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Sampras Bageled by Hewitt

November 28, 2000

Lisbon, Portugal - At the press conference following his first round defeat in the Masters Cup, Pete Sampras was asked a very unusual question: when was the last time he lost a set to love? A dejected Sampras replied that he could not remember. In fact it was to Mats Wilander in 1990 – a whole decade ago. The score in his match against Leyton Hewitt was 7-5, 6-0. It was suggested that this might have been mainly due to his long lay-off since the US Open in September, but Sampras answered:

“Well, it definitely wasn’t pretty out there. I don’t know if it was a case of not having played for a while. You know, I knew coming into here that I might be a little rusty in the beginning. But I thought I played fine in the first set, but really kind of struggled from the back court, especially with my backhand, missing quite a number of shots. You just hope you gain confidence as the match goes on. To be honest with you, I just lost a bit of confidence… When you come out and compete, you know, the nerves are there. You are just a little bit unsure, and it showed today.”

If any player would be sure to seize the opportunity to take advantage of an opponent’s vulnerability, it’s surely young Hewitt.

“It’s not the way I wanted to start this tournament,” said the defending champion. “But I don’t have much time to get disappointed. I have to rebound and get ready for tomorrow.”

Asked about Leyton Hewitt’s chances in the tournament, Sampras replied candidly:

“I think he has got a good chance to get to the weekend. He always plays well. You know, he is tough to beat even when I am playing well. When I’m not playing well, it’s an uphill struggle”, he admitted.

Sampras is drawn next against Alex Corretja and then will have to get past current world No.1 Marat Safin to reach the Semi-Finals.

Based on Reuters

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