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August 10, 1997

Pete Sampras


GREG SHARKO: First question for Pete.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, against Thomas it's so easy to keep on going crosscourt, his backhand. I wanted to try to open up the court and hit it that way. It's one of my best shots and I seem to hit it pretty consistently every match. And today and really made a point to go out wide to that forehand and open up the backhand.

Q. You said you didn't really struggle all week when is the last time you did struggle?

PETE SAMPRAS: Probably over the claycourt season. Where I wasn't playing that well and struggling a little bit. But when the grasscourt season came around and winning Wimbledon and then coming here, I've really played well for the past couple months. You know, confidence is there and that's what you need. I'm pleased because I mean the feel of the field here is just like a Grand Slam. Everyone's pretty much playing here. And to come through and play like I did this week was great for the confidence.

Q. (Inaudible.) If you got 13 or 14 Grand Slams without the French Open, would that be okay?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, that's really hard to say. I mean, you know, as a kid I really didn't look at the French Open. It wasn't something realistic that I thought I could win growing up. But over the past four or five years, it is something that is realistic. I've played well in the past. It's going difficult, a challenge for me as far as the rest of my career is concerned. And that will keep me working hard and motivated for that for one goal, to one day win the French. So I'm going to try again next year and give it my best shot like I always have. But sure, to win the French you really can't do anything more in the game than win all four majors. Hopefully one year I'm going to come through and win them.

Q. Pete, is that one thing that would kind of keep you interested and intrigued after you go past the 12 titles?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. I don't think that's the only thing. I'm still going to love to play and I love to compete; I love to play. I love to play like I did today in front of a packed house. That's what it's all about to me. But sure, you know, it's the one I haven't won and I'm going to do what I can to win it. It's going to be a challenge, and I'm looking forward to that challenge.

Q. What does it mean to you that people say you're the best player ever?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't look at myself and think of myself as the best ever or one of the best ever. I feel like I'm in the middle of my career and I'm doing quite well. And that's really it. You know, I don't like to be compared to those guys. It's going to happen the more you win, but I really don't look at myself like that.

Q. Are there times out there now Pete when you're playing against your own standards, so to speak, rather than the guy across the net?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. I don't feel that like that. Feel like I'm playing the guys today, and that's it. You know I played Muster today and Costa yesterday. I'm looking at those guys as competitors. And guys that are trying to knock me off, and that's how I look at it.

Q. (Inaudible.) How does this kind of month of play stack up for you? (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I've had points in my career where I've won 25, 27 straight matches a couple years ago, and earlier the year I had maybe a 17-match winning streak. So there are certain times of the year. A lot depends on the surface that I'm playing on. I don't think I played this consistent. You know I really haven't played a bad match in a couple months, and so you know, it just goes show after Wimbledon I took sometime off but when it came time to start working and training I put the time and effort into it. And when you do that, that's going to happen. That's what happened this week.

Q. Were you at all surprised he gave you that point? (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, once I saw him walk up and it was on the line, I felt like it was in. I was a little bit surprised, but I think we both knew it was in.

Q. Was there any conversation between you at the match? You never said a word to each other. Just looked at each other and looked around how did he concede the point to you?

PETE SAMPRAS: I saw him. He waved to the ball kid to give him a ball so that was it.

Q. Why are you so surprised you played so well?


Q. Yeah. You seem to be surprised after every match. I know, you had a long lay off.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I really don't know. Like I said all week when you have such a long lay off and after Wimbledon, it was such a great high, it would be easy to come here, and I haven't played great here Cincinnati because it's usually my first tournament back. But you know since the first match since Gimelstob, you know the only struggled match I really struggled on was against Rafter. But other than that, I mean I obviously I love coming back to the hardcourt tennis. I love hardcourts and things just clicked. You know, the confidence is there and guys know I'm playing well, so that helps out.

Q. D you think that's a good pattern, a mid-year break. (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: I need that.

Q. Just to get away for a month is pretty unusual.

PETE SAMPRAS: Not that unusual. You got a lot of guys that like to play every week, but for me after the French and Wimbledon, a pretty stressful time of the year, it's important to put a hole in your schedule so that you can have sometime to regroup and get fresh for the hardcourt season. And I made an efforts to do that this year. But when it came time to start working on it, I did that. I need time off to get away from the game.

Q. I'm sure you've heard people say there's nobody around to push you anymore. Do you agree with that? Do you feel like you were being pushed every time you played?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, if I'm playing well like I did this week, you know, as far as the game, it comes pretty easy to me. But there are weeks and days that I don't play well and there are guys that are hungry to beat me. Those are challenges that I have to face every week. You know, ever since I've been No. 1 it's always-- the press was on me and it's something that I think I've dealt with pretty well over past number of years.

