Pete Triumphed under the Lights at the US Open
August 30, 2001
Against qualifier Andre
Sa on Thursday night, Sampras staggered at the start, broken in the first
game of the match. But that never happened again, and Sampras advanced 7-6
(4), 6-4, 6-3, stretching his unbeaten streak under the lights at the National
Tennis Center to 16 matches.
"They're all tough,'' he said. "No matter what these guys are
ranked, they're tough to beat. All these guys are here to knock me out.
He was coming up with good passing shots. It was a tough first set."
Sampras understands how things have changed for him, how opponents view
him at age 30, 11 years after he won the Open for the first time.
"There's not quite the fear factor there was five years ago,' but
I still feel like I can hold my own.''
As long as he still has that 132 mph serve, he probably can.
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US Open - Round 2
Pete Sampras defeats Andre Sa
7-6 6-4 6-3
August 30, 2001
Q. What do you think, Pete? First set, sort of got through it. Seemed
to really cruise.
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it was a -- yeah, I mean I definitely had some pretty
tight moments in the first set. I mean, I came out and I was doing what
I wanted to do, I was coming in. He was coming up with some good passing
shots. He was playing great. He handled all my stuff fairly well. Got off
to a shaky start getting into a tiebreaker. That's when I kind of picked
it up a notch. Kind of relaxed, got a bit more comfortable out there. My
game got better as the match went on. But, you know, these guys are playing
well. There's no question these first two guys are playing some good tennis.
And I had to fight hard to get through it.
Q. Right near the end of the match, I think it was the next to last point,
something happened and you yelled.
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, this camera man was -- I was -- this camera man assumed
I was gonna win the match. He was talking to his director or something,
he was making -- doing all these things. I was like, "Chill out, dude.
I got my hands full here."
Q. What about the night crowd?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it was nice. They were definitely into it. It's always
good energy when you play here at night, doing the wave at the beginning
of the match. I mean, I've never seen that. You know, very expressive crowd.
They were throwing out, you know, a few comments here and there. So it's
part of the New York beauty.
Q. Do you enjoy it when they're throwing out things? They were screaming
crazy things during points.
PETE SAMPRAS: That's fine. You know, it's so much different than say playing
at Wimbledon. It's the charm of playing the US Open. You're gonna have rowdy
crowds, gonna have people talking, cell phones ringing during points. That's
to be expected when you play here.
Q. What do you think about where your game's at?
PETE SAMPRAS: I feel good. I feel like I'm hitting the ball fine. Didn't
really serve that well tonight, but hit the second well. Like the fact that
was being aggressive. Even though he was passing me left and right, I was
still coming in. And it's a tough court to pass on. I was happy the way
I hit the ball, moving well. Everything is in place.
Q. You feel the court is as fast as -- you felt it was a little fast in
'98 and then again last year, too. Is it as fast as those years?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's the same. It really is. I ended up watching the --
USA put on a Corretja match about five years ago. You could really see the
difference in the speed of the court.
Q. You were watching that last night?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Just it was slower. Here, it's -- for some reason
this new court or the court they're putting down is a touch quicker. Ball
skids through the court pretty good. Where the other court, I felt, was
a bit slower. But I've told the USTA for years to slow it down. I mean,
I'd prefer that. But... (Shrugging shoulders). Seriously, I prefer not playing
on too fast a hardcourt.
Q. They don't seem to be listening.
PETE SAMPRAS: Haven't listened to me in years. (Smiling).
Q. Your next opponent?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I've seen him play a little bit over the grass court
season. A lot of talent. I mean really I don't know exactly what happened
tonight to Gambill. But you know, it's still the tournament, won a couple
matches, is feeling good. He's a young kid that's got a lot of potential.
He will, I'm sure, play really well.
Q. It seems like you're getting a lot of young guys who are playing great
when they play you, playing very well. Do you feel like everybody figures,
"It's Pete Sampras. He's had a down year. I'm gonna go for it?"
They've always gone for it against you?
PETE SAMPRAS: You always feel that guys are gonna play much better than
what they're used to. They have nothing to lose and they can let it all
hang out. And knowing these guys are young, but they're good. These two
guys that I played here, you know, really hit some great passing shots.
I kind of felt myself shaking my head after a few shots they've hit. You
just have to expect when you play these guys that they're gonna hit great
shots and they're gonna be pumped up. It's a big match for them. But you
just have to match their game and even kind of raise it a touch when you
have to. That's what I've done these first two matches.
Q. Do you remember what that was like for you, you know, 1997, you go
against Lendl? When you're a kid that age, you go against a name like that,
what's that like?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you have no expectations except, "It's great
if I win. If I lose, it's fine, too." When you're 19 and you're breaking
through and you play Lendl and McEnroe, you just, there's no fear. Really
you have nothing to lose. Go out and swing away. It's probably the last
time I think I felt that way. I mean, since I've had that bullseye on my
chest for quite some time. It's just the nature of being a top player -
guys are going to be shooting for you.19 was kind of the time where you
could let it all hang out and have a little fun. You're still having fun,
but expectations are so much different today than it was, say, eleven years
Q. It had been a long time since you played the week before the Open.
Do you think that those matches, looking at it now as you're into the third
round, do you feel like it did you good to get those five matches in and
come in here with more matches?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I needed matches. I needed to, you know -- started
off in LA, played okay. Cincinnati got the blister, had to pull out of Washington.
I needed to do something.
Q. Got the blister before the Martin match?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I mean I was having some problems. It opened up during
the match. It affected me a little bit. But I needed to play. I needed to
play -- trying to play Washington, had to pull out. Had to take a wildcard
at the Hamlet. Haven't done that since '90. But the courts are the same.
The balls are the same. So my days off I was coming here. So it was good
preparation. It really was. It was a lot of tennis. Hopefully that won't
affect me as the weeks go on. But I needed to play. I needed to get a few
matches in. Maybe it's helped me a touch. But I've done well here not having
played the week before, so maybe it will work to my advantage this year.
FastScripts (by ASAP Sports)
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