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Thursday, January 14, 2010
Sampras upset with remarks in book

Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Pete Sampras would like a sit-down with longtime American rival Andre Agassi away from the tennis court to discuss Agassi's harsh words about the 14-time Grand Slam champion in his recent autobiography, "Open."

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Sampras said Thursday he was surprised and disappointed by Agassi's "shots" at Sampras in the book and would like to meet "man to man" to discuss it.

Sampras hasn't read Agassi's book, in which Agassi acknowledged taking crystal meth, and doesn't plan to. Agassi also talks about evading punishment for a failed drug test and dealing with the insane pressure he felt from his overbearing father and coach.

"He was a big rival," said Sampras, who retired in 2003. "I think it's a reflection that I didn't know Andre all that well in our competitive days. Got to know him a little bit better as we got older, but in [our] mid-20s and times he was there and at times he was a little removed. Little did I know he was getting involved in some bad decisions."

Sampras spoke on a conference call organized by the SAP Open, where he is scheduled for a Feb. 8 exhibition match against Spain's Fernando Verdasco. Sampras even expressed amazement at Agassi's timing to make such dramatic revelations about his personal life and problems.

"He had a lot of peaks and valleys, a lot of ups," Sampras said. "Everyone's sort of asking about it and talking about the crystal meth. He decided to bring it out now, which was a little surprising, but Andre always likes to separate himself from the rest, good or bad."

In the book released last fall, Agassi made references to Sampras being dull with a "lack of inspiration" and said the two couldn't be any more different.

Agassi made a statement that Sampras "sounds more robotic than" a parrot.

"I envy Pete's dullness. I wish I could emulate his spectacular lack of inspiration, and his peculiar lack of need for inspiration," Agassi wrote.

Agassi told of betting coach Brad Gilbert about how much Sampras tipped a parking valet. They asked the valet, who said $1.

"We could not be more different, Pete and I," Agassi wrote.

Sampras won't debate that.

"I got wind of a few things that he said about me, and I was a little surprised and a little disappointed," Sampras said. "I always felt like Andre and I had risen above taking shots at one another. When I did my book, it wasn't my way of settling scores or taking shots."

Agassi also criticized Michael Chang and Boris Becker.

Sampras acknowledged he and Agassi are drastically different people despite their tremendous success on a tennis court and everything they did for the rise of their sport in the U.S.

Agassi said he sometimes hated tennis and going out to practice for hours at a time. He said he sometimes tanked matches, too.

"We were going in two different directions," Sampras said. "I think he was sort of lost and not sure what he wanted, and I knew exactly where I wanted to go. In order to be the best player in the world, tennis has to be your life. It's a sacrifice and something I was willing to do and it was something he was willing to do at times. But consistently I was willing to sacrifice more than many.

"You can't have it both ways," Sampras added. "I did it my way, and I have no regrets when I look back on my career that it was just a big focus for me."