Pete loses in first round in Rome
May 8, 2001
PETE tumbles out of Rome in his first round match against Israel's Harel
Levy 5-7 6-2 4-6. The match was held over from Monday because of the rainy
weather with Pete trailing 5-7 3-1.
When the match resumed today, Pete comfortably closed out the second set
to force a decider. But Levy, 22-years-old and ranked 46, refused to wilt
against Pete's agressive start. He broke Pete's serve in the first game
of the third set to lead 1-0. Pete then began to struggle with the conditions,
and had to save further break points in the fifth and ninth games before
Levy claimed victory on his first match point.
PETE had 35 unforced errors compared to Levy's 25.
The defeat probably undermines Pete's preparations for Roland Garros commencing
on May 28. The French Open is the only grand slam title still to elude him.
"I've been training a lot, running a lot to prepare for five-set matches
at the French... It's disappointing to lose right away. You really need
to get in a lot of matches.
"I'm used to dictating the game with my power," Sampras said.
"But you can't always go for the big shots on clay, you have to be
Levy called the victory the biggest of his career. "Today I played
against my idol, which is a very difficult thing to do," he said. "But
I think I put my emotions aside and played pretty well."
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2001 Tennis Masters - Rome
Pete Sampras loses to H. Levy
5-7, 6-2, 4-6
May 8, 2001
Q. Pete, was it lack of competition, the clay, or both?
PETE SAMPRAS: It was -- what do you mean, was it lack of competition?
Q. Your not playing. When you played your last match, it was in Key Biscayne?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it's been a while since I've played. But, you know,
I thought I played okay. I didn't play really great. You know, I got off
to a bad start yesterday, then I kind of got off to a bad start in the third
set, I kind of slipped a little bit. I was playing uphill in the third.
You know, I give him credit. He mixed it up very well. His serve and volley
kind of caught me off guard.
Lack of matches a little bit, but I have to give him credit; he played
really well. Sure, the clay is difficult, but I'm sure I can hold my own
against anyone out here.
It's a tough way to start. You have to look at the big picture. It's disappointing.
I would have loved to have played a little bit better here. It's been a
while since I played well here, so it's a disappointment.
Q. What is your schedule now? Are you going to play on clay before Paris?
PETE SAMPRAS: Hamburg and Dusseldorf.
Q. Last time we saw you in Miami, you told us you wanted to play as much
as possible before Paris. Why did you skip Monte-Carlo? What happened?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I was doing a lot of training, and - probably too much
- and I got sick from it. I got a viral infection. That was disappointing,
because I was looking forward to Monte-Carlo and I wanted to play there.
I wanted to get my feet wet on the clay, and the Monte-Carlo clay is very
similar to Paris.
So my next tournament was Rome. So that was -- that's what happened.
Q. In the past you were going back to the United States sometimes between
tournaments. Now if you have to play Hamburg, you stay, you remain in Europe?
PETE SAMPRAS: Oh, yeah. I mean, I got plenty of people to practice with,
and it makes no sense to go home.
Q. Because of the viral infection, Pete, how many chances have you had
to hit on clay before coming here?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I had plenty of time because I got it a couple days
before Monte-Carlo, so I had plenty of time. I took about five, six days
off just to recover and I had plenty of time, about a week, week and a half,
to kind of get back into it. So I felt fine. You know, I felt fine coming
Q. Did you change anything in your way of preparing for Paris in terms
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I just -- as soon as Miami was over, I went home, took
a few days, and I just started training very hard, doing a lot of running,
a lot of practicing, a lot of weight training and just trying to get myself
in the best shape possible to play three-out-of-five on clay, which is very
You know, the training is a little bit different. I'm running a lot longer,
30, 40 minutes instead of doing sprints. So it's a different preparation.
But you really need to play matches. I mean, that's really a true test
of your conditioning. It would be nice to go into Paris having played more.
That's why this is, you know, it's disappointing, because you get in good
shape by playing out there, hitting against these guys.
Q. Pete, you can walk on most courts and play beautiful tennis straightaway.
What's the most difficult part of the change of mindset that you have to
tackle when you go on to clay?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the key for me is I'm so used to playing, you know,
with my serve and really dictating play with my power, to overwhelm the
guys with power. You play quick points.
When I start off these matches, I'm playing like I'm playing on hardcourt
- trying to come in, trying to come in. It's tough to do out there.
The thing I need to work on is being more patient, being able to stay back,
not rush things, you know, because when I play on anything but clay, it's
really natural. And here, it's, you know, more of a thinking game, trying
-- a little bit tougher to serve and volley every point, and just being
patient at the right times.
So it's definitely a tough process.
Q. Pete, if patience is something mental, what kind of improvement should
you do on a technical way, I mean, to do better on clay? I mean, there is
something technical that you should adjust or that you would like to improve
in order to win?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, there's nothing technical with my strokes. It's kind
of being a little bit more aware of the -- of kind of my strategy and what
I'm trying to do.
If I'm too far behind the baseline, just roll it over, tap it over the
net and play smart. I'm usually going for big shots, and you can't afford
to do that on clay.
But technically, there's nothing I'll change. It's just being a little
bit more selective when I serve and volley, mixing it up. You can't always
serve and volley on everything out here, especially when it's heavy. And
there's nothing technically there to change. It's just all strategy.
Q. Pete, have you ever thought of taking an official clay court coach
or playing partner for the clay court season? (Inaudible.)
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's really a question I've been answered -- been asked
before. Paul is my coach, and I definitely have the confidence in what we're
trying to do together, and he knows what I need to do to play well. And
it's kind of a sensitive subject, but I'm confident with who I'm working
with. It's fine. Just because I work with someone else, it doesn't mean
I'm going to do great on clay. It's not a magic pill. It doesn't matter,
it's me out there, not anyone else hitting the balls for me.
But I'm happy with the advice I'm getting, so it's something I've never
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