Tennis: Sampras' put-down for the Davis Cup
Wednesday 30 December 1998
"Winning the Slams and staying No 1, that's my priority," Sampras said in an interview with the New York Times, "and I feel if I try to play Davis Cup, those other things will be in jeopardy. I'm in a special situation here with these records, and I hope people can understand that, though I know some won't."
Sampras, world No 1 for a record six seasons, has won 11 Grand Slam singles titles, one short of the record held by the Australian Roy Emerson. The 27-year-old Californian, a member of victorious Davis Cup teams in 1992 and 1995, declared himself unavailable this year when the Americans were beaten in the semi-finals by Italy, 4-1, in Milwaukee.
Andre Agassi also missed the Italy match because it clashed with his annual charity show in Las Vegas. Agassi has been at odds with the United Tennis Association, but it is hoped that a change of administration will persuade him to play in Birmingham. In Sampras's absence, Agassi and Todd Martin may provide the opposition for Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski in the singles.
Sampras has traced some of his past injury problems to Davis Cup matches. He has also been critical of a perceived lack of interest in the tournament among Americans, and was particularly disappointed with the response to his courageous display in the 1995 final against Russia in Moscow.
Britain last played the United States in the 1978 final in California, John McEnroe making his debut in a 4-1 victory for the home nation. The original Davis Cup match was between the United States and the British Isles in Boston in 1900. Sampras has been "feeling some heat to play" because of the historical context of the match in Birmingham
The United States will mark the Davis Cup centenary with a match in Boston in July, whether they beat Britain and meet Australia or Zimbabwe in the second round, or are involved in a tie to avoid a relegation play-off.
Sampras said he would not play in the first round merely to help the Americans reach the second. "I can't commit to something unless I'm going to finish what I start," he told the New York Times.
Latest in Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo applauded by Liverpool fans after master-class for Real Madrid, despite Manchester United ties
Angel Di Maria injury latest: Argentina international set to play in Manchester United vs Chelsea match
Real Madrid vs Barcelona: Cristiano Ronaldo says he is playing Barca - not just Lionel Messi - in El Clasico
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
Erik Lamela goal: Best tweets and reaction to Tottenham man's Rabona
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...