2000 Davis Cup — Czech Republic vs. USA
Post Match Interview
Pete SAMPRAS loses to Jiri Novak
7-6, 3-6, 2-6
April 7, 2000
Los Angeles, California
An interview with: CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE and PETE SAMPRAS
Q. Pete, what was the start of the match from your point of view?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, the start of the match I had a lot of chances to break and really set the tone of the match. I had Love-40 once, 15-40. If I could have converted on one of those breakpoints, it just felt like the match would have gone a little bit more in my direction. I didn't convert, you know, got down to a tiebreaker and he played a great breaker. But he played great tennis. I mean, I just got outplayed, and I haven't said that too often throughout my career. But today I ran into someone that was pretty much in the zone. Part of it was his doing, the way he played; and part of it was my doing. I obviously wasn't there and didn't play quite that well. He just, you know, I had my chances, though. I had -- if I could have converted on one of those breakpoints and get the crowd a little bit more involved and the momentum towards my side of the match, you know, maybe it could have come out a little bit different. But, you know, when you're 0-for-14 on breakpoints, whatever it was, you know, you're not going to win many matches. But he came up with some great shots, I mean passing shots that I -- we're amazed. He played great. It was the match of his life. It certainly wasn't my best performance out there, but it's disappointing, no question. I obviously was looking forward to this tie and playing well in front of my home, family and friends, and am disappointed that we, you know, I got us off to a bad start. So it should be an interesting weekend. But I still like our chances. It's still a long way to go before this thing is put to bed, and hopefully we can come back in the next couple hours and Andre can win, which I think he will. So... That's it.
Q. Could last weekend have been a factor? Could you have left too much on the court at Key Biscayne?
PETE SAMPRAS: No, I don't think so. I felt fresh. Mentally and physically, I felt fine. Sure, I played a lot of tennis last week, but I don't think it had a huge impact on what happened today. You know, I just don't think it really had any big part of the outcome. If anything, I was coming in here confident and plenty of matches, just a matter of going out and getting used to the court and the conditions, which I did, and was playing fine and had my chances in the match and, you know, when you can't win the big points, like I didn't today, it was a struggle. And, you know, he just -- I give him credit. He made me work hard on my serve, and he made me hit a lot of low volleys and pass, I couldn't believe some of the passes he was coming up with. I didn't realize he could play with this level. He came here with nothing to lose, like the whole team, and could have fun going out, swinging away. We saw that today.
Q. When was the last time you felt so frustrated in a match?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's been a while where I, you know, was telling John on the changeover, "I don't know what to do." I'm coming in, I'm trying to stay back. No matter what I'm trying, I didn't have the answers. He had the answers. You know, it's been a while since I kind of felt like I was getting outplayed like that. Right now I'm trying to figure out why, what happened.
Q. What did John tell you, Pete?
PETE SAMPRAS: He was trying to keep me positive, you know, and just trying to keep me upbeat about what's going on, and even though I was down two sets, just to hang in there, and that's what you need to hear. You know, at that point, there's not much strategy. I was trying a lot of different things. But he was great. He definitely -- it was positive, and he knew that the guy was playing out of his mind. And, you know, I got a couple tough calls here and there, things just didn't go my way. So at this point you have to chalk it up and get ready for the weekend. You know, that's the beauty about Davis Cup. You still have teammates that can come through for you, and certainly we're going to need them this weekend.
Q. Nice to have John McEnroe there to do your line call arguing for you?
PETE SAMPRAS: I felt I was doing my own arguing a little bit. That's when you know things aren't going well. A couple really bad -- I'm not going to sit here and complain about the line calls, but there was some tough ones and some I thought that were missed. But you certainly hope in a match it evens out.
Q. Nice to have a professional arguer on your side?
PETE SAMPRAS: I'm sorry?
Q. Nice to have a professional arguer on your side, though?
PETE SAMPRAS: There's nothing he could do. You know, I was, you know, that was -- trying to get it going today and certainly the calls didn't help. But I just kind of dug myself a hole that I couldn't really get out of today.
