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Samprasfanz » Archives 2003 to 2011 » Sampras out of San Jose, raises questions [Feb 6, 2003]

Sampras out of San Jose, raises questions [Feb 6, 2003]

As Siebel Open tournament director Bill Rapp said on Tuesday, Pete Sampras’ decision to pull out of the Siebel Open was “90 percent surprising and 10 percent predictable.”

Surprising in that Rapp signed a contract with Sampras before last year’s US Open, is a friend of Sampras’ coach, Paul Annacone and as of Monday morning, Sampras was still planning on chatting up reporters on a teleconference this week.

Predictable in that it’s tough to count on someone who hasn’t played since winning his fifth US Open last September, has a 2-month-old son and with 14 Slam titles, has few reasons to return, other than to avenge his horrific Wimbledon defeat last year and save some face at Roland Garros.

“We signed a contract with Pete 10 days before the US Open and I’m the type of person who always honors contracts,” Rapp said. “But maybe that’s just me. Paul told me that Pete has been working out pretty hard in Los Angeles, but just isn’t mentally prepared yet to come back.”

Tournament Chairman Barry MacKay spoke to Sampras on Monday and told that Sampras still hasn’t mentally come to terms with returning to the tour. Sampras hasn’t played a tournament since last September and said in the fall that he was unsure whether he would come back.

“Pete is still vexed by the big picture of his career,” MacKay said. “I think it’s a combination of him not feeling prepared physically to come back and play at a high level and him not being 100 percent mentally committed to returning. Pete told me, ‘I’m just not ready to play yet.’ “

MacKay said while Sampras is unclear of his plans, he does believe that seven-time Wimbledon champion Sampras will eventually return.

“It’s just a gut feeling I have, but I believe that he thinks he can win Wimbledon again and that might get him back,” MacKay said. “But you would think he needs at least three months of preparation”

Former U.S. No. 1 MacKay is a big fan of Sampras’, but wasn’t thrilled by his withdrawal. With Sampras pull-out and Andy Roddick’s withdrawal last week due to injury, the tournament is left with Aussie Open champ Andre Agassi, James Blake and the declining Mark Philippoussis as its headliners.

“The ATP has to do something about this,” said MacKay. “These kind of late withdrawals of stars hurts tournaments.”

Rapp said that his attempt to get defending champ Lleyton Hewitt to play as a late replacement fell on deaf ears, because Hewitt has post-Davis Cup obligations in Australia.

Sampras is next scheduled to play the Franklin Templeton Classic in Scottsdale, Az., March 3-9. The tournament director there is his older brother, Gus.

by: Matthew Cronin


Filed under: Archives 2003 to 2011

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