Q. Why do you think you've been able to deal with being the No. 1? There are people that have sort of held it and had trouble with it and weren't able to handle all the pressures or whatever?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think my personality has a lot to do with that. I'm a pretty laid back type. And, you know, just like to keep things in my life, especially my tennis life, pretty simple. And tennis is the priority and just -- I don't get sensitive to what the media thinks or whatever I just go out and play. That's really it. You know, I don't need a lot of big entourage. I don't need to complicate things with my tennis. I've always tried to just keep things simple.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: I think people, you know, recognize that after I win my 7th and 8th and 9th major and tenth, the only way you can really deal with that is with respect. And I think I've gotten that over a the past couple of years and -- there were a number of years in any my early 20s where I was winning matches and it was kind of taken for granted. So now it's a little bit different.

Q. Was there an adjustment period from when you first became No. 1 to how you handle it now?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. Not really because I saw -- you know over five, ten years guys got to be No. 1 and really didn't enjoy it. I made an effort that if I ever got to No. 1 not worry about what's being written or said about me. Just go out and play, and that's what I tried to do. I'm a pretty simple and laid back guy and I think that helps.

Q. Are you enjoying it?


Q. Do you remember the first time you heard criticism that you weren't flamboyant enough or exciting enough?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. It was over in London at Wimbledon when, you know, I just went out and played and the British media didn't really have a lot to write about me, so they just put the boring label on me. And that was the one time that I was pretty sensitive and didn't really understand it. But over the past number of years as far as my results, you know, as far as the media, I just let my results take care of itself.

Q. First time you played in London?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. It was like -- I one 1 in the world and I think it was -- I won Wimbledon that year -- or the first couple years, and they just didn't really know me so they put the boring label.

Q. Were you hurt by it?

PETE SAMPRAS: I was crushed. (Laughter). You know, I wasn't hurt, but I was disappointed. I always felt, especially over there in England that someone that just went out there and played kind of like an Edberg or a Borg. But the way things are over there, you need to have a couple tatoos and a couple earrings.

Q. Are you a Dennis Rodman fan?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. I'll bite my tongue on that one.

Q. Do you have charisma? Do you care about charisma? Do you want charisma? What is charisma?

PETE SAMPRAS: You tell me. I don't know. I just think the way I can play on the court and some of shots I'm able to hit, you know, that's what I'm all about. I'm not going to do anything different out there to please the media or whatever, to make your jobs easier. I'll make you guys write about the tennis.

Q. Do you turn down endorsement offers?


Q. Lots?


Q. Some even that fit into your personality? You just don't want to do them?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, I'm not too into commercials. You know I play so much and I hardly have any time off and the last thing I want to do is spend 15 hours doing a commercial. I don't need the money. I don't need the fame. I can go out and play golf. I just want to do a couple things. The Nike ads are nice and maybe a couple other things. Tennis is what I want to do. And the marketing is something that I've done a little bit more of over the years, but you know, it's something that I'm not -- maybe later on in my career, but not right now. Right now it's tennis.

Q. Isn't that unusual for someone of your stature? To turn down a lot of them?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know. I don't know what other guys want to do. Some guys love to do the commercials and be on T.V. a lot. I kind of prefer to have the low key approach and not do too much. My time off is so important to me. When it's off I don't want to think about makeup artist or other stuff, doing commercials, so. You know overtime maybe I'll change, I don't know. The way it is now I'm very happy.

Q. Why did you think there's such a mania about Tiger Woods, not the same kind as you (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's just such a great story from winning the Masters at 20, and there's so much hype going into the Masters. Golf needed that and they certainly got it with him.

Q. Do you think you did the eagle in tennis when you did the Open?

PETE SAMPRAS: I guess so. But I don't know how happy I would be if I was as big as Tiger. You know, I feel like I can still go out to malls and restaurants, and have some stares and whatever, but I'm sure it's at a point where he can't go anywhere. And I don't want a life like that. I'm happy with where I am in my day-to-day stuff. Because he's really, he's huge. He's like Michael Jordan now. And that's tough to deal with sometimes.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. It's like what I've been saying here for ten minutes I've always kept things low key and there's not a lot of controversy when it comes to me. And when it's all said and done, it's not the fame or the money, it's what I've done in the game, and that's the major tournaments. I've always kind of looked at the big picture.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, he's getting older now. And you know, he's -- I don't know. I didn't realize he was such a ham out there.

Q. When he was using the normal racquet and now with a longer one do you see any difference in his game?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not really. I mean he's pretty much playing the same. I mean he hits the ball very heavy from both sides. I really didn't know he changed racquets.

GREG SHARKO: Anything else for Pete?

Q. (Inaudible.) What happened to the check today, do you know? Because the last time we left upstairs it was sitting on the table?

PETE SAMPRAS: There's no check in there.

Q. Just the envelope.

PETE SAMPRAS: Nothing in the envelope. I don't open the envelope.

Q. You do know where the money is at, you didn't just leave it lying around?


GREG SHARKO: All right. Thank you everyone.

End of FastScripts….

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