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Pete Sampras ousted by Galo Blanco

May 31, 2001

Pete has suffered more disappointment at the French Open, losing 7-6 6-3 6-2 to Spain's Galo Blanco in the second round to leave his Grand Slam collection incomplete for another year. He was again struggled to come to grips with the slow Parisian clay and failed to put together back-to-back wins at Roland Garros for the fourth successive year.

"It's very frustrating, I knew what I had to do in that match and I just have to give him credit. He came out with some clean passing shots. He had me on my heels and dictated all the baseline points. He just played better than I did - plain and simple."

PETE needed five sets to beat little-known Frenchman Cedric Kauffmann in the first round and looked weary on an overcast Centre Court. Blanco, who himself has never achieved much success in Paris, bowing out in the opening round in four of his five previous visits, was never troubled by the man many rank as the best to play the game as he brushed Pete aside in just a little over two hours.

Source: Reuters, AP


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French Open - Round 2
Post-Match Interview

Pete Sampras loses to Galo Blanco
6-7, 3-6, 2-6

May 31, 2001

MODERATOR: Questions for Pete.

Q. It doesn't get any easier. Does it get any less frustrating or even more?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's very frustrating. You know, I was doing what I wanted to do throughout the match. I was putting the pressure on him. I just have to give him credit, he really came out with some good, clean passing shots.

You know, the first set was a huge part of the match. I mean, he played a great tiebreaker, hit a couple good shots. Got a little careless in the beginning of the second. You know, I have to give him credit. He really had me on my heels, served very well.

All the baseline points he was controlling and dictating. My service games, I was just kind of struggling a little bit with my serve. It was a little breezy out there.

But he just played better than I did, plain and simple. He really, really played great.

Q. How much are you getting discouraged about these results on clay?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's frustrating. You put a lot into it, you prepare as hard as you can. You know, got through a tough first-round match. Sure, it is frustrating.

On the other hand, you know, I have to give him credit. He really played great. I mean, he didn't really miss much. I didn't play as well as I would have liked. I wasn't firing my serve all that well. Combination of a couple things, a couple careless shots, a couple missed volleys.

But I never really felt like I was making, on his service games, you know, as far as any impact on it. I tried chipping and charging, he came up with some good passes. He stayed back, he was hitting the ball heavy to my backhand. It's tough to play from there.

You know, he played great.

Q. Did you catch any of the Roddick-Chang match last night? Can you tell us your pick for Hewitt-Roddick?

PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know.

Q. You've tried a variety of different approaches to prepare for this tournament in the past. If it ends up that you don't ever get this title, can you feel at least comfortable that you've done all you can to try to get it?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I mean, I feel like over the course of my career, I did everything I could possibly do to do well here. I have done pretty well here. I've tried different schedules, tried playing a lot of clay, tried playing a little bit less on clay. So far, nothing's happened.

You need some breaks, you need to be playing well. You know, you definitely -- all you can do is keep trying and come back next year, prepare as best you can, and hopefully things happen.

You know, today was unfortunate. As the years go by, it gets more and more difficult. But on the other hand, you have to give him credit. I lost to a better player on clay. He played great.

Q. '96 when you got to the semis, a lot of hard matches for you there, you got all the way through to that round. What do you think perhaps you had then that you don't have now? Is there anything that is missing?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. I mean, I'm playing fine. You know, not a huge difference. Today I was down two sets to love and still fighting. A bunch of years ago, I got some breaks, got some good fortune. Today, I didn't. I didn't play that well.

You know, he really was strong. I mean, he really didn't let up. You expect him just to let up just a touch and give me a chance, but he really -- I mean, he was on.

Q. On Monday, you did find a way through. But today it seemed inevitable once you lost the tiebreak.

PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, as far as the opponents, I'm playing a better opponent who has got a lot of experience on that Centre Court, is a really good clay court player.

You know, the other day I got a bit fortunate. Today I got a little unlucky in the tiebreaker. He just kind of rolled on from there. I just dropped off a touch.

If I could have just maintained my serve in the beginning of the second, you know, if I could have just put a little pressure on him, anything is possible. But, you know, didn't have it today.

Q. Can you give us an idea of what's happening in your head mentally when you're out there beginning of the second set as opposed to say at Wimbledon after a first set, maybe even losing a first set? Can you give us a feeling for what you're dealing with out there?

PETE SAMPRAS: What I'm trying to do at that point, I'm just trying to hold on to serve, come in on both my serves and put pressure on him. Hopefully on his service games, I can chip and charge and come in, put the pressure on him. You know, you're just trying to play solid games and hopefully get a chance. You know, I kind of dug myself a hole in the second set. I was up 30-Love in that game, missed a few shots, double-faulted a few times, he's up a break. You know, you just hang in there. I was hanging in there, but I wasn't playing well enough.

