Teenager Roger Federer Ends Pete Sampras' Bid for 5 in a Row
July 2, 2001
London, SW19 - Pete Sampras' dream of winning a record equalling 5 year
running Wimbledon title and a record smashing 8th Wimbledon turned into
a nightmare when he was sent crashing out of Centre Court by the 19 year
old Swiss player, Roger Federer.
This defeat by a player many including Sampras consider as a promising
player for the future and who is a former Wimbledon Juniors Champion, is
without a doubt the biggest surprise at the greatest Grand Slam event. The
only other player to create such a shock was when Boris Becker won Wimbledon
in 1985 as a 17-year-old unknown - could this be Roger Federer's year?
PETE Sampras, who holds the record for the most Grand Slam singles titles
(13) had last been beaten at Wimbledon in 1996 by Dutchman Richard Krajicek
in the quarterfinals, Krajicek had then gone on to win the tournament.
Roger Federer with his cool and calm demeanour did not falter under the
pressure of playing against his hero, and managed to mirror Sampras in that
he played him at his own game.
His serve although not as fast was hit with accuracy and effectively,
his returns were hit majestically and he was also good at the net approaching
at every given opportunity.
He put immense pressure on Sampras forcing uncharacteristic error from
the defending champion, who had held the Wimbledon title for the last 4
years and was attempting to equal Borg's 5 consecutive Wimbledon titles.
Sampras had chances to take the match but failed to convert the crucial
2 break points at 4-4 in the 5th set. Roger Federer however, when he earned
2 match-points on the Sampras serve in the 12th game did convert the first
with a blistering forehand service return down the line.
Roger Federer then fell to his knees and wept tears of disbelief and joy
at what he had just achieved. Pete Sampras slumped into his chair with a
look on his face that can only be described as total devastation.
"I am very disappointed. I lost to a really good player today. He
won the big points but I had my chances. It wasn't to be. I came up a little
bit short," Sampras, said after his 7-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 defeat
in the 4th round. "I have won my fair share of close matches out there
but today I just came up short. It was his first match out there (on Centre
Court) and I give him a lot of credit for the way he played and the way
he handled things. There are a lot of guys coming up but Roger is special.
He has got a really good all-court game. He was very relaxed. His demeanour
on court is pretty similar to mine. He doesn't get too emotional. He doesn't
have any holes in his game, he is a great athlete."
PETE Sampras was attempting on Monday to win his 100th victory of his
grass court career, and admitted that his Wimbledon winning run had to end
at some stage.
"I have been in trouble before and have come out of it but it just
didn't happen today."
"Being so dominant over the years, it obviously get a lot more difficult
to stay as dominant," Said the 29-year old who many have hailed as
one of if not the greatest champion of all time. When asked whether this
loss would prompt him to retire, he is quick to react by saying - "I
plan on being back for many years and the reason I stop won't be because
of my ability but because I don't want to do it anymore." For the time
being his only wish is to go home and regroup. "I am going home to
get away from it all. I guess I have got to put in work on the practice
court and hopefully have a good US Open." "There has always been
a fear that my run was going to end but when you are playing, you don't
think negative thoughts. I played well but unfortunately it's over."
Back to Archives - 2001 | News
Wimbledon - Round 4
Pete Sampras loses to Roger Federer
6-7, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6, 5-7
July 2, 2001
MODERATOR: Good evening, everyone. Pete for you.
Q. What emotions are playing out in your head now?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, just very -- I'm very disappointed obviously. I lost
to a really, really good player today. He played great. He's a great shot-maker.
He won the big points. I had my chances throughout the match, had a couple
breakpoints there in the fifth. You know, he came up with some really good
stuff at huge times. He played a great game to break me. I give him a lot
of credit. He really played very well.
Q. As Centre Court debuts go, have you ever seen anyone quite so composed
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, he was very relaxed. His demeanor on the court is
pretty similar to mine. He's pretty relaxed. Goes out and plays. Doesn't
get too emotional, too many highs and lows. He's got a great backhand, serves
well. He's definitely got a good all-around court game. Doesn't have any
holes in his game. Great athlete. I mean, he really played really well.
You know, just getting off the court, I'm disappointed, I mean, obviously.
You know, I had a few chances. I felt like I had it at 4- All. Hit a good
return. You know, wasn't to be. You know, I came up a little bit short.
Q. You said against Cowan that you didn't think you were going to lose
the match, even when it got to 2-2. Did you feel like you were in danger,
down 2-1 today? That is a big difference?
PETE SAMPRAS: Two sets to one?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I mean, I let it slip a little bit in the third set,
missed that overhead. You know, I felt like I had pretty good control of
the match in the third. He came up with some good stuff. You know, down
two sets to one, the way he was playing, I knew it was an uphill battle.
But I played a really, really good tiebreaker. I tied it up and played really
well. The fifth set, you know, we were both playing pretty solid, and he
got the break. I mean, he really made me play on that last service game.
But I can only know I had my chance there at 4-All in the breakpoint - backhand
there, kind of hit it back to him. You know, it's tough out there. And he
definitely has got a great future. I mean, he's already proven that he's
a great player. He's got a good chance to maybe go all the way.
Q. When was the last time you felt so near defeat here at Wimbledon?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, four years ago.
Q. When you lost, when you felt so near, when you felt so much in danger
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, there's always a threat of losing out there when it's
close. You know, I've won my fair share of close matches out there over
the years. And today, just came up a little bit short. You know, majority
of the time I've gotten my breaks, I've gotten that crucial shot at crucial
points in the match. Today, you know, I had a chance there, and I didn't
convert. I give him a lot of the credit, you know, the way he played.
