Re: Pete Sampras - US OPEN
UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION
1993 U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
Flushing Meadows, New York, NY
September 12, 1993
P. SAMPRAS/ C. Pioline
6-4, 6-4, 6-3
AN INTERVIEW WITH PETE SAMPRAS
Q. Pete, is it kind of lost in the shuffle that you are going to be No. 1 again; is that that big a deal to you compared to this?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think winning a Grand Slam is more important than anything. I know, I became No. 1 winning yesterday, but if I would have lost today I wouldn't have been happy. But you know, it feels good to get it back, with the Grand Slams, that is more important in my mind.
Q. Can you sense how nervous he was; was there a feeling out there?
PETE SAMPRAS: I could tell I got to a good start, got off to several breaks, got on top of him pretty quickly. I actually thought he might be swinging away. I thought he was going to hit some great shots. I managed to get an early break. Then I served really well in the first couple of sets. He was a bit tight, which I think is to be expected.
Q. Pete, does this kind of cement your reputation now as being the best player in the game at this moment?
PETE SAMPRAS: You tell me. I don't know. I mean, it has, you know, been a great year, the Wimbledon victory was really big for me and now I won the 2 biggest tournaments in the world. 93 is going to go down as my best year so far. But there is a lot of competition out there and hopefully I can keep this ranking all the way through the end of this year.
Q. When the first few serves 128, 127 miles per hour, was that more trying to send him a message or was that just your adrenaline?
PETE SAMPRAS: It was both. The wind was really in one direction. I wanted to you know, first start of the match, smoke them by him even if I miss; kind of send him a message that I am going to hit it pretty hard. That is what I did.
Q. Can you anticipate enjoying this more than you did in 90? I don't think we are going to hear you come here next year and say the monkey is off your back. Can you talk about the feeling?
PETE SAMPRAS: You know, in 90, the victory here almost kind of happened too fast and too easy, where I really didn't have any time really to think about what is exactly happening. Throughout these two weeks I have been thinking about this moment of winning my second year U.S. Open. I can appreciate it much more, 93 versus 90. I am just going to go home and just enjoy the victory.
Q. What are you most proud of in this performance; not today necessarily, but over the two week period?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think winning my matches pretty convincingly. I think I only dropped 2 sets and I am pretty happy that I beat the guys, you know, beating Chang was a very big step for me. The way I played the last couple of sets, I mean, he has given me a lot of problems in the past and to get by him at a big Grand Slam, that is one victory that kind of sticks out in my mind right now.
Q. Was the final in this tournament a whole easier than you expected?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I didn't really expect, you know, kind of taking it one match a time. My summer wasn't really that great. I felt my tennis was okay when I came in here, but the way things worked out, a lot of the top seeds went down early and I just took advantage of the draw.
Q. How much more comfortable are you now with being No. 1 and winning Grand Slams than in 1990, and what was the process you went through to get to the point where you are now?
PETE SAMPRAS: 1990, my game wasn't really quite developed when I won here. I just had two hot weeks and for the next 6 to 8 months I really kind of struggled off and on the court. I kind of got through that little slump. Just keeping enjoying the tennis, keep it simple and, you know, peak at the Grand Slams. That is what I have done this year. You know, did well at the French and Australian, so my year, you know, can't get any better than this.
Q. When you serve that well, do you think that you are unbeatable?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think when I am serving well, I can really take more chances on his serve. If I can send him a message, I am hitting 2, 3 aces a game I can be a little bit more carefree and loose on his service games, and my groundstrokes game has really improved the last couple of years, due to my claycourt success, and serving well, everything else is working well.
Q. When the other top seeds went out, Courier going out, does that tell you anything about yourself; is there any kind of explanation as to why they did and what it said to you why they went out?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the depth of tennis today is very deep, you know. Pioline, I saw him beat Courier. He looked awful tough. I mean, lot of upsets, you know, these days versus ten years ago. You can kind of expect, you know, McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, Borg in the semis, whereas today it is a different story. There are so many guys out there that are so dangerous, I think that is a good reason why you see a lot of upsets.
Q. Did that tell you a way to avoid it or that you'd better tone your concentration --
PETE SAMPRAS: I- wasn't- worried about the other guys in the draw. Just concerned about my matches and what I was going to do to prepare and stay focused. Last two weeks I did a pretty good job of that.
Q. This is two-part. Did you realize what you said out there, does anything cross your mind when it came out of your mouth?
PETE SAMPRAS: What is that?
