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Sizzling Sampras proves his point

September 10, 1995

It was only one point, and it came early in the match. But, oh, what a point.

"That was a huge point," Pete Sampras said. "Thank God I won it."

It was the key point of the 1995 US Open, which completed its two-week run yesterday with Sampras defeating defending champion Andre Agassi 6-4,6-3,4-6,7-5 to win the men's singles title.

Back and forth the ball went, the two slugging it out at long range, moving each other from side to side.

Then, on the last of 22 deep, hard and angled shots, Sampras ripped a sharply angled backhand crosscourt that Agassi could only watch sail past. Thirty-four minutes after play had begun, Sampras had won the first set.

He raised his arms in triumph an emotional display that would come again much later. Agassi could only hang his head.

"Pete knows how to seize opportunities," Agassi said. "I ran him from 12 corners. He had to work for it, but he got it. And to think the wind was against him there."

After that, Sampras grew stronger, went for bigger shots. After serving just one ace in the opening set, he finished with 24-11 coming in the final set.

Agassi fell behind 3-0 in the second set, then won the third when Sampras started missing his first serve. When Agassi broke Sampras to close the third set, it seemed that finally he had switched the momentum.

"I thought I'd sneak my way into the fifth," Agassi said, "and roll the dice a little bit. But it didn't happen."

Instead, Sampras found the rhythm on his serve again - in the sixth game blowing four consecutive aces past Agassi.

In his moment of triumph, Sampras looked into the television cameras and sent a message to his coach, Tim Gullikson, watching in Chicago where he is recovering from brain tumour treatments.

"That was for you, Timmy," Sampras said. "Wish you were here."

Gullikson had to leave Sampras during the Australian Open in January, when the then-number one wept during the fifth set of a dramatic semi-final triumph over Jim Courier, Sampras went on to lose the final to Agassi.

Sampras lost his top ranking to Agassi in April and was ousted in the first round of the French Open. More important, he was fearful Gullikson might lose his life.

But his coach's condition stabilised. Sampras found an interim coach in friend Paul Annacone. And things turned around. Sampras won a third straight Wimbledon crown. Then came the Open and one of his finest moments.

"My year has been up and down," Sampras said. "I felt I could raise my level here as the two weeks went on and I did that. This was my best tennis. I just picked the right time."

Agassi found that out the hard way. He already knew that friendly rival Sampras had a special mission to win for Gullikson.

"It's tough to say how much that has truly affected him," Agassi said. " I know it has affected him on a personal level. But as for his tennis, Pete has done a great job."

"Maybe the weight of his coach being ill has affected him day to day. But in a certain sense, I think he draws a lot of strength from it, too."

Gullikson has kept in touch with Sampras and Annacone, talking by telephone every day during the Open.

"There are a couple of things Pete needs to continually work on and be reminded," Annacone said. "He needs to put more forward pressure on opponents. He's one of the few guys who can do everything. But if you don't use it, there's no sense having it."

"He heard that from Tim and I think he realised he has to do that."

Of that magic point, Annacone said: " That's one of the best points I ever saw in my life. You saw two superstars come up with I don't know how many shots I thought were point-ending. I sat there in awe as most of the other people did."

Naturally, Agassi saw it differently: "That point really sucked."

Article supplied by Ida Tang



Sampras Rolls, Agassi Fades in Final

September 10, 1995

New York -- The big tennis party had come on Saturday, raging well into the evening, and by the time yesterday's men's final came around, people were a little spent. Unfortunately for the sport, Andre Agassi was among them.

Nobody was taking a thing away from the great Pete Sampras, who wrapped up his seventh Grand Slam title with a 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Agassi in the blustery afternoon conditions of the Stadium Court. Sampras was so sharp, he was pinpointing celebrities in the crowd at a moment's glance.

But Agassi had that watered-down look, like an unfinished gin-and-tonic that spent the night on the coffee table. After all that preparation, all that anticipation for his big match against Sampras, Agassi took the court in a sluggish state, full of regret.