Q. Unusual not to break once.
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I know. I had my chances. I don't know how many I had. But I didn't convert on many, and, you know, he came up with some big serves, you know, he played those points well. I didn't play them poorly, you know, I broke his string, had a good half volley, hit a winner. I just felt like, "Wow, this guy can't keep it up," and he did. And I was, you know, surprised of that because he was playing at a very high level and I was playing pretty well, and we're still tied. And, you know, I probably got a little bit down there in the middle of the second or the third, and he just kind of kept on playing great.
Q. Pete, do you think you just simply underestimated him?
PETE SAMPRAS: No. I mean I knew, you know, he was going to come out with nothing to lose and he's -- he can play great tennis. But I feel like if I'm playing my tennis, that I should beat him. And I wasn't overconfident, I knew the situation, how big this tie is, how important it is to me. I came out ready to go. I just was a little surprised he played it the way he did. I mean, he really was hitting shots left and right that I never really faced. I mean I faced it, but I didn't feel like I was going to face it from him.
Q. Did you feel like you had a problem with your backhand today?
PETE SAMPRAS: I was having kind of problems in every aspect a little bit: My serve, backhand was flying on me a little bit, and, you know, just kind of felt under the gun a little bit throughout the whole match. But I definitely feel like if I could have gotten off to a better start, I mean, that was really the key to the match, I felt, was setting that tone. I did; I just didn't convert on the big points.
Q. Do you remember a match that you've had such problems with converting breakpoints, so many lost?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's happened. But eventually you find a way, and eventually you break and then a breakpoint for me is like a set point. I mean that's how important those are. And the fact I had so many, it was frustrating, and couldn't come up with the shots and, you know, I give him credit. He came up with the shots. But I've had matches over the years where I was 2-for-20 on breakpoints, and today I was 0-for-14, and you just can't -- you can't expect to win matches when you're not converting the big points. And that was kind of the key to it, and it was -- it's a tough loss to deal with. I mean, I definitely was looking forward to this, playing great out here, and I didn't.
Q. What do you do now to get ready for Sunday?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I -- you go out and support the team this afternoon and tomorrow, and, you know, have a light hit tomorrow and just get ready and prepare and hopefully get my game going. You know, that's all you can really do at this point.
Q. Do you feel like this was an aberration, or do you worry about the state of your game at all based on today?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'm -- I'm not happy with the way I played. I mean I'm -- like I said, I came in here very confident, had a great week last week in Miami, and, you know, some days you don't have it. And I didn't have it. But those are the days that you have to come through. I have come through over the years, but, you know, today I didn't. Today I didn't come through not playing great. And that, you know, I'm sure I surprised a lot of people because they expect me to kind of come through in any situation, and today I just didn't have the answers, and hopefully Sunday I will.
Q. What was the atmosphere like with the wild introduction and the -- just the crowd and everything?
PETE SAMPRAS: That was -- it was a great buzz. And certainly it was exciting and the crowd was great and I wish I could have, you know, gave them a little bit more to cheer about. They were on the verge. And, you know, John and I were talking about it, they were on the verge of wanting to explode, and I had my chances to do that. And if I could have maybe gotten one of those breakpoints, then the whole match would have changed in the span of a couple minutes. But the crowd was great. I'm just disappointed I couldn't give them a better time and a better show. But, you know, it's not the start that we wanted, but I still like our chances for the weekend, that we can get through this and, fortunately, you know, we got a strong team and good teammates.
Q. Pete, you're pretty hard on yourself. You said before that sometimes you're a perfectionist. You sound like you're being pretty hard on yourself. Have you always sort of had that way of dealing with yourself?
PETE SAMPRAS: Uh-huh. People that know me well know that I'm hard on myself, and that's why I am where I am today, and, you know, I walk off the court today and, you know, I expect to win everything I play. When I don't and I don't play the way I want to play, I'm very hard on myself. And that's -- that's just my personality. I mean, I expect to play well and win all these matches, and when you don't, it's a big letdown. But I can only be let down for so many hours. It's, you know, time to kind of get over it, over the next day or so, and, you know, get back into the swing of things on Sunday. But that's always been my nature, a little bit.