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March 14, 1996

Pete Sampras


JOE LYNCH: Pete Sampras wins his 11th straight here at Indian Wells; going for the three-Pete and 13 straight in the year coming in. First question for Pete, please.

Q. Obviously the sprained ankle and the week off took a devastating toll on your game today?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, fortunately, I didn't sprain it too bad, so it really just took me a couple of days to get over it and I got here on Saturday and got some good treatment and I was ready to go pretty much yesterday if I had to play, but, you know, I feel like I hit the ball pretty well. Not great, but it is always a little bit difficult going out in your first match even though it is a third round match, you get to play a match. I was a little bit edgy with my play, but, for the most part, it was pretty good.

Q. Do you feel you are ready for the next match only having played one?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I feel like I am ready. The first match is always a tough one to get through because you are playing someone that has played a couple of matches and it is just a little bit different. You can practice all you want, but it is a little bit different when you get out in front of people and the linesmen, so it is a little bit different.

Q. Does the sprained ankle allow you to play any golf?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I haven't picked up a club here, so hopefully --

Q. You have not?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I haven't and hopefully I won't have time. Hopefully I will be playing tennis. But this is the place to play; a lot of good golf course here.

Q. Had the same had complaint that he hasn't been able to play any golf yet either.

PETE SAMPRAS: I thought you said Norman. Oh, Goran.

Q. You have to do so little here. Do you even have the feeling you are in a tournament?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I do now. Yesterday I felt I just had to practice and everybody was getting ready for their matches and I was getting ready to practice, so it was a little bit different. I haven't gotten too many defaults in my career. I think two now in seven years and it is an easy day, but you like to start playing; you get a little restless hanging around the hotel room all day. It felt good to finally play a match.

Q. This guy wasn't that easy, was he Pete, today?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I played -- Michael is a very good counter-puncher. I played him in Australia and if you hit some short balls, there is no doubt about it, he will come in and he hits the ball extremely flat. Doesn't have a lot of margin for error because he hits the ball so flat, but he doesn't have a huge serve, but a good serve to kind of set up his point. Hits the corners pretty well. He is a good solid player. I mean, there is no reason why he can't break the top 50.

Q. He is one of the juniors when you were. Is there a big age difference?

PETE SAMPRAS: I didn't play him in the juniors. I was always playing up in my age division, and he was -- I never played him. First time I played him was in Australia.

Q. Do you feel you are right at your peak now Pete?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is hard saying. The year ever since Australia has been great, except for my little injury in Rotterdam. I have been playing real good tennis. I just want to have a good consistent year and healthy year, but, you know, I feel like I can improve and get better, and hopefully stay in the top of the game.

Q. Can you give us any kind of update on how Tim is doing?

PETE SAMPRAS: He is doing okay.

Q. Do you have goals set this year Pete? Would you like to win the French Open -- you'd like to, but I mean, you are looking to win the Grand Slam one of these years?

PETE SAMPRAS: Too late for the Grand Slam, I guess. Yeah, the French every year, it is a high priority, the one I have not won. I have tried some different things with my schedule and last year kind of backfired on me and this year I am going to go back to what I used to do and, you know, all the Majors, that is how I measure my year is how I do at those tournaments and as far as the ranking, it is pretty much secondary, so the French Open is in my mind right now and I have given some thought on how I am going to prepare and train and hopefully I will get a little lucky and win there.

Q. Have you won that, the French Open?

PETE SAMPRAS: I wish I had, but I haven't.

Q. How do they count that Australian Open? Is it in the same calendar year?

PETE SAMPRAS: Say again.

Q. The Australian Open, when it is a Grand Slam, it has to be in the same calendar year?


Q. So you have had different approaches to the French; one year going over to play a lot of tournaments; others a little less. What is some of your thinking about preparation for the French?

PETE SAMPRAS: Last year I played for about two months before the French and the years before I have only played about a month and it seemed like looking back at what happened at the French, I got a little bit too passive and not really playing the way I should play on clay and that is being as aggressive as I can. This year I am just going to play two events, Rome and the World Team Cup, and that is what I have done every year since last year, and, you know, I have played pretty well there, but, you know, just try to do some new things and hopefully one year it just works out.

Q. A month or so ago we asked you whether you'd rather win the French or keep your Wimbledon streak going. You very successfully sort of copped out and said "I want to do both." If you put your feet to the fire, which, in your gut, would you rather win?

PETE SAMPRAS: I can't really answer that. I mean, Wimbledon is the biggest one we have, and to have an opportunity to win it four times in a row is a great position to be in, but, you know, the French Open is not -- is the one I have not won, so, in some ways, that might be the one, but it is really -- you can't answer it. I want to win every match I play.

JOE LYNCH: You can stick with both.

PETE SAMPRAS: So I will just stick with both.

Q. Were you surprised at Muster going out so quickly part A., and part B., Joe can probably answer this better, what does that do to the ranking?

JOE LYNCH: If Pete gets to the semifinals and Agassi does not win, Pete would return to No. 1. There are some other situations if they both get to the final, but Pete can definitely take back No. 1 by reaching the semis; if he loses before that, no.

