Agassi wins against Sampras
March 18, 2001
Andre Agassi thumped longtime rival Pete Sampras 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 6-1 to capture
the Tennis Masters Series-Indian Wells title. Pummeling the third seed from
the baseline and cracking rapid-fire passing shots at key moments, the fourth-seeded
Agassi never dropped his serve in the match, while breaking Sampras three
times. In winning his first Indian Wells title in 11 tries, the 30-year-old
Agassi was remarkably consistent, committing only 10 unforced errors to
49 from Sampras.
Pete, who entered the match with a 17-12 career edge over Agassi, was looking
for his first title since capturing his record 13th Grand Slam crown at
Wimbledon last July. But he never established any rhythm on his vaunted
serve. Sampras battled gamely in the first set, but was unable to convert
on four break point opportunities as Agassi effectively kept him pinned
to the baseline. In the tiebreaker, Sampras double faulted twice and only
hit one winner, losing the breaker 7-5 when Agassi laced a backhand down
the line passing shot.
PETE said his serve failed him. "In the tiebreaker it did, you can't
continue to hit second serves against Andre because he returns too well.
The serve wasn't there all week. It was a little inconsistent."
PETE was unable to raise his game in the second set, as Agassi pounded
him from the baseline and kept him at bay by hitting heavily topspinned
serves to his backhand, with which Pete could do little. The battle between
the game's best server and its premier returner ultimately went to the man
on the receiving end as Agassi broke Sampras at love to take the second
set with an easy forehand passing shot.
"I just kind of slowly wilted away in the third set, Pete said. "Andre
was just too good on the day, he's playing great. He's not missing much.
He was hitting the ball deep, keeping me on my heels. It's pretty good the
way he's started out the year, the way he's playing, he's definitely going
to be a strong favourite each Slam he plays."
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2001 Tennis Masters - Indian Wells
Pete Sampras loses to Andre Agassi
6-7, 5-7, 1-6
March 18, 2001
MODERATOR: Questions for Pete.
Q. Did you start to get weary physically and mentally towards the end?
PETE SAMPRAS: No, not too bad. Just one of those matches where I felt like
I had some chances there in the beginning of the match, got a little bit
frustrated. My level just dropped off a little bit in the end of the second,
beginning of the third. He raised it a notch. But I felt fine physically.
It was pretty warm, but it wasn't that hot.
You know, you just have to convert when you have a chance against Andre.
I feel like I played well enough to win that first set. Once he won that
breaker, kind of changed the momentum. He kind of went from there.
He's playing great. He's not missing much. He's playing the big points
well. Definitely I can't help but feel like I had some chances to maybe
win that first set. But it wasn't to be.
Q. Is he better than he's been?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, he's always been good, you know (laughter).
Q. Is he better, though?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think he's pretty much a at a level like he was a number
of years ago when he was No. 1 in the world. You know, he always pretty
much plays the same. Always seems to play me very tough.
You look at his game five years ago to today, it's the same game. Maybe
he's in a little bit better shape. He's not missing at all, serving a little
bit better. You know, he's always been a great player in my mind.
Q. He seemed to be scrambling very well today in some of those exchanges
at the net.
PETE SAMPRAS: He's always been a good mover. Came up with some good stuff.
You know, we both move pretty well. But he definitely won the right point
at the right time. I can't help but feel like I had a few chances, and he
kind of weathered the storm a little bit. Just came up a little bit short.
Q. Did your serve let you down?
PETE SAMPRAS: In the tiebreaker, it did. I was 1 for 7. You can't continue
to hit second serves against Andre, because he returns too well. The serve
just kind of all week didn't feel like it was quite there. It was a little
bit inconsistent. I don't know what my percentage was, but it needs to be
in the 60s to beat Andre.
If you gets a lot of second serves, he's going to wear you down because
he doesn't miss many returns. The serve definitely left me at certain points
in the match.
Q. A couple times you had some problem with line calls. Did that frustrate
you? Do you feel the officiating wasn't (inaudible) as it should be at this
type of tournament?
PETE SAMPRAS: It was fine. You think over the course of a match, there
are going to be some mistakes. You hope it would even out over the course
of a match.
Some tough calls. You know, I'm not sitting here complaining that's why
Q. Did that frustrate you?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it doesn't help, you know, when you're down two sets
to love, a few tough breaks here and there. It's the way it went.
Q. You won a number of matches throughout your career being down two sets
to love. Does it feel different having Andre on the other side of the net?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, because he doesn't give you many chances, and you have
to work real hard to hold serve. He's the type of guy that once he gets
a lead, he plays that much better. I feel like if I was on top of him, he
might get a little bit tighter, miss a little bit more.