Q. You've had so many great moments on that court. What were the emotions
as you were walking off?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it was his moment. I mean, he really played a great
match. His first match out there. You know, I give him a lot of credit for
handling it very well. It's grass court tennis, it goes by pretty quick.
One minute you feel like you have it, and the next minute you're walking
off the court. Just disappointed. It's rare that I've lost, you know, a
close match here at Wimbledon. But, you know, you know something so great
isn't going to last forever. Today I just came up a little bit short.
Q. There are other Roger Federers out there, as you well know. Jim Courier
says they're coming out of the woodwork, young players with a lot of talent.
For you, do you now redouble your efforts, work even harder, or do you sit
down sometime after the emotions have passed and start considering what
you want to do in the future?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, sure, there are a lot of young guys coming up, and
Roger is one of them. But I think he's a little extra special than some
of the other guys. I mean, he's got a really good all- around court game.
You know, all I can try to do is rebound from kind of a disappointing year
and get ready for the summer. It's going to take me a while to get over
this one. But just keep trying to work hard, do the training, put in the
practise hours on the court, and hopefully I can have a good summer. Maybe
The Open can be a little bit better than here. It's disappointing. It's
a tough, tough loss, you know, to deal with.
Q. Can you size up your run here at Wimbledon, now that it's over for
the time being?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's the run, like I said, it wasn't going to last
forever. You know, I've won a lot of close matches out there - last year's
final. Over the years, you know, I've gotten a little bit fortunate. Today
I didn't get it. You know, I really felt, you know, I was very much in contention
out there, very much felt like I was going to win. But, you know, to have
been so dominant over the years, it obviously gets more difficult as the
years go on to keep on staying dominant. Today was an occasion of, you know,
played really well at the right time. That's the key to grass. He picked
it up when he had to. He played a great match.
Q. Do you think this result will make you think more about not playing
here in the near future, that you may not be back a year or two years from
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, let's not get carried away. I mean, I just lost. I
plan on being back for many years. I mean, this is why I play, for these
tournaments. You know, I feel the reason I'd stop, it won't be because of
my ability; it will be because I don't want to do it anymore. There's no
reason to, you know, panic and think that I can't come back here and win
here again. I feel like I can always win here.
Q. Who is your pick to win it this year?
PETE SAMPRAS: I haven't really thought about it.
Q. Was there any sense even from the start of the Championships that perhaps
something inside you said, "It might not be this year"? You had
tough matches all the way through, surprisingly tough from what we've seen
of you in the past. Was there something nagging in the back of your mind?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, there's always a fear of that, like my run's going
to end. Those are thoughts that come in and out of your head. But when you
go out and compete, you compete, and you don't think about negative thoughts.
But, you know, like I said, nothing is so great, like this tournament has
been over the years to me, is going to last forever. Occasionally you're
going to lose a tough match, and it happened today. You know, I lost to
Roger, who was playing great at the time. I thought I played pretty well.
You know, I felt like I had some chances. But it's unfortunate it's over.
Q. A decade ago you had a match against Lendl at Flushing Meadows that
you had your breakthrough on, similar round I think, too. Did this match
have that kind of feel, but you were on the other end of it?
PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, not really. That match -- no. I mean, I really haven't
thought about that. You know, I lost to a talented player that's a great
shot-maker, similar to the way I was when I was younger, and still today.
He's got a great grass court game. He's got all the tools.
Q. You hit with Roger before. When he beat our guys in the Davis Cup,
did you ask Todd or Jan-Michael about him at all?
PETE SAMPRAS: I've seen Roger play. I've practised with him. I had a pretty
good idea of what he wanted to do out there. You know, he's got a good all-around
court game. Doesn't have any holes. It's a little different when you compete
against him. His serve, I couldn't really get ahold of. His shots, he was
on. You know, I've seen him play enough over the years to kind of know what
Q. Take us back to that ninth game of that fifth set when you had some
break opportunities. What was he doing to prevent you from getting through,
where normally you would get through in that situation?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, on one of them, one of my best forehand returns, got
it down to his feet. He kind of picked it up and had a backhand there that
I didn't hit all that well. The other one, I kind of hit it, a conservative
chip to his forehand. He hit a good forehand winner. You know, I give him
credit, he came up with some good stuff when he had to, won the big point.
I could possibly break him there, I think I could go on to win this match.
But it wasn't to be.
Q. This weekend when you're home, will you tune in and watch the matches?
PETE SAMPRAS: I'm not planning on it. Just going home and getting away
from it all.
Q. Do you think when you're having an "un-Sampras-like" year,
without a title coming in here, you struggle against a guy ranked 265, your
opponents in the locker room begin to sense that there just might be a little
crack in the wall, does that confidence factor - whatever boost they get
from it, if any at all - does it have an effect on how they play against
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't think so. I mean, even though I struggled through
one match, I've got that ability, I can turn it on in the next match. You
know, I think the fear factor has been there. I'm sure it was there today.
But, on the other hand, he's got nothing to lose. He can go out, swing away.
I'm obviously the one with the pressure here. I didn't feel my game was
lacking at all. I had a pretty good first week. And today, you know, I could
be sitting here as the winner. But, unfortunately, I didn't get it done.
Q. You've said you felt you could come back here and win again. How much
more difficult do you think it will be than coming back after Krajicek?
PETE SAMPRAS: You know, I mean, I feel like I can, without any question,
come back and win here. You know, if not next year, then maybe the year
after it. I've got the game. There's no reason to feel like I can't do it
anymore. I feel like I've got the goods out there. Today I didn't, you know,
quite get the breaks that I needed. But, have to give him a lot of credit.
He played great.
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