Sampras Goes Out in Second Match, Agassi Goes on - no yet finished
January 11, 2001
Melbourne, Australia - Andre Agassi wasn't too amazed at his two come-from-behind
victories, just as Pete Sampras wasn't worried about his two losses at the
Colonial Classic, a warm-up for the Australian Open. Patrick Rafter defeated
Sampras 6-4, 7-6(5).
While losing 3-5, 0-40 in the second set, Agassi raised his level to beat
Nicolas Escude 3-6, 7-5, 6-1, which put him in the final.
Pete Sampras seemed to admit that he wasn't in top form yet but that if
he was hitting the ball well, and feeling well, he would win matches and
build his confidence. He feels if he can play better today than he did yesterday
it will continue to help him to work out things.
In the round robin matches, Sampras lost to Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain.
He will have one more match in which he will play Nicolas Kiefer of Germany.
The more important matches for Agassi in the Open will be the early matches.
He's eager to get his confidence back. He thinks it will come quickly because
of his winningl year-end play. He believes he will have to work harder this
year. Agassi is seeded sixth at the Colonial Classic.
Agassi expressed his annoyance at himself, as he was about to lose serve.
When he finally picked himself back up, he was careful to not make as many
The winner of the Kafelnikov/Ferrero semifinal will face Agassi on Saturday.
In the match between Sampras and Rafter, Sampras lost his serve in the
seventh game of the first set. Rafter won the second set tiebreaker, when
he returned a serve too wide for Sampras to get.
This will likely be the last Australian Open for Rafter, who commented
he would probably retire at the end of the year. He plans to play the whole
Ecuador's Nicolas Lapentti defeated Kiefer 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-6(2). He is a
replacement for Safin who retired with a sore elbow.
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Retirement Not in Sampras' Plans Yet
January 11, 2001
Pat Rafter may be thinking about retiring, but not Pete Sampras. Even
though he lost to Rafter in the Colonial Classic in Melbourne in straight
Year 2000 found Sampras not playing as much as usual, then after losing
to Safin in the US Open he married Bridgette Wilson and took an additional
two months off. This lack of match play was perhaps the reason he lost in
the semi finals of the year ending Masters Cup to Gustavo Kuerten.
Sampras sees himself playing for another 4 or 5 years. Sampras is enjoying
playing on the ATP Tour still, while Rafter is tired of the traveling and
the heavy ATP schedule.
Sampras stated the he still enjoyed the competition, and likes the challenges
given to him as a tennis player. He did state that hearing the news about
Rafter made him think about his own life.
Leaving at the right time is important to Sampras. To win the French Open
and then retire would be a good time, Sampras believes. Anyone knowing Sampras,
knows he will do it when the time is right and will do it gracefully.
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2001 Colonial Classic
Pete Sampras loses to Pat Rafter
January 11, 2001
Q: You seemed a little frustrated out there today, Pete.
A: A little bit. In fact, he's a tough guy to play in these conditions,
(indistinct) it is tough to get a hold of it. I though I played a little
bit better than I did yesterday and had my chances at 43 serving and kind
of played a sloppy game. I thought I hit the ball a little bit better; there
is obviously a lot of room for improvement over the next three or four days,
but I'm a bit more pleased the way I hit the ball. Would have been nice
to have won this match.
Q: So what do you do, do you start tinkering a little bit with things
or is it just going to come naturally by playing more games?
A: By playing more games, another tough match tomorrow, so you get into
a certain rhythm and when you come down here you just have to adjust your
shots a little bit, it's a little bit quicker, ball bounces up very high
and there's a couple of adjustments you have to make. I'll get some time
to work on a few things and hopefully I will be ready by next week.
Q: Do you think Pat played like a guy on the verge of retirement?
A: No, I thought he played fine. He always plays solid, good serve and
volley, tough guy to break. I have heard about him retiring, or the talk
of it, and it's something that it's his decision, his career. When you look
at Pat's career, he has been number one, won two majors, a lot of players
would retire on those numbers, but he is still reasonably young he is only
28 and a good athlete and a good mental attitude out there, he can play
for many years.
