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Sampras Bounces Czech

August 28, 2000

Hours of rain earlier in the afternoon produced uncomfortable, muggy conditions in the Arthur Ashe Stadium for Pete Sampras's first round match against Martin Damm of Czechoslovakia. Despite mopping the sweat from his face after almost every point, the American four-time winner of his native Slam played well enough to leave the result never seriously in doubt. Notching up 22 aces along the way, the score-line finished at 7-6 (3), 7-5, 6-4. Never happy when he has to play in extreme heat or humidity, Sampras seemed to avoid too much running around the court unless he had to, relying mostly on his serve to take the match in straight sets.

It must be said that Damm did not pose too many problems for Sampras, already holder of a record 13 Grand Slams. He double-faulted at set point in the first set tie-breaker, and at 5-5 in the second set, having hit an apparent winner, the Czech received a classic 'Return to Sender'. He was left watching helplessly as Sampras flicked a backhand volley over the net, allowing himself his only show of emotion throughout the match - a clenched fist. It wasn't exciting tennis, but Sampras got the job done efficiently enough.

"He was serving big the whole match", said Damm. "Sometimes he was a little slower on the returns, but he is definitely going to get better as he gets some matches under his belt, and he is a great competitor. Especially at the Slams, if he is on form it is tough to put up a challenge against him."

Unable to compete here last year due to a herniated disc in his back, Sampras has suffered a number of other injuries since then. But he is now fit and eager to add to his huge tally of Grand Slams.

"My body feels good", Sampras said. "I felt pretty good out there, but it was a tough opening round match."

The man who broke Roy Emerson's record of 12 Grand Slam titles at his 'home from home' in London SW19 in July confessed:

"Wimbledon took a lot out of me, emotionally. Breaking the record was a weight off my shoulders. But I am not looking at this year's US Open any different. I still want to do well. It's our last major of the year and I will do whatever I can to win."

Being seeded number 4, his lowest seeding in the US Open since 1991, has not discouraged Sampras.

"I have won here plenty of times. I'd certainly like to add on to that and try to make it five."

You have been warned guys.

Based on AP and Reuters news reports


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