Tennis Prose



Facing Sampras Inteview with Tennis Message

I recently did this interview with Tennis Message magazine about my latest book “Facing Sampras.”


(Photo by Danny Chamblee)

Question: What inspired you to write Facing Sampras?

Scoop Malinowski: “Curiosity to know what is it like to actually play tennis against Pete Sampras from an insider perspective. It’s always interesting and educational to learn how the very best at their trade operate, in whatever sport or business or occupation. With Pete Sampras, most of us have seen the matches live or on TV. I wanted to investigate deeper by talking to the players about their experiences on the tennis courts with Pete. I authored four other books on Facing Federer, Hewitt, Nadal, McEnroe and I think the insights from these books are very interesting and insightful. I’m hearing that a lot of readers like the books so I keep on producing them.”

Question: Did you learn anything unexpected?

Scoop Malinowski: “Yes, many things. Pete played Mats Wilander, the defending US Open champion at the 1989 US Open and Pete won in five sets and I interviewed Mats about this and he said after that match he did not think highly of Pete’s play and thought there was zero chance he would make it big in tennis. Pete kept a distance from other players. he had some interesting practice habits. One player thinks Pete’s example changed tennis and influenced how Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal conducted themselves as champions. I think the funniest insight was when the fifteen year old Michael Chang invited fifteen year old Pete to go fishing on his row boat.”

Question: What was the highlight of the process?

Scoop Malinowski: “There were many. Interviewing Todd Martin in Newport this year. Todd played Pete 22 times in the ATP and won four. He was the first interview I did for the book and it was so thrilling to see and hear the great respect Todd has for Pete and the memories of the certain matches that stood out. I spoke with Wayne Ferreira at the US Open – Wayne is pretty famous for being one of the few players to have Pete’s number as he beat Pete six times in singles. Wayne actually revealed the specific strategy he used to beat Pete all those times. That was a highlight. Petr Korda was another interesting interview because he had a lot of singles wins against Pete. I was also lucky to interview Bill Behrens who trained with Pete once or twice week when they were juniors and he was right there with Pete when he made his big breakthrough as a pro when he got a wildcard into Indian Wells in 1988. So he witnessed the evolution process when Pete suddenly exploded into the pros from juniors and he said it all happened in a couple of weeks in early ’88. Another cool moment was interviewing my friend Lennox Lewis, who was the heavyweight boxing champion for many of the same years when Pete was no. 1 in the world. They were very similar, dignified, first class, low-key understated champions and it was interesting to learn that Lennox actually got inspiration from Pete and followed his career. I included this interview in the book.”

Question: Were most of the players cooperative about helping you complete this project?

Scoop Malinowski: “Yes, very cooperative. So many of the players have tremendous respect for Sampras and I sensed they feel he has been a bit unfairly forgotten and overshadowed by Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Serena. A lot of the players were happy when approached, happy to remember and celebrate one of the greatest champions in individual sports history. One player declined to talk about his memories of Pete, he refused the interview. This happened at the US Open. Then I researched this player and he lost the US Open and Wimbledon finals to Pete and also he was one match away from qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals for the first and only time of his career, but Pete beat him again and cost him that prestigious opportunity. So it was interesting that two decades later this player is still somewhat bitter about his heartbreaking losses to Pete. ”

Question: How long did it take you to finish the book?

Scoop Malinowski: “I started in Newport in July and did the last interviews by phone in November. The last interview I did was with Sammy Giammalva Jr, who played Pete in his very first ATP tournament in Philadelphia in February 1988. I put it all together with the photos and finished the book in late November.”

Question: Were you able to interview Andre Agassi and Jim Courier?

Scoop Malinowski: “Unfortunately no. I would have tried for Agassi at US Open but he was not there because Djokovic didn’t play. I never had the chance to interview Courier this year though I did interview him for Facing Hewitt a couple of years ago in Washington DC.”

Question: What do you think made Pete Sampras such an extraordinary champion in tennis?

Scoop Malinowski: “He loved the game, to play the beautiful game of tennis. He just loved the game that fraction more than everybody else and he had that burning desire a fraction or more more than everybody else. He had the combination of physical prowess, high intelligence and an unbelievable will to win tennis matches, along with a fearless courage to play aggressively under pressure. As a kid he studied the Aussie greats like Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall.”

Facing Sampras is available at amazon for $9.99 and also on Kindle for $4.99. Scoop is currently working on Facing Serena, Facing Steffi Graf and Facing Andy Murray.

· ·


  • Duke Carnoustie · February 15, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Ha that player who would not be interviewed has the initials CP for those who can’t figure it out. Touchy fella.

    Great job Scoop.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Thanks Duke. I did a Biofile with CP years ago at US Open and he was as nice as can be. But he did not want to talk about Pete at all.

  • britbox · February 16, 2018 at 9:02 am

    Will check that out Scoop. I wasn't a fan of Sampras at the time but appreciate him a lot more in hindsight… Do you still follow boxing much? Some of these "Facing…" series books might translate well to the sweet science… "Facing Hagler… " etc.

  • britbox · February 16, 2018 at 9:08 am

    Would the mystery player stand up for La Marseillaise?

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 16, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Britbox, Yes I do follow boxing and still cover it at my site I recently did a Biofile with Terence Crawford. Also have done some Facing features on boxing for magazines – Facing Klitschko, Facing Mayweather, also Facing Pacquiao, Tyson. Eventually will do a book compilation.



Find it!

Copyright 2010
To top