Q: He said when you walked in the changing room today: hey, what's going
on here about retiring, what did he say to you?
A: He said: yeah, well, you know. It's a grind out there. We talked about
it for a minute. He has mentioned a few things to me, just little comments
here and there, about how much longer he is going to play and it's his life
and there is obviously a lot more to life than tennis and I think he recognises
that, he has had a good career. I have always found Pat to be a contender
in every major, he is there and a couple of things here and there he could
within the next two or three or whatever but he's definitely had a good
Q: Is it fair to say it wouldn't have been that much of a surprise?
A: Probably not. Obviously he has made it public and I don't think he really
knows exactly when it is going to happen, I don't think he thinks he is
going to play for five more years, I don't know what he said here today,
but maybe another year or so and he might call it. Ones a player starts
talking about it, obviously it is something he has thought about and, sure,
Pat has thought a lot about it.
Q: Can you understand it or empathise with it?
A: I have never had a serious injury I've had back problems but for him
to have surgery on the shoulder which put him out of the game for a while,
the rehab, and mentally it is tough when you've been on top of the game
and he didn't play for quite a while, and to get back up there takes a lot
of work. Being from Australia, he doesn't spend a lot of time at home, he
is away from home for six, seven months at a time, so over the years it
takes its toll. I still think he is young enough and in good enough shape
to play this game for a long time, but I can understand, it's a grind out
there but on the other hand it is a great job to play a sport and make a
good living and travel around the world. I wouldn't trade this for anything.
Q: Do you get a bit sad when guys that you have had a good rivalry with
over the years, or played good matches, when they drop out? It would be
hard to imagine the day when Agassi or Sampras are not playing any more
and they are not there to play each other. Has it become tough to see these
guys that you are used to playing not there any more?
A: I don't know if sad is the right word but it's a sign that you are getting
up there. For us, when Jim retired, being a rival of mine and Andre's, it
kind of woke us both up to how much longer we are going to play when someone
calls it quits. You look back at your career and you remember the great
matches, you remember the rivalries that I have had, and certainly Boris
has been one, Andre has been one, and Edburg and Pat, as a sportsman it
happens to everybody. For me in my shoes, I see myself playing for quite
a while. I still love playing and I love competing but it happens to everybody.
You just know when it is time, you wake up of a morning and don't feel like
playing or training and that's when it's time to maybe look beyond tennis.
Q: Pete, we remember the socalled war of words between you and Pat. Would
it be good to describe you now as buddies beyond just repairing whatever
was going on then, but you have actually found a friendship beyond that?
A: Yeah, I think Pat and I the media kind blew a few things up here and
there that I said a few things that I kind of regretted and (indistinct)
Pat's a good guy, he's a class act on and off the court, and certainly he's
a good representative for Australia and for tennis because he is a good
sport and we've put that behind us and moved on.
Q: He was indicating this might be his last Aussie Open, his last big
tournament. If two meet in the final in a couple of weeks time, will you
A: So he could win? I probably would. I like to get to a final but my personality,
I would tank my final so it's not that important to me
Q: I don't know if you know who is playing the fourth match in the qualifying
at Court 17 this afternoon at Melbourne Park?
Q: He is playing .... How do you feel about seeing Goran playing a qualifying
for the Australian Open?
A: I'm surprised he didn't get a wild card. Three time Wimbledon finalist,
that's pretty good. I'm surprised he didn't get a wild card, he deserves
one, but Goran has lost his way a little bit and lost some confidence and
when you lose a little bit, it's a struggle but it is nice to see him still
competing and still trying to get back into the top 100, or whenever he
is at right now, but if I was a tournament director, (indistinct) a wild
Q: You speak about Pat being 28 and the grind of the tour, does this announcement
put back some pressure on the ATP to maybe fix that grind and bring it back
to extend your careers?
