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Alberto Martin Stuns Sampras

August 8, 2001

Alberto Martin stunned three-time champion Pete Sampras in the second round of the Tennis Masters Series Cincinnati, defeating the American 6-4, 6-4 on Center Court.

The Spaniard, who was more used to success on clay courts, survived some early pressure and took full advantage of an out-of-sorts Sampras.

"For me, this is like the wish you always dream about - beating top players like Sampras," said Martin, who now meets Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the last 16. " I was happy to be playing against him, he's a great player. When you see players like him on TV, it's different to playing them on court."

Sampras started the match much the brighter of the two as he had break point chances on both of Martin's first two service games. But the Spaniard saved those, and after three double faults from Sampras in the fifth game, Martin broke the formidable serve much to the American's frustration.

That break was enough to clinch the first set, and another break in the seventh game of the second meant the writing was on the wall for Sampras.

"I was really nervous for the first four games, but then I started to relax," said Martin, who won the Mallorca Open on clay earlier this year. "I knew that if I kept him at the baseline, I would be in with a chance."

For Sampras, it was back to the drawing board. "I've been struggling ever since I arrived here in Cincinnati," said Sampras. "I wasn't serving well, I was sweating profusely, and I couldn't keep the ball in at all. Overall, it was a really disappointing performance, and it wasn't acceptable."

Despite all of his achievements, losses never get any easier to accept for Sampras. "It's never easy to sleep after a loss," he said. "Right now, all of those other titles don't matter, it's tonight's match that counts."


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TMS Cincinnati -Round 2
Post-Match Interview

Pete Sampras lost to Alberto Martin
4-6, 4-6

August 8, 2001

MODERATOR: Okay. Questions for Pete?

Q. Pete how much was the weather a factor? Seemed like you had trouble with your grip and the balls were flying.

SAMPRAS: Yeah. It was tough, muggy conditions. I was having problems with holding on to the stick. And it was very muggy. And I was sweating profusely. And ever since I've kind of been in Cincinnati, I've kind of been having a hard time keeping the ball in the court, even though I played pretty well against Lapentti, the balls were going on me tonight. I dug myself a bit of a hole throughout the match, had some chances early on in the match, but never really felt like I got my game going tonight. And, give him credit, he didn't miss too much. And his ball is very effective with these conditions, very heavy, with a lot of spin. And he definitely had me on my heels. But I didn't play well. I didn't serve well, didn't do much out there, just kind of a disappointing performance, not acceptable.

Q. You've said, and others have said, every round now is tough. But weren't you surprised by this?

SAMPRAS: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I was surprised. I've never played him before. I knew he had a big ground game. You know, he kind of played typical Spanish tennis, staying back and hitting a big forehand. And I felt like the surface and the conditions would help me out and, you know, kind of dug myself a bit of a hole tonight. I had some chances there early with some breakpoints, if I could have set the tone early and got off with an early break, things might have been different. But I was down a set in the break and struggling for getting a feel out there, having a hard time finding my range. And so it's been a bit of a disappointing day.

Q. Did you feel bad going into the court? Did you feel like you didn't have it?

SAMPRAS: I haven't really been hitting the ball that great here. I don't know why, you know, but I had a game plan to be aggressive and come in, and I did that, and he kind of reacted pretty well on it. He started taking a little bit off his first serve and keeping it in the court. But I felt fine, physically fine, everything was there. And I just progressively got a little bit worse and worse as the match went on. It wasn't a good night, wasn't a good serving night, didn't hit the ball that well, all in all just a crap day.

Q. Does this change your feeling about how well you might be able to do at the Open?

SAMPRAS: No. It's definitely -- it's a bit of time before New York, but you need to do well throughout the summer to do well in New York. You need to do well here, and each week you play. And the field here is a Grand Slam field. And you need to do well here and gain that confidence, a bit aura going in there. And tonight doesn't help. I need some more matches. I need to get my game a little bit sharper. But this was a good measuring stick with the field that we have, to have a good week. And I've always done pretty well here. And for some reason the last couple years I haven't really gotten it going.

Q. Do you feel you're more struggling physically or mentally?

SAMPRAS: Well, neither, really. I mean, physically I feel fine; mentally I feel fine. It's one of those nights where it was a bad night, you know, I just didn't seem to have my serve there. And, you know, guys are hungrier, and definitely coming out with nothing to lose. And I knew he was going to play well, but even that being the case, a match I should win, a match I feel I should dominate. But give him credit where credit is due. He responded pretty well to what I had.