Q. How about Muster -- surprised he went out so early?

PETE SAMPRAS: A little bit. Obviously playing here on hard court, you know, it is not as surprising as if he would have lost on clay. Still surprise me a little bit because he has kind of transformed his game to play better indoor and on hard court, so it surprised me a little bit, but I would be more surprise if he had lost on clay.

Q. Do you get to the point where you have to take some time off from tennis and not play at all?

PETE SAMPRAS: Absolutely. Unfortunately, that is not a lot of time.

After Davis Cup last year I was worn out and only had two, three weeks to get ready for Australia and just so happened I felt very unprepared going down there and ran into someone that was playing pretty hot. But there has got to be some sort of schedule that there is some more time off. It is just too much tennis for me as much as I am playing with Davis Cup and the Olympics this year, it is not a lot of time off.

Q. When you take this time off, you don't play tennis at all, not even recreational?

PETE SAMPRAS: I try not to. There is not really time in the year. End of the year is the only time where I pick up the golf club a lot more than I do the tennis racket for about a week, week and a half, but that is really about it. There is not -- like the guys in NFL and NBA where they have four, five months to just not do anything besides to just to do what they want to do that. It is the just the way the schedule is in tennis, and that is the way it looks like it is probably going to be.

Q. You get like two weeks a year, three weeks a year?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is hard saying. I get couple of weeks off and then I play an event; that is really not time where I have two months off to just have two months off. It rarely happens. I got done with my year the second week of December, and I had a couple of weeks and the turnaround was to get down to Australia, and so that is just, you know, the way the schedule is.

Q. Do you ever think about how you like to be remembered when your career is over? Another Rod Laver or what?

PETE SAMPRAS: That would be nice. Certainly go down as a good player and a nice person and kind of let his racket do the talking and obviously I will measure my career on how I do at the Majors, and so there is really -- just when what people think of Pete Sampras is someone who went out and tried his best and didn't -- wasn't a jerk out there and was a good guy.

Q. Did you permit yourself to smile after you hit that first overhead?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it creeped in, yeah, it creeped in. Doesn't happen too often.

JOE LYNCH: Nice replay, looks like Final 4 stuff.

Q. People say when they win a tournament, coming back it gives them a little confidence. When you have won as much as you have and been as successful as you have, does coming here boost your confidence or just your normal confidence kind of carry you through?

PETE SAMPRAS: You hope you are playing well wherever you go; you are going to come through, but you always enjoy going back to places I have played well and I have won here the last two years, so you are very comfortable with the hotel, and the little things go along way as far as the site and getting around and the practice courts, and it seems Palm Springs has been pretty good to me in the past couple of years.

Q. Being based in Florida, is there any one thing that you miss the most about California?

PETE SAMPRAS: That is a good question. The Lakers, the Monday Night Football starts at 9 on the east coast and 6 here, so I hardly make it to watch the whole game. There are a number of things I miss. My family. Being out in beautiful weather all year. The earthquakes are great to partake. The floods. The riots, all those good things.

Q. There is a certain moment after a friend of yours finishes law school that you may be coming back. Could you share your thoughts on that?

PETE SAMPRAS: We will see.

Q. What is it about golf that turns you on?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it is not the sport because I am not very good at it. It is just an opportunity to get away, get away from the game and from my everyday life as far as being a tennis player, to get away from people.

Q. Why golf?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know. I have no idea. I took it up when I turned pro, and kind have been a golf nut since then, so it is just a good get-a-way.

Q. Pete, can you remember the time when you thought, gee, I could be a great player here, I can play with anybody here; do you remember the tournament or the situation?

PETE SAMPRAS: There wasn't really a particular moment that I felt I could play with the big boys. Maybe after I won my first open when I broke the top 10 and got to 6 in the world maybe that was a moment that, you know, I could play with the big boys.

Q. There wasn't one player you beat that did --

PETE SAMPRAS: You know, when I turned pro I had pretty good results against Tim Mayotte who was a top 10. Player I beat him like three, four times in a row and he kind of helped out my ranking, so I am sure Tim is not bragging about that. That is maybe a player that kind of gave me some confidence because I had pretty good results against him.

Q. What is the Olympics process? When does that selection happen and how excited are you about that?

PETE SAMPRAS: The selection is the top two players and I think a wildcard and a doubles team so, we have three Americans and I am not really sure, to tell you the truth, that is just my guess, but I am looking forward to it. It is hard saying. It is right after Wimbledon; right before the U.S. Open. Tennis and the Olympics isn't quite like track and field where those guys have been working for four years for this one moment. It would be nice to win a gold, but I am going to make an effort to have a good time and see some other events because when I was in Barcelona I really didn't have -- I had a good time, but I didn't see the Dream Team; I didn't see any other events. It was pretty much the courts and back to the hotel. I want to make an effort this year to go out and see some other events.

Q. Given what you are saying about too much tennis and no time off, you have already got Davis Cup as a national competition. What is the incentive for playing the Olympics?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it is an opportunity to try to win a gold. There aren't too many athletes that have a gold medal and to have a chance to get one, you know, that is a good feeling, and, you know, be a part of the biggest sporting event in the world, the opening ceremonies; seeing the other events and kind of get into the whole Olympics atmosphere something that I didn't really experience in Barcelona and I certainly hope I can experience that in Atlanta.

JOE LYNCH: Thanks very much.

End of FastScripts.....

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