Sampras says he was too hurt to play Davis Cup

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The Independent Online

Pete Sampras has no apologies about not playing for the United States Davis Cup team which was swept by Spain last weekend.

Pete Sampras has no apologies about not playing for the United States Davis Cup team which was swept by Spain last weekend.

Sampras, citing the shin injury that plagued him as he won Wimbledon, and Andre Agassi, blaming a car accident, both missed the clay court matches in Spain.

U.S. team captain John McEnroe was forced to use backups and Sampras was asked today about implications that the injuries were not as serious as stated.

"John was at Wimbledon and he knew what I was going through," he said. "And I told him I couldn't play and how serious it was. And he understood. On the phone he sounded reasonably supportive. But I'm sure that after the loss he was disappointed. We all know John says things.

"Andre's situation, I don't know much about."

McEnroe was obviously frustrated with Sampras' decision not to play.

"I don't know how injured (Sampras) is. There's no way of me knowing that," McEnroe said before the Davis Cup loss. "Davis Cup was something that was a priority to me. But, who am I to say? I wish he had made an effort to do it, and perhaps if he played a doubles match and been there, that might have been inspiring.

"Who knows, maybe he'd be risking further injury if he played right now."

After the loss, a distressed McEnroe said: "Obviously, one of the reasons I was hired was so that I would make a difference in getting the players to play. Well, I clearly haven't succeeded. I'd like to think it's bad luck."

He also lamented having to play with a B team.

"That's Davis Cup right now. Andre's not here; Pete's not here; (Michael) Chang doesn't want to play; (Jim) Courier retired. I mean these are the next guys, and this is what happened with them."

Spanish captain Javier Duarte said he believed the absence of Agassi and Sampras bothered McEnroe.

"Personally, I think that he was angry about Sampras and Agassi," Duarte said. "It's a difficult situation, but I think he is feeling awful for that. Perhaps more than the defeat."

Sampras, who said he had not even picked up a racket until last Monday, after the Davis Cup loss, said changes were needed on Davis Cup dates.

"If you're going to give Davis Cup its due, you need to give it a better schedule," said Sampras, adding he had altered his schedule in the past to accommodate Davis Cup.

"I didn't play LA, I didn't play some other tournaments because of Davis Cup. It's the price you pay. I knew that when I was going to play Davis Cup, my ranking would slip a little bit.

"But now that we're out, it's just look forward to next year."