get out there and play. I felt pretty strong out there.

Q. I lot of players are saying that center's a good court. What makes it a good court? A lot of players have come in and said that's a great court to play. What makes it good?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's good speed. It's a court that isn't too fast or too slow. You can stay back or come in, so it doesn't really favor one particular player. So the way I look at it, it's a very fair court to play on.

Q. You didn't get a lot of first serves. That makes it easier on you, doesn't it?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, he was serving, easy, 120. You get a couple second serves to see, you can chip-and-charge and, you know, have a rally or two and you get the first serve in, it's pretty strong.

Q. Pete, everybody that's been in this week has said that Rios has had a really great year but they still consider you the best player. That must make you feel pretty good. Do you feel like it really doesn't matter where you are -- whether you're still ranked the best player?

PETE SAMPRAS: That's really hard to answer. This year hasn't been as consistent as Rios. But if I look back at year and if you look back at the year of tennis, it's the Grand Slams that always stand out in my mind. Certainly, Wimbledon was a huge confidence booster for me. And I feel like I've got a good game. I feel like I'm, you know, it's nice to go into Wimbledon having an up-and-down year and really coming through and winning a big title like that. It really makes my year because I put so much pressure on the Grand Slams. And that's a true indication of what other players think of you as a player, how you do the at majors, how you do at the big moments. Wimbledon's our Super Bowl, so it doesn't get much bigger than that. So winning that this year was huge.

Q. You're at an age today in your era where most guys are on their way out, and yet you stated a couple of weeks ago that you hope to go three or four more years. How are you able to do that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's hard to say the next three or four years will be as consistent. But the one thing that will always keep me playing this game are the Grand Slams. I feel like I'm 30, 31 maybe not playing quite as often. The Grand Slams will always get me motivated and that's the only thing that really matters in my career is winning Grand Slams. But in order to be No. 1, you need to play a lot. And who is to say, in a couple years I don't play quite as much you. But if I still enjoy playing, I will play a pretty full schedule. So you know, it's -- I just think with my game, having the big serves it helps play short points. It helps with my body. Look at someone like a, you know, Connors had to work so long so hard to play for a lot of years. Me, I've got the big serve, I can help play shorter matches and certainly maybe it will help me in the long run.

Q. Pete, do you want guys coming in here talking about you as the best player?

PETE SAMPRAS: You know, it doesn't really -- it's flattering. I know my capabilities deep down, how I can play this game. It's flattering to have the respect from the other players, that, you know, they feel like I'm still the man. But for me, you know, I just go out and play. I'm not that concerned about what other players are saying or thinking about my game. I just know with -- once Grand Slam time comes around, that's what it's all about for me. And I certainly hope that's the case in a couple weeks at the Open.

Q. (Inaudible) Andre, he comes into the Top 10 he goes to 120th. Do you think you could have done that a couple of times?

PETE SAMPRAS: I certainly hope I would never get to the point of -- you know, of not playing, to the point of being -- you know, whatever he was ranked. The way I look at it, either you play or you don't. Either you do the right things or you don't. And sure, you admire someone that starts from ground zero and works his way up and he did that. But I certainly hope I don't get to the point of that, you know. And you always admire someone who has made a comeback -- that has made a comeback. And certainly I don't want to get to a point in my tennis where I need to make a comeback. So that's the way I've always looked at it.

Q. Do you think he's wasted his time? It sounds like you've disapproved of what he's done.

PETE SAMPRAS: Each -- you've got to do what makes you happy and what's best for your life or for your tennis. The way I've looked at my career is, you know, it's very simple. When I'm done playing and I look back at my tennis, I want to feel like I gave it everything that I got. And I'm sure there are months that I hasn't played so well but I kind of always did the right thing and whatever. So I don't want to have any regrets when I'm done playing. When I look back at these years and just accept the fact that I gave it everything that I had and I worked hard and trained hard and did the right thing.

Q. Chang said that except for your inner circle, people don't really know you because you don't really let them know you. Basically, you're a private person. Is that an accurate statement?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's pretty accurate. You know, I mean it's easy as far as talking about other players.

Q. Talking about specifically you, you're a private person.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, that's the way I've always been. I've always kept a lot of things to myself. And things in my private life, I try to keep private. Sure, there are some things you have to open up to and I've done that over the years but I've always remained a pretty private person. And I'm sure that's the way I'll be for many years. And that's, you know, that's me.