Q. "I am trying my ass off here." Also, what I want to say about that, yesterday, Steffi told us no matter how many times she is in that position, she is really nervous speaking to huge groups of people. Can you relate to what she said, because you also are higher than some players, other people on the tour?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, a man's biggest fear is getting up in front of people to talk. And it is, you know, I am not used to it. I am getting better and the more you do it, the better you get at it.
Q. Did you mean to say that?
PETE SAMPRAS: That just kind of slipped out. Sorry.
Q. Pete, how are you going to celebrate at all when you get back to Tampa; any particular place in your house where you are collecting these trophies now?
PETE SAMPRAS: I got this one space in my cabinet that my U.S. Open trophy 90 and 93 Wimbledon are standing and I'll put it right there right next to it. But, you know, I am going to go down to Florida for a couple of days, I got a couple of one-night exhibitions over in the west coast, see my family a little bit. So it should be fun.
Q. Cabinet in Florida or California?
PETE SAMPRAS: In Florida.
Q. Is it more difficult in a tournament of this magnitude to play somebody who you have only played twice and is it the sort of an unknown rather than when you know Courier's game so well, did that make it more of a challenging--
PETE SAMPRAS: You know, I was expected to win today. Playing, you know, Jim, I played him so many times. Playing Cedric, I have only played him a couple of times. And you know, he has really made a lot of good improvements in his game and he is a more solid player than he was a couple of years ago when I played him. You know, didn't know really what to expect if he was going to come up real tight or come out just swinging away. As a result, he came out a little tight and I got off to an early break.
Q. You said winning the last time made you struggle with your life. What is the comparison, if there is, between then and now in terms of life?
PETE SAMPRAS: 90 I won the Open and immediately I was recognized all around the world, and at that point I really wasn't used to it. I didn't really enjoy it, but I realized, you know, it is the way it is going to be. It is part of the job, more success, more times you win, the difficulty is going to be off the court. I have just accepted that.
Q. Did it play with your head, Pete, at all, and how did you get over it, I mean, what got you around that struggle and moving on?
PETE SAMPRAS: I just kind of, you know, kept on going at it. Hanging in there. I was going through some tough losses, but managed just to-- I believe in myself and I believed in my game and as it worked out, I got back to it.
Q. Pete, you had that moment in the third set second game where you went on the line call on the serve, then you doublefaulted. What did you say to yourself--
PETE SAMPRAS: That happened couple of times I got off to an early break in the second and the third, I just-- I was rushing it. I believe I was rushing a little bit too much and thinking about, you know, thinking about winning it instead of thinking about the point I was playing, and that was a mistake and I just got a little bit tight there and start rushing a bit. But I managed to get through that.
Q. Was there ever-- it never seemed like he challenged you in terms of bringing you to a point where he could turn the match in his favor. You always seemed to be in control of it from the start. Did you always have that feeling that there-- was there ever a point where you thought that he could get back in it?
PETE SAMPRAS: When I -- when I got out to an early break in the second he broke me straight back. I was-- I let him back in the match just by some careless errors. Just not three-set-- 3 out of 5 set match you cannot play well every game. There were sometimes when the crowd got a little bit behind him, he started playing a bit better, but I managed to play the big points real well. And he, you know, got a little bit tight on the breakpoints, he had hit some doublefaults, which helped me out. Match point he obviously doublefaulted.
Q. What was the feeling when you saw that doublefault on match point? It is suddenly over abruptly; what is that like?
PETE SAMPRAS: I knew because the wind was blowing in that one direction. I knew it is tough to really hit second serves; it hit the tape. I had a pretty good feeling it was going to go out because of the wind. It would have been much nicer to win it the point before, couple of points before when I hit that great volley, but it felt great, it is a great feeling.
Q. Obviously, Cedric's biggest moment. Were you surprised that he came out there and chose to serve and not take the chance of receiving it and getting into the match; that kind of hurt him?
PETE SAMPRAS: I wasn't surprised. He had 2 great weeks and he is confident. I mean, if I was in his position; if I won the toss, I would have started serving. As it turned out, he doublefaulted and missed pretty a easy volley on breakpoint and maybe if he had to do it over again he might receive.
Q. You said in 90 if I remember when you broke down your game, and you know, went for the one-hand that you basically-- you would look at films of Rosewall and Laver; you really looked up to them. You now move basically into their company. You are now a 3 time champion. How does it feel to be in that kind of company now?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, if I can do -- maintain this for ten years; then I will be in their company. But you know, I have 3 Grand Slams titles; 2 biggest ones in the world, and you know my goal one day is to be in the same set as Laver and Rosewall. Those guys were class acts. That is something that I try to present when I play. But you know, it feels pretty good right now.
