2000 Davis Cup — Czech Republic vs. USA
Post Match Interview
Pete SAMPRAS defeated Slava Dosedel
6-4, 6-4, 7-6
April 9, 2000
Los Angeles, California
An interview with: CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE and PETE SAMPRAS
Q. Pete, can you tell us how you came through for today?
PETE SAMPRAS: Just a lot of, you know, great crowd support, a lot of adrenaline, and I played well. I mean, I played really well, got my serve going today and everything kind of clicked. I was so down in the dumps on Friday, the way I played and the way things went, that I wanted to kind of redeem myself and go out and play with more energy, play with more intensity, and I did that. It was a great day, a great day for American tennis.
Q. Pete, how did you hurt yourself and when exactly did it happen?
PETE SAMPRAS: It was the first couple games of the match, I felt my quad go a little bit. I'm sure I strained it. I'm going to do an MRI, another MRI tomorrow. But, you know, I was just on the changeover and got some hot cream on it and, you know, John just said just suck it up and just -- (Laughter.) I'm like, "I'm going to try and do whatever I can." Fortunately, I can serve pretty well at times, and, you know, adrenaline, like I said, is an amazing drug that can get you through a lot of tough situations. The crowd was tremendous. It really was a nice feeling to play out there today. But my serve was the best part of my game. I really felt first hand, second serving them big, you know, hit some good passes and returns at times, and it was a pretty solid day.
Q. What did you do the last couple days to regroup, get it back together?
PETE SAMPRAS: It was, you know, I don't think I played badly on Friday, I just ran into someone that was kind of in the zone and I was pretty disappointed on Friday night and, you know, Saturday we lost the doubles and I was -- it was time to regroup. It was time to kind of put what happened on Friday behind me and go out and play the tennis I could play and remember who I am and that, you know, I didn't want to lose two matches here and cost us the tie. I wanted to go out and play well and, you know, hopefully play better than Friday. And I did. It was a good day.
Q. Were you aware that your captain said you didn't play very hard on Friday?
PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, when it looks like I'm not playing well, you know, it looks like I'm not trying hard. But that -- I was trying hard. I was doing whatever I could. I was just frustrated more than anything. I'm sure John was frustrated as much as I was sitting there watching, that I couldn't get my game going and -- but today I came out with a lot more energy, a lot more focus and played a lot better. I just played a lot better.
Q. Can you put into words what it means to personally come out this big, win the quarterfinals for the United States, and the personal redemption involved?
PETE SAMPRAS: It was a redemption. I've never played a fifth match in Davis Cup. The way I felt on Friday with my family and friends here, it was more than a loss. I just felt really sad about it all; that they came out and I played the way I did. And my family doesn't really have a chance to see me play much, and that didn't really sit too well with me on Friday. Today, to play better and clinch it for us, it was just a great team effort. Andre's certainly one of the best teammates I could ever dream of having, and today was -- we were dominant. I mean, that's what we were hoping on Friday, didn't happen. But today we were much more dominant.
Q. Is your family here today?
PETE SAMPRAS: Uh-huh, yeah.
Q. Pete, you were having trouble on your backhand against Dosedel. How was his ball, either his serve, coming into you in relation to your backhand, and did you make any adjustments, particularly at the tiebreaker when you had the two winners on backhands?
PETE SAMPRAS: As John would tell you, I was pulling up a little bit and floating on the return and finally got my backhand in the court, and he hits a tough ball because he hits the ball very low, you feel like if you come up a little bit it's going to go long. Fortunately, I got it going in the tiebreaker and played a good breaker.
Q. Pete, when's the last time you can remember winning a match and going into the crowd and celebrating?
PETE SAMPRAS: Doesn't happen much on Tour. I think the last time it happened was in Washington when we beat the Australians. That was a big tie and that was the last time I did that. So it's been a while since that's happened. But it's a fun atmosphere; that's what Davis Cup is all about. These are the times that I look forward to over the, you know, over my next couple years, is playing Davis Cup. And certainly the atmosphere will be different in Spain, and we'll have to deal with that. But to play in LA and a lot of buildup with the tie, I definitely didn't want to be the guy to lose it.
Q. What family members were here?
PETE SAMPRAS: Everybody.
Q. Mom, dad, sister?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yes.
Q. It looked like you gave your dad a really heartfelt hug. Was it a special moment in the stands with him?
PETE SAMPRAS: It was because my parents are -- obviously raised me the right way. They really raised me the right way, and my dad hasn't seen me play much and I definitely wanted to have them be a part of my tennis over the next number of years. Because up until this point, they haven't really been to Wimbledon and they haven't, you know, been a part of it. And it's definitely something I'm trying to get them to do, is come out. And the Forum's pretty close to their house so they had to come out. (Laughter.) So there's no excuse.