Today, you know, he just kind of relaxed after he won the second set, didn't
miss very much. Seemed like he hardly made any errors. He really was hitting
the ball deep, keeping me on the back of my heels. But he played great.
Q. As you say, disappointing that the first set got away from you, particularly
that set point. At the same time, were there bonuses for you this week?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, sure, it's nice to reach the final. But I play these
weeks to win the tournament. Up until this part of the year, it's been a
struggle. I feel like I've got some good matches under my belt and I can
build on this and go to Miami with some confidence and play a little bit
If you're going to get to the final, you might as well try to win it -
and it didn't happen.
Q. Kafelnikov said he was very surprised by your enthusiasm on the court.
Where is that leaving you now? What's the plan?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't understand what you mean. I mean, I'm out there
trying to win, being intense, trying to win my matches just as much now
at 29 as I was at 20. Still very competitive, still very enthusiastic about
the rest of my career, trying to win these events, win Slams, finish it
off in a positive way.
Q. That was the 30th match between you two. You lead 17-13. Does any one
stand out as the greatest match you played in that series?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, for me the best match I ever played against Andre was
the final a couple years ago in Wimbledon. Granted, it was grass, which
helps out my game a little bit. I think it's the best display I've ever
put together. So that one stands out for me.
Q. Would this be one of the most disappointing for you because of the
fact that early on you had chances probably to get a grip on it?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's disappointing. It is. You know, felt like I had some
chances. I had breakpoints. That's all it takes for me sometimes is to get
that break, win that first set. I kind of just go from there and try to
capitalize on it.
Once I lost it, I just kind of was hanging on in the second. Then, boom,
6-5, he hit a couple good shots. That kind of just -- the balloon popped
just a touch. You can't afford to do that against a great player.
But I feel like I can walk out of here feeling pretty good about the way
I played this week.
Q. Andre is 30 years old, seven majors under his belt. What do you think
his chances are of reaching ten majors in his career?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think it's pretty good the way he's started out the year,
the way he's playing. You know, he's going to be a threat at each major.
But it's not easy on the mind and the body as you get older to win majors.
He's definitely going to be a strong favorite each Slam he plays.
Q. Would you be so kind to comment on the intent to introduce larger balls
in order to slow down the game?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think the game is fine just the way it is.
Q. As you get older, do losses -- is it easier to put up with a loss or
is it just as hard as five or ten years ago when you were still young on
PETE SAMPRAS: Oh, it's still pretty difficult. I mean, I'm -- it's a good
effort getting to the finals, but I play these weeks, like I said before,
to win them. There's certain moments in a career where you lose the final
of a Slam. That hurts more than anything in the game. This one has a Grand
Slam feel. You definitely want to win these events.
It's disappointing. I'm not sad; I'm disappointed I couldn't quite, you
know, get it done today.
Q. Would it be fair to say that you haven't found your extra gear this
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the gear game along pretty good this week. It's been
a slow buildup. You know, Australia didn't go too well. You know, it's been
a good week. I'm going to build on this, go into Miami feeling pretty good.
I played at a pretty good level throughout the first set. I feel like I
get that one point, I can just kind of go from there. You don't convert
on those chances against Andre, you're going to have a long day.
But the level is there. I feel like I'm playing pretty well. But there's
definitely some room to improve.
Q. The fact that you haven't won since Wimbledon, has that become a pressure
PETE SAMPRAS: I'm feeling like Tiger Woods right now. It's been six weeks
since he's won (laughter). I haven't played many weeks. I'm going to play
a little bit more over the next three to four months than I did last year
on the clay, which is a struggle.
You know, definitely when you raise the bar like I've raised the bar over
the years, you're expected to win events. When you don't win one for six
months, it's something that's going to be talked about. Just as long as
I get going a little bit next week, I can definitely win it.
Q. Can you outline your European program?
PETE SAMPRAS: Looks like I'm going to play Monte-Carlo, Hamburg, Dusseldorf.
I'll play a little bit more this year compared to last year just to give
it a good shot there.
Q. How pleased are you with your move back to California?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's been the best thing for my life. I mean, I enjoyed my
time in Florida, but it's nice to be back where my roots are, closer to
my family. When you don't see them that much, you lose touch. Now it's good
to get back to the LA area. I've been there a couple years now. I like being
there. Get to spend time with my wife. Definitely been a great move in my
Q. Have you been in touch with Pete Fisher, by chance?
PETE SAMPRAS: No.
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