Q. You have won a few Grand Slams now. Based on your experience, how long does the exultation last before the real world starts seeping back in; how long can you really enjoy this before you go --
PETE SAMPRAS: My schedule is -- as it turned out I have four, five weeks off before I go to the European swing. After the Wimbledon victory, after about two weeks I knew it was back to business and getting ready for the hard courts. Now I have been a lot of time off and, you know, I am just going obviously to take sometime off and get back to playing again.
Q. The last time, you talked about all this intrusion on your life. What was that all about and was that a position where you had say is it really worth it?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it was really worth it. It really-- I don't like losing. I don't like not playing well and you know, just -- just being recognized, I wasn't comfortable with that. I pretty much don't like to be the center of attention and immediately in 90 after I won it here was, you know, from one extreme to the next and, you know, took me a while to get used to that but I managed to get through it.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how Tim has helped you become what you are and comfortable with everything that goes along with it?
PETE SAMPRAS: He had a huge impact on my results and me playing better. I mean, the claycourt success I have had, you know, he really emphasized playing well on clay and you know mentally staying in there and you know, Tim, he was a smart player when he played in his day and that is something that I was lacking, my shot selection was a bit suspect and he kind of sharpened me up a little bit. He has made me think a little bit more what I am trying to do out there. As a result you know, things have really worked out well. I am sure our relationship will continue for a lot of years.
Q. Early in the year when you became No. 1, there was a lot of commentary about, yeah, he is No. 1 on the computer, but hasn't won a Slam recently. Did you hear that and was that a motivating factor in any way for you?
PETE SAMPRAS: I heard that. But it-- was it motivating? You know, I am not going to say that one thing really motivated me, the talk in the press, but -- I really don't understand the question. Can you rephrase it?
Q. Just did that spur you on? Did that make you --
PETE SAMPRAS: Not particularly. I mean, that is not one thing that I was thinking about out there.
Q. Pete, you mentioned Laver and Rosewall a lot as guys you emulated and still emulate. Are there any American guys growing up that you pointed to and say I want to grow up like them? Is it a personality thing?
PETE SAMPRAS: Connors and McEnroe obviously, I looked up to them. But the coach that I was working with Pete Fischer really liked the way and liked the way the guys acted, the Australian guys and you know, I try and, like I said, conduct myself in a classy manner. That is one thing that they did and so there wasn't really an American that I really idolized. Sure, I respected McEnroe's talent and Connors' intensity, but the Aussies, those guys were great guys.
Q. Do you like today's tennis?
PETE SAMPRAS: I like today's tennis. I was just mentioning that you know, look at this draw. I mean, all the upsets. It is tough to win every Slam. I mean, it is-- I had, you know, two, 4 really good weeks at Wimbledon and the Open. And it is, you know, it is tough.
Q. Why tougher now, that is what I mean? Is it the --
PETE SAMPRAS: Not the schedule,.
Q.-- depth of the schedule?
PETE SAMPRAS: Just the depth in tennis period. All the top guys schedule to do well at the grand Slams and Novacek beating Edberg and Becker losing to Larsson. Those guys are ranked 30, 40, 50 in the world. You just didn't see that ten years ago.
Q. Is the schedule so long that nobody can keep that kind of concentration; you don't have an off season; there is no time to put your head back together?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the one part of the schedule where it is tough, I believe, is coming from the French and having two weeks until Wimbledon. And that amazes me how Borg did it. But as far as you have Australia, January, and the French and Wimbledon are tough to win back-to-back and the Open, I think, you have about 6-7 weeks to really peak, but those two in the middle are the tough, especially the surfaces, you know it is tough to win those back-to-back.
Q. How many tournaments will you play this year?
PETE SAMPRAS: I will probably play around 20.
Q. You maintain a certain standard of conduct. You have a certain way you want to project yourself as a class act. Yet periodically things pop up in the media; writers say Sampras is boring or the Open isn't exciting without a Connors or McEnroe; do you find that ironic or is that a price you have to pay to maintain the standard?
PETE SAMPRAS: Kind of puts me in a tough position. I can't change my attitude on the court for the fans or for the press. I just have to do what I have to do to; win tennis matches and the way I conduct myself is the way it is always going to be. I was taught and trained at a young age to play and act a certain way. And I am sorry that it wasn't exciting for you guys to write about.
Q. But are you really sorry?
PETE SAMPRAS: I am not really sorry.
Q. Did you feel at any point that this summer that you would overschedule yourself, but in looking back, do you feel that it was the right thing to do, getting yourself ready for this tournament?
