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August 31, 1994

Pete Sampras


Q. Pete, the obvious first question is how come you lost six games?

PETE SAMPRAS: That's kind of nitpicking, I think, but the ankle, which I'm sure you guys are going to ask about, is just feeling fine. It's obviously been a long layoff for me and disappointing not playing the summer, but to get matches under my belt would have been good coming here, but I have to make the best of it.

Q. Pete, if this had been Cincinnati or Toronto, would you have played or are you just playing because it's the U.S. Open?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the U.S. Open is one of the two biggest tournaments in the world, and I feel if I played a couple of those events it would have aggravated my ankle and maybe put me out of the U.S. Open. So I didn't really want to put this tournament in jeopardy.

Q. But, I mean, the way it feels right now?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I could have played.

Q. Would you have played those tournaments?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure. I'm not really feeling anything at the moment.

Q. How hard did you push it over the weekend in preparation for this?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I basically haven't practiced too much since the Davis Cup, four weeks. I was just on and off the court and I really needed to start practicing and get into a good rhythm and I was practicing really hard, two, three hours a day in the past four days and it's just -- it's always different playing a match and a tournament, it is a bit more nerves and I think I handled that pretty well today.

Q. Is this the type of opponent you like to have?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, for my first round it's somewhat -- that's not really going to put me in big danger. He doesn't have a huge serve and stays back. I can really get my groundies in and get my rhythm, that's what I did today.

Q. Does your level go down any when playing an opponent like that?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think you can't take anything for granted, but today I did get a bit careless and started hitting some low percentage shots and I paid the price, lost my serve a couple times, but I got through it.

Q. Pete, a lot of people say that Steffi Graf misses Monica Seles; do you need a rival to lift you? Do you feel that you are lacking an arch rival on this tour at this moment?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't think Graf is pressed throughout her matches-- anything can happen. Look at the upsets in the last couple days and I think if -- Andre has been a rival the last couple years. We're so different with our games and personalities, it will be good, too, for Andre to get back in the top five. And Jim and Michael are my rivals, same positions. So I think we need to play more and it will be better for tennis to have more rivals.

Q. You most likely will have to play again tomorrow; is that right?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think hopefully I will play Friday, but I certainly hope so.

Q. If you have to play tomorrow?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'll have to play tomorrow.

Q. Any worry about that?

PETE SAMPRAS: I certainly hope not. I was only on court for an hour and 20 minutes, so, whatever... And I hope it won't be a problem. There's a chance it might be sore, but I'll do everything I can for it not to be sore, ice it down.

Q. Pete, can you see any parts of your game that was not up to the level that you would like it to be?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I was pretty much happy with every aspect of my game. I lost a bit of rhythm on my serve the middle of the second and third, but that's kind of nitpicking a little bit. I thought I played pretty well.

Q. What would you have been most uncertain about?

PETE SAMPRAS: You can practice all you want, you can play all the practice sets you want, it's different when you play a match. There's a bit more nerves and always insecure that -- you know, you just don't have that match practice that a lot of guys have and that's a scary feeling, but I just have to really believe in myself and understand if I play my tennis there's a good chance I can come through and win it.

Q. To you, is the match conditioning more an issue for mental or for physical?

PETE SAMPRAS: Both. Mentally, I'm very fresh. I didn't play matches all summer. And physically, I feel pretty good. I've been doing the bike a lot the last four weeks to keep up my cardiovascular and things are looking good.

Q. Pete, Stefan said here yesterday that because there has been a gap between matches that you might be -- vulnerable was the word-- coming to the Open; is that a description of your game that you would find --

PETE SAMPRAS: A little bit. I felt a little vulnerable coming in here, and it's like riding a bike. You're not going to learn -- you always remember how to play and that's one thing I believe, not worrying about playing a match in six weeks and putting it aside and understand I practiced real hard in the past three or four days, and if I play my tennis, I think I'm tough to beat. And you can't go out there with a negative attitude that you haven't played a match. It's an excuse. You have to make the best of it.

Q. Given the level that you play and everybody trying to reach up to you, are the things like the vulnerable and the ankle pain things you use as something to challenge you to keep your interests?