Q. As a follow-up, is it more daunting, is the mental challenge of hanging in there more daunting than the physical, technical challenge? Which is it?

PETE SAMPRAS: Physically I felt fine today. I mean, it wasn't too warm. You know, mentally it's a little frustrating. I'm trying different things, trying to stay back or come in, and nothing was working.

You know, my serve wasn't there. I hit a lot of second serves. I was coming in a lot. He got a pretty good rhythm on his return. You know, I just didn't quite have it.

You know, it was a little breezy out there. It was tough to gauge a few areas of my game. You know, he passed great. I mean, that was kind of the key, the way he was passing off his backhand and the way he was serving.

Q. So far as winning here, you said all you can do is keep on trying. Can we take it from that that that's what you will do, keep on trying?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I mean, this is what we play for, the majors. This is the one that is my biggest challenge. All you can try to do is learn a little bit from this and come back next year.

You know, like I said, it does get more difficult over time. You know, when the time comes next year, I'll try to figure it out and maybe, you know, try something different. I don't know. I've tried a lot of different things coming in here. Nothing's seemed to work. But keep on trying.

Q. You're not a person that leaves anything to chance. You said you've tried playing more; you tried playing less. How much does it really come down to a matter of luck over here?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not necessarily luck. I mean, it does come into play like tight matches the other day. But I think we can read too much into, as far as preparation, how much I should play. People think I should be here for two months to get used to the clay. It really just depends on how you're playing on the day. You know, that's what it comes down to.

You know, not doing well in Hamburg and Rome, you know, didn't help. Guys don't fear me quite as much as they do somewhere else. A combination of a lot of things happened today, and it didn't click, you know, like it normally does everywhere else but here.

Q. When you look back to your career, are you more surprised about all those defeats that you had here in Paris or of the way you won so well in Rome once, why you were never able to repeat that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you know, that year in Rome, it was like a hard court. If I go through my career not winning the French, sure, it's disappointing. But it's not going to take away from my place in the game, what I've been able to do over the years. I mean, there's still time. There's no reason to think this is it. I mean, I've got plenty of years left. You know, it all kind of happened unfortunately for me today. I just didn't get the breaks that I needed, and he played great.

Q. As far as the year overall so far, how would you rate it?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not great by any means. Started off a little disappointing in Australia, and it kind of went -- did okay in Palm Springs, kind of struggled through the year. Hasn't been the best of years.

This is a tough loss, have to sit on this one for a little while. It's hard to think about Wimbledon right now. You know, there's always something to look forward to. That's a big event for me. When you put everything into this event, and it doesn't happen, it's a tough one to get over.

But up until this point, this year has been pretty disappointing. It's not over yet.

Q. What are your immediate plans? Will you be taking a wildcard to Queen's next or what?

PETE SAMPRAS: I haven't thought about it, but there's a good chance that I'll probably play Queen's. You know, that's what it looks like.

Q. If you could trade one of your Wimbledon titles for a French one, would you?

PETE SAMPRAS: I've been asked that a lot. You know, I really wouldn't. You can't take any Wimbledon for granted. I take something out of Wimbledon - the years that I've won and lost - something pretty great. I wouldn't trade any of those for one French. You know, to have won seven is quite a bit. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Q. You have other things in your life now, you're a married man. Does the disappointment get greater or less with the years? Does it hurt more now than it did four, five, six years ago?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, yeah. It's always a crappy feeling when you lose in a major - when you lose period - but especially in a major, the things that build up to a major. It is just as hurtful today as it was ten years ago or five years ago. You work hard and you prepare, and it's a letdown.

These next number of days I'll go home and be a little bit bummed out. You know, I'm disappointed. I'm not going to be sad. I've done that too many times over my career, let it affect me too much.

But, you know, I'm going to feel this one over the next 13-hour flight home, then I'll be fine (smiling).

Q. You've been doing this so long. You're obviously trained to deal with the media. It seems the newer kids are even more so. It comes with the job. When you come here after a grueling match, is it therapeutic to go back and talk about everything or is it just a real pain to kind of go through it again?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's part of the job. I mean, you go out and perform. There's a responsibility to come talk to all you great people (laughter). You know, you just try to explain what happened out there, shed some light on how I was feeling.

You know, it's part of what we do as athletes, is to explain yourself, explain what happened. If you played poorly, tell them why, try to give you your overall picture of the match. It's just part of what we all do.

Q. Is the next step then sitting down with your team, kind of looking at it again?

PETE SAMPRAS: Looking at what?

Q. Looking at the match, whether it's a win or a loss, "What am I going to take away from this?"

PETE SAMPRAS: You talk about it. I mean, I talk about it with Paul, just go over a little bit what happened. You know, that's pretty much what we do, just rehash it, what you could have done here, what you could have done there, what I was trying to do, what I was thinking. You know, that's a player/coach relationship. You talk about it when it's all done, win or lose.


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