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Pete survives the first round

May 29, 2001

PETE survived a first round scare by saving three match points and pulled out a five-set victory against a player who's never won an official ATP match. He beat French qualifier Cedric Kauffmann 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 8-6.

Kauffmann is ranked 250th in the world and was playing in only his third ATP tournament. Sampras, who is seeded fifth, grinned in relief as he congratulated his opponent. ``He didn't miss much,'' a relieved Sampras said. ``He moved as well as anyone I've played. The guy's in unbelievable shape. He was moving like a tiger out there.''

PETE saved two match points at 5-3 down as he held serve to win the game. He saved a third match point with a drop shot, then broke Kauffmann with a crosscourt forehand to level at 5-5.

The two players held serve until Pete led 7-6. He hit two forehand winners and won two points at the net in the final game. Kauffmann overcame two match points before Pete hit a backhand winner at deuce to set up the final match point. Pete closed out the match on his second match point when Kauffmann hit his final forehand wide.

PETE served 14 aces, but also had 10 double-faults and 86 unforced errors.

Source: Reuters, AP


Back to Archives - 2001 | News

French Open - Round 1
Post-Match Interview

Pete Sampras def. Cedric Kauffmann
6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 8-6

May 29, 2001

MODERATOR: Questions for Pete.

Q. In terms of victories, you've had plenty in your career, but your reaction when you won that was as if it was the best, one of the best.

PETE SAMPRAS: It was more relief than anything, you know, I thought I was down and out there for a second. He's serving for the match, match point. I kind of hung in there at the right times, got through it.

I have to give him a lot of credit. He really made me work hard, didn't miss much, was one of the best movers I ever played. I really thought I was hitting some good shots to come in on.

I got through it. You know, it was obviously a grueling match. In the fifth set, you just kind of hang in there.

Q. Were you attempted at any point to say, "Hell with it"? You have a lot of titles. It's hot, clay.

PETE SAMPRAS: It's a challenge, but I'm not going to hand it over to these guys. I'm going to work hard, hang in there. There's no question, there's a lot of pride out there. I mean, I've won a lot of big matches, a lot of close matches. Today I got through it.

There's no reason to give up. I mean, this is the one title that has given me the most problems. I'm still alive, still kicking. As long as I'm still in the tournament, I'll be a threat.

Q. Can you sort of talk about the dynamic that's happening strategy-wise, how you respond to pressure, what's happening in your head when you can just turn it around on a dime at the end of the match there? Why can't that happen in the first set, for example, so you would be out there half the time? What's actually happening in your head?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, you wish things were going a little bit smoother, which it was, 6-3, 4-5, serving. Hit a couple good shots to break me. Kind of tied it up at that point.

I don't think I played the right way today. I think I stayed back a little bit too much. I think he forced me into a lot of errors. At the end of the match, I came in a little bit more, I chipped and charged, hit the forehand up the line, put a little bit more pressure on him.

You know, I got into these long, grueling rallies, which is not my strength. I need to attack a little bit more, use my serve and volley, which I did. You know, it's a challenge. You're out there competing. You're just trying to figure it out. "What's the right strategy? Should I come in? Should I stay back?" It's not easy.

That being said, you know, I got through it. Thought I was down and out a little bit there.

Q. We know you're a relentless player, you don't want to give up. As a kid, were you a sore loser from Monopoly, any board games, card games? Did you still show the same persistence?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm really just competitive on the tennis court. I'm not competitive really anywhere else. Even when I play golf or do other things, I don't need to win everything. Just on the tennis court, that's where I can be a sore loser. You know, I don't like losing, versus playing Monopoly, Scrabble, whatever game you want to talk about.

Q. Did you know anything about him before? He's so remote, unknown. How do you even go about trying to find out stuff about him?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, Paul talked to a few people. I've never seen him play. I just heard a little bit about him, that he's got great wheels, doesn't miss much, he's kind of a good counter-puncher. So it's always difficult playing somebody you've never seen play before, what his strengths or weaknesses are. You know, you just try to find out what kind of player he is.

He's obviously playing well, won a couple matches to get here to play me. He came out and he played great. He really made me work hard. You know, I think I can improve a little bit on some things, hopefully play a little bit better in a couple days.

Q. There was a fantastic point near the end of the second set where he hit a smash off your smash. Do you think that started things going the wrong way?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, yeah, it was a big point. It was a point I should have won. Changed the whole momentum. The crowd got into it. Hit a great winner on the next shot. It was one-set all. Changed the whole momentum, that point. It was really a crucial time in the match.

Give him credit, he raised it a notch, hit a great shot off my overhead.

Q. Is it sweeter winning that on Lenglen than it would be on another court?

PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, Lenglen is a place where I've struggled, a lot of matches out there. It's sweet to win anywhere, court 3, Court 15, wherever they put me, as long as you get through it.

I was fortunate enough after I lost in Hamburg, came to Paris, got to hit out there. It's a different feel than Centre Court. It paid off.

Q. Until maybe the last five games, you were struggling with the forehand, serve, return, movements.

PETE SAMPRAS: Anything else (laughter)?

Q. I can go on.

PETE SAMPRAS: Thanks (smiling).

Q. On the changeover, before you break him, what do you say to yourself? "This is not me out there. I'm not this type of player. I can do better"?

PETE SAMPRAS: You're telling yourself, "You are struggling a little bit. You're still in the match. You're not down and out." At that point I just told myself to be a touch more aggressive. I was getting into these long rallies and I was missing forehands, I was pressing a little bit. Told myself on the changeover to be a little more aggressive, take some chances on his second serve, which I was doing throughout the match, but wasn't converting.

