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March 12, 1997

Pete Sampras


JOE LYNCH: Pete will next be playing at the Lipton Championships starting March 20th. First question?

Q. What happened, Pete?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm sorry?

Q. What happened?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it was pretty ugly today. I've always had a problem, even though I've won here a couple times, I never really felt like I played well here in Palm Springs because of the dry weather. Ball just seems like it really flies on me, I can't really judge, you know, how much shots are going to go. I never thought like I played all that great here because of the dry weather. I just played very tentative tennis. You can't afford to do that. I just played -- just didn't play well, plain and simple. He played okay. It's not a way you want to lose, not playing well. I mean, I can accept it better if he plays well. The way I played, I just want to chuck this one away and forget about it. You know, it's very disappointing to lose. It's been a good run this year, especially the last couple months.

Q. Were you starting to feel the pressure?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, not really. I mean, not at all. I mean, I've always felt a little uncomfortable playing here. I don't know why. Never really felt like I could take a pretty good rip at the ball. The ball seems like it flies on me a lot more than any other place because it's very dry here. It's good for the serve, but it's very tough, at least for me, the way I play with my swings, to control the ball. I just made error after error today. Really didn't do much with anything. Just didn't play well.

Q. Did velocity off your serve, Pete?

PETE SAMPRAS: It adds a little bit to my serve. That's not really the problem. The problem is the groundies and the returns. That's how I'm going to win my matches, being very solid from the back court. I never really felt like I was in any sort of rhythm today. I just felt like the ball was bouncing pretty high on me. I couldn't take a pretty good crack at it. Just flies on me a little bit more here at the desert than anywhere else. That's all I can really say. It was just not a good performance.

Q. That's what he said, that your baseline game --

PETE SAMPRAS: Say again?

Q. Bohdan said your baseline game seemed to him to not be up to Pete Sampras quality.

PETE SAMPRAS: He's right. Missing a lot of groundies, normal ground stroke shots, I was not very confident out there, you know, just didn't feel comfortable out there. He played some good shots at the right time. I didn't play the way I should play. I mean, I really didn't perform at my best, nowhere near it. It's tough to accept when you don't play the way you want to play. I can only beat myself so much talking about it (laughter). That's just the way it goes, I guess, so.

Q. Do you think the same balls are here every year or not?

PETE SAMPRAS: The balls seemed to be pretty fast here. Seems like they're a little bit different this year, a little bit harder. So you add that plus the dryness, it seemed like the ball was really, like I've said, just going on me. I couldn't control it, you know, really judge how hard to swing out there. The balls didn't really fluff up. They seemed a little bit harder than usual. It's good for the serve, but the serving is not the problem for me, it's the returns and the groundstrokes.

Q. How many days had you had to get used to the conditions, and also having won here twice before, how did you manage to win it twice if you're so uncomfortable here?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the two times I won here, I never really felt like I played that well, really felt that comfortable with my game. I was just kind of squeaking out matches, and won here a couple times. I got here on Saturday afternoon, hit Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. You can practice all you want; it's always a little different when you go out and play, a little more pressure, a little uneasy out there playing my first match. If I could have gotten through today's match, maybe I would have been a little more confident tomorrow. I didn't play well. I had some chances in the first set. You know, maybe next year I'll come out here a bit earlier to get used to it a little bit more. Nothing I can really do about it now, so that's it.

JOE LYNCH: Other than the two years he won it, Pete's record is 8 and 7.

Q. When you see him win that first set on that net cord, do you feel, "Today is definitely not my day"?

PETE SAMPRAS: I just felt like the first set went his way. I figured there's still a lot of tennis yet to be played. I got off to an early break, gave it right back to him. I just didn't feel comfortable out there, that I put enough pressure on his service games and I struggled in every aspect of my game. I broke some strings at bad times, set point in the first set. That's just bad luck. You need a little bit of luck to win these matches, and he got it today.

Q. Does it hurt more to lose a match like this one when you are on a strike of 17 matches?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. You know it's not going to last forever, but you hope when you do lose, you lose to someone that outplays you. He played okay, but I didn't play well. That adds a little bit of salt to the wound when you don't play the way you should play. I'm very tough on myself, I really am. I'm critical of the way I play sometimes. Today I just don't feel I played the way I should.

JOE LYNCH: Anything else for Pete?

Q. Pete, I think you once said about Andre, "Both of us would be miserable if we had to live like the other." Would you elaborate on that?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't think I said that, did I? Our life-styles are very different. Everything about us is different. I think he said that. I don't remember saying that.

Q. How are your life-styles different?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, he travels around in a 727, and I travel around in a Hawker, so I have a much smaller plane (laughter). I don't know. I don't know really what he does. We're very different personalities, which is good. I think everyone knows what we're like. You can kind of make your own conclusion.

JOE LYNCH: Anything else for Pete? Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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