Pete Sampras was chatting with reporters Tuesday after his first practice at the Great Western Forum and, of course, was asked about playing for U.S. Davis Cup captain John McEnroe.
McEnroe materialized at that very moment. Why not? He seems to be everywhere these days. Just call him OmniMac.
"It feels incredible," McEnroe said.
Sampras laughed, and repeated the line, then added, "It's incredible playing for a legend. It's hard for me to comment because it's our first day together. Certainly over the next couple of days we will feel each other out.
"We'll sit and talk and communicate. I don't like to really hear a lot or talk much. I just kind of like to play. He'll be fine. I think we'll work well together."
Certainly, Sampras won't be high maintenance for this Davis Cup quarterfinal against the Czech Republic. He won his first event of 2000 at the Ericsson Open, defeating Gustavo Kuerten in a four-set final under hot, humid conditions.
Sampras took Monday off before joining the team in Los Angeles.
"I'm obviously very pleased the way things went," he said. "I just got through it. I just wanted to break a sweat [Tuesday]. I've played enough tennis. I feel like I'm in pretty good shape."
For Sampras, this is a rare chance to play in front of family and friends. His parents, Sam and Georgia, rarely attend matches but this being Davis Cup, it's a little different. Even so, Sampras isn't entirely sure if his parents actually will be in their seats.
"Well, they're going to come," he said. "I'm not sure they're going to watch. [Dad] will be out here in the tunnel."
Sam Sampras was ready to travel to Zimbabwe for the first round. He had a plane ticket and the necessary shots, but it became a moot point when his son suffered a hip injury in a semifinal loss to Andre Agassi at the Australian Open and could not make it to Harare.
Sampras, who moved back here last year from Florida, bought 50 tickets for the matches against the Czech Republic, which start on Friday. And, out of necessity, he has developed a strategy to handle the requests.
"I'm going to check into a hotel in a couple of days to get away from my phone," he said, laughing.
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UNITED STATES vs. CZECH REPUBLIC
* When: Friday-Sunday.
* Where: Great Western Forum.
* Round: Quarterfinal.
* Teams: United States, singles: Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras; doubles: Alex O'Brien-Jared Palmer. Czech Republic, singles: Jiri Novak, Slava Dosedel; doubles: Martin Damm-David Rikl.
* TV: Friday: noon, ESPN; 3 p.m., ESPN2. Saturday: 2 p.m., ESPN (tape). Sunday: 2 p.m., ESPN (tape); 4:30 p.m., ESPN2 (if fifth match).
* Series: In their only meeting in Davis Cup, the Czech Republic defeated the U.S., 3-2, in 1996 quarterfinal.
* Tickets: Prices ranging from $20 to $450. Call TicketMaster at (213) 480-3232.