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Last Updated: Monday, 25 August, 2003, 23:01 GMT 00:01 UK
Sampras: I'm at peace
Pete Sampras
My heart wasn't into it.... it wasn't in my blood any more
Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras said he made his decision to quit competitive tennis in April when he began training for Wimbledon.

"After three days, I was done. I didn't want to practice, didn't want to train, didn't want to do everything you have to do," said the 32-year-old American, speaking on day one of the 2003 US Open.

"That's when it hit me. My heart wasn't into it. It wasn't in my blood any more. That was the start of the process.

"A few months later, I felt it was time to announce it, time to move on."

Sampras played his last match 12 months ago, when he won the US Open by beating compatriot Andre Agassi 6-3 6-4 5-7 6-4 in the final.

"It's a process, retirement. You need to go through all the emotions," said Sampras.

"I went through everything I had to go through to be 100% convinced I'm done. And I have. I'm at peace."

Sampras plans to spend more time with his family.

Pete is the best I have ever played
Andre Agassi

"I'm going to watch my boy grow up, be a good husband, play a lot of golf, do a lot of things I couldn't for many years," said Pistol Pete, who won a record 14 Grand Slam singles titles.

Sampras refused to be drawn on the question of whether he was the greatest player ever to grace the game.

"To say I'm the greatest ever, I won't say that," he said.

"At times, I felt like I was playing perfect tennis. But it's hard to compare.

"I don't know if there is one best player of all time.

"I feel like my game will match up against anybody."

But other players were more forthcoming.

"He was the best ever," Spain's Carlos Moya said. "I don't see anyone dominating the game again as Pete did."

And Andre Agassi concurred: "Pete is the best I have ever played.

"Of course I will miss him. After all he has done for this game, he deserves to leave on his own terms."

And former champions John McEnroe and Boris Becker were also full of praise for Sampras.

"Pete, I tried to serve like you. I couldn't do that. I tried to hit the big forehand like you. I couldn't do that," McEnroe said. "I tried to act like you. Needless to say, I failed at that."

Becker lamented losing his Wimbledon dominance to Sampras.

"It was my house until you came along," Becker said. "I want my key back."

Links to more US Open 2003 stories


BBC Five Live's Jonathan Overend
"Sampras cut a more vulnerable figure than at any stage in his on-court career"

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