"It's like everything caught up to me,'' he said. "The long summer, playing all those matches, then having to come back today after last night (finishing his semifinal against Boris Becker around 9 p.m.). I mean, after just one set, I felt heavy in the legs. That's way too early to feel like that.''

Sampras, who played the morning semifinal against Jim Courier, admitted having an edge -- and when one of the British writers asked if the Wimbledon format (a day off before the final) is better, Sampras said, "Absolutely. Super Saturday is great entertainment for the fans, but when you have to come back after a long night match. . . . Let's just say that with a day off, the tennis today would have been better.''

Shortly before he died, legendary Pancho Gonzalez said Agassi and Sampras "would beat the pants off of anybody in the past. They're just on another level from anyone else who has ever played.'' But from the start of yesterday's Hung-Over Invitational, something wasn't right.

The first set went quietly, without a single spectacular moment, until the two men closed it with a sudden stroke of collective genius. Out of nowhere, they began hitting rockets at each other, gaining in pace, accuracy and angle, until the crowd began gasping in amazement. "One of the greatest points I've ever been a part of,'' said Sampras, who finally closed out the 21-stroke rally with a topspin backhand cross-court winner.

The wind was a blessing for the crowd, enjoying a magnificently sunny afternoon, but it made for tricky and somewhat tentative tennis. The match's signature stroke would become Sampras' first serve, and when he took a 4-1 lead in the second set with three consecutive aces, the crowd could have been declared legally dead. Sampras was in complete command, and Agassi seemed incapable of mounting a challenge. Then, in a stunning show of bravado, Sampras wrapped up the set with a second-serve ace.

It was amazing to watch Agassi completely out of it. He'd won 26 straight matches going in, the cornerstone of his No. 1 world ranking, and suddenly it seemed his fire had been extinguished. To the crowd's relief, Agassi finally turned up the heat as the match approached the two-hour mark. Forging a second set point at 4-5, he unleashed his trademark first-service return, put Sampras on the defensive, then ripped a down-the-line forehand pass.

"If I'm returning well, I've got news for you,'' said Agassi, "it doesn't look like Pete's got that good of a serve.''

Alas, on this day, it was only an illusion. At one point, Sampras uncorked an all-ace service game -- "first time I've done that against Andre in my life,'' he said. Sampras held serve with frightening ease to close out the match. And just before that, when Sampras scored a critical service break for 6-5, Agassi shanked an embarrassing double fault -- at least five feet long -- to put himself down 0-40.

"The whole year I've had, the big run I was on, turned out too good to be true,'' said a sullen Agassi afterward. "I just didn't have that little extra today. I fought my way through the tournament and beat a lot of guys, but Pete was much more on his game today. I think when I look back, I might realize I was fried -- mentally and physically. I mean, yeah, I went 26-1 -- but I'd give up all 26 to have that one back.''

At 24, Sampras is truly looking the part of an all-time great. His seven Grand Slam titles draw him even with John McEnroe and Mats Wilander, trailing Jimmy Connors (8), Ivan Lendl (8) and Bjorn Borg (11) in the Open era. Sampras is only the fourth player in history to win three Wimbledons and three U.S. Opens, joining McEnroe, Bill Tilden and Fred Perry.

Most importantly, in terms of the world rankings, Sampras won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year. "And I'd kill to have done that,'' said Agassi. "I'm still No. 1, even after today, but I think Pete has to feel better about his year, and I don't blame him.''

It was left to Sampras, the man of the hour, to provide the party's last laughs. People were moving around constantly in the stadium yesterday -- as they did throughout this and every Open -- and Sampras couldn't help but notice.

"I hit this one ace,'' said Sampras, "and when I look up, and there's J.F.K. Jr. I'm thinking to myself, `Gosh, that guy looks familiar.' Another time, I'm ready to serve, and I hear this noise. I look over and it's Arnold Schwarzenegger. I mean, there he was. The Terminator.''

