Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

U.S. Open Tests Players on, off Court

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

U.S. Open Tests Players on, off Court

Article excerpt

The Australian Open has the heat.

The French Open has the long points and the red clay.

And Wimbledon has the rain.

But as for the U.S. Open, which begins tomorrow and runs

through Sept. 7 at the new $254 million Arthur Ashe Stadium in

New York there's a lot more chaos for players to deal with: The

heat and humidity, the planes that fly overhead, the rowdy New

York fans known for moving about when they're not supposed to,

and the aromas from the food vendors.

"I think all of the players just kind of expect it when they

come to the Open," said Pete Sampras, the men's No. 1 seed who

will be playing for a fifth U.S. Open title. "You've just got to

deal with some stuff, some inconveniences that we don't deal

with on the [ATP] Tour much."

All that commotion makes the conditions at the year's fourth

Grand Slam event unique and more difficult for the players. But

watching how they deal with the distractions can make it more

exciting in spite of criticism from former players and the press

that the men's game is boring while the women's game is becoming

more interesting with young, cocky stars dominating tournaments

while older players try to regain their old form.

The biggest obstacle the other players on the men's tour have

to deal with is Sampras, a coolheaded 26-year-old who describes

himself as "kind of laid back" and one who doesn't "get too

bothered from things."

"I've always tried to, you know, be someone that doesn't lose

his composure. It helps me be a better player," he said. "That

was kind of the way I was raised, the way I'm sure I'll always


And until someone steps up to challenge Sampras, he'll always

be the one to beat. So far, no one appears up to that test and

that's why Sampras is heavily favored to win his 11th Grand Slam


"Andre [Agassi] and I had all the ingredients to have

something, maybe like a Borg-McEnroe with different

personalities," Sampras said. "What we had a couple of years ago

was something pretty special."

While Sampras is on his way to becoming, according to some, the

greatest player of all time, Agassi has dropped to No. …

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