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March 10, 1998

Pete Sampras


MIKI SINGH: First question for Pete?

Q. Pete, did that playing into the sun bother you a little bit out there or not?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Yeah, it bothered me and Todd. Especially on the one side, on the umpire's right, the sun was in a very tough spot. You kind of have to toss the ball around it. I think we both lost our serves on that side. I know I did. But there's nothing you can do. It's very, very bright out there, especially on that one side. You just have to move it around, just do the best you can.

Q. What did he do in that second set that made it so close?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, he broke me back there, broke me on the side that was giving me some problems. He hit a couple good returns. I double-faulted. He's got the game to do that. He returns very well. He seemed to put his game together at that point. But even though he broke me back, I still felt like I was hitting the ball well, I was controlling the points. I felt really, really good, really confident out there. You know, just kind of hung in there, held to the serve. Played a pretty solid game at 5-All. That was it.

Q. Seemed to have a hard time reading his serve at times. Was that the case?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I mean, his serve isn't the most powerful. He can serve it in the 120s. But he's got the same ball toss for every serve. When he hits the corners, there's nothing you can do. 6-6, with his service motion, it's like a crane coming down on you. You know, when he gets in a good rhythm, he hits a very tough serve to return. It's hard to serve at that level throughout a whole match. When he missed a couple first serves, I made him play on the second, hit some good, low chips, gave some problems. It was a good performance. I mean, it's not easy coming out playing someone that's already played a match. I always felt having a bye, it's not really an advantage out there. To get through this match, pretty comfortable, yes.

Q. How much of the last two years figure into that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I changed my string. Last couple years, I string my racquets very tight, very thin gut. The last couple years, the ball really seems to fly here, but it's so dry. This year I'm using kind of a thicker gauge to give me a little bit more control. Seems to be working. Feels pretty comfortable out there.

Q. Does it take something off your serve, Pete?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not really. Still serving pretty hard. Just if you noticed, I didn't break any strings today. I always seem to break two or three a match. In these conditions, you just have to figure out something. The last couple years, I really struggled here, keeping the ball in play. Got here a little early on Friday to get used to the conditions, the balls. It was very frustrating losing here so early the way I played against Ulihrach last year. Use a little thicker gauge, being here quite awhile, seems to be working.

Q. You seemed to end it out with three or four aces.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. My serve, seemed to serve in streaks. Once one goes, another comes along. Seems likes we both kind of did that today. My serve is kind of the main part of my game. If I'm serving like that just helps out the rest of my game, my return game. Really played one bad service game, 2-1 in the second. Other than that, it was pretty smooth.

Q. Pete, the ATP is planning on experimenting at some World Series events with a little on court coaching, two minutes after the first set, and two minutes if there will be a third set. Do you have feelings on that, how helpful do you think something like that can be to a player?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think it can be very helpful. You know, especially for the guys that are a little bit temperamental out there, can get down on themselves. A little break, a little word from your coach can definitely help. A little inspiration, strategy. It could definitely help. Someone that's a little temperamental out there, I think we know who those guys are. I think a couple years ago I was really against it. Now, talking to the Tour, the more I've thought about it, I don't think it's a bad idea. Maybe try something different for the game. It seems the Tour has been trying to do some things. I think this could be a nice way to go.

Q. How about fair factor in terms of there are some players out there who can't afford to have coaches with them, how much will they lose by not having that person?

PETE SAMPRAS: They'll lose. It's definitely an unfair advantage to someone that has a coach. I think the Tour is going to be careful on when they're going to do it. Maybe quarterfinals on. I'm not sure what they've done in the past. I know they tried it out in South America last year. But I'm sure they want to have everyone on the same playing field. We'll see what happens.

Q. Can you remember ever seeing as many highly ranked players in one-quarter of a draw as there is in your quarter of the draw in this tournament?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I really don't know who's in my draw, to be honest with you. With a Super 9 event, all the top guys here. Tough first round matches too. Play Todd in my first match out, that's not one of the easier draws. One of the tougher draws out there. I feel if I'm playing well, I don't mind playing anyone. So it really doesn't bother me.

Q. Do you ever study the draw?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not really.

MIKI SINGH: Any other questions for Pete?

