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Old 02-16-2007, 05:37 PM   #1
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Default SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

Q&A: Pete Sampras

The Pistol raps on his comeback and Roger Federer
Posted: Thursday February 15, 2007 9:24AM;






Last week Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch interviewed Pete Sampras for the magazine's Q&A. The 35-year-old Hall of Fame tennis player will compete in the Outback Champions Series, an over-30 tour, in Boston from May 2-6. In July he will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. Here are additional excerpts from their conversation.

SI: What has retirement been like for you?

Sampras: Retirement is a work in progress. It's not like you can read a book and figure it out. But I realized in 2005 that I needed to start doing something. I wasn't structured at all. I was kind of waking up, playing golf, not really doing much. When I committed to playing a little tennis in some exhibitions, it was the best thing for me. It got me in shape. It got me out of the house. It got me doing something I love to do.

SI: You've committed to playing two events on this tour. Why return to competitive tennis?

Sampras: I talked to Jim Courier a lot over the past year. He was picking my brain on where I was mentally and whether I wanted to play. I just wanted to give it a shot. There's something about playing an event. It was a process getting to a point where I could commit to it and be excited about it. I'm playing Jim and John McEnroe and guys I played during my years. I'm looking forward to it but I had to get to a pretty good place to commit to it and see how it feels. John and Jim said it was a fun week, a competitive week, but's it not the competition I'm looking for. It's having something to prepare for. I have something to look forward to. I can hit a little more. I can get in a little better shape. It's a combination of all those things that give you a little focus. I's not anything like it used to be but something like it used to be.

SI: What happens if you play at higher level in Boston than you expect? Would you be tempted to keep playing?

Sampras: That's a good question. I'm curious myself as to what it will feel like. I will tell you that in the last months I have been hitting the ball better today then I did when I was playing. A lot of it has to do with technology. I'm using a bigger racket. Technology is taking the game to a new level and the last year or so I have taken advantage of that. I am serving just as hard. I'm hitting the ball with more control. I think my racket head has a lot to do with that.

SI: Say you were offered a wild card at an ATP tournament in the next 18 months, would you consider it?

Sampras: The offer is not the problem. It's the desire for me to do it and the grind of it all. People have mentioned to me: You should come back. There's not many great players today and it would be exciting, and give the sport a real shot in the arm. But they haven't walked a mile in my shoes. Realistically, I only play one way. That's to win. I won't jeopardize that feeling to come back just to come back. It has to be for a reason. My competitive side and curious side, I have thought about it. Realistically, it's not going to happen.

SI: You played against Roger Federer once at Wimbledon 2001.

Sampras: And lost 7-5 in the fifth.

SI: Federer will top out at how many majors?

Sampras: I see him getting to 17, 18 or 19 majors. I really do. Who knows how far he can go? He's winning these majors with pretty much ease. He's not challenged much. He's obviously playing great. If there were three or four guys who were pushing him to five sets or beating him a few times over the past year, then anything could happen on the day. But I just find him with that extra gear that no one can hang with him for a long period of time. He can win 17, 18 or 19 majors. He's in the middle of his career and I don't see him slowing down or anyone slowing him down.

SI: What would be your game plan to beat him?

Sampras: I would try to take his timing away and come in and use my serve and aggressive style. He does great things when guys stay back and he can kind of dictate from the back court. I would not want to get into many exchanges like that. I'd try to come in, attack his second serve, really just try to take his rhythm away. That's what I tried to do against all the great baseliners like Courier and Andre Agassi. I would try to overwhelm them with my power and shot-making ability. So I would serve and volley on both serves. I would attack his backhand, which is his weaker side, and go from there. Unfortunately, we don't have anyone who can do that today so he can out-athletic these guys from the back court because of what he can do on the run. Nobody is looking to come in and I think that's the way to beat him.

SI: Would you be okay with Federer passing your Grand Slam majors record?

Sampras: Sure, you would love to have that record but it's true: Records are made to be broken. Players are better today and I believe Roger is going to break my record, Tiger Woods is going top break Jack Nicklaus' record and Barry Bonds is going to break Hank Aaron's record. Unfortunately for me, Roger would only have given me the record for about eight years. But I don't believe in not rooting for him. I've never believed in that. I believe the record will be broken and the person who will break it is a phenomenal player. He is someone who I would want to see do it because I think he is a credit to the game. I think he's a nice guy. He handles himself well on and off the court. He has good temperament there. Those are the things I like in an athlete. He doesn't transcend the sport because of where we are today and all the controversy people want.

SI: When is the last time you spoke with Federer?

