Sampras into Third Round of Toronto Masters
August 2, 2000
TORONTO - In his first round match against Michael Llodra, Pete Sampras was obviously suffering from lack of match play – not having played since winning his seventh Wimbledon title last month - and needed three sets to overcome his opponent. But today Sampras showed he was not alarmed by Karin Alami. Sending the Moroccan home after two sets and scoring 18 aces along the way, Sampras was pretty much in control. He never surrendered his serve and found little difficulty in breaking Alami. Although the first set went to a tiebreaker the American won it easily, 7-3, and raced to take the second set with the loss of only two games. His winning scoreline was a comfortable 7-6, 6-2.
However, Sampras – the man who has ‘raised the bar’ in the men’s game during his decade on the circuit – was matter-of-fact about his performance so far in this tournament.
“It was kind of touch and go there in the first set”, he said, “but once I got it, I felt pretty good. I raised my level just a touch and it was a lot smoother. It’s a good one to get through. Yesterday was a struggle, but I feel my game is where I want it to be.”
Being able to raise his game almost at will is one of the rare qualities which set Sampras apart from most other players. Having been plagued with tendonitis throughout the Wimbledon Championships, he needed time to rest his sore shin and recover from the emotional lows and highs of the Championships, which saw him also become the first man to win thirteen Grand Slam events. Not content with that, Sampras now has his sights set on the US Open next month. In preparation for this he says he needs some more confidence-boosting wins, his immediate goal being the Canadian Masters here, then one or maybe two more tournaments before New York. Many of his fellow players may be surprised to learn that Pete needs more confidence!
He explained: “When you win, it helps confidence. It builds an aura about yourself and guys know you’re playing well, so there’s a little more fear in my opponent’s eyes.”
After several upsets here already, Sampras is now the clear favourite to go on and take the title. He is already the Series’ all-time leader with 11. But Patrick Rafter, who also progresses to the next round, threw light on how close the competition is on the men’s tour.
“Every time you walk on the court you find it’s going to be a lottery”’ he said. You got 50 guys out there that anybody can lose to, especially on hard court.”
Pete Sampras, the possessor of so many weapons to help make his own luck, is gearing up to prove Rafter wrong.
Sources: SportsLine.com wire reports, The Associated Press