Q. Pete, do you plan to yell at the officials this year, throw racquets, kick the water cooler?

PETE SAMPRAS: What do you think? No, I don't. I've wanted to, you know, but I've controlled myself out there. I mean, there have been times throughout the Tour that you get some tough calls. You know, you want to go over there and do something. But I've always been in pretty good control of my emotions. I'm sure that will be the case for the rest of my career. That's the best way that really helps my tennis. You know, I'm not going to be doing anything outrageous out there.

Q. I don't want you to.

PETE SAMPRAS: Okay (laughter). I will, if you want.

Q. Did you have fun doing that ESPN radio commercial the other day?


Q. Yes.

PETE SAMPRAS: It was very tough acting on my part, to take off that hat (laughter).

Q. Oscar nomination.

PETE SAMPRAS: I think it's a good ad. It's funny. Kind of shows a lighter side to me. It was very easy to do. Just flew out to Bristol, took a couple hours, that was it.

Q. Is there a difference to the ambiance of a tournament to have the women here at the same time and not have it be a major tournament? Tournaments like this and the Lipton? Do you like that? Is it a distraction? Good for tennis, bad for tennis?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think it's good for tennis. The fans to watch some men's, ladies'. If you look at what Lipton has done over the course of the years, they're one of the bigger events on the Tour. I think obviously Charlie is trying to do the same thing here. I think it's great for the game. Kind of brings a Grand Slam feel to it. Lipton is a little bit bigger, seems like it's a bigger draw, we all start at the same time. Here the ladies have already started a week ago or so. But I think it's good for the game.

Q. Do you ever watch women's matches for fun?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not very often.

Q. If you're going to watch something, you'll watch a future opponent?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, some men's tennis. I haven't really watched too much of lady's tennis.

Q. Pete, your standards have become so high, the expectation is high, every time you don't win, like in Australia, there's talk that, "Pete is vulnerable this year." You don't look vulnerable. Do you feel vulnerable?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not really. I mean, I have kind of been at that level for a number of years. You lose a couple matches, people think you're going the wrong direction. I've never panicked, as far as my tennis is concerned. I'm going to have my bad days. But the most important thing for me in my tennis are the majors. That's where it matters to me the most. Sure, I want to play well every week. That's what gets my juices going. That's what it's all about to me. Sure, it's disappointing losing Australia. Australia has been an up-and-down tournament for me over the years, but I played a guy that played great. Just got to chalk it up and move on.

Q. A couple years ago, you and Andre did a TV commercial for Nike where you jumped out of a car and set up a net and played. What city was that?

PETE SAMPRAS: What city did we do it in?

Q. What city did you do it in?

PETE SAMPRAS: San Francisco.

Q. Pete, do you ever blow your top?

PETE SAMPRAS: Every now and again in practice, but not very often.

Q. How about a three-foot putt?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I show more emotion on the golf course than on the tennis court. My golf game is pretty bad.

Q. Wait till you get married.

PETE SAMPRAS: Wait till I get married, all right. Here we go, the marriage question (laughter). I've been hearing enough of that already.

Q. You talk when you get married, then you'll get mad.


Q. Has that been a big joke with Andre? Trying to get something going?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know what's going on. Seems to travel around, a couple comments. There's no rush (laughter).

Q. Misery loves company.

PETE SAMPRAS: That was Robin Finn that said that, by the way.

Q. A married woman.

PETE SAMPRAS: And a married woman.

Q. French Open a big priority, Pete?

PETE SAMPRAS: Absolutely. Absolutely. My schedule's pretty much the same as it was the last couple years. You know, I'm going to do whatever I can. First of all, as soon as the claycourt season comes around, I need to get in great shape physically, just go out there and just play. I can't be consumed with just one tournament for the year. You know, like what Lendl did for Wimbledon, he changed his whole year for one tournament. That's not my personality. I'm going to prepare the best I can, get in the best shape as possible, go out there and do it, believe that I can do it. The French Open is winnable. I mean, there's a lot of depth in the game, but I feel like the court is quick enough that I can win there. It's just a question of movement, sliding and whatever. I just hope if it's not this year, one year I can come through and win the sucker.

MIKI SINGH: Anything else for Pete? Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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