PETE SAMPRAS: I wasn't -- I felt playing 4 straight weeks was a bit of a mistake. But as it turned out, I really didn't play all that great. I don't know what my ranking was, but it wasn't winning every week, so I came in here pretty mentally fresh and physically fresh. I wasn't playing a whole lot of tennis even though I was scheduled to play. I just wasn't winning week in, week out, and as it turned out, it worked pretty well for me.
Q. A lot of college basketball coaches like their teams to lose before the NCAA tournament. Do you equate that to when you lost, I guess it was in Montreal, does it help you refocus yourself and if you had won those weeks, do you think that it would have been tougher for you to come in here keeping that level up than having lost?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, what happened in Montreal I had a bit of a let-down after the Wimbledon. In Cincy and Indy I tried my best; just didn't get the breaks. Maybe that was a blessing, maybe you know I got all my bad luck and bad tennis behind me, and really you know, peaked well here and you know, I am not going to schedule my next year like I did this year. I am just playing two tournaments and take a week off and play 2 more and so I can see where those coaches are coming from. Obviously I like to win every week, but I rather win these two weeks.
Q. You said earlier that when you came-- when you won Wimbledon it was a real break through. "I needed a major," you said and basically you -- as a champion, what does this win do for you?
PETE SAMPRAS: This feels just as good. It feels you know, kind of tough to talk about. Call me in a couple of days. I will tell you what it is like. Wimbledon victory was really big for me because if I would have gone down there I wouldn't know how I would have rebounded for this tournament, but as it turned out, I won there, but you know it has been a great year. I need some time off.
Q. Last year, you came close here and you got sick and I guess it affected your performance in the final. Did you do anything this year, you know, like cautious the way you played or whatever, to make sure you wouldn't get sick?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah.
Q. Like what?
PETE SAMPRAS: I didn't eat at Flushing Meadow all two weeks. What I was doing was getting good New York delis sandwiches and eating turkey sandwiches for two straight weeks and didn't eat here at all.
Q. Pete, you talked about the depth of the men's game and all the outstanding players, but yet during this match a lot of guys kind of watching football games and checking scores. If tennis has dropped in popularity, is there anything that you guys can do to get the public's imagination back?
PETE SAMPRAS: Maybe shave my chest, I don't know.
Q. Since you bring that up, some of the other guys have tried things like that. Is that bad for tennis? Where is the grey area here?
PETE SAMPRAS: What can I say? What can I say? You know, the personality of the guys today are aren't quite as outspoken as the McEnroe Connors days and I am the complete opposite. And if that is a negative, then what can I say or do?
Q. Do you think American players coming into a Grand Slam, especially a final, are relieved of some of the pressure about the nationality. Like this guy is playing you and he is going to be the first Frenchman since the 4 musketeers and you guys were like a bunch of-- you are all in the same age group; do you feel that you don't have to deal with the same way of winning for your country as you know, Gaby and the win here in 90 was the first South American in God knows when; is that something you don't have to deal with or does it way on your mind at all?
PETE SAMPRAS: As far as playing here versus playing Wimbledon?
Q. Like being the last American left for X number of stages in the Open and I mean, does the nationality issue even cross your mind in a Grand Slam and is it different for the none Americans?
PETE SAMPRAS: Not really. That is the longest question I have heard.
Q. Pete, I know you are hitting some heavy top spin out there, and serves. I don't think I have seen anybody break two strings in a row?
PETE SAMPRAS: The first one I broke I have been using that racket for couple of sets and the second one, a couple of -- I hit and it just snapped.
Q. Anything like that twice before?
PETE SAMPRAS: To me it has happened before.
Q. Two successive swings?
PETE SAMPRAS: Sure.
Q. Did you have a lot of rackets left in the bag?
PETE SAMPRAS: I brought out five.
Q. Pete, you have won Wimbledon and here this year. Can you win a Grand Slam?
PETE SAMPRAS: Can I win a Grand Slam? All in one year?
PETE SAMPRAS: I am not going to out rule it. I am not going to -- that is a tough question. Sure, I'd love to do it. I mean, if there is one tournament that is tougher for me is the French Open, and you know, I played pretty well there last couple of years, but winning a Grand Slam is-- you need to be obviously a great player and you need to have a bit of luck and you know, it is tough. I mean, I haven't really thought about it too much.
Q. Lendl always chased Wimbledon. Is it important for you to win in all 4 eventually over the life of your career?
PETE SAMPRAS: That is a big thing for me to win on clay.
Q. Pete, what are you planning, anything special with the $530,000?
PETE SAMPRAS: It is always that question here, isn't there? No. Not really.
Q. Thank you.