Q. Are you able to handle a loss like tonight better because of everything you've accomplished?

SAMPRAS: No. No, you never sleep well when you lose. No matter how many titles I've won, what I've done in the game, you still want to go out and play well. And when you lose a match and don't play well, it's, you know, at this point I could care less what I've done in the game. It's what I did tonight, and what's next, in the next couple weeks. But it's back to the drawing board, back to the basics of getting my game going. And see if I can rebound from this week and play a bit better, whatever I decide to play.

Q. Pete, in all the years you've been coming here, and all the success, have you ever felt uncomfortable here like you have since you've arrived?

SAMPRAS: I don't -- I can't remember feeling like things were just flying on me. I don't know if it was the ball they're using here or the conditions. I really just felt like it was flying on me. I just, I mean, just been struggling with that since I've been here. I don't -- I don't know if it's the ball or what it is. It just seems like I'm not able to find the range. And even when I played Lapentti, it's just like, wow, things are jumping all over the place. But you have to adapt to the conditions, and I haven't adapted too well here.

Q. Andre and a couple other players I've spoken to said they just felt the ball was flying on their rackets. Andre was telling Brad, I can't control the ball. Did you have that feeling on the forehand, that you couldn't control it?

SAMPRAS: Everywhere. I mean, I really -- I don't know what kind of ball they're using here. I know it's a Penn ball, but it seems different. It seems hard. And I couldn't control it.

Q. You think this kind of court, or these conditions favor someone more with a western grip, a lot of topspin, a lot of control, like Arazi?

SAMPRAS: I string my rackets very tight, with gut. When the balls are hard, it doesn't stay on my racket too long. It kind of flies off of it. Somebody like Arazi, who strings it pretty loose, with nylon, it helps. It deadens it out. I've always struggled with that throughout my career, the contrast of what I play with and what the conditions are. The -- just the ball last week in Montreal and this week seems like it's pretty fast. I don't know why it seems different.

Q. What about the court speed, would you say medium speed, fast?

SAMPRAS: Pretty medium. I think the court is fine. I think just the balls are a little bit interesting to me. I can't quite figure it out. It's nice to hear other players suffering as well, not just me.

Q. Do you ever adjust the tension of your racket, or does that mess you up?

SAMPRAS: I can't. I've tried going to looser strings, it's too soft, the ball really flies. I go tighter, it's really a struggle for me with how I string my rackets. You know, I never thought I'd say this, but I'm looking forward to the Wilson ball. I mean I just -- I'm sure -- I'm not giving excuses, it's the same for everybody out here. Some guys handle it better than others. But when you string your rackets loose and got that spin, it's a great shot on these courts. And he has that.

Q. What players that are left in the draw do you think that would favor, the ball?

SAMPRAS: I think somebody like Rafter, his serve will be tough to break, that big kick. It will be bouncing up pretty high. He'll be one of the favorites. Kuerten, obviously, he's playing well. It's really hard to say who is going to come through. But I look at someone like one of those two guys getting to the weekend.

Q. You're playing Washington next week, any chance you might play an extra tournament?

SAMPRAS: I don't know if I'm playing Washington. I don't know what I'm doing. It's a wait-and-see schedule. But I need to play something.

Q. Pete, Yevgeny Kafelnikov made a statement a couple weeks ago, there's no exciting personality players on the tour. As a veteran, how do you respond to that?

SAMPRAS: Well, he's certainly not one of them. All he does is complain about not making enough money. It's a tough comment for him to say that. He's obviously a great player, but let's put things in perspective. The game has changed, you don't have quite the McEnroes and Nastases and Conners kind of more extroverted guys. You do have guys that pretty much go out and play, not a lot of drama out there, guys losing their composure. It's a Catch 22. It depends on what you want. You can have a jerk out there who makes headlines, and other good guys who compete well. I think we have that. Kuerten, Hewitt, their good personalities, but not to the extreme of Conners or McEnroe. But I see that being the future of the game. You have to look at the quality of the tennis and not really the drama and all the extra things that we kind of want from athletes. You want these guys to go out and be classy individuals, and most of them are.

MODERATOR: Okay. Anything else for Pete?


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