Sampras Regains Winning Touch Before Australian Open
January 12, 2001
MELBOURNE - Pete Sampras ensured he will enter the Australian Open on
a positive note after securing his first win of the season on Friday.
The American world number three appeared rusty as he suffered consecutive
defeats at the round-robin Kooyong Classic on Wednesday and Thursday, but
he regained his touch with a 6-2 7-6 (7-5) victory over German Nicolas Kiefer.
It was Sampras' last competitive match before the start of the Australian
Open on Monday.
"I really wanted a victory before next week, and it was very pleasing
to get it," he said. "I felt much better. The rythym was there
and now the confidence is returning."
Sampras appeared to suffer discomfort on his serve, but he said: "There
is no problem. "My feet got jammed a little bit, but that had more
to do with the sticky court."
Sampras faces Slovakian Karol Kucera in the first round of the Australian
Open, and American rival Andre Agassi is his predicted quarter-final opponent.
"I'm not thinking about Andre just yet," Sampras said. "There
is a lot of work to do for both of us before that happens. I've got my hands
full with trying to get past Kucera, who is a very dangerous first round
Kucera, ranked 75 in the world, beat Sampras in the quarter-finals of the
Australian Open in 1998.
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2001 Colonial Classic
Pete Sampras defeats Nicolas Kiefer
January 12, 2001
Q: Victory after three matters - not so bad to go to the Open with a win
A: Well, it was nice winning today but I just felt much better on the court,
just felt the rhythm was there and played much better, the conditions were
much easier today, wasn't as windy, it was a little bit cooler, a little
bit heavier, but it's a good win, a confidence booster but more importantly
I feel like I'm hitting the ball well.
Q: Did you have a chance to look at your draw for the Open?
A: I just heard I play Kucera, who I think we all know he can play some
very good tennis. He beat me here four years ago in the quarters, played
a tough match against me at Wimbledon and not an easy first round match
to play him, so we will see.
Q: Did you stop to consider at any time before today's match that if you
hadn't won today you would finish eighth out of eighth?
A: Well, that's what happens when you lose; you're not going to go up,
you're going to go down, but it's nice to win a match and to get a little
confidence going. But win or lose today, I just wanted to feel like I was
hitting the ball a little bit better and I think I did that today; I felt
like I was getting a pretty good range out there, and hopefully I can build
from here, have a couple of days off from playing here, and go over back
to the site, I think the court's a little bit slower over there, pretty
quick here, so just have a couple of days of practice.
Q: How does your preparation this year compare to previous years, and
do you actually bother about it, do you actually compare?
A: It's pretty much the same. I've played here, I think my third time,
and the preparation playing this event is perfect you are in Melbourne,
if you want to hit on the site on a day off you can, you're playing against
some of the best players in the world that they're going to give you problems
and it's an ideal event and that's why you see a lot of the top guys playing.
Q: Any problem with your ankle today?
A: No, not my ankle but this court is very sticky and it's not a lot of
give so when you plant you may feel your toes a little bit and they get
jammed a little bit so it's part of the surface, it's pretty tough on the
Q: Do you set up in the same place here each year?
Q: Do you do the same at Wimbledon?
Q: You rent the same place?
Q: And does that happen at all the Slams?
A: Well, I just recently started staying in the city in New York, I always
stayed out on the island, so being in the city is a little bit different,
different feel to the event, but when you play Slams you just get into the
same routine, same hotel, same restaurants, and just make sure you are at
a place that you are comfortable and you like, so it's important.
Q: Is it routine, is it because of familiarity, or is there an aspect
of superstition there as well?
A: I don't think superstition, it's just walk into your hotel room that
you have stayed in the past five years, there are no surprises, you know
the area, you know the restaurants that you like that you are not going
to get food poisoning, so on the tour you just figure out where you like
to stay and they set you up pretty good in most places. I have a great stay
here, I stay at the Crown which gives me a little entertainment, do a little
gambling at night when things are a little slow.
A: Black Jack.
Q: You count the cards?
A: No, I don't count the cards.
Q: On the $2 table, I suppose?
A: Yeah. $2 Australian is about maybe 50 cents. 25 cents.
Q: Do you win much?
A: I do okay. I really go for pure entertainment and just to have a little
gamble is fun; I'm not there to really make a tonne of money. I mostly kind
of give it away.
Q: Do people leave you alone sufficiently that you can do that?
A: Yeah. I go not a private table but an area of the casino that's pretty
private and it's not a problem.
Q: And you do that during the course of the Open as well? Can you relax?
A: Sure, I've done that. Instead of sitting in your hotel room watching
TV, you can just be down and have your mind off the tennis or the tennis
is always on TV so just a chance to get away.
Q: Have you done anything in Monte Carlo?
A: Yes. It's not like I have any histories. Pure entertainment.
Q: Is there anything else you like to do when you are in Melbourne? Arantxa
Sanchez used to go and swim with the seals and dolphins in the bay, things
A: No, I haven't done that. Not really, it's pretty much you are at the
courts and hotel and I played golf here at the Capital Course, which was
beautiful, that was nice to get away, but once the tournament starts pretty
much on your days off, you rest, you hit a little bit, get some massages,
and get ready for your matches.
Q: Would you prefer to be in a different quarter of the draw than Andre?
A: Well, it's not really on my mind. I play a tough first round match and
you can't look that far ahead, especially in the men's game, too many great
players that they can take you down. A lot of floaters in the draw, they
only seed 16, you would like to see 32, but it is a long way away before
we play each other but my main focus is Kucera, which I will have my hands
full, I can tell you.
Q: Yevgeny was very happy to be away from your draw, he said this morning,
A: Well, Yevgeny is the type of guy he will figure out who he is going
to play in the finals. He has got it all mapped out. He knows who he is
going to beat and who he is going to lose to before the tournament starts.
So it's just the luck of the draw, it's the way it goes. You have to win
seven matches to win here so I have had my share of good draws and tough
draws and you have to get through them.
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