ATP Tour Teleconference
May 3, 2000
MIKI SINGH: Thanks everyone for calling in and thanks to Pete for taking the time to join us from L.A. As many of you remember, Pete was the Davis Cup hero for the US, winning the fifth rubber to clinch the US win over the Czech Republic, but in the win Pete had a bit of a thigh injury which has kept him off the court since.
PETE is currently fourth in the ATP Champions Race 2000 and he won his most recent ATP Tour title at the Ericsson Open last month.
As always ASAP Sports is here, Peter Balestrieri, and so we will have transcripts available roughly about 90 minutes after the call is concluded. Before I turn it over to you guys, I want to let Pete give you an update on his current condition. Pete.
PETE SAMPRAS: Thanks, Miki. Well, unfortunately, I am not going to be able to play the Italian Open. My quad is still giving me some problems and it is not 100%. So my first event back will probably be at the German Open in Hamburg and I will play Dusseldorf all the way through Wimbledon. It has just taken a little while to get over this injury and it is something that seems like has been my situation over the past six months with some of these injuries, but I will hopefully be back 100% by the German Open.
MIKI SINGH: We have a pretty big lineup of journalists, so we will take one question a piece and try going from east to west and start in Europe.
Q. Are you actually on a court and hitting balls yet or is that still to come?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I am trying and I am on the court -- I am on the court hitting, but I am not doing a lot of explosive movement and there's still a little bit tenderness and obviously I am trying to stay in shape somehow, but I am not able to really play any sets. And if you can't do that at this point, you are not going to be ready to play. Still a bit of a process that I am going through, I should be hopefully 100% within a week's time.
Q. Was it at all a temptation to just skip the clay this year and wait for the grass where you obviously have got a better chance?
PETE SAMPRAS: No, it was -- no, it was never a consideration. I just always figured I was going to play on the dirt and hopefully get through and play well at the French. It never crossed my mind.
Q. When are you coming to Rome?
PETE SAMPRAS: I am not coming to Rome.
Q. Oh, what a horrible news you have given me. I just arrived, sorry. You are still injured?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah.
Q. But you will be in Paris?
PETE SAMPRAS: Oh, yeah.
MIKI SINGH: An update on Rome field, currently Pete is the only player that is officially withdrawn from Rome. Kiefer is the only player that right now is kind of on the bubble, if you will, but Rafter and Agassi will be back.
Q. Can you take us through sort how you felt after the Ericsson and when you got hurt in Davis Cup and then the three weeks since then maybe false alarms thinking you were better and why it has dragged on this long?
PETE SAMPRAS: Obviously the Ericsson was a tough win. The final was a pretty physically demanding match. I came to L.A. a little bit tired and had one day off and started practicing on Tuesday and didn't give myself a chance to really recover from a tough week and trying to grind it on Tuesday all the way through the weekend and on -- my legs were a little bit stiff over -- after the tournament, so I started to play the match (inaudible) my quad go a little bit. I continued to play on it which made it worse and worse and took an MRI the next day and had a tear and trying to get back on it and I think I came back a little bit too soon and kind of redid it a little bit as I am trying get ready for the clay court season. But at this point I am trying to be a little bit more conservative, trying to get myself, okay, what is my goal here. My goal is to try to win the French and to make sure I am 100%. If I am 100% physically ready to go and I start playing well, then (inaudible) --
Q. When you had the chance to finish that second set against Kuerten at the Ericsson you sort of kind of regret that maybe you could have finished that off quicker?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think about that quite a bit. Yeah. Absolutely. It could have been a 1, 4 and 3 match, could have been out of there within a half hour, but I lost that set and the whole match changed and I fought physically at end there and definitely wasn't the way I wanted to go in the L.A. Davis Cup feeling that tired and it is hard to say if that would have had any impact on my squad, but it definitely didn't help.
Q. We know you probably weren't planning on playing Monte Carlo maybe Rome and in the summer, I guess, people would have suspected Toronto. Since it's the week after Davis Cup in Spain any chance at all you will play here in Toronto?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, Davis Cup right after Toronto?
Q. One week, seven days; then you are here.
PETE SAMPRAS: I am planning on it. .