Q. Are you ever deprived in this age of media Internet and all that? Have you really been able to do that? Have you been able to sort of keep that -- keep a lot of things private?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think people kind of knew what they get with me. I think in the beginning when I was 20, 21, they really don't know -- what to write or to think. They kind of got the "boring" label on me. But I think that over the years that I've been pretty consistent and I've won majors I think people have understood what I'm about, just trying to do the best I can and win big tournaments. My private life, for the most part, has been pretty private. People can understand me, obviously, much more now at 27 than when I was 20. I'm an athlete. I'm not a celebrity. I'm not a big star. I'm just an athlete that's trying to make the most of my talent and that's the way I think of it.

Q. You don't think of yourself as a celebrity?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'm the anti-celebrity. (Laughter). You know, just through everything I've accomplished in tennis, I've always tried to stay pretty humble with everything and not let the success or money or everything get to my head and not forget where I came from. Sure, I've accepted the fact that I'm on TV a lot and people want to do interviews, but I've never lost focus with what I've trying to do. I've never left anything get in the way of my tennis and it's worked. I'm not going to see myself changing that over the years.

Q. Like Mark McGuire is having real trouble handling media and public pressure in his quest for the homerun. Do you find any correlation in your career and all the attention that you get and understand what he's going through, because he's been accused of being a whiner and of different things. Do you have any empathy for him or any sympathy; how do you handle that yourself?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure. I don't know him personally but we seem similar in a way that we -- we're not as comfortable in front of the camera as some of the other guys and that might come off as a little bit bland or whatever. But that's the way we are. That's the way I am. I just -- I'm not a showy guy. Not a lot of flamboyancy with me. I just go out there and do my job and try to win. I just think that people have respected that over the years, and certainly he's been thrown into the wolves, so to speak, with the media. Some guys are more comfortable than others, and it's tough. I mean, everywhere he goes -- most places that I go, there's a lot of media around. And it's part of being successful, giving up some time and doing some things with the media. And I, over the years, have understood that a little bit more.

Q. Did it bother you to have some of those labels?

PETE SAMPRAS: Absolutely.

Q. Have you come to grips with that?

PETE SAMPRAS: What baffled me through the years was I was doing well and ranked No. 1 and winning majors and for years I was labeled boring and the game's s not doing well and TV ratings are going down. And after hearing that for years, I kind of started to stop caring about what the media thought, in some weird way. The more I won, the less I cared. The only thing I could do was try to win; and what you see is what you get. And I've always let me racket do the talking. It was interesting. I remember Nicklaus had a comment: The more he won, the less he cared about what the media thought. And sure, it's only human nature to have everyone to like you. But now, after winning what I've won, you know, you just -- you don't have to explain yourself every time I walk into a room like this. You know, I've done okay and there's no reason to justify what's wrong with the game or give you a reason what's wrong with the game. I feel like I've done my part.

Q. Obviously, the bottom line is to win every tournament you go to. When you go to each tournament, do you have a facet of the game that you want to work on to get ready for the Grand Slam events?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, there's nothing I really work on at this point in my tennis. There's nothing you want to add to your game. I was doing some chipping and charging today. That's something I'm trying to add. But at this point it's trying to stay sharp. Make sure, I'm hitting the ball well and hopefully by U.S. Open time, I'll be in really good match shape and that's something I wasn't in last week in Toronto. I'm hitting the ball well. I feel like I'm pretty fit out there. But there's nothing I am experimenting with. I'm just trying to stay solid and play some good tennis.

Q. (Inaudible).

PETE SAMPRAS: I practiced just once with him in Palm Springs and he seems like he's playing well. He's got the double-hander. He returns well. He's got good ground and serves pretty big. Pretty straightforward match.

Q. You've been pretty healthy in your Open schedule. Can you talk about the decision to not go to Indianapolis next?

PETE SAMPRAS: I just wanted to try to do something different this year. I've wanted to play Indy for years. I think it's a great tournament. I just want to try something different. I've heard a lot of good things about New Haven. Nothing against Indy. I think it's a great tournament. Butch, I'm sure, runs a great event because he does a great event down at Lipton. Just try something different this year and I'll see what the court's like. I hear it's very similar to the U.S. Open and I'll be in that area which is very convenient. So we'll see what happens this year and just give it another short shot.

Q. Michael said yesterday that for him you're not-- you're just the eight-year-old (inaudible),?

PETE SAMPRAS: Our first match was in Palway, California and I believe I beat him in three sets. (laughter).

Q. He says he doesn't remember and he doubted if you do.


Q. What do you think of Rios's 62-minute performance last night?

PETE SAMPRAS: I know nothing about it. I didn't hear about the match. It's really hard for me to comment.


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