A: I don't think one retirement is going to do that. I have always said
over the years that I think the year is too long and whether you're in a
Davis Cup final or making the championships, you don't really have much
time off and it is a grind. A lot of other sports, especially in the US,
you have four or five months off to have a normal life and get back into
it and tennis players it's a one man show up there, it's all up to you,
you don't have team mates, so it can be a mental grind at times. I think
the tour is trying to make an effort to try and shorten the season a little
bit but Pat was in the Davis Cup final in December, you have a couple of
weeks and get ready for another year, so it takes its toll. I think the
tour is trying to cut it back but I don't see any immediate changes over
the next couple of years. They still have the same schedule and the year
is just too long.
Q: Pete, Pat had said it at this stage to make the Australian crowd aware
of what his thoughts are so obviously he is looking at some grand plan.
Do you have anything along those lines? If you had a perfect scenario, the
way to hang up the racket, is there anything that has played in your mind?
A: Well, not really. Just the thought of retirement isn't really first
on my mind. Sure, in a perfect world, like a Michael Jordan (indistinct)
and call it quits, and that's a nice way to go out. For me, winning the
French or something, calling it quits after that, you want to leave your
legacy in a positive way, you don't want to play too long or whatever but
I don't have any details of exactly what I will do or what I will say and
when I'll do it. When it's time I will do the right thing and bow out gracefully.
Q: Who decides when it is time? Would you go and speak to people about
it or would you just wake up, as you said?
A: I don't think there is really anyone can say anything, I think it is
something that you know and feel when you wake up in the morning or when
you go through the travelling schedule or practicing, you just know when
it's time. I think I have always said for me when it's time it is when I
feel like I can't contend for majors, if my health is a big issue, if I'm
not enjoying it, if those things start creeping up over x number of years
it's definitely time to look beyond tennis but as long as I'm still in contention
and still playing, somewhere in the top of the game, I will just keep on
Q: Have you ever been close?
A: To retiring?
Q: Yes. To even entertain the thought.
Q: No down times?
A: There are times where you are a little bit tired, a little bit burned
out, but the thought of retirement seems pretty final, so it is something
that's never seriously crossed my mind.
Q: Pat made the point that you are a much more naturally talented tennis
player, he says it comes easier for you than to him; he is a guy that has
to work really hard. Would you share that opinion?
A: Well, that's flattering to hear. I still have to put in my time and
put in my training to do what I have done over the past, eight, nine years
but it takes a lot of energy to play the way Pat plays. He has got to be
in good shape, he is a physical player, he does a lot of moving, and the
game always has become reasonably easy at times for me but I can understand
what he is saying but it still takes a lot of effort to be number one for
a number of years so it takes its toll.
Q: Is it more of an effort now, as you get a little bit older, do you
have to train harder to keep that standard?
A: Yeah. As you get older your body changes, the recovery time, you feel
a little bit more you get to 29, 30 and you feel a little bit more versus
when you were 22, and so the time where you need to train a little bit harder
and push it a little bit harder.
Q: How are you approaching your schedule this year? Are you going to scale
back at all to focus even more on the Grand Slams?
A: Well, I'm going to concentrate a little bit more on the clay. I want
to play a few more events, probably get over to Europe a little bit earlier
to give myself the best chance to do well at the French and pretty much
have the same schedule all the way through Wimbledon, then the US Open.
It's pretty much trying to peak four times a year and that's the challenge
and that's the goal.
Q: Although you are know you're playing three matches here, how frustrating
was it to lose the first two? Was that bad for your confidence or not very
A: Well, I hope it is not too significant. As long as I'm hitting the ball
well and feeling well, which I think I'm getting there. When you win matches
you build confidence but if I can play better today than yesterday, I can
kind of build on it and work on a few things this weekend and get ready,
but I'm not overly concerned but I definitely like to go out and win tomorrow.
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