Originally created 07/31/98

Sampras ready to challenge Grand Slam record



Now that Pete Sampras has had a bothersome wart on his right foot taken care of, he's ready to make a run at the record for Grand Slam championships.

Sampras can equal Roy Emerson's mark of 12 major titles by winning the U.S. Open in September. And if Sampras fails at the National Tennis Center, he figures there will be other chances.

"I'm in a great position," Sampras said Thursday. "I'm in the middle of my career and have a lot of good years left in me to do it."

After winning Wimbledon for the fifth time early this month, Sampras had surgery July 15 to have the wart removed. The operation forced him to withdraw from a tournament in Los Angeles, but he has returned to the practice court and expects to play in next week's du Maurier Open in Toronto.

"The foot has gotten better and given me no problem the last couple of days," Sampras said in a conference call from his home in Orlando, Fla.

If Sampras remains healthy, he could far surpass Emerson's record. He turns 27 in two weeks and has no thoughts of retirement.

"You look at the guys who have stopped in recent years -- Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Michael Stich -- and they were 29 or 30," Sampras said. "But I see myself playing beyond those years. If I can contend for a Grand Slam, I'm going to continue to play.

"I don't look at myself as the best ever or my place in history. It's up to the tennis experts to figure that out. I'm just trying to be the best player I can be."