| SAMPRAS: ‘Not ready to play yet’
San Jose: US Open champion Pete Sampras pulled out of next week’s tournament in San Jose, his first of the year, because he is still unsure of his future, a tournament organiser said on Tuesday.
Tournament chairman Barry MacKay said after speaking to Sampras and his coach Paul Annacone on Monday, he felt one of the reasons why Sampras withdrew was because the 14-time Grand Slam champion was still considering his future.
“Pete is still vexed by the big picture of his career,” MacKay said. “I think it’s a combination of him not feeling prepared physically to come back and play at a high level and him not being 100 per cent mentally committed to returning. Pete told me, ‘I’m just not ready to play yet’.”
Sampras hasn’t played a tournament since winning the US Open in September and had been contemplating retirement. Earlier on Tuesday, Sampras released a statement through his agent announcing his withdrawal.
“Unfortunately, I will be postponing my return to the competitive arena and am withdrawing from the Siebel (San Jose) Open,” Sampras said in the statement.
“Although I have made significant progress in recent weeks, I am not fully prepared to compete at the highest level. It is disappointing to be unable to participate in San Jose where I have enjoyed many successes in the past.”
MacKay said while Sampras was unclear of his immediate plans, he believed he would eventually return. “It’s just a gut feeling I have, but I believe that he thinks he can win Wimbledon again and that might get him back. But you would think he needs at least three months of preparation.”
Mackay said while disappointed, the tournament had still attracted some big names, including 2003 Australian Open champion Andre Agassi.
“Obviously, a late withdrawal such as this is extremely disappointing and will make our entire tournament staff work even harder for a successful event. (But) the (tournament) already has an extremely strong field, headlined by ...Andre Agassi, James Blake and two-time champion Mark Philippoussis.”