| SAMPRAS: Believes he still has what it takes
New York, Aug. 23 (Reuters): The men’s tennis circus decamps at Flushing Meadows for the final Grand Slam of the year next week, and a host of big names will slug it out for the most open major in years.
Pete Sampras’ preparation for the Open, a title he has won four times and where he has been runner-up for the last two years, has hardly been encouraging, but he still believes he has what it takes to add to his record 13 Grand Slam titles.
“You have to remember who I am and where I’m playing next week,” he said. “The US Open is where you shine, and that is where I hope to shine. My goal is to win another major and, hopefully, destiny will be on my side.”
Defending champion Lleyton Hewitt heads the field but with eight different winners in the last nine Grand Slam events, there is no clear favourite in New York.
Hewitt’s form since winning Wimbledon last month has been patchy with a first round defeat in Toronto, a finals appearance in Cincinnati and a third round loss in Indianapolis.
The Australian is eager to open his defence, however.
“I think it’s obviously going to be a bit of a buzz for me, going back to a place that has changed my life in a lot of ways,” he said. “I really look forward to getting back there. The US Open holds a very special place for me, being the first place I really performed well in a Grand Slam.”
The player who ousted Hewitt from Indianapolis and went on to win the title, Greg Rusedski, certainly will not be underestimating the dynamic baseliner.
“I think it’s so hard to do what he’s accomplished,” said the Briton. “He’s the youngest player to be number one, he’s won two major championships already, he’s got a game where he has to work from the first ball to the last. He beats you with one extra step and one extra shot.”