Q. Pete, you have had this succession of injuries now dating back to the US Open and Australian Open and the back against Corretja; now the quad. Is this a run of just bad luck or are you coming to the realization that you have had years of playing and not just playing, but going deep into tournaments where you have to play almost every day, it is a realization that you need to change your training program or in terms of the time you put in on your training program or the intensity and one other question with that, who is training you right now?
PETE SAMPRAS: Working with Brett Stevens who -- he has been on the Tour for years and he has been in L.A. and we have been working together for the past year or so. After the back (inaudible) serious injury that was one thing I couldn't control and sort of not bad luck, but these injuries since then, I don't have an explanation. I just -- I feel like it could be the wear and tear of playing a lot of years; could be bad preparation; bad warming up before I play, going into Davis Cup playing a lot the week before, you know, it is probably a situation where it gets a little bit --cumulative over the years, but knock on wood going to stay healthy obviously over the next couple of months which is obviously (Inaudible.) Three or four years to get into the best shape as possible.
Q. Are you changing the intensity of your training; for example, the duration of it?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, pretty much doing the same things I have done over the past 10 years, doing a lot of running and when I can and lifting and biking and spending more time in the pool to give the legs a rest. And I am doing it with the same intensity; that is why living in L.A., I have hired Moose. He is actually going to probably move here and changed my diet, eat healthier, and try to do whatever I can. These injuries, if anything, are very frustrating because I am putting in the time. My body, I have got high twitch fibers that if they are not completely ready and warmed up I am going to have little pulls and that is kind of what has been happening.
Q. You talked a lot about how disappointing the injury was after Davis Cup. I just wondered being in L.A., being around fans, if you got any kind of reaction from people just in terms of pulling out the match?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it was a great moment for me and my family and to share it with them and next morning to get on the cover of the L.A. times is quite a thrill. Just going to some Laker games and just walking around the city, people really saw it and really got into it. It was obviously the reason -- what makes Davis Cup quite special and playing in my hometown made it even that much more special. So I felt a good buzz and tennis in L.A. and how -- what a big sport it is. So it was fun to be a part of it.
Q. How much time between last Davis Cup match and the time --
PETE SAMPRAS: I could barely hear.
Q. How much time were you actually off the court between your last Davis Cup match and when you started hitting again?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I was off for about three weeks. I just couldn't do much and I just recently got on the court to keep the arm and my hand kind of tough so it doesn't get too sore, but I am still not able to run 100% and sprint the way I like to obviously do that. I could maybe go to Rome, but I am probably going to be risking it and would obviously much rather be 100% than '95%, so that is where I am at. Just going to take it slow and be conservative about when I come back.
Q. I read that Monte Carlo, the tournament director there apparently not fully aware of your injury situation called you and some other players that didn't make that event who he felt could have played, he called them "black sheep" and just wondered do you feel that it is realistic for players to play all nine of those tournaments given the injuries and also the fact that you want to peak for the Majors and set up your own schedule?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, when this whole thing got put together I know that it is a big commitment. Nine is a lot. I feel it is maybe a couple of too many and especially at this point where I am playing Davis Cup, it definitely puts weeks in there where I would have played like 14 out of 16 weeks if I play all these tournaments and that is a lot. It is just a tough schedule and I think players over this year are going to feel it. You have Kuerten going from Miami going straight to Davis Cup on clay playing all the way through. It takes its toll. I just feel like I am going to do it, I am going to do it for my tennis and give myself the best schedule for the Slams to make sure I am ready for those tournaments.
Q. Obviously one of the biggest highlights was having your parents there at the Davis Cup watching you and going through the emotional roller coaster with you. Do you think it is more likely or less likely that they will go to Wimbledon now?
PETE SAMPRAS: I would love for them to come and I don't know if they will come for the two weeks or maybe if I make the final, but I definitely have expressed that I want them there and just to be a part of that tournament which has been a big part of my career. And I think Davis Cup was a pretty nerve-wracking situation and they sat through the whole thing and at least I can tell them at Wimbledon I have won there a few times so it is not the end of the world if I don't win there. I'd love for them to hop on a plane and come on over an check it out and be a part of it. We are going to see what happens this year, but my dad has already made reservations to go to Spain for the Davis Cup and -- but Wimbledon is a little bit up in the air.
MIKI SINGH: Thanks to everyone for tuning in. Pete, best wishes on a speedy recovery. Hope to see you on the court soon.