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Posted on: September 08th, 2004

Sampras admires Agassi's run, but won't mimic his rival

- petepage

[Sep 8, 2004 BILL FLEISCHMAN] Two years ago, after struggling with his tennis for several years, Pete Sampras won his fifth U.S. Open. Then, at age 31, he abruptly closed the book on the sport in which he won record 14 Grand Slam tournaments.

He has no plans to stage a comeback.

"I haven't picked up a racket in 8-9 months," Sampras said yesterday from Los Angeles. "I don't miss the grind, the pressure and the stress that comes with it. You do miss the competition, playing the majors.

"I certainly feel that now that the Open's on. When Wimbledon comes and goes, I always have a reaction of wanting to play again. But [it quickly passes]."

After focusing entirely on tennis from the time he was 8, Sampras enjoys life as a husband to actress Bridgette Wilson and father to 20-month-old son Christian.

While he has fun caring for his son, he said: "I can only play with Playdough so long. I can't stay home all day."

Golf fulfills his competitive juices right now.

Sampras, the subject of an interview with Chris Myers Sunday at 7 p.m. on the Tennis Channel, says he has watched "a little" of this year's Open on television. He plans to watch tonight's Andre Agassi-Roger Federer quarterfinal match.

Before the 2002 Open, Sampras didn't plan to retire. The way he was playing before the tournament discouraged thoughts of his winning the Open. But beating longtime rival Agassi in the '02 Open final was the perfect ending to an outstanding career.

"It was a great way to finish, on that court, playing Andre," said Sampras, whose first pro victory came in the U.S. Pro Indoor at the Spectrum in 1990. "I felt there was no place to go [after winning]."

Like many, Sampras is impressed that Agassi, 34, a year older than Sampras, still plays high-quality tennis. The seven-time Wimbledon champion thinks Agassi has been influenced by his wife, tennis great Steffi Graf.

"The way she went out about her tennis, very serious, I think he saw that and respected that," Sampras said. "He's in great shape, and it seems he has everything organized in his life to focus on tennis."

Sampras' future could include television work.

"I have a lot to say about the game," he said. "There might be a day where I get back into the sport in some way. I'm just not ready."


"No one's asked me," he replied. "I'm not one to give unsolicited advice."

After taking flak for saying in Tennis magazine interview 2 months ago that he'd never registered to vote, Sampras has done his civic duty.

"I was raised Republican, and that's the way I'll die," he said.

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