I gave Sampras too much credit about his statement after losing to Bruguera -- he actually said he'd win that kind of match 9 out of 10 times (instead of 8 out of 10 times).
Just so anyone reading knows that I NEVER make statements about players without EVIDENCE to back them up, here is a reference to that match:
The text is below.
Bruguera's Play Insures Meltdown by Sampras
By ROBIN FINN
Published: Saturday, March 29, 1997
The day was steamy and soupy, and the stadium court at the Lipton Championships felt enough like a hot kitchen to Pete Sampras that he plunked an oversized white cap on his head to ward off the tropical sun. But Sampras couldn't handle the heat and surrendered today's semifinal match to the bare-headed, bold-minded Sergi Bruguera of Spain.
The 30th-seeded Bruguera, a two-time French Open champion who last year took a rankings tumble from 13th to 81st, handled Sampras with a combination of baseline patience and intermittent aggression that proved sufficient for a 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 comeback against the world's top player. And he accomplished it on a hardcourt surface where Sampras, not the clay-bred Bruguera, ought to have felt more comfortable.
''It's one of the best feelings you can have in tennis, to beat the No. 1 in an important match,'' Bruguera said. Today's coup was the fourth time in Bruguera's career that he had beaten a No. 1 player, and for the third time, that No. 1 player was Sampras.
Bruguera will meet the second-seeded Thomas Muster, who defeated Jim Courier, seeded 22d, 6-3 6-4. Muster is 11-3 against Bruguera. His only previous Lipton final came in 1989, but he suffered a career-threatening knee injury when he was struck by a drunken driver on the eve of his match with Ivan Lendl.
Sampras, the top-seeded player, was off to a career-best 20-1 start in 1997, a season he commenced by capturing his ninth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, but this afternoon's 2-hour-8-minute stumble made his bright start seem immaterial.
''It's a match I should have won 9 times out of 10,'' said Sampras
, who had been counting on making restitution here for his opening-round loss to Bohdan Ulihrach two weeks ago at Indian Wells, Calif.
After skulking away from the court today, Sampras settled into an overstuffed plaid chair in the interview room like an old-timer; his head lolled back, and had the chair boasted a recliner option, he would have availed himself of it.
''I just played a bad match, really disappointing,'' said Sampras, who rated his performance a 4 on a 10-point scale and was especially annoyed by his timidity in the second set's tie breaker.
''He played well and served well, but I kind of let him. And he hit the ball pretty heavy and strong to my backhand.''
After being discombobulated by the desert conditions in Indian Wells, Sampras, twice a Lipton champion, let the humidity here turn his game soggy.
''I could have set up the points a little better and not risked as much,'' said Sampras, a patsy for Bruguera's passing shots whenever he rushed to the net behind a less-than-impeccable approach.
Now 3-2 against Sampras in career confrontations, Bruguera felt today's upset was even more of a stunner than Sampras's five-set demolition-derby victory against the Spaniard at last year's French Open. But Bruguera acknowledged that even though he arrived at this event without lofty expectations, his opening-round ouster of third-seeded Michael Chang hinted of bigger upsets to come.
''That match gave me confidence,'' said Bruguera, whose resume had not offered high points like this since his surprising sleeper run to a silver medal at the Atlanta Olympics.
Today, Sampras's performance was so anemic that even from the service line, a spot where he usually feels competent, he succumbed on all four break points allotted the Spaniard; adding insult to injury, the 26-year-old Bruguera also out-aced him, 10-8.
Sampras was so-so even in the opening set, when he immediately lost his serve in the fourth game with an errant forehand, one of 35 unforced errors, after breaking Bruguera in the third. Sampras broke Bruguera again to take a 6-5 lead and was awarded the set on a questionable call: apparently only Sampras and the officiating staff felt his down-the-middle ace hit the border of the appropriate service box.
Another controversial ace, this one a blast to the outside corner that appeared both long and wide, delivered Sampras into the second set's tie breaker. But once there, he fizzled.
Bruguera scrambled for every ball, went up by 6-2 when Sampras pushed a lame backhand return long, then evened the match with an ace of his own.
Sampras fell behind by 3-1 in the final set, rallied to 3-3, and lost his serve in the seventh game when Bruguera drilled a consummate backhand pass at break point. Ahead by 5-3, Bruguera began the last game with his 10th and final ace, and Sampras netted a backhand return on Bruguera's first match point.
Photo: Sergi Bruguera of Spain returning a volley at the net from Pete Sampras in their semifinal match yesterday. Bruguera won, 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4. (Reuters)