Sampras works out, declared OK to play But tired top seed skips interviews, prepares for rested Ivanisevic

September 07, 1996|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- A day after showing his heart and his courage to all who watched the U.S. Open quarterfinal at the the National Tennis Center on Thursday, No. 1 seed Pete Sampras was back on a tennis court -- albeit just for a while.

"I am a little tired," said Sampras, who practiced off-site yesterday and did not show up for requested interviews. "I think I will be in good shape tomorrow."

In a distributed release, Sampras said he got to bed late after his five-set passion play against Spain's Alex Corretja, which ended in a tie-break victory at 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7).

There was some question about Sampras' health after the No. 1 seed threw up on court during the tiebreaker and needed intravenous fluids after the match for rehydration.

But Sampras said he slept through the night and woke up feeling "not bad." His coach, Paul Annacone, also brushed off any idea that Sampras would be anything less than ready for his scheduled late-afternoon semifinal today with Goran Ivanisevic.

"Pete is a special guy who has done a lot of special things," said Annacone. "He said he's feeling fresh. And there is no reason to believe he won't be able to do something special [today]. We hit a little bit, and I'm sure he'll be ready to play and give it all he's got. He's a very professional guy."

Against Ivanisevic, who had a relatively easy quarterfinal match against Stefan Edberg, winning, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11-9), Sampras is facing a well-rested huge server, but one who is not always mentally strong.

"Before this tournament, if someone tell me I am going to be in the semis, I would say, 'Geez, it would be nice,' " said Ivanisevic. "But I think maybe I am stronger mentally than previous years. I believe I can do it. I don't complain too much. I think as long as I don't lose my mind, I have chance."

In the first men's semifinal today, No. 2 seed Michael Chang will pit his stamina and baseline talent against No. 6 Andre Agassi's baseline game and return of serve.

Crashing record books

Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge became the first doubles team to win back-to-back U.S. Open titles in the Open era yesterday.

Their 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-2) victory over No. 8 seeds Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis also tied the teams of John McEnroe/Peter Fleming and John Newcombe/Tony Roche for most Grand Slam doubles crowns in the Open era with seven.

"The first six years of the '90s, so far, have been pretty amazing for us," said Woodbridge. "I guess when you go into a tournament, you don't look at your record because it is a new tournament. But now, when you sort of go back and think about it, it is pretty incredible."

Besides back-to-back victories here, the two also have won four consecutive titles at Wimbledon and the 1992 Australian Open.

No comparing eras

In the press box today, when the men's semifinals are played, will be a man named Murray Janoff.

Janoff, 81, is covering his 60th U.S. Open. Mostly retired, he works the Open each year for Reuters.

"There is no comparing eras," Janoff said. "Different rules, different equipment, different settings, different surfaces all make it impossible."

He was at the Open in 1937, when it was contested on the grass at Forest Hills, and saw Don Budge beat Gottfried von Cramm in a five-setter. He was here in 1968 when Arthur Ashe beat Tom Okker in five sets and didn't get a cent.

The entire $14,000 went to Okker, because Ashe was playing as an amateur. And Janoff is here today to see Sampras and Agassi attempt to win their respective semifinal matches and set up a rematch of last year's final.

Said Janoff, "If they'd played in the old days, they wouldn't be playing the way they are. They certainly wouldn't be serving the way they are."

The biggest difference would be because of the service rules.

TTC "In the old days, both feet had to be behind the line and the server's leg couldn't swing past the line," said Janoff, celebrating his longevity here by sharing lemon cake.

"It used to be that a man served basically while standing still. Today, their bodies are 6 inches off the ground and all over the place."

Say yes to tennis

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala showed up and the United States Tennis Association announced its support of a Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health that Shalala commissioned.

The report concludes that regular moderate physical activity -- like playing tennis -- can substantially reduce the risk of developing or dying from heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and high blood pressure.

"I want to point out two things," said Shalala. "First, my mother, Edna Smith Shalala, western champion in late 1930s, played at Forest Hills . . . Second, when this stadium opened, I was an usher. I couldn't afford a ticket then, so I was glad to sit in the front row this time."

Unfortunately, the weather cut into the tennis she saw. But that was probably OK, since her real reason for being here was to talk about the report.

"Our fundamental point is that 25 percent of society don't get enough physical activity," she said.

"What we're trying to do is get people off their couches and out doing something and try to broaden their perspective. Our commitment is to work with national sports organizations like the United States Tennis Association to get people more active.

"Most Americans die from smoking-related diseases, or a lack of fitness or diet," she said. "Those are preventable."

Pub Date: 9/07/96

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