March 26, 1996
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
JOE LYNCH: Pete has won 20 of his last 21 here now at the Lipton. First question?
Q. What made the 20th so special?
PETE SAMPRAS: What made the what?
Q. What made the 20th one so special? You seemed to play pretty well out there.
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. This is the best match I've played in over a couple weeks now. I seem to always have really close matches with Todd. We both play so similar, it always comes out to a couple points. I got off to a really good start, was really keyed for this match to play well. Basically, as the match went on, I started playing a little bit better and better. I played real solid on my service games, returned pretty well. Just a really good, solid match for me.
Q. Pete, earlier tonight both Andre and Jim have talked about the scheduling, Davis Cup, really going on and on about why they really couldn't do it, the problems with it. Maybe you could expound on your schedule and why you've chosen not to play this next round?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I really agree with them a hundred percent. The schedule -- I did it last year. I really paid the price in some ways. This year I didn't really plan on playing the first two rounds, but I would be available for the last couple rounds. You know, for instance, I'm going to Asia right after -- a week after the Lipton. If I were to pull it off, I'd have to go to Lipton, Europe, over to Asia, back to the States. It just wasn't really going to work out for me. It's just too much tennis. I remember the last thing I wanted to do after I lost my final here was hop on a plane and go to Palermo. Worked pretty well at the end. This year I wasn't planning on playing the first two rounds.
Q. Without really saying so, they both kind of sounded like they just about had it with trying to fight scheduling problems, make a commitment. Have you reached that point?
PETE SAMPRAS: Pretty close. I mean, with the Olympic year in my mind, I don't think Davis Cup should be played. It's something that I've always strongly felt, that it should be played once every two years, as far as getting a lot more attention to it, top players could commit to every Tie. To have it each year, it's just impossible to commit to every match. That's the situation for the next round, it's just too much tennis, too much traveling. That's the main reason why all the guys decided not to do it.
Q. Andre went so far to say as, ideally, he would like the season to end after the US Open.
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, that would be nice. That sure would be nice. My season really didn't end last year, seems like. Played the Davis Cup final, had three weeks off, headed down to Australia. That's a lot of tennis. Look at all the other major sports in this country, they have four, five months off to recuperate, work on their things. Tennis Tour is pretty much continual. After the US Open, I don't want that much time off, but a couple months would be nice.
Q. Don't you think that's the drawback of it being an international sport versus like basketball here and football?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Same thing in golf. Seems like those guys are pretty much playing all year round. There's a lot of events in Europe, overseas. Tennis is very international. After the US Open, you have a lot of big events, ATP finals in Frankfurt, Davis Cup final a couple weeks after that. Before you know it, you have to hop on a plane, go down to Australia. That takes its toll.
Q. What sort of toll? Do you feel physically exhausted at any time?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, after the Russian experience, I was mentally and physical -- physically injured, and mentally, I didn't want to pick up a racquet for a couple weeks. I didn't really do a lot of training after. Went down to Australia pretty unprepared. I think my tennis probably spoke for itself there. The way I played in the final, I certainly hope it can carry over some good things on the clay, so hopefully that will work out well. Mentally, physically, it takes its toll, especially at such a pressure-type match that final was.
Q. Do you think that toll could shorten the careers of people like you and Andre? Stefan is now quitting at 30.
PETE SAMPRAS: It's hard saying, it's hard saying. Playing as much as we're playing, you know, our health is certainly up in the air. I've always wanted to play this game till I'm at least 30, into my early 30s, and just kind of play it by ear from there. As much as I'm playing, who knows what I'll feel like at 29 or 30, if my knees will be banged up, if my body will be torn up. It just depends. I've scheduled my tournaments pretty well, but still, it's not a lot of time off.
Q. Do you get a sense that you guys get any kind of receptive ear to what you're saying or is it really just the players are saying it and no one's listening, too bad, that's the way it goes, that's the way the schedule is going to be?
PETE SAMPRAS: That's pretty much. I've always felt there could be some more off time. Seems like the Tour is pretty much set in their ways, that they're going to schedule the ATP finals that week. All the top players kind of agree on maybe having some more time off, but it seems like since the ATP is making good money and the players are making good money, the schedule seems like it hasn't changed. I'd give up all the extra money just to have some more time off.
