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Ericsson Open - QF
Post Match Interview

Pete SAMPRAS defeated Nicolas Lapentti
6-4, 7-6

March 30, 2000

An interview with PETE SAMPRAS

ATP: Sixth semifinal here for Pete. He'll play either Gambill or Hewitt tomorrow. First question.

Q. How high a level do you feel you played at today?

PETE SAMPRAS: I felt it was pretty high. It wasn't easy to play out there. The conditions are very breezy, and it was very hot. But I was pretty comfortable with the way I was playing. I was coming in. I was doing the things I wanted to do, especially in the first set.

Second set, he picked up his game. He started mixing it up a little bit, kind of caught me off guard. Started serving and volleying a little bit. Came down to the tiebreaker. Kind of squeaked it out, hit some good shots. But he's got a good future. He's going to be in the Top 10 for many, many years, if not better.

But it was a good match to get through. Like I said, it was hot. We were both feeling it a little bit out there.

Q. What do you see in his game?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you look at he's not just one-dimensional. He's got the big forehand, but he'll come in. He serves well. He's pretty creative. He's got a good attitude out there. He's definitely one of the young guys we're going to see for many, many years that's going to be consistently there because he's got a game that is going to play well on all surfaces - you know, maybe not grass. He's got a good game.

Q. Since you moved from Florida to a place where the weather is a bit more comfortable, are you finding it more difficult to deal with the hot weather than it used to be?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. I mean, I've been here for quite a while, a week. You know, that's the key to getting used to the humidity, is being out in it.

But I've been living in LA, it's a little bit dryer than here. Obviously, it's a little more difficult. But, like I said, I've been here for a while to kind of get myself acclimated to the conditions.

Q. Sharp inside the service line today. You had more of a variety of shots today, half volleys, lunging volleys. Is this as comfortable as you've felt up there in quite a while?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I mean, I'm probably serving and volleying about as well as I could today. I felt like the conditions were pretty quick. I had to come in on both serves. Hardly missed a volley. Just got a good rhythm out there and felt real confident and comfortable at the net, was moving well. You put all those things together, I'm going to be tough to break.

Q. How about the running forehand that knocked the racquet out of his hand?

PETE SAMPRAS: I didn't even know that happened. I'll see it on SportsCenter.

Q. You mentioned your movement. Do you feel as quick as an NBA guard? Your movement to me seems a little bit similar.

PETE SAMPRAS: It's hard to say. Yeah, I mean, I think my movement is one of the areas that isn't really talked about much. Everyone talks about my serve and my volleys. But being able to be on balance and to be a mover, I don't look like I'm working that hard, but I'm covering a lot of ground. I think that's one area of my game that people don't see, is my movement. I mean, that's what separates me from a lot of guys, what I'm able to do on the run.

Q. Do you think that's similar to what guards are doing in the NBA?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I mean, I don't want to put myself in a category - like Iverson. No, obviously it's a different sport. Those guys are much quicker than I am. But I don't think they can serve 120 (laughter).

Q. Comment on either Gambill or Hewitt.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, Lleyton probably has had the most consistent year of everyone. I mean, he's won 20 some odd matches, he's oozing with confidence, he's playing great.

Gambill struggled a little bit over the past year, but he's playing well. It's going to be a hard-fought match. I think Lleyton is the favorite and he'll probably squeak that one out. It's really hard to say what's going to happen tonight.

Q. Considering the depth on this tour right now, which may be deeper than ever, is it astonishing that a guy who doesn't have a big power game like Lleyton Hewitt can be 24-2?

PETE SAMPRAS: If you look at his game, how consistent he is, how competitive he is, you know, I think the game is very strong. I'm not going to go out and win 0-0, like we saw today.

But he's got a game that's going to be around for many, many years. I mean, he's consistent. It's hard to say if he'll dominate when I'm done or Andre is done, but he's certainly going to be at the top of the game.

Q. Is Monica's loss surprising to you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, sure it is. Yeah, it's surprising. You don't expect that in a semifinal. I thought I was going to play around 2:30, 3:00. All of a sudden I'm up at 1:45.

Tough conditions. It was hot; not easy to play.

Q. Where would you assess the state of your game right now? Have you had a good year?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it's been a pretty good year. It hasn't been great. Australia was a disappointment. I just played Palm Springs, which I didn't do too well. But I feel like my game is getting going. I'm looking forward to next week, to Davis Cup, and certainly the next major, the French. The rest of the year will be kind of the meat of the season. I feel pretty good about it.

Q. How soon are you going to go over this year?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'm for sure playing Hamburg, Dusseldorf. Monte-Carlo, I'm still undecided what I'm going to do. Maybe play Orlando. I don't know. I'm considering playing Monte-Carlo, but I have to leave on Thursday after Davis Cup, which isn't going to be easy. But I'm kind of in a bind. I'll figure it out.

Q. Orlando?

PETE SAMPRAS: I need to play something, I need to play some matches. If I play Rome, it's too much before the French. It's a tough schedule to kind of figure out for me.

Q. You moved back closer to your roots in California. You have the No. 1 thing off your shoulder, where you had to be No. 1 every year. Are you as happy or happier in your personal life than you have been in quite a while?

PETE SAMPRAS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, being back home, being closer to my family. Certainly the years I was No. 1, pretty consumed with the sport, it was some definite stress certain times of the year.

Now, certainly I would love to get back to No. 1, but it isn't so much of a priority. I mean, obviously playing Davis Cup this year, I'm kind of letting that go a little bit. But being back home has been the best thing for my life. I have a lot of family and friends there. Certainly I was planning on moving back eventually. I think when I did it, I needed to do it. I needed to kind of get back to my roots, get back to what's really important, that's my family. I kind of lost touch with that for many years.

Q. It would be easy to say that that helps your game, as well. Can you point to concrete things that have helped your game, the happiness in your private life?

PETE SAMPRAS: Sure. When you're happy off the court, it can only help your on-court performance. I mean, I feel like being in LA, I'm not saying I didn't enjoy my time in Florida, but it was time to move on, it was time to move back. Once things are good in your personal life, they can only help out your professional life. Certainly that's been the case since I've been living in LA.

Q. If you could pull out one or two guys from the NBA to teach, who do you think might have the most potential in tennis?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, someone that isn't too tall. I mean, I don't want to see Shaq on the tennis court. Somebody like Kobe, I think he's a pretty good athlete.

Q. You think someone 6'7" or 6'8"?

PETE SAMPRAS: Is he that tall?

Q. Yes.

PETE SAMPRAS: I didn't know that. Maybe Iverson, 6'1", 6'2", could be pretty quick out there.

Q. Do you have any thoughts on the Davis Cup issue regarding Germany and Kiefer, a country's strict requirement that a player play Davis Cup and Olympics in the same year?

PETE SAMPRAS: You know, I don't know much about it. I really don't. I don't know the details on it, so I can't really comment on it.

Q. What are the factors that are going to go into your decision about whether you're going to play Monte-Carlo or Orlando?

PETE SAMPRAS: You know, I was talking about it last night during dinner. The problem with Monte-Carlo, I don't have a lot of time to get ready for it. I feel like I need to play something before I go to Hamburg. Orlando kind of fits in. I'm just not sure.

I'll just kind of assess how I feel after Davis Cup, how I feel mentally about playing Orlando and those tournaments, kind of figure it out.

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