March 24, 1996
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
JOE LYNCH: Pete Sampras is into the fourth round and has now won 19 of his last 20 here at Key Biscayne and 25 and four lifetime here. First question for Pete.
Q. Is the conditions more difficult for a serve and volleyer? I know McEnroe used to complain. Martina; Boris didn't show up most of the time.
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, it's pretty difficult for both. You serve and volley. The ball is really moving. It's tough to hit passing shots. I don't think it really favors any particular player. I think someone that has a pretty short backswing, like Michael Chang, my swings are pretty long. It depends on how you hit the ball. Short, compact swing is a good shot for the wind, more than if you serve and volley or stay back. You know, you just have to keep your feet moving and hope it dies down. It's not very fun to play in conditions that you're not sure where the ball is going or where your toss is going, whatever. You know, it's -- you've got to go out with a good attitude. It's the same for both players - hope for the best.
Q. Greater problem at night or day or doesn't matter?
PETE SAMPRAS: It doesn't matter. You know, with the daytime, the time I played yesterday and today, you know, you had the wind and on part you had the sun to deal with, kind of tossing all around and hope that your racquet hits the ball.
Q. This is all stuff for Florida players. Growing up in California, there's not much wind most of the time?
PETE SAMPRAS: Not really. There's not a lot of wind in the LA area. I've been in Florida four or five years. I'm not crazy about playing in the wind. My results in the past couple years at the Lipton, where it's always pretty breezy, is pretty good. Stadium court, it's tough because it's not going one direction; bounces here; bounces there; swirling around; you're not sure which way it's going. I hit a lob today against the wind, I thought -- it ended up going about 15 feet out. It's hard to deal with sometimes.
JOE LYNCH: Unfortunately, on our computer right now, we don't have any category for winds over 20 swirling badly, but maybe we can work on that for the future.
Q. No wind rankings?
JOE LYNCH: No.
Q. Is this the windiest place that you play or are there other places like this?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think this is known for pretty windy conditions.
Q. Palm Springs?
PETE SAMPRAS: Palm Springs sometimes, but it's pretty calm. I think because we're right next to the ocean, it's always a little bit breezy. I can't think of a tournament other than this that has the consistent breeze day in and day out.
Q. Wind or no wind, have you come to sort of regard Lipton like Wimbledon, it's sort of like your kingdom? You're always right there.
PETE SAMPRAS: Certain places I play well, and this is one of them. I certainly hope that continues this week. I enjoy playing on an outdoor hard court, even though it's a little breezy here, I seem to come through my matches pretty well. Today wasn't pretty tennis, but I fought pretty well and hung in there. Lipton has treated me pretty well in the past three years, to get to the final three times in a row; have two wins; you can always look back at Lipton as a place I like playing.
Q. Aside from the fact that it is not a slam, do you think players enjoy the Lipton more than they do the US Open, playing day in and day out?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's very convenient. The stadium is a great stadium. It's very easy to get around the grounds. I think it's one of the best tournaments on the Tour. US Open is a whole other level as far as convenience is concerned - not very convenient. I've always enjoyed the Lipton. I think a lot of players, with the new stadium and the locker rooms, the small things go a long way. It's an event I always look forward to playing.
Q. Pete, can you talk about the marketing of tennis? There's a lot of kids involved now, ATP Tour involved, trying to get the kids in. Talk about how it's changed in the last five years or so?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's gotten a lot better, I believe, ever since that Sports Illustrated article came out: "Is Tennis Dying." Everybody came out; try to figure out what's wrong with the game. Trying to get the kids playing again, the ATP Tour has gotten behind that with Smash Tennis. I've seen a lot of top guys be a part of that. Marketing -- and Nike, certainly, and other companies are trying to get tennis on TV. Obviously, the major tournaments, that's going to be your main attention, but it seems like with the crowds here, the crowds in Palm Springs, throughout the Tour, they seem very successful week in, week out. I played the final in San Jose against Andre, packed house, 15,000. When you see that, tennis is on the rise.
Q. No more "quiet please" from the umpires, a little buzz in the atmosphere? You notice that at all?
PETE SAMPRAS: Not really. I know the Tour has tried to help out fans as far as moving in and out, not being so restrictive as far as walking around. I really don't find there's a huge difference over the past couple of years.
Q. You had the Barcelona experience insofar as The Olympics is concerned. You also seem to be looking forward to Atlanta.
PETE SAMPRAS: I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to seeing the Dream Team, seeing some other events.
Q. How about winning the gold?
PETE SAMPRAS: Play tennis? That's secondary. (laughter). Barcelona, I can honestly say, I didn't have a great time because I was playing tennis every day and I didn't get to really feel the Olympic feeling that you look forward to feeling. I'm going to go to Atlanta with an attitude that I'm going to try to win the gold, but I'm going to try to make an effort to see some other events. I might go to the opening ceremonies and try to have a better time than I did in Barcelona. It was so hot and it was also on clay which wasn't all that fun. I'm looking forward to Atlanta.
Q. Why did you not see more of Barcelona, because you weren't taking the trouble to see it?
PETE SAMPRAS: I was playing every day.
Q. Why will that be any different now?
PETE SAMPRAS: I'm going to have some days off. I'm not going to play doubles. I can maybe see some other events; get there a little early. The Olympics, I got there on Monday and I played on Tuesday, so it was pretty much as soon as I lost the singles and doubles, I was on the next plane home. In Atlanta, I'm going to make an effort to see other things.
Q. Was that the hottest place you've ever played?
PETE SAMPRAS: Australia is the hottest place I've ever played, by far. It's ridiculous down there.