Sampras: I talked to him a few days after the Open. I sent him a text to congratulate him. Then we spoke a little bit after that. We had some people who were curious about putting together an exhibition. It ended up not working out but we talked a little about the exhibition and in general. I told him, "Look, I don't know you well but want to tell you I respect your game, the way you handle yourself and that you are credit to the game." I think he gets respect from the media and the fans and I wanted him to know that I was a part of that.

SI: Who do you think is the more dominant athlete: Tiger Woods or Federer?

Sampras: Good question. As far as pure domination, it's hard to say because I find golf harder to dominate than tennis. For Tiger to do what he has done, he has to worry about a field of players but he's not as much in control of how it goes compared to Roger. For Roger, it's just one on one. He has to worry about seven guys and seven guys only. Tiger has to worry about some floater guy shooting 62. Tiger is not as much in control so it tells you what Tiger has done might be more impressive. But at the same time Roger has lost like five matches in the last 18 months. Something ridiculous like that. It's hard to say whether tennis is harder to dominate than golf. I think a lot more crazier things can happen in golf than tennis so I'd lean a little toward Tiger but at the same time Roger has won more than Tiger.

SI: How often do you talk to Andre Agassi?

Sampras: I talked to him a little after the U.S. Open. He invited my wife and me to his foundation dinner so we went and talked and hung out. We promised each other we would stay in touch. I think we have been through too much together and do get along quite well. We both have a wife and two kids. We have a lot in common at this stage in our lives.

SI: Would you describe you and Agassi as friends today?

Sampras: I would. Not anything where we stay in touch week to week, but if he were ever in L.A. or I were in Las Vegas, I think we would reach out to one another just to get together or have our kids play. The great thing that happened with us is that everything we went through, completing for major titles, I think we came out better friends than when we went into it. It's a credit to who we are and what we represent.

SI: How much tennis memorabilia do you own?

Sampras: I have some trophies and eight of my old St. Vincent Wilson racquets. That's about it. I have the net at Wimbledon when I broke the record. But it's in storage [laughs].

SI: Have you ever looked up your wife's (actress Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) page on the IMDb Web site?

Sampras: Absolutely. And I've Googled her.

SI: Before or after you were married?

Sampras: After [laughs].

SI: The one stroke from any player in history you would like to borrow for one match?

Sampras: How about Goran Ivanisevic's serve? On grass. That was pretty rough.

SI: You can be one other athlete for one day, whom do you choose and why?

Sampras: If I could pick anyone I would say Michael Jordan, hitting his last-second shot against Utah in Game Six of the 1998 NBA Finals. That was a great moment and he did in Utah, which was even sweeter.

SI: What's a typical day like for you these days?

Sampras: I'll get up either 7 or 8 and spend some time with my kids before they go to pre-school. Then at 10 to 11 I'll go to the gym and lift some weights or do a run. I might play golf from noon to 4 or 5. Then I'll get back and spend a few hours with my kids before they go to bed. That's kind of a typical day. But I do hit the tennis ball three days a week, maybe from 1:30 to 3. Twice a week I play basketball. I have a little hoop at my house so I'll bring eight guys over to play a little four-on-four. That's a great workout. And I play poker in a home game once a week. I spend a lot of time with my kids. I like taking my older son out to lunch. We go to Beverly Hills to have lunch and we have that time together.

SI: You'll be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in July. Have you started on your speech?

Sampras: I have not started on the speech, but I am thinking about ideas and things I want to say. For me, it's kind of thanking everyone that got me to this point. I'll talk about how I looked at my tennis, different coaches, my family and wife. I have not officially put something down on paper but I want to talk about what the sport meant to me and how I looked at the sport.

SI: Can you go as long as you want?

Sampras: You can as long as you want. I see something like five to 10 minutes.

SI: That seems short.

Sampras: They told me Jimmy Connors did something for 5 to 10 minutes and McEnroe did 40, which is a little long. I want something short and sweet so I can nail some important points.

SI: Would you and your wife ever consider posing for the SI Swimsuit Issue?

Sampras: I don't know. Maybe it's not for us [laughs].

SI: I know you believe Roger will win the French Open. What would that win mean for his career?

Sampras: It would complete it, and not that it's not already complete today. But he was born and raised on clay. The closest I came to clay as a kid was Play-Doh. It was foreign to me. I think his game suits clay pretty well. So I think it is just a matter of time. It's tough because there are really a lot more good clay-court players today then there were 10 years ago. It will be as challenging as it was for me but I think he's more comfortable on clay because he grew up on it.