It clicked at the right time. You're not going to win every match -- excuse me. You're not going to play well every match. It's just a matter of you're going to struggle. Today was a struggle. All you can say is that you got through it and you're happy to be alive.

Q. Given who you beat today, how much better are you going to have to play in the tournament to say you can get into the second week?

PETE SAMPRAS: Much better. I'm going to have to, you know, work on a few things, get my serve going a little bit more. That was a shot that let me down. I was hitting a lot of seconds today. You know, just got to sharpen up a little bit, just not make so many errors.

It will get better. There's no question that I feel like I can raise it a notch, which I'm going to have to do. The competition as we go on gets tougher.

All the circumstances of playing someone that played the match of his life, it was a good one to get through.

Q. Given the way the game has evolved and stuff, how realistic is it to expect an attacking player to win here? Is there anybody you feel who is in your league potentially, given what you can do on a good day, who might be able to do that?

PETE SAMPRAS: As far as attacking?

Q. Yes.

PETE SAMPRAS: There's not a lot out there. I mean, just pretty much myself, Rafter. I mean, I don't know who else is there? It's tough. It's tough to serve and volley. You put in a lot of energy out there. You're doing a lot more work than someone who's staying back.

It can be done. It hasn't happened a lot recently. But, you know, that being said, you have to be a little bit selective, a little bit smarter out there, patient. Certainly I'm not considered a favorite here, versus a Kuerten or Ferrero.

An attacking player can do well here. The last one to do well was Edberg. That was a number of years ago. But it can be done. I'm not ruling that out.

Q. Do you truly believe you can win this tournament?

PETE SAMPRAS: Things need to fall in the right place. I need to be playing well, I need to have a few breaks go my way. Today was a break.

Q. Can you tell a little bit about your confidence on the clay court, compare to hard court or grass court?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's obviously a little more difficult movement-wise, covering the net, slipping and sliding. The serve isn't quite as effective.

You know, grass court tennis, hard court tennis, it's all instinct. I just go out there, it's all natural to me. Here, it takes a little bit more thinking. It's not so much of an instinct. It's being more selective. I'm still used to playing a certain way, and I can't do that on clay. I need to be a little bit more patient.

Q. Roddick , is he capable of going far here his first time? What about Wimbledon for him, as well?

PETE SAMPRAS: Roddick I think has got an unbelievable future. You look at the young guys coming up, American guys, he's got the biggest weapon out of anybody with that big serve. He'll do well here because he's got that big serve, he's confident, he's swinging away.

Wimbledon, it will be interesting to see how he does at Wimbledon. That serve will be effective, but it's hard staying back on grass. He's got long swings.

He'll figure it out. I mean, he's got a lot of potential. I think he's the next up-and-coming young American that we have.

Q. This guy you just played, a lot of people say he looked like Becker. Did you catch any of that?

PETE SAMPRAS: He looked like a little rabbit to me (laughter). He would just not give up. I'd never seen him before.

At some point I wish I was playing Boris on clay today (smiling).

Q. Saving three match points, can you talk about each of them and how you felt when you were at the edge of the ledge?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm trying to remember each one. I think I was serving on a couple of them, got a couple good serves. He had a pretty good shot at a pass to the right, hit a volley. I'm not sure what happened on the others. Hit a couple good forehands, I think.

Q. Touch volley.

PETE SAMPRAS: Touch volley. I don't remember each one.

Q. Do you think, too, that Kuerten and Ferrero are the favorites here?

PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, you look at the clay court success they've had over the past couple months, I think those two guys are the strong favorites, in my opinion. I mean, you look at Kuerten, he's won here twice. Ferrero, as we see, is the future of the game on clay. They'll be tough to beat.

Q. I don't know if you know it, he lost to Gene Mayer in January in a challenger.

PETE SAMPRAS: That makes me feel real good (laughter).

Q. I assume you don't know that. The point was, he was ranked 247. Was there any point today where you said, "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy"?

PETE SAMPRAS: You don't think about necessarily what he's ranked, who you're playing. You know who you're playing, but you don't think of those things. You think about what you're trying to do, what your strategy is. You're not thinking, "I can't believe I'm in the fifth set against this guy." You have to respect him to a certain point. He was playing great, made me work.

You can't think of those things.

Q. What were the emotions like out there on that court? Clearly he was a favorite with the home crowd. Did you sense also that there are people here willing you to actually do well?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I felt that. They definitely turned me on a little bit at the end of the fifth. It's a nice boost. Just being around in Paris, walking around the streets here, you can feel that people are really pulling for me. It feels good to have that support. It's nice to be in the atmosphere we had. We both were fatigued a little bit at the end. The crowd got us going, which was nice.

Q. Are you disappointed that Paul didn't talk to Gene Mayer?


Q. Greg Rusedski said the courts are faster than Hamburg, Rome. Thought he had a much better chance here.

PETE SAMPRAS: It's a big difference. Balls are a little bit quicker than the ball we were using in Hamburg and Rome. The conditions, being a little dryer and warm, it is playing pretty quick. It's still clay, with the movement and everything. You can come in and do well. If you have that big serve, it's going to be effective out there. The balls really make a big difference. These Roland Garros balls, they're good balls. They go through the court pretty good.

Q. What are you going to do tomorrow?

PETE SAMPRAS: Just rest and have a nice easy hit, get the good foods, good nutrition, good drinks, get ready for Thursday.


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