Sampras No longer Consumed by Tennis
December 31, 2001
Pete Sampras, the man who dominated world tennis for the past decade, says he's no longer consumed by the sport. The formerly intense, robotic champion said today he no longer cared about his world ranking and hinted his performances at the major tournaments of 2002 would determine his future.
Last year, Sampras failed to win a tournament - slipping from the world's top five for the first time since 1991. The 30-year-old American begins his 2002 campaign in Adelaide tomorrow night at the AAPT Championships at Memorial Drive in Adelaide. Sampras said today he remained focussed but less consumed by tennis entering the New Year.
"I'm at a different place in my life than when I was 20 and you're trying to make your mark and kind of eat, live and breathe tennis," he told reporters in Adelaide today. "I don't have quite that same feeling. As you get older things change. I'm still very focussed on tennis but I'm not as consumed as I once was - I was a little bit too consumed at different levels."
In years past, Sampras meticulously plotted a course to elevate him to the coveted world No.1 position at the end of the year - a position he occupied six times. But Sampras said today the No.1 spot now meant little to him. "It will just come if I do well," he said. "It's not something I'm going to chase. I did that for too long. If I won majors, obviously it goes hand in hand, you are going to be ranked pretty high, but it's nothing I'm going to chase."
Sampras, the all-time record holder of 13 grand slam victories - said retirement was not yet in his thinking. "If I'm in contention for majors, I just want to keep on travelling and doing this," he said. "I still enjoy playing. I mean, that's why I'm here, just the challenge of beating the young guys and trying to win more majors."
His performances in the grand slams would determine the success or otherwise of the year. "If I can look back at the year and win a major, I'm very happy with that, I really am," Sampras said. "That's how I measure my year, how I do at those tournaments. It is something I harp on a lot but when you raise the bar that high each year, you just expect to be at that bar and it's not easy each year to be at that level."