SI: If we were to ask your friends to describe you in a sentence, what would they say?

Sampras: Kind of a dry sense of humor, sarcastic, a little guarded at first, but once you break that barrier, he's friendly.

SI: Justin Gimelstob wrote a column for SI.com saying he thought you were playing today at a level as high as anyone except Federer.

Sampras: We were talking about the game and the sport. James Blake is No. 6 in the world and I wonder what it would be like to play him at this stage of my life if he gave me a few months to prepare. The serve is something that I still possess and I felt pretty hard to break.

SI: You are 35 -- not that old.

Sampras: It is true. Look at what guys are playing with today. It is crazy the amount of power a guy like Fernando Gonzalez can get from that racket. It has made mediocre players better and it has made the great players that much better. It's something I'll always think about.

SI: Have you ever played golf with Tiger?

Sampras: No, just a few hands of black jack. We were in Las Vegas doing an interview for ESPN and we played black jack and had dinner together.

SI: Anyone our readers would know who plays in your home poker game?

Sampras: Dan Harrington.

SI: The Dan Harrington?

Sampras: Action Dan himself. He's a really nice guy, very smart. We talk a little tennis, and his poker days.

SI: Is it intimidating to play him?

Sampras: I kind of stay away from him when we get into pots. I try to stay clear of him but sometimes you run into him.

SI: Who was the most fun person to make fun of on tour?

Sampras: I was always friendly with Tim Henman. I'd say we'd ribbed each other. I was close to him. I think someone like Gimelstob, I was just mean to in a fun way [laughs].

SI: You and your wife have each now had a Q&A in this space. That probably ranks up there with seven Wimbledons, right?

Sampras: Thanks [laughs]. That is cool.

SI: Is there anyone you have always wanted to meet that you have yet to meet?

Sampras: There's not anyone I am dying to meet. I finally got to meet someone I was in awe of and that was Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. I'm a huge Pearl Jam fan. I got a chance to to talk to him before a concert. I've met a lot of different people in all walks of life, from sportsman to actors, but he was someone throughout my years, he was a person I wanted to meet.

SI: Could you name every film your wife has appeared in?

Sampras: I can now. When we were first going out, there were some I did not know of. And I know she was in Saved by the Bell. Give me some time and I can think of all of them.

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Old 02-16-2007, 06:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

Bittersweet. He believed, so many people believed, his record would stand the test of time. It might still but it is looking less likely the last year or so.

He is classy in his responses, particularly since it must be a friggin' pain to have to deal with Federer questions in every interview he is giving.

This was unnecessary
Quote:
Sampras: It is true. Look at what guys are playing with today. It is crazy the amount of power a guy like Fernando Gonzalez can get from that racket. It has made mediocre players better and it has made the great players that much better. It's something I'll always think about.
"A guy like Fernando Gonzo""? What does he mean? Does something about Gonzo's physical shape or ball swing suggest he would NOT get power?
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Old 02-16-2007, 07:03 PM   #3
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.


Quote:
Originally Posted by angiel View Post
Q&A: Pete Sampras

The Pistol raps on his comeback and takes no prisoners
Posted: Thursday February 15, 2007 9:24AM;






Last week Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch interviewed Pete Sampras for the magazine's Q&A. The 35-year-old Hall of Fame tennis player will compete in the Outback Champions Series, an over-30 tour, in Boston from May 2-6. In July he will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. Here are additional excerpts from their conversation.

SI: What has retirement been like for you?

Sampras: Boring as hell. That's why I'm back.

SI: You've committed to playing two events on this tour. Why return to competitive tennis?

Sampras: Didn't I just answer this question?

SI: What happens if you play at higher level in Boston than you expect? Would you be tempted to keep playing?

Sampras: I was great once; racquet technology has made me even better. Hell yeah, I'd rock the tour, but you know--I've got my millions and everyone except Roger sucks, so why waste my time?

SI: Say you were offered a wild card at an ATP tournament in the next 18 months, would you consider it?

Sampras: Are you deaf?

SI: You played against Roger Federer once at Wimbledon 2001.

Sampras: Why are you reminding me of that loss?

SI: Federer will top out at how many majors?

Sampras: I see him getting to 17, 18 or 19 majors because of, you know, the clowns he calls "competitors".

SI: What would be your game plan to beat him?

Sampras: I would try to take his timing away and come in and use my serve and aggressive style. He does great things when guys stay back and he can kind of dictate from the back court. I would not want to get into many exchanges like that. I'd try to come in, attack his second serve, really just try to take his rhythm away. That's what I tried to do against all the great baseliners like Courier and Andre Agassi. I would try to overwhelm them with my power and shot-making ability. So I would serve and volley on both serves. I would attack his backhand, which is his weaker side, and go from there. Unfortunately, we don't have anyone who can do that today because they suck.

