Sampras Doesn't Rule Out '04

Pete Sampras parades around the court holding the U.S. flag after defeating Czech Republic's Slava Dosedel.
AP
Too busy for the Sydney Games next month, Pete Sampras says he might play in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

"(This year) was never a consideration," Sampras said Wednesday after winning in the second round of the Tennis Masters Series-Canada. "If I'm going to go to the Olympics, it might be when I'm done playing. But not right now.

"I know the next one's in Athens and - being a Greek - that's a possibility."

The only drawback to that is that tennis at the Athens Games are scheduled to be played on clay - a surface Sampras doesn't enjoy - and they'll be held just before the U.S. Open, which is played on hard court.

Sampras, who's only Olympic competition came when he reached the round of 16 at the 1992 Barcelona Games, spoke a day after the U.S. Tennis Association announced its six-member men's team for Sydney.

Jeff Tarango took Sampras' spot in the lineup, which also includes defending gold medalist Andre Agassi, Michael Chang and Todd Martin . Alex O'Brien and Jared Palmer will play doubles.

Sampras, who won a record 13th Grand Slam title last month at Wimbledon, said the Olympics fell out of his plans when he committed to play Davis Cup.

It turned out that he pulled out of last month's Davis Cup semifinals, too, citing injured shins that bothered him at Wimbledon.

"The schedule is tough. That's why you see a lot of upsets today," he said. "Guys are a playing a lot and playing Davis Cup. And you add the Olympics to that, that takes its toll."

Sampras added: "To have Davis Cup and the Olympics in the same year, you're going to see a lot of guys burnt out at the end of the year."

He also suggested that the Olympics would be more appealing to some players if the format was changed to better represent nations and team play.

"It's a 128-draw. We play that all year around," he said. "If we have more of a team concept, like the World Team Cup, that's more (with) the Olympic spirit."

Stan Smith became U.S. Olympic men's coach last week and talked with Sampras, but was unable to change his mind. Jan-Michael Gambill also turned down a chance to play, opening a spot for Tarango, who ranks 81st in this year's ATP Tour standings.

The four-player women's team announced Monday includes defending gold medalist Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles and Venus Williams in singles, and Venus and her sister Serena in doubles. The women will be coached by Billie Jean King.

The tennis event at Sydney will be held Sept. 19-28.

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