Q. When you look at what the Davis Cup victory did for you in terms of reputation, resume, on balance, was it worth it or wasn't it worth it for you to play?
PETE SAMPRAS: Absolutely. Absolutely. The way it ended and to play the way I did the last couple matches will bring back a lot of good memories for me and Davis Cup. I didn't start off my career in Davis Cup all that great. Playing there can maybe change some people's minds. Seemed like after it was over, you know, I just had so many weeks to get ready for Australia. That's the one thing I want to do, to do the best I can at major tournaments, give myself the best chance. I didn't feel like I went down there that prepared. I don't know if the Davis Cup final took a lot out of me or what it was, but I certainly didn't feel like I was ready to go.
Q. If they design the Tour around, let's say, Grand Slams and Davis Cup, let's say everybody agreed that those were the top things, would you be more enthusiastic? Would you say that you'd actually play most of the time?
PETE SAMPRAS: As far as Davis Cup?
Q. If they figure out the weeks, slotted the weeks with the Grand Slams so you wouldn't have some of the conflicts, would you confidently say, "I'll play Davis Cup all the time"?
PETE SAMPRAS: If I could be guaranteed a week off before and after Davis Cup, I don't have a problem committing. That means you have enough time to rest and recuperate. The way it is now, Lipton straight over to Europe, back to Asia, absolutely no time off, is pretty much insane. To have some more time off before and after the Davis Cup Ties, I could see myself being more committed. I don't see that happening.
Q. I know it's impossible to be precise, but 365 days last year, how many days off would you say you had?
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know. I'd say that I probably had, you know, about four months. It's hard saying. I don't know.
Q. But of those four months, you were still hitting tennis balls a lot of the time?
PETE SAMPRAS: Absolutely. There's not really a time that I have two, three weeks to not do anything. You know, it's pretty much keep on training, keep on practicing. Even that takes its toll. You want to get away from the game, put the racquet up, pick up a golf club for two weeks. Unfortunately, you really can't do that.
Q. How do you think what you guys do as athletes differs from the regular public? The public will hear that and say, "I work and get two weeks' vacation, I don't quite get it, for a lot less money"? How do you differentiate the wear and tear on your body that they might understand that?
PETE SAMPRAS: Physically, we're putting it on the line, all the traveling. Traveling is one of the main reasons. Going over to Europe, dealing with the jet lag. Physically, the pounding on your body, it takes its toll. Some days you feel too sore to walk down and go to the bathroom (laughter). You just don't feel like picking up the racquet.
Q. I think the common man can relate to that.
PETE SAMPRAS: That's right.
Q. Other players have done it, other top players have taken a good chunk of time, three weeks a month without touching a racquet. Have you ever done that or would you think of doing that?
PETE SAMPRAS: I've never done it. Maybe a week would be my top where I wouldn't pick up a racquet, just do nothing to do with tennis. I mean, it would be nice to have some time. I don't need four months at the end of the year. A couple months would be nice. It's hard saying. I mean, with the schedule, certainly this Tour is so international, especially in Europe, you're playing over there quite a bit.
Q. Even though the Grand Slam Cup is not awarding computer points, all the top players play. I assume that's because there's a lot of money involved. Is it okay to have two season if I natural list because of that, because of the fact that --
PETE SAMPRAS: Just too much money involved. Last year I ended up playing, I got $600,000 a show. That's a lot of money to turn down. It would be nice to have those two events kind of combined and have one big finish naturally. The way the ITF and ATP get along, I don't really see that happening. It's a lot of money. Basically playing an exhibition for tons of dough.
Q. They are planning to move it next year to October.
PETE SAMPRAS: That's what I heard.
Q. Do you think that will be a lot better anyway?
PETE SAMPRAS: When are they going to put it?
PETE SAMPRAS: Was that during the European Tour?
Q. I think it will be in Hannover -- sorry, Munich. Is it Munich? I think they're going to put it in a week when there isn't a major.
PETE SAMPRAS: Major tournament?
PETE SAMPRAS: Want me to comment on it?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'm sure most of the guys would play, you know. A lot of money. I think the guys look at it as an exhibition, you want to play well and win. It's tough to turn down.
JOE LYNCH: Anything else for Pete? Thank you.
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