SI: Would you be okay with Federer passing your Grand Slam majors record?

Sampras: What do you think? Would I be talking with you if I thought it was a good thing?

SI: When is the last time you spoke with Federer?

Sampras: I talked to him a few days after the Open. I sent him a text to congratulate him and remind him that I'm the greatest and he only plays clowns . Then we spoke had some words but settled it like men. I told him, "Look, I don't know you well but want to tell you I respect your game, the way you handle yourself and that you are credit to the game." I think he gets respect from the media and the fans and I wanted him to know that I want to be a part of that--you know, bask in his glory. He shouldn't keep it all to himself.

SI: Who do you think is the more dominant athlete: Tiger Woods or Federer?

Sampras: Tiger Woods, no doubt.

SI: How often do you talk to Andre Agassi?

Sampras: I talked to him a little after the U.S. Open where I retired.

SI: Would you describe you and Agassi as friends today?

Sampras: You really are deaf!

SI: How much tennis memorabilia do you own?

Sampras: I have some trophies--lets see, my 7 Wimbledon crowns, the most in history, my 5 US Open crowns, 2 Australian Opens, and 55 other stellar titles. I also have eight of my old St. Vincent Wilson racquets. That's about it. [laughs]

SI: Have you ever looked up your wife's (actress Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) page on the IMDb Web site?

Sampras: Who? Oh, my wife.

SI: Before or after you were married?

Sampras: Good one [laughs].

SI: The one stroke from any player in history you would like to borrow for one match?

Sampras: You want me to say Roger, but how about Goran Ivanisevic's serve? On grass. That was pretty rough.

SI: You can be one other athlete for one day, whom do you choose and why?

Sampras: If I could pick anyone besides me I would say Michael Jordan,because he's the greatest athlete outside of tennis and in 1998 he went out on top, just like I did.

SI: What's a typical day like for you these days?

Sampras: Preparing for my comeback and talking to people like you.

SI: You'll be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in July. Have you started on your speech?

Sampras: I'll leave that to IMG.

SI: Can you go as long as you want?

Sampras: 10 minutes. I have a lot to say.

SI: That seems short.

Sampras: Really?

SI: Would you and your wife ever consider posing for the SI Swimsuit Issue?

Sampras: My wife? Oh yeah, Bridget.

SI: I know you believe Roger will win the French Open. What would that win mean for his career?

Sampras: It would complete it, and then he can retire and leave my records alone. Just leave them alone, man!

SI: If we were to ask your friends to describe you in a sentence, what would they say?

Sampras: A real cool dude. The greatest.

SI: Justin Gimelstob wrote a column for SI.com saying he thought you were playing today at a level as high as anyone except Federer.

Sampras: Why do you keep bringing up Roger? Can't we talk about someone else, like James Blake? He's a cool guy.

SI: You are 35 -- not that old.

Sampras: Yeah, and I can still rock the tennis court. Look at the clowns playing today. It's crazy that someone like Fernando Gonzalez can even hit with a racket. It's the technology, see. It has made mediocre players better and it has made the great players that much better. That's why I'm back.

SI: Have you ever played golf with Tiger?

Sampras: Didn't you already ask a question about Tiger? Why do you keep bring Tiger and Roger up?

SI: Anyone our readers would know who plays in your home poker game?

Sampras: Dan Harrington.

SI: The Dan Harrington?

Sampras: Another great. Who else would I play with? A clown?

SI: Is it intimidating to play him?

Sampras: Not if I stay clear of him.

SI: Who was the most fun person to make fun of on tour?

Sampras: Tim Henman. You see that guy's teeth? I also rocked his world at Wimbledon. Did the same to Gimelstob. Plus, he has a funny last name. [laughs]

SI: You and your wife have each now had a Q&A in this space. That probably ranks up there with seven Wimbledons, right?

Sampras: Thanks, but not really [laughs].

SI: Is there anyone you have always wanted to meet that you have yet to meet?

Sampras: I've already met myself [laughs].

SI: Could you name every film your wife has appeared in?

Sampras: My wife? Oh, you mean Bridget.

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Old 02-16-2007, 07:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R.Federer View Post
Bittersweet. He believed, so many people believed, his record would stand the test of time. It might still but it is looking less likely the last year or so.

He is classy in his responses, particularly since it must be a friggin' pain to have to deal with Federer questions in every interview he is giving.

This was unnecessary


"A guy like Fernando Gonzo""? What does he mean? Does something about Gonzo's physical shape or ball swing suggest he would NOT get power?
I don't know about classy. I think he's clever in the way he gets his digs in. So bascially he's saying the guys out there now (other than Federer) are mediocre but because of racquet technology they're made to look good? Sorry I have a hard time believing racquets changed that much in the past 5-10 years.
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Old 02-16-2007, 07:42 PM   #5
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrosjeantheGreat View Post


He'z married to Screech?
Didn't you know he costarred in the infamous sex video

Quote:
Originally Posted by mirkaland View Post
I don't know about classy. I think he's clever in the way he gets his digs in. So bascially he's saying the guys out there now (other than Federer) are mediocre but because of racquet technology they're made to look good? Sorry I have a hard time believing racquets changed that much in the past 5-10 years.
Same thing JMac says.
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Old 02-16-2007, 07:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R.Federer View Post
This was unnecessary


"A guy like Fernando Gonzo""? What does he mean? Does something about Gonzo's physical shape or ball swing suggest he would NOT get power?
I think you are maybe misinterpreting it? I read it to just mean sort of like "The power the guys get today is incredible. For example, the power Fernando Gonzalez gets on his forehand is unbelievable" or something like that. It's just a colloquial term in US English, that is how i read it.
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Old 02-16-2007, 07:58 PM   #7
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deb!. View Post
I think you are maybe misinterpreting it? I read it to just mean sort of like "The power the guys get today is incredible. For example, the power Fernando Gonzalez gets on his forehand is unbelievable" or something like that. It's just a colloquial term in US English, that is how i read it.
I see, yes that could be his meaning.

I would accept it more willingly if he had not followed it up immediately with the statement about mediocre players.

Quote:
It is crazy the amount of power a guy like Fernando Gonzalez can get from that racket. It has made mediocre players better and it has made the great players that much better. It's something I'll always think about.
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:03 PM   #8
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

Yeah, Deb! I tend to agree. "A guy like Fernando Gonzalez" is an efficient way to say "For example, Fernando Gonzalez" in this context.
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:07 PM   #9
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

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I would accept it more willingly if he had not followed it up immediately with the statement about mediocre players.
Well...he....um...he...

Fine. He's a jerk!
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:11 PM   #10
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

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I don't know about classy. I think he's clever in the way he gets his digs in. So bascially he's saying the guys out there now (other than Federer) are mediocre but because of racquet technology they're made to look good? Sorry I have a hard time believing racquets changed that much in the past 5-10 years.
I was referring to classy in the general. He is complimentary to this generation of players. He is always complimentary to Federer, he could take the easy way out and say 'I really don't know him so I can't say what he's like.' It has got to be very annoying when only 3 years out into retirement your record for the ages is suddenly about to go and you have to field questions about the guy. He handles it quite well overall.
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:14 PM   #11
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

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I see, yes that could be his meaning.

I would accept it more willingly if he had not followed it up immediately with the statement about mediocre players.
Well we can go around and around and try to discern what he meant and never know because we can't read his mind. Maybe he just meant that Gonzo isn't like some huge physically imposing guy, which he's not. There are probably dozens of things he could've meant, but I really doubt he meant any kind of insult to gonzo. just my opinion
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:19 PM   #12
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

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Hahahahah! I only just realized that you did not only quote the Angiel post.
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:26 PM   #13
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

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I think you are maybe misinterpreting it? I read it to just mean sort of like "The power the guys get today is incredible. For example, the power Fernando Gonzalez gets on his forehand is unbelievable" or something like that. It's just a colloquial term in US English, that is how i read it.
er...i dont think so...it doesnt sound very positive. there is no reason for him to use fernando gonzalez and then talk about mediocre players the next sentence. one thought does lead to another. fernando is not a good example because he was hitting the ball hard when pete played. i dont think he hits the ball that much harder.
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:32 PM   #14
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

Nobody has the kind of exceptional winner to error stats that Gonzalez had during the AO if they're a mediocre player, and I'm pretty sure that's what Sampras was implying by mentioning the two so close together.
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:35 PM   #15
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Default Re: SI.com, Q&A: PETE SAMPRAS.

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Nobody has the kind of exceptional winner to error stats that Gonzalez had during the AO if they're a mediocre player, and I'm pretty sure that's what Sampras was implying by mentioning the two so close together.
in fairness, stefanki took a shot at sampras when he talked about federer saying that in todays game, one wouldnt be able to ride only a serve and a forehand to the top
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