Q. It's just interesting. Why does it continue to be interesting; you're so good and continue to be -- someone said Courier-- 22-year-old number one, he didn't particularly want to keep playing for a few days; what keeps you interested?

PETE SAMPRAS: The major titles. That's one thing that I'm striving for is to win the majors. That really keeps my motivation going and I -- I enjoy playing, I enjoy winning, and I told myself if I ever get to be number one to enjoy it, not worry about what's being written or said about me and just enjoy it because there's just too many cases in the past, guys get to number one and they just, you know, sometimes can't handle it. And I feel like, if I enjoy it, then I'll stay up there as long as I can.

Q. Increasingly a lot of guys are talking about beating people in the top ten, except they make an exception about you and carry this aura of unreachableness. How does that make you feel?

PETE SAMPRAS: That's something I don't really think about. I don't think about it. I just want to do as well as I can in the majors and win a lot of titles.

Q. Are there any guys you fear, particularly players?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not right now. I mean, I feel like I can -- I beat one of the best grass-court players, Goran, who I've had problems with. And I can stay back with the Agassis and Couriers and serve and volley and keep it as simple as possible.

Q. You said you vowed once you got to be number one you would enjoy it; what do you enjoy about being the best tennis player?

PETE SAMPRAS: That there are too many guys that have done it, 11 guys in the past that have been number one, and I just didn't want to over-think about it. I didn't want to really worry about my ranking, just do as well as I can in the majors and the ranking will take care of itself.

Q. As far as vulnerability goes, today there were a few points, one where you came forward and hit a smash that he blocked back over your head, and you got all the way back behind the baseline to return it; was that a good test for you? Points like that and when you went wide --

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I just try not to think about it.

Q. You weren't even thinking about the ankle while you were playing?


Q. Pete, Boris said the court was slow, the balls were heavy; have you noticed any difference?

PETE SAMPRAS: The court is a little bit slower and the balls, I feel, are the same as last year, and compared to the outside courts, it is a bit slower. It's the same for both players.

Q. Pete, I'm sure you read or heard about Courier's comments aft Indianapolis that he lost some desire. Since you know him pretty well, did that surprise you at all; have you spoken to him about it?

PETE SAMPRAS: I haven't to spoken to Jim about it. I know Jim works hard on and off the court. I think he needed to step back and his tennis is fine. The way he played in Davis Cup was pretty awesome and he needed to take a break, put the racket down and get the motivation back and obviously he's done that.

Q. Andrei Medvedev mentioned that the food in the restaurant is better than last year.

PETE SAMPRAS: I can't understand.

Q. The food in the press restaurant?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it's better this year than last year. I'm actually eating it this year.

Q. Will you be playing the Davis Cup--

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know.

Q. You haven't thought about?

PETE SAMPRAS: I haven't decided yet.

Q. When will you do that?

PETE SAMPRAS: After this tournament.

Q. Do you think given the game and how young you are that your situation could get to where Steff's is, where you wouldn't be pressed by anyone? Do you think that could happen on the men's tour?

PETE SAMPRAS: I really haven't given a lot of thought to Steffi in this room. That seems to be the question, comparing me to Steffi, what she's doing and that's something I really don't think about it.

Q. I really don't mean you and her specifically as much as could that situation happen on the men's tour; could anyone ever separate themselves so much from the pack and maintain dominance?

PETE SAMPRAS: The last guy I really believe who dominated was Lendl, and I feel if I stay healthy and keep that motivation, keep on working hard, that's something that's possible.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about Lendl who continues to have this drive to play tennis as he gets older? He, like you, doesn't seem to lose his enthusiasm for a for the game; do you have a perspective on that?

PETE SAMPRAS: I have no idea. He's 34, 33. Who knows how I'm going to feel when I'm his age and if I'll have that motivation to play, but he's always someone who hasn't quit and loves the game and loves the Open and he's trying to win his major and obviously go out and end his career on a positive note.

Q. With Boris out, what do you think your chances are of defending the title?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's never easy to defend. I mean, as far as Boris losing, it just shows how good the players are. Richey Reneberg ranked 15 in the world to come through and win that. You can't take anything for granted. I just have to go out there and play my tennis and that's really it.

End of FastScripts...

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