Q. Just because they're nervous about watching you play or they make you nervous?
PETE SAMPRAS: Probably a little bit of both. They've always, you know -- I'm a pretty independent person and when I'm playing, working, they like to, you know, leave me alone and -- but, you know, my goal in the next couple years is to bring them out more and bring them to Wimbledon, which is such a big part of my career and such an unbelievable place to see. I would love to bring them out more. But today was a great moment for my dad, and to be on the court and to share with the team, it was fun.
Q. John, can you tell us the first thing that occurred to you when you became aware that Pete had suffered the little injury?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I think my heart temporarily stopped. You know, 'cause it was like the first game, you could see he pulled up, and I just -- I sensed there was something different with Pete today. I think he was more ready to go, and the circumstances -- this is it. Then it just sounded like he had some thump on his ball, you know, in the beginning. He was really hitting the ball. His serve was just out of this world, and -- but also off the ground, even in the warmup, I was like, "Man, he's really -- that ball sounds like a big, big ball. Dosedel's going to be intimidated by that." So, obviously, it was a horrible feeling to see that he was hurting. But as the match went on, I became more confident because it seemed like he was able to settle into it and he was just serving -- Pete was serving so big. That's the type of serving that, you know, I dream about.
Q. Pete, did your serve give you confidence early considering the early injury, considering the very first set you didn't play that well?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't think I played badly. You know, I got the -- one of the best serves in the world, and I might as well use it.
Q. I don't mean the first set, I meant the first game. I'm sorry.
PETE SAMPRAS: I just had to deal with the injury and figure out how I was going to play with it, and I felt a great rhythm. My arm was nice and loose, I just got into a great rhythm. Even though I missed my first, I felt just as confident in my second, I could hit it just as hard and to the line. Even if I threw in a couple doubles, I was that confident. And every now and again it could click, and it definitely clicked -- really clicked today as far as my rhythm, and I just served about as well as I could.
Q. Pete, I know you don't like to lose. Has it perhaps worked out better for you and the image of tennis in America that you were able to play a live fifth rubber as opposed to winning on Friday?
PETE SAMPRAS: It was the master plan. (Laughter.) We just wanted John to sweat a little bit more.
Q. How was it for you, Pete, we all know Davis Cup pressure is different from tournament pressure. Here you were, after ten years, being in a spot you've never been in before, fifth match, John has done it a couple of times?
PETE SAMPRAS: Last night, when you're trying to fall asleep and you're a little restless, you tell yourself, I played the biggest matches in the world, Finals at Wimbledon, it's one-on-one, my ability is better than his. That's the way I look at it. And, you know, as nervous as you are when you step out on the court, the
Q. Pete, was there ever a point where you thought, "Geez, I might have to quit"?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think John would have choked me. (Laughter.) You're playing no matter -- you know, I definitely could see it in his eyes when I told him I kind of hurt my leg. He didn't want any part of it. (Laughter.) And, you know, there was no way I was going to quit. Maybe I would have been struggling to play, but I wasn't going to stop and let him just have a walkover. I wasn't going to let him -- if he was going to beat me, deserve it, play three sets or whatever it was going to be. But, you know, adrenaline, like I said, really helped out. And the crowd. John's words on the changeover were a huge inspiration for me to, you know, suck it up and just have the next couple weeks off and, you know, suck it up for 45 minutes so we can get out of here. (Laughter.) How many times did you tell me that?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Just a couple times. (Laughter.)
Q. When exactly did you hurt it? Was it with the forehand when you broke serve there?
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know exactly when, but I felt it go in the first couple games of the match, and it kind of hindered my play for a couple games. But then I kind of settled in to figure out how I was going to play with this, and then I just said, you know, I'm going to play and I'm going to do whatever I can to win here.
Q. Left quad?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah.
Q. Pete, was there a time in your career when you didn't want your family around like a lot of young guys, you go out, don't want their parents around and stuff, and has that changed with you, too, to want them to be around?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. The older you get, you start, you know, I moved back here a year ago and you spend more time with your family, you want them to be a part of it. In my early 20s, I was so focused on my tennis that I kind of lost sight of, you know, the important people in my life and that's my family. And definitely the older you get, you really appreciate your parents and what they did for you. And definitely, you know, having them here today and -- was a great moment for my parents to see it. And so hopefully -- I'm sure my dad is going to go to Spain. He's going to ask for that ticket. He was set to go to Zimbabwe, but -- so, he'll be there.