Q. Atlanta will be hot.
PETE SAMPRAS: I've experienced the humidity.
Q. Pete, can you talk -- you're talking about the marketing of tennis. Can you talk about your rivalry with Andre?
PETE SAMPRAS: That's something that has made it more popular. The ingredients are there; the way we play; the way we act. Our life-styles are so different. People outside of tennis are interested in seeing what's going on with my match-ups against him. Certainly, the commercials have helped out quite a bit. Just to get tennis on TV is the main thing. Seems like with the crowds and the TV ratings, seems like over the past couple years, it's really started to increase. It's good to see that.
Q. Do you have anything to do with thinking up the words for that milk commercial?
PETE SAMPRAS: No. I'm not that smart, so.....
Q. Agassi, what was his reaction to that?
PETE SAMPRAS: I haven't talked to him about it really.
Q. How long has it been out?
PETE SAMPRAS: Since January, I believe.
Q. Did you have fun doing it?
PETE SAMPRAS: It was quick. Only took a couple hours to do it. Just drank some ice cream. They put some concoction together and I had a moustache.
Q. Was that real milk or something else?
PETE SAMPRAS: I'm trying to remember. It's like a combination of cheese and ice cream. It's true. (laughter). Didn't taste too bad, actually.
Q. Where did you do it?
PETE SAMPRAS: In New York.
Q. Do you look forward to playing him or because you see him often, does it ever get monotonous? Do you like playing Andre?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's never monotonous when I walk out on the court against him. It's always a little bit different. Once the first point has started, it's just the ball, and the opponent is just another opponent. Andre certainly has a game that gives me some problems. I have a game that gives him some problems. It's a good match up if we're both playing real well. Had some good matches over the past couple years. We'll see what happens for this year.
Q. It's been over a year since he's won a slam. Karbacher was saying last night that he senses he's playing with a little less confidence. Do you sense that at all in Andre? Can you feel that when he was on that roll, sort of unstoppable, but is there a difference in his game at all?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's hard for me to say. I only played him one time at San Jose. I played one of the best matches I've played in a couple years - kind of zoned. I haven't played him really in quite a while since San Jose. It's hard for me to tell because I haven't seen him play. Looking back, maybe over the past eight months, I think the US Open, our match took a little bit out of him. He had such an unbelievable summer, unbelievable year, to come up short at a final - I know when you lose a final of a major, there's no worse feeling than that feeling. Maybe that took a little bit out of him. If I would have lost that match, who knows how I'll be feeling. You just have to move on. He's got the talent and the capability. He just needs -- he's playing well; winning - that's the bottom line. It's been a little bit different. I was a little surprised he lost to Michael in the Australian. It's hard to say. It's tough to keep that consistency for a lot of years and a lot of months. There are days you just don't feel like playing.
Q. This time last year it was you and Andre virtually out there; Goran and Michael pushing up; Muster in there. Are you feeling a bit of heat from lower down now? It's sort of tighter at the top than it was; isn't it?
PETE SAMPRAS: It is. In a way, it's good to see that. Last year at this time, it was getting a little bit much. Talking more about Andre than I was talking about my tennis. Michael has had a phenomenal year. Goran has been very consistent. Becker won the Australian. Good to see some other guys get more attention; not just Andre and myself. Got a little out of hand there. I don't really feel the heat, you know. I'm to the point in my career where really the major titles is the only thing that's really going to make it better. Certainly would be nice to get back to No. 1 and all those good things, but right now, it's playing well here and get the French Open in the back of my mind.
Q. You've said so often, everybody is aware, of your emphasis on the major titles. What does a tournament like this mean to you? You've also said that it doesn't bother you; in fact, you almost enjoy losing before a big tournament because you don't want to use up your luck -?
PETE SAMPRAS: I couldn't agree more.
Q. - quoting you. How does the Lipton fit into that?
PETE SAMPRAS: The Lipton is a Grand Slam feel. It gives you a test on how you're really playing. Unfortunately, each match gets tougher here. Look at the field here, except for maybe Becker not playing, it's pretty solid. It's a true test to see how you're at; where you're at; how your game is.
Q. Do you approach it with the same mental attitude of the major? I know it's not the same importance, but in terms of your mental approach?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's different. It's a little bit different. You know, I've always felt going into a major, you get the butterflies rolling; you want to get through that first round match. Sometimes through the ATP Tours, a week kind of rolls into another week. When you walk out in the center court of Wimbledon, the Open, you know what's at stake. I'm trying harder at other tournaments. I want to win every match I play.
Q. You use this more to measure where your game is at, perhaps?
PETE SAMPRAS: I'm looking to play well and winning, but you're playing the best players in the world, they're all here. It's a good indication of where you're at in your game.
Q. Pete, you said that you only got your first car recently.
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I bought my first car.
Q. How did you get along without a car all that time?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I didn't buy a car. I was given cars.
JOE LYNCH: That hole in one?
PETE SAMPRAS: I had a car, but I didn't buy it.
Q. Did you buy a new one or a used one?
PETE SAMPRAS: They were new.
Q. Why did you buy this one if people have been giving to you?
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't think the Porsche people really wanted to give me a car.
Q. You were set on a Porsche?
PETE SAMPRAS: Right.
Q. You bought more than one car or you just bought one?
PETE SAMPRAS: Actually I've bought a Toyota 4 Runner. I have a couple of cars.
Q. They didn't want to give you one either.
JOE LYNCH: Porsche, there is no substitute.
PETE SAMPRAS: There is no substitute.
JOE LYNCH: Anything else for Pete?
Q. They gave them to Chi Chi Rodriguez?
PETE SAMPRAS: What did they give to him?
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