|Catching up with Pistol Pete|
|Andre, coaching and more...|
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Q. How about setting up an exhibition with Andre?
PETE SAMPRAS: We set up to play one in Macau later in the year. I hear he's gonna play a little bit. I'd love to play against Andre. It's a great ticket to come watch us both play, and hopefully we can do some more next year. I'm open to it. We'll see if Andre is into it.
We're doing one this year. We'll see how it goes. We'll go from there.
Q. Used to be a long season, hard court season, everybody played. A couple of Masters. Indianapolis a while ago was somewhat demoted. Some of the European players express reservations about playing in the US Open Series.
PETE SAMPRAS: You know, it's a good point. If you look who's dominating the game, Roger, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, the Europeans, it's hard for these guys to come over early. You go through the Open, they're here for two months. It's not easy.
In Roger's situation, he plays a few events that work well for him to prepare for the Open, and he calls it a day. The tournaments like L.A., the earlier events, get hurt. Certainly someone like Roddick or Blake, being in the U.S., will support those events. Still it loses the top guys.
It's unfortunate. It's a tough demand for these guys to come over for two months. It's like me going from Monte Carlo through Wimbledon or something. It's a long time. You want to get home. So it takes a hit. It's hard for these guys to come over early.
The US Open Series I think won't be as successful because you're not getting the guys over here early enough. There are too many events.
Q. Would you like to comment on how special it was for you watching Roger winning his 15th Grand Slam.
PETE SAMPRAS: It was an historic moment. I was happy I was there. It was quite a trip, but it was well worth it, sitting there watching these two guys battle in an epic match, being up there with Laver, Borg, Santana. As much as we were happy for Roger, I think we were we felt bad for Andy because he played well enough to win. He's going to feel this loss for quite a while.
It was a great ending. To be down there with Roger, Laver and Borg, taking pictures with the trophy, doesn't happen very often in sports. To be part of that was pretty cool.
Q. What did you, Borg and Laver talk about after the match?
PETE SAMPRAS: You know, not much. Sitting with Santana, had a few comments. We were down there talking about I was asking Laver how many majors he could have won, Borg, how many he could have won if he kept on going. You know, just curiosity. We were just talking. Roger and I talked a little bit about the match, how he was having a hard time picking up his serve, how well Andy played. That was pretty much it. It was just a quick little time.
Q. I'm going to put you on a spot. Rod Laver in his press conference at Wimbledon was asked Federer or Sampras. He picked you, based on your ability to bring heat, big serve, volley. Can you comment on that, whether you think there's not really a weakness in Roger's game or whether Roger would be vulnerable to the level of power you could bring to the court on grass?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think one thing Roger doesn't see on grass the last number of years is really a true serve and volleyer, someone that's willing to come in and put the pressure on and make him pass, make him return. With these big serves, I don't think anyone really scares him. I think my game would make Roger a little bit more uncomfortable. I would obviously come in on both serves and put the pressure on his backhand, sort of go from there.
If I would beat him? If I felt my best on grass, I did feel unbeatable, especially in the mid '90s. I was a tough guy to break, played well from the back court to have chances, and I moved well enough.
It's a flattering comment. Do I think I could have beaten Roger in my prime? Sure. I don't think anyone could beat me in my prime on grass. As Roger now, he feels unbeatable.
My game would make him uncomfortable. It would make him like he's not having to stay back and work his way at the point. I would sort of dictate the play. But, you know, he'd be a tough guy to break, especially when he's hitting 50 aces like he did. It would have been a great matchup.
Q. Can you talk about Roddick's improvements over the last five months. Looked like he was 20 or 30% a better player.
PETE SAMPRAS: Watching him play, he's moving a ton better. I think he's lost some weight and is moving better. Roger obviously moves a little bit better. When they got into those exchanges, Roger is gonna win 'em. He's doing that better. His backhand sort of drive is better up the line. He's slicing a little better. His transition game has gotten better. As you saw on that set point, 6 5, he's still a little uncomfortable, but he's getting better at it.
I was sitting up there watching, just serve and volley one time on your second serve because all Roger does is chip it. Put something in his head.
He's improved a great deal, is serving big, moving better. I think he realized he had to start moving better to compete with Nadal and Roger. Those guys move great. So he's on the right track. I just hope mentally this didn't take a lot out of him. It might for a little bit. This is a great opportunity to beat Roger on that court in his prime, to get his first Wimbledon, he's still feeling it. All he can take away is that he had it, he's improving, and hopefully one day he'll get his name on that trophy.
Q. Do you think he'll be able to turn it around by US Open time?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think by the Open he will. I think it might be a slow start, the first event or two he'll play this summer. The Open, he'll be ready. If anything, he gained a lot more support from the people. He's going to feel that there, feel the energy, feel like he can compete with anybody.
At the same time, I think it's going to take a few weeks of tennis to get it out of his system. He'll just move ahead and hopefully not look back too much. I'm sure he's replaying some of those points in his head. Sports is a cruel game. Unfortunately, he's feeling it now. But by the Open he should be fine.
Q. Any chances of you joining the Senior Tour?
PETE SAMPRAS: I already have. I played a couple here and there. Courier has a couple senior events I played. I've done a couple.
Q. What projects are you involved in post retirement?
PETE SAMPRAS: Not a lot. Just playing occasionally here and there, working on the golf game. I have two boys I'm hanging around with. That's pretty much it.
Q. Can you respond to some local criticism here that maybe you haven't given back to the sport, to the city you grew up in, as much as some of the locals would like, you haven't come to the tournament at UCLA, that kind of stuff.
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'm coming this year. You have to understand when you retire from your sport, you need a few years to sort of decompress and get away from it. I have the last couple years played and been around. You know, I've done what I could do when I was playing. I've done what I could do since I retired. I like being home. I've had the chance to play in L.A. here. I played a little exhibition in Anaheim a few years back.
I'm all for helping some of these kids. I've talked to the USTA about doing some things. Nothing seems to have come out of that. But I've done what I could. Maybe as I get a little bit older, I'll do a little bit more.
Q. Did you see any signs of want to coach in the future?
PETE SAMPRAS: Only from home and on my BlackBerry (laughter). I don't see myself going on the road and traveling. You know, never say never. I'm sure Connors never thought he would. As you turn 50, you never know what will come. I'm willing to be home and help out some young kids in the future, but not traveling.
Q. Have you coached your kids thus far?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's more getting them to listen more than coaching. They play every now and again. I'm just trying to keep them in line and behaving. Nothing more than that. But if they're into it as they get older, I'm cool with that.
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