Unlike Saturday, the anticipation proved more lively than the execution. This was the day after, and Pete Sampras was the most sober guy in the room. That's the guy you never bet against. It was only one point, and it came early in the match. But, oh, what a point.

"That was a huge point," Pete Sampras said. "Thank God I won it."



Pete dethrones Agassi to earn 3rd Open title

September 10, 1995

KEY TO MATCH - One magnificent rally at the end of the first set gave Sampras the edge he needed to deflate top ranked Agassi. - One point, 22 shots, a championship at stake with every breathtaking stroke. In that magnificent rally at the end of the first set Sunday, Pete Sampras imposed his will on Andre Agassi and broke him, literally on serve, figuratively in spirit.

It was a point that meant more than any of the 24 aces Sampras knifed through the whipping wind, more than the volley he dived for when he bloodied his knuckles and skinned his knees on the way to a third U.S. Open title, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.

That point, even with three sets yet to play, defined the match and decided it, showing that Sampras could beat Agassi at his own baseline game, no matter if he had to chase every ball from corner to corner.

"It's probably one of the best points I've ever been part of,'' Sampras said. "I certainly hope that makes the play of the day.''

That point should be preserved on videotape in the International Hall of Fame, with all the gasps and screams and the final explosive cheers of the 20,000 fans in the background.

"That's one of the best points I've ever seen in my life,'' Paul Annacone, Sampras' interim coach, said. "Before the match I told Pete to try to get into as many athletic points as he could get in. I think that (rally) was about as quintessentially athletic as you could have a point. You saw two superstars come with I don't know how many different shots. I sat there in awe, as many of the other spectators did.''

With that point and the eventual victory, Sampras reached No. 1 in the esteem of his greatest rival, if not yet once more in the rankings themselves, two months after taking his third straight Wimbledon championship.

"Pete knows how to seize opportunities,'' said Agassi, who had yielded only two points in his first four service games. "I ran him from 12 corners. He had to work for it, but he got it. And to think, the wind was against him there.''

The rally came at the end of a game that revealed the best of Sampras and the worst of Agassi, with a little luck thrown in. Sampras reached his first break point with a forehand return that clipped the net cord and trickled over out of Agassi's reach. Agassi's service winner brought it back to deuce, but he went to break-point again when he bludgeoned an easy overhead 10 feet long.

Agassi thought he'd even it up again when he got Sampras scurrying desperately in a baseline duel. Instead, on the last of 22 deep and hard and angled shots, it was Sampras who ended that longest rally with a backhand crosscourt, and Agassi who could only hang his head.

"He's so quick,'' Sampras said. "I felt if I could keep him moving, keep him moving, I could get a short ball and come in. But I never really felt I had a winner until I hit that backhand. It was an unbelievable point. Thank God I won it.''

For Agassi, that point made him realize there was little he was going to get away with on this day.

Right down to the end, when Sampras served his 142nd ace of the tournament at 120 mph, he put on a show of power, control and resilience that he dedicated to his absent and ailing coach, Tim Gullikson.

"That's for you, Timmy,'' Sampras said to the television camera, knowing Gullikson was watching at home in suburban Chicago. "Wish you were here.'' Agassi, who came in with a 26-match winning streak, faded early in the second set to fall behind 3-0, then scrambled back in the third set, capitalizing on Sampras' suddenly more erratic serves and breaking him for the first time in the third game.

When Agassi broke Sampras again to close the set, it seemed for a few moments that he might finally wear him down, push him all the way to a fifth and raise this final to the level of the hype that preceded it.

"I thought I'd sneak my way into the fifth,'' Agassi said, "and roll the dice a little bit. But it didn't happen.''

This match, for all of their fine rallies and all of Sampras' aces, never quite lived up to its potential.

The swirling wind on a cool afternoon made it harder for Agassi, who counts on the timing of his groundstrokes. For Sampras, his serves cut right through the wind, and his volleys reduced the chances of the wind tossing his shots around.

Sampras bunched his aces, dealing out three in one game in the second set, four in the sixth game of the fourth set. He had aces on three of his last five serves.

"I hit an ace up the middle, and I saw John F. Kennedy Jr.,'' Sampras said, drawing laughter. "I did. Honest to God. I said, he looks a little familiar.''

Sampras looked around at the crowd another time and picked out Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"There he was,'' Sampras said, "the Terminator.''

Agassi blamed his own weariness as much as the wind for the loss, though he gave Sampras full credit.

"It's been a long summer,'' Agassi said. "I had a couple of days off after Boris, which helped me. In the first set, I felt my legs. ... It was way too early in the match to feel that way. I was lacking a little strength. I guess you could say I didn't have pep in my step.

"It was tough conditions today. It didn't lend itself to great tennis. You couldn't do enough with the ball. I didn't come near his serve in that fourth set. The problem is I didn't make him feel the pressure.'' The official rankings mean little to either of them. What counts most are Grand Slam titles, and this year Sampras has the two biggest and Agassi only the one he grabbed back in January at the Australian Open. "Come December 31st, he'll feel better about the year than I will,'' Agassi said. "On the other hand, I'd play him for a hundred bucks right now.'' They played this one for much more - $575,000 for the winner, half that for the runner-up.

"It means a lot to have been out there to try to defend it,'' Agassi said, "but it hurts not to win it.''

Agassi will remain No. 1 for the moment, Sampras No. 2, though that could change by year's end. Agassi has held the top ranking since April 10. Sampras and Agassi have won seven of the last nine Grand Slam championships, missing out only on the 1993 and 1994 French Opens.

The rivalry between them may only now be reaching full bloom, and their best matches may be yet to come. Opposites in style and temperament, they need each other to push themselves to their best.

"I enjoy knowing,'' Agassi said, "that there's somebody out there that I worry about, forcing you to come up with shots, forcing you to hit baselines.''


1995 US Open Championship
Post Match Interview

Pete SAMPRAS defeated Andre Agassi
6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5

September 10, 1995


Q. What is the money for? Did you cash your check already?

PETE SAMPRAS: I am ready.

Q. Rankings aside, you are No. 1?

PETE SAMPRAS: You know, it depends how you look at it. I mean, Andre has been a lot more consistent than I have this year. He has won a lot more titles, but, you know, I feel if you win two of the Majors, there should be a strong possibility you should be No. 1, but like I said, he has been a lot more consistent; won more titles. My year has been a little up and down, but, you know, it is the computer, you know, I can't -- I can't rig it.

Q. What do you think your chances are of catching him in the points by the end of the year or whenever?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know. I haven't seen the points. I am at this point going to go home and enjoy this and I got a Davis Cup Tie in another week or so, and so, I hopefully I can end the year strong, but he has been a lot more consistent as far as his results.

Q. Would you take the U.S. Open and Wimbledon over his titles?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yes, I would.

Q. When you play Andre in a big match, do you not just feel like it is for this title, but you are sort of playing for the title, you know, that there is always more at stake than just, you know, the circumstances; there is that feeling --

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, walking on the court today, I could really feel the electricity -- the electricity just went out (audience laughter) Would you believe that?

Q. You are good, Pete.

PETE SAMPRAS: And, you know, looking forward to the new stadium, aren't we? Yeah, it is different. When Andre and I play each other, I find that he is the one guy I can go out and play good tennis; he can still beat me and I can't say that about a lot of the guys on the Tour. He has the best return of serve in the game and, you know, walking out today I feel like I needed to be at my best, and that is really the bottom line when I play Andre, if I am not at my best, the way he has played this summer this year, you know, I felt that I was always under a little bit of pressure today. I was up two sets and a break and I just-- I really didn't feel at that point that I had him, you know, and -- but it is always different. This is a rivalry that I hope gets more and more popular. I think it is, getting to the final here and playing pretty good tennis. So, you know, got a lot of respect for him.

Q. You would have been disappointed if he lost yesterday, wouldn't you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it would have been a different match playing Boris, but, you know, when you have a chance to win the U.S. Open title you want to beat the best player in the world, and he is -- as far as in my mind one of the best players in the world.

Q. Have you at any time in the last two weeks thought about how you left here last year; you were in pain; it was a really tough loss, and can you contrast that with how you are going to leave here today?

PETE SAMPRAS: I tried to put what happened last year behind me. It was a tough, tough situation not being in shape; came out here and really was so unprepared that I didn't have any energy, and this year, I had a good summer, but not a great summer. I was in good shape. I felt that I could hopefully raise my level as the two weeks went on and I did that. I really did. I mean, yesterday and today was my best tennis and I just kind of picked the right time. That is what it takes sometimes.

Q. What is the most gratifying part of this one?

PETE SAMPRAS: Beating Andre. I mean, you know, would have -- it is always -- it would have been different if I would have played Boris and beaten him. I would have been just as happy, but it is always a little bit different when I can beat Andre 1 and 2 in the world, both American, and, you know, to beat him makes me feel a little better than if I had beaten someone else.

Q. Let us just say for the fun of it you are the editor of a leading sports magazine. Would you put the men's champion of the U.S. Open considering all he has gone through this year and what he has accomplished athletically, would you put him on the cover or Deion Sanders and why?

PETE SAMPRAS: Who is Deion Sanders? (audience laughter)

Q. Nike client.

PETE SAMPRAS: I really didn't understand the question.

Q. Do you think you deserve to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

PETE SAMPRAS: I won my third Wimbledon and I didn't get on there, so hopefully now I will get on there.

Q. Steffi won her fourth. Pete, how did you feel about the set point first set, after the set point in the first set?

PETE SAMPRAS: Probably one of the best points I have ever been a part of. I mean, even if I would have lost it, it would have felt a lot worse, that is for sure. We are both running each other around and I just flicked off a good backhand. I was pretty winded after that, regained my composure and played a pretty good first game. That was a huge point. I certainly hope that makes the play of the day.

Q. How many times, Pete, did you think you had won that point before you actually won it two or three times when you'd actually thought you had hit a winner?

PETE SAMPRAS: On that set point?

Q. Yeah.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I felt, you know, not really. I mean, I felt he is quick. I mean, and I felt if I could just keep him moving; keep him moving, I could get a short ball and come in, but I never really felt I had a winner until I hit that backhand. But it was an unbelievable point, and, you know, thank God I won it.

Q. Pete, Paul was just in here. He talked about how many great all-around gifts you have; how many things you can do. Is there anything that you in your own mind would like more of, or wish to have to a greater degree?

PETE SAMPRAS: I think I am extremely happy the way I served and my volleys, but I still feel like I can return a little bit better. I still feel like I can improve. I really believe that. I can be a little bit more solid from the backcourt. I mean, I don't think there will be a day where I am satisfied with my tennis. I always want to get better, and that is -- that is what gets me up in the morning to practice is trying to get even better and playing someone like Andre, you know, he has beaten me a couple of times, three times this year; he forces you to try and change some things, chip and charge a little bit, serve and volley, my second serve and try to add a little bit more to my game, so, that --

Q. Did you cut yourself when you belly flopped?


Q. Oh, I see.

PETE SAMPRAS: Right here.

Q. Did you feel like a great chance had gone at the end of the third set that maybe he was ready to go and now all of a sudden you are in the fourth set, and --

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, when I was up a break in the third, I was holding my serve pretty easily, and I just felt, especially that -- one way with the wind going that way, I just hit a couple of -- hit a couple of bad doubles, really bad doubles. And then he started to get some confidence. He won the third set and the crowd started really getting behind him. I was -- still felt I was up a set and he had a long weighed to go to beat me. And -- but it would have been nicer to hold on there and maybe get another break in the third, but he is a tough guy to put away. I mean, you need to play a high level for three straight sets; that is tough to do sometimes. I maintained that for a couple of sets, but I just got a little bit tight at that point; maybe saw the trophy in my hand, but you know, he came up with some good stuff.

Q. Pete, in the fourth set, in the first game, you had a breakpoint; you missed the forehand quite easily. What you did you say to yourself, gosh, maybe I am going to lose, maybe something is happening; the match can turn; around; were you afraid a bit?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, that was a great opportunity to lose the third, come back and break him first game in the fourth. I had a pretty easy shot and -- but, you know, you can't worry about what happened in the last point. Just have to move ahead, and hopefully stay on my serve and I served -- I was surprised myself how well I served today. Because the conditions were so windy that my ball toss was going all over the place that was the one shot that kind of saved me today, my serve.

Q. Did you ever hit an all ace game against him?


Q. How do you hit an all ace game any day against anybody? How difficult is that? Is it difficult even for you?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is just -- you just get in a great groove. It is like throwing three strikes or striking out two people. You know, you just -- everything just clicks, and you starting to feel that you can, you know, toss it up there and hit the line and that is what I have to do against Andre. If I don't hit a great serve he is going to make me volley and so, you know, got a little bit lucky and snapped off a couple of good aces.

Q. Andre said he woke up this morning feeling a little sluggish; that he played sort of a step slow. Could you sense that and how did you wake up feeling this morning?

PETE SAMPRAS: I felt pretty good. I think the fact that I played first yesterday and he played second, he got done at 9 o'clock, I think, you know, he has had a long summer and maybe was a little bit fatigued at the end. I felt pretty good. I felt this is a great opportunity and no time for excuses as far as being sore or tired. You just need to suck it up and do whatever you can.

Q. Andre also said that when he will look back, they may not necessarily really remember who has been ranked No. 1, but people will always remember the Slams. Is that how you see it?

PETE SAMPRAS: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, when you look back at the greatest players of all time we look at the number of Slams they have won and the ranking is something everyone just takes for granted as far as McEnroe being No. 1 or Connors being No. 1. In my mind, the major titles is the most important thing, in my year and the fact that I have won two, really ends my year on a great note.

Q. Now, Pete you have won seven Slam titles now, I think you are four behind Borg and maybe five behind Emerson. Do you think about that and is getting the most Slam titles a goal of yours; breaking the all-time record?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is something I haven't really thought about breaking the record. I just see myself preparing the best I can for Majors mentally and physically getting ready and it is not really like a goal I put on my chalk board; I am going to break Emerson's record. I still feel that the French is the one thing that is missing and that is a pretty tough challenge for me to win there, so that -- you know, something I haven't thought about as far as the record.

Q. Ever come up to your mind the final at the U.S. Open final five years ago?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not really.

Q. Would you like Wimbledon to introduce Super Saturday, Pete?

PETE SAMPRAS: Super Saturday is great for the fans and the TV, but as far as the players are concerned, I think it is very difficult to play back-to-back three, five set matches. Andre got done late last night, and to have a day off in between, you know, the tennis might have looked -- might have been a little better, so I kind of like that day off in between. Super Saturday is, you know, he got done at 9 o'clock and he played today at 4; you don't have a lot of time to recover. I think think that is tough on the body; especially on this court, but I like to see Wimbledon stay as it is.

Q. This tournament seems wholly unlike you, loud, raucous, all those kind of things. When you come here do you try to assume a different mindset, say, for a different tournament so you can get through all of the --

PETE SAMPRAS: Not really.

Q. -- environment?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, the environment is --, you know, I am not changing my attitude or the way I am playing because of the crowd. I mean, I am just going out and trying to play good tennis and trying to win and I will show some emotion, when it is 5-4, set point I will be playing that great point, you know, I just prepare as well as I can and hopefully come out ahead.

Q. Is there a feeling of exhilaration out there, maybe there is no time for it when you think, here we are, the two greatest players in the world, the whole world is watching us, does that enter into it when you are out there?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not really. It is me against him. And, you know, you don't think about the crowd, or the TV, or who is watching at home. You just --

Q. You could be on a court alone, nobody...

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, you are so zoned and focused in on the match in what you are trying to do; there is no time to think about who is watching and whatever.

Q. Andre said he would play you again tomorrow for $100. Would you play him tomorrow?

PETE SAMPRAS: Absolutely.

Q. Didn't you look up there? There was one interruption when Arnold Schwarznegger arrived. Did you realize that?

PETE SAMPRAS: I realized that.

Q. Did you know who it was or anything?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, yeah, well, I was ready to serve; the crowd was doing something and...

Q. Is that distracting?

PETE SAMPRAS: A little bit. A little bit. I saw -- I hit an ace up the middle and I saw John F. Kennedy Jr. - honest to God. I said, "God, he looked a little familiar."

Q. Does that put any kind of new perspective when you realize people of this magnitude are present and have you raised tennis to such a level that now these guys are here?


Q. Doesn't mean anything to you?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. Really doesn't.

Q. When did you see Arnold?

PETE SAMPRAS: I was ready to serve; the crowd was doing something. I looked over and there he was, "the Terminator."

Q. What was with the shirt today?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is too long.



1995 US Open Championship
Post Match Interview

Pete SAMPRAS defeated Andre Agassi
6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5


PAUL ANNACONE: I never had this many people when I played. Except when I beat John here.

Q. What did you do to help?

PAUL ANNACONE: I wish I could take a lot of credit, but, you know, Pete is a great athlete, and Andre has had a terrific summer. I just thought that Pete had a good chance because he has had a good tournament, hasn't been on the court a lot of hours and I think that he has worked really hard to prepare for this event, although he didn't have great results for him this summer, and I thought that if he turned it into more of an athletic match where they were both moving around a lot and kind of stayed away from getting into pattern play then we'd have a good chance. Obviously, he has to serve well to eliminate Andre's returning strength.

Q. Did you speak with Gully at all during the course of this tournament?


Q. Before today's match?


Q. What did you discuss?

PAUL ANNACONE: Well, same thing we basically discuss in all the conversations, you know, you can make it complicated or as simple as you want. It is not really rocket science. I think that, you know, you are dealing with someone who is an elite athlete. You are not constructing a lot of things. There is a couple of things that Pete needs to continually needs to work on and be reminded. He is a great athlete. I don't think he takes advantage of that. Tim agrees. He needs to put more forward pressure on his opponents. Needs to use his ability up at the net and use a variety in his groundstrokes. He is one of the few guys that can do just about everything. I always tell him that if you don't use it, there is no sense in having it. And, you know, today, he used it a bit more, and I think that, you know, it is always a bit of a grind when those two play. I just think Pete might have been a little mentally fresher today.

Q. Paul, he is playing the guy who is ranked No. 1 in the world. He gave the sense of overwhelming him today. Does Pete just do more things better than anybody else out there?

PAUL ANNACONE: I am a little bit biased, obviously, but, you know, I think -- I think Pete, when he is playing his best tennis, is a dominating player. I think he is one of the few guys that when he plays well, it doesn't matter who he is playing. And I think that most of the people who are tennis aficionados have that same type of sense about his ability. But I think at some point, so much talent can be a liability, in that when you play guys like Andre, and certain players, you don't know when to use what; what weapon. I think that all comes with time, and the maturation process and Pete obviously has a relatively successful record against Andre and I think that whenever you can win a match like that, like he did today, I think you just want to sit back and enjoy it.

Q. Today you felt that he was using --

PAUL ANNACONE: First two sets he did. I thought the first two sets he was pretty good about moving the ball around, and using different variety, although he chipped and came in a couple of times and was passed. I think you cannot beat Andre Agassi doing one thing. He is just too good. You have to be able to do everything. And it sounds easy and it is easy to sit here and say that, but there are very few human beings that can do that at the level that Pete -- I think that is what makes him difficult for Andre to play when he is playing well.

Q. What is your title, are you co-coach?

PAUL ANNACONE: Human being.

Q. Well, that too.

PAUL ANNACONE: Well, I have been a friend of Pete since he was 17, and when Tim became ill, we all just kind of decided that I should help out for a while, and the quotes have been "interim coach" which has been flattering. That is fine as long as I help and Tim starts feeling better and Pete is winning matches, that is what is important.

Q. We will call you interim coach.

PAUL ANNACONE: Whatever you'd like, as long as it is not derogatory.

Q. Watching the last point of the first set, did you go through various emotions as you went through watching that 22 stroke rally?

PAUL ANNACONE: That is one of the best points I have ever seen in my life. I mean, before the match I told Pete to try to get into as many athletic points as he could get in. And I think that was about as quintessentially athletic as you could have a point. You saw two superstars come up with, I don't know, how many different shots, I thought, were point ending, until ultimately, Pete came up with the one that did win the point. So I kind of sat there in awe, as many of the other spectators did, after that one.

Q. Were you at all concerned that Pete was tiring in the latter stages of the third, early fourth?

PAUL ANNACONE: No, he was a little bit stiff but I think it was because it was cold. I actually think it was kind of hard to play. I know from past experience, when I played, when it is cold like this, you actually get stiffer, and physically, I think he felt okay. He was just a little stiff because of the cold weather.

Q. Have you ever coached anybody before?

PAUL ANNACONE: I have helped a young New Jersey boy a little bit by the name of Justin Gimbelstob (phonetic), who I have spent a little time with him, but not on a permanent or regular basis.

Q. What is coaching Pete like?

PAUL ANNACONE: Like I said, it is not major construction. I think that at this level, you don't -- I have never been a person -- my brother coached me; helped me a lot when I played, but I knew that, you know, inevitably, it is up to the person on the court and I am very fortunate, especially in this situation, when the person on the court is one of the best players that ever played tennis. So I think there is little things, that no matter how good you are, you cannot pick up when you play. And Pete knows that and realized that if he has, hopefully, someone that knows a little bit about the game, that has got an easy going personality around, and that can help fill the void a little bit while Timmy is gone, then it can make it easier for him to improve.That is what struck me most from the beginning of my relationship with Pete, even since he was 17, and specifically, in the last nine months, is this guy wants to get better. He wants to win as many of these Majors as he can, but he wants to improve.

Q. Do you have to be Gullikson's shadow or are you Annacone?

PAUL ANNACONE: I hope I am my own person. I have been playing for 12 years on the Tour. I have won a few tournaments. I have been ranked 11 in the world. I think most of the players know me as my own person. I think Tim and I have a good relationship and I have with Tom, his brother and with Pete have had good relationship. I think it was a mutually beneficial situation. I think that it was the easiest way to get something positive out of a very difficult situation and I think that there is no egos involved. I think no one feels threatened and I think that, you know, Tim and I talk about it all the time, the biggest guy is for Timmy to get healthy and for Pete to continue winning tennis matches. If I can play some type of role, however small it will be, I think I will feel happy going to sleep at night.

Q. Pete and Agassi seem to genuinely appreciate this rivalry and that it brings the best out each of them. How unusual is that?

PAUL ANNACONE: I think it is very unusual. I think people in the states are used to everybody hating each other and I think that when you get two rivals that respect each other, but have very different personalities, I think it is a little difficult for people to grasp on to. But Pete and Andre are very different. They realize that, but they both respect the talent levels that each of them possesses. I think that they know on any given day it can be a flip of a coin. So I think that brings out the best in both of them.

Q. Some people said that Pete doesn't have the confidence to attack a lot of times. How come he had that confidence today? What is the difference?

PAUL ANNACONE: We spoke a lot about it and I think he heard it from Tim as well and I think he realizes he has to do that. Andre beat him three out of four times this year. There has to be a reason for that. And I think Pete realized that he had to do something a little bit different and fortunately for him today, he was able to put the pieces together.

Q. Could you just comment --

PAGE CROSLAND: Pete is here.

PAUL ANNACONE: Big man. Show time.