BY DARRYL RICHARDS
Jul. 20, 2002 8:47 a.m.
DALLAS — Pete Sampras, still licking his wounds from an embarrassing
Wimbledon performance, is desperately searching for ways to reclaim
the game that made him the Grand Slam king.
And while Sampras is the first to say that quest starts from within,
he is also looking for a helping hand. Again.
Sampras confirmed he has parted ways with Jose Higueras, who coached
him at the French Open and Wimbledon this year. Sampras made quick
exits from both tournaments, failing to get past the second round in
either event. But Sampras said bumbling around London and Paris like
an aimless Chevy Chase in European Vacation did not cause him to look
for his third coach this year.
"I was hoping to continue to work with Jose, but I needed somebody
who could work with me more full time," said Sampras on Friday before
playing Andy Roddick in an exhibition match at Moody Coliseum. It was
his first public appearance on a court since a stunning second-round
loss to George Bastl at Wimbledon.
Sampras is looking for his game and he is searching for the right
mentor. He ended a six-year relationship with Paul Annacone in
December and started the year working with Tom Gullikson at the
Australian Open. Sampras reached the fourth round in Melbourne,
losing to Marat Safin.
In his heart, Sampras says he still believes in his game. Although he
hasn't won a tournament since winning his seventh Wimbledon title in
2000, Sampras has reached the last two U.S. Open finals. But he is
searching for something to put him over the top.
A full-time coach may be the answer. Rumors are Sampras may go back
to Annacone for the summer hardcourt season. It makes sense because
there is familiarity and Sampras is a creature of habit. Annacone
knows his game and frankly, with everything Sampras has accomplished,
who is qualified to tell Sampras what to do on the court?
Sampras said regardless of whom coaches him in the future, he is
mostly responsible for turning around his game.
"This has been the most frustrating time in my career without
question," Sampras said. "I've put in a lot of work and I have
nothing to show for it. I'm going to have to do something I've never
done before and have a comeback. I have the game and I want to do it.
I feel like I can win a couple more majors."
Imagine telling Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky how to retool his
game. Sampras, who turns 31 next month, may be in more need of tough
love than anything else at this point in his career.
"He knows how to play," Gullikson said. "He has to remember what he
did to get back to where he was. To me it's simple. It means having a
positive attitude and playing aggressive tennis. He has to dictate
the points again, he has to move forward."
Gullikson, whose late twin brother Tim coached Sampras early in his
pro career, also made a compelling point. Sampras has to be true to
himself. He is the player who has to get in shape. He is the one who
has to be positive about his game.
"A player who is coming back has to be willing to seek the truth,"
Gullikson said. "Athletes don't always want to seek the truth. If he
is willing to seek the honest truth, I think he is capable of winning
A Sampras comeback would rank among his greatest accomplishments.
Most tennis players are ready to call it a career once they turn 30.
Andre Agassi's geriatric success is a rare exception. Sampras would
like to be another.
Big Pete fan here. All time greatest Anyway, I really hope he can find it in himself to show his true playing. I don't necesserily mean winning, but just showing everyone that he's still the great player who is smart, observant, and cool on the court. go pete!!
The coaching cycle of Pete Sampras has come full circle.
Sampras, who will turn 31 in August, has been searching for answers
during a disappointing 2002 and his latest attempted solution is a
return to stability. Paul Annacone, the USTA's managing director for
the USA Tennis High-Performance program, will resume coaching Sampras
at least through the U.S. Open in September.
Annacone on Thursday confirmed speculation about their renewed
partnership. He had worked with Sampras from January 1995 through
December 2001. Since then, Sampras has worked with and parted ways
with Tom Gullikson and Jose Higueras.
"It's been a lot of instability for someone
who is a creature of habit," Annacone said
of Sampras, who is coming off an early
loss at Wimbledon and has not won a title
since July 2000.
Annacone said Sampras needed a comfort
zone and maintained it won't take long to
find that level.
"As good as he is, it doesn't take a lot,"
Annacone said. "He can jump over hurdles quickly."
The move came with the support and assistance of USTA officials. Rick
Ferman, the USTA's executive director, said that one of its goals is
to foster relationships and cooperation between the generations of
American players. "We want to lend any support we can to Pete ... and
I'm hoping it branches out to the other great players."
The decision to go back to Annacone sounded simple. It would have
taken at least six months for Sampras to become accustomed to another
new voice and coaching style. For Annacone, it will mean more work
but not much in the way of scheduling changes. One unplanned addition
is next week's Masters Series event in Toronto, which will be
Sampras' first tournament since he lost in the second round of
Wimbledon to lucky loser George Bastl.
The parting with Higueras was said to be amicable. Sampras came to
the realization that he needed a full-time coach and Higueras'
schedule was already busy enough because of his USTA coaching duties.
Higueras said last week he wouldhave been prepared to continue
working with Sampras, and that he would not leave a struggling player.
Annacone, who has been at the men's tournament at UCLA, said he is
encouraged by his observations and discussions with Sampras. "I've
watched him work out," he said. "I don't think all of a sudden you
Andy Roddick, a Davis Cup teammate of Sampras, played an exhibition
against him last week in Dallas for the Gullikson Foundation, raising
"Watch out for Pete at the Open," Roddick said. "We actually had a
very good conversation. He basically just said, 'This year has been
bad for me. But I'm looking forward to the new challenges, for the
first time in my career I have to come back.' "
By The Associated Press
11:04 AM PDT, July 26, 2002
LOS ANGELES -- Tennis star Pete Sampras and his wife, actress Bridgette
Wilson-Sampras, are expecting their first child at the end of the year.
The 30-year-old Sampras, who has won the Wimbledon men's championship
seven times since 1993, married the 28-year-old actress in the fall of
Wilson-Sampras, a former Miss Teen USA, has appeared in such films
as "The Wedding Planner," "House on Haunted Hill" and "I Know What You
Did Last Summer," and on the television series "Santa Barbara."