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March 15, 1994

Pete Sampras


Q. How did you feel out there today?

PETE SAMPRAS: I felt great. I felt it takes a little time getting used to playing on court 1, the Grandstands. The shadows were a bit distracting, but I thought I played pretty flawless.

Q. Pete, I asked you this question yesterday, my tape was not working, about the clay season, quickly run over why you are stepping up your clay court activity, and what your goals are for improving on clay?

PETE SAMPRAS: I am not really stepping up my clay court. I am playing only two events before the French, but I realized that clay is going to be my biggest challenge of my career, and I hope one day to accomplish, you know, having a victory over Roland Garros, so it is going to be a tough challenge; I am looking forward to it. Obviously, it is not my best surface and I feel a bit more vulnerable on clay than I do on a hardcourt or indoor court, but it is a whole new ballgame for me. It is just going to take some time.

Q. You have mentioned Rod Laver in the past, someone you looked up to. He was a 4 Grand Slam winner in one year. Is this part of this wanting to find a place in history as a guy who can win all 4 Grand Slams?

PETE SAMPRAS: That is important to me. I mean, it is something I'd like to go down in the history books as really a good player, and I just think about all the great players that have not won the French, the McEnroes and the Connors, and so on, and if I can one day get a little lucky at the French, this would be more satisfying than any other victory that I have had. It's going to be a long road. I know going into the French, I will be a favorite, but not a strong one. There are guys that are stronger on clay and they feel like they have a pretty good chance to win when they come out and play me. I will just take it one day at a time, basically, which is -- when I come into the U.S. Open, I am not satisfied with nothing but a win, whereas the French, it is more of a struggle.

Q. You finally -- what is the secret to getting better on clay?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think for me it is patience and, you know, staying mentally into the match. I mean, there are a lot of highs and lows in a 3 out of 5 set claycourt match and the way I play, I still feel like I have too many highs and lows that you can't get away with on clay. There are guys that just kind of hang in there like the Couriers and the Brugueras; just don't really let you breath, and so it is just -- it is a big challenge, that is for sure.

Q. Did you watch the final last night?

PETE SAMPRAS: I saw some of it. I was pretty surprised.

Q. Marvel at some of the sharp --

PETE SAMPRAS: That is clay court tennis at its best.

Q. Talk a little bit about Petr Korda coming off a tough five-setter against him last week at Indian Wells. You played him earlier this year. You beat him pretty easily.

PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, he is a great shot maker. He is going to hit his great shots, and it's just a matter of me hanging in there with him when he has those highs. He can come off and hit six straight winners. He is one of the more dangerous players on the tour, and, you know, I know he is going to do -- I know what he is going to do. It is just a matter of who does it better.

Q. With an emotional player like that, do you try to do something from keeping him getting on a roll?

PETE SAMPRAS: You might tend to slow it down. He plays pretty quick. He can, like I said, run off with some unbelievable passing shots and baseline shots, and if things aren't going my way, I might slow it down, kind of play to my pace, something I might do.

Q. I've talked to a lot of players this week - haven't spoken to you yet - about the depth in men's tennis, the top 100, seems like everybody is giving top players problems. But you don't seem to be having too much problems as far as your scores go. 6-2 and 2 not too much of a problem.

PETE SAMPRAS: I am playing well. I mean, I feel like if I go out and play the tennis I am capable of playing, I feel like I have got a pretty good chance. There are days where I come out and I am having an off-day, I might be playing someone that is having an on-day, like a Jacco Eltingh, something like that, you know, it is just tough to maintain a high level of tennis for a long time, but so far been doing it pretty well this week.

Q. Jacco and now Patrick Rafter seem to be two guys that the guys in the top 10 don't want to play; those guys are not in the top 10. What about those guys that allow them to come up with big wins?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is the way they play, serve and volley. They both serve and volley on both serves and if you are not returning well, those guys are good enough from the backcourt and put enough pressure on you that it is tough; you come out with a bad serving day like I might have and as good as these guys are, you can't take anything for granted. These big serve and volleyers come out and hitting 120 miles an hour, it is-- you can lose sometimes.

Q. When you face one of these guys in an early round, do you think, oh, no, anybody but these guys?

PETE SAMPRAS: Why is she laughing?

Q. I think he is over doing Jacco?

PETE SAMPRAS: Over doing Jacco, your boyfriend. She is turning red; isn't she?

Q. It is the bronchitis.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, there are a number of dangerous players, and Rafter is one, and there is lot of dangerous guys out there. You can't just point out two of them. There are a dozen guys out there that give anyone a rough time.

Q. Couple of guys that have pulled off some big ones?


Q. But Jacco, especially. Getting back to the whole French Open thing, you are going to be taking four weeks off, more or less. What are you going to be doing?

PETE SAMPRAS: Training. Training hard. I have kind of planned out my schedule where I am going to go to Osaka and Tokyo and have four weeks off to get into really good shape over in Europe for two months. I feel like I could use a little bit of strength and endurance you can't work on everyday. I am going to be with Pat Etcheberry down in Florida for three and a half weeks really working hard and getting in really good shape for the clay.

Q. Pete, you seemed to have settled into Tampa. Are you just in a weigh station; do you feel like you are part of the community?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I feel like I am part of the community. I have accepted a couple of awards; Peoples Choice Award in Tampa. Pretty much a Tampa resident as of right now. I plan on staying in Tampa for a while; good for my tennis; closer to Europe, and I feel like when I go to L.A. I only go to L.A. to see my folks. I never pick up a racket.

Q. What is in Tampa that you like to do when you are not playing tennis?

PETE SAMPRAS: I love the place on the golf course.

Q. What do you mean by that? Which one? Saddlebrook?

PETE SAMPRAS: Tampa Palms. I play golf. It is not a huge city, but there are things to do, and it is not really a small city, so I am real happy there.

Q. You are sort of a quiet guy; is it like your personality?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I am happy there.

Q. Stefan talked earlier about how you can control how much attention you get from the public; walking in malls, as opposed if you want to be like Andre, getting a lot of attention. How does that work out for you?

PETE SAMPRAS: I try to put myself in an environment that I am not going to be bothered. I stay in quite a bit. If I am staying at a hotel I have room service; not to deal with being bothered at a restaurant which is pretty distracting. I try not to put myself in a situation that, you know, I am not going to be comfortable. So that is pretty much -- stay in my room where no one can get me.

Q. Do you resent that? Any resentment not being able to--

PETE SAMPRAS: There are times I might want to go out, but I realize that unless it is a good time and place -- it is the price you pay for doing what we do and the better you do in this game, it is-- just-- your time is going to be asked more from the media and fans, autographs. I have just accepted and it is part of the job.

Q. How often can you go out though and not be noticed?

PETE SAMPRAS: Depends where I am. I feel like I am much more recognizable when I am over in Europe versus in the states. States I can still feel like I can go out in some areas, some malls that I won't be recognized. Obviously, you are going to get your stares and I have just kind of gotten used to that.

Q. Couple of years ago you really loaded your schedule up on clay court stuff. Why not now?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, at the time, the year of the Olympics, must have been in 92, the previous years, the French, I was more or less embarrassed on the clay. I remember losing to Chang 1, 1 and 1 and Champion, like I got like five games in. I wanted to prove to myself that I can play on clay and that was the reasoning I decided-- I played 7, 8 events, which was more than I played on hard court, but now I just feel like I feel pretty comfortable on clay. Obviously, it is not my best surface, but it is just the schedule. I decided I am going to go over to Asia and we will see, maybe if I don't play well at the French this year, maybe I will change my schedule for next year. We will wait see what happens.

Q. Anything else. Thanks